Skip to main content

Charles Leclerc, Max Verstappen Will Start At Back Of Grid For Belgium Grand Prix - Here's Why

Charles Leclerc and Max Verstappen

SPIELBERG, AUSTRIA - JULY 09: Sprint winner Max Verstappen of the Netherlands and Oracle Red Bull Racing and second placed Charles Leclerc of Monaco and Ferrari look on in the press conference after the F1 Grand Prix of Austria Sprint at Red Bull Ring on July 09, 2022 in Spielberg, Austria. (Photo by Lars Baron/Getty Images)

After a four-week break, Formula One returns this Sunday with the Belgian Grand Prix. But the two leaders in the F1 Championship, Red Bull's Max Verstappen and Ferrari's Charles Leclerc, are going to be at the back of the grid when the race gets started.

Ahead of tomorrow's qualifying laps, Formula One announced that Verstappen, Leclerc, Lando Norris (McLaren), Esteban Ocon (Alpine), Mick Schumacher (Haas) and Valtteri Bottas (Alfa Romeo) will all be required to start at the back of the grid as a result of their teams making changes to their power units. 

"Verstappen, Norris, Ocon and Bottas will have new internal combustion engines, turbochargers and MGU-Hs - taking them above and beyond their limit for the season – while Verstappen, Ocon and Leclerc will also be penalised for taking on new MGU-Ks and, in Leclerc’s case, a new energy store," Formula One said in a statement.

It's an unfortunate turn of events for Leclerc and Verstappen, who were expected to battle fiercely for pole position tomorrow after strong practice laps today. Their trip to the back might open things up for one team in particular to capitalize.

Mercedes drivers Lewis Hamilton and George Russell were not among the penalized and have yet to win a race this season. But they've come very close several times already.

Hamilton has reached the podium in five straight races and is coming off back-to-back second-place finishes behind Verstappen. Russell is having a superb year as well, finishing top five in 12 of his 13 races.

But Ferrari's Carlos Sainz might be the biggest beneficiary of this setback to Leclerc and Verstappen. He's posted the best laps in practice thus far and has already put up one of his best seasons. 

Who will win the Belgium Grand Prix this Sunday?