Max Verstappen sets target after penalty drops him to the back of Belgian Grand Prix grid

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MAX VERSTAPPEN has secured pole at the Belgian Grand Prix but will start at the back of the grid at the Belgian Grand Prix.

F1 preview: A lap of the Belgian Grand Prix

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Max Verstappen has targeted a podium finish at the Belgian Grand Prix despite the reigning champion set to start from the back of the grid. The Dutchman was fastest on Saturday as he dominated the field to take pole position but has been penalised after taking engine penalties.

Max Verstappen sets target after penalty drops him to the back of Belgian Grand Prix grid

Max Verstappen was fastest on Saturday (Image: Sky Sports F1)

But, Verstappen still believes he can fight through the field to secure a top three finish as he fires a warning to Ferrari and Mercedes. He said: “We need to move forward, especially with a  car like this it would be ashame not to be on the podium.”

Verstappen was the class of the field throughout qualifying and beat Sainz in Q3 by over six-tenths of a second. Charles Leclerc gave his team-mate a tow on his final run but Ferrari lacked pace compared to Red Bulls in Spa. 

Sergio Perez will start the race from second on the grid after setting a lap one-tenth slower than Sainz. 

READ MORE: F1 stewards clarify grid penalty error after Max Verstappen penalised

Red Bull boss Christian Horner says Verstappen was “on fire” after a superb performance. He also admitted the team decided to save the engine mileage after his first run in Q3 as they knew it would be quick enough.

Verstappen added: “It was an amazing Qualifying but the whole weekend we have been really on it. The car has been working really well and we have basically been trying to fine tune it and it all came together in Qualifying.

“Of course, I had to be careful with the amount of tyres I was using. But I was very happy with my lap, it is an amazing track with an amazing fans and I hope they had a good day.”

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Max Verstappen sets target after penalty drops him to the back of Belgian Grand Prix grid

Carlos Sainz has also warned of the Red Bull threat (Image: Sky Sports F1)

Verstappen and Leclerc were handed penalties after taking new engine components ahead of the weekend. It will be Leclerc’s second start from the back of the grid this season after being afflicted at the Canadian Grands Prix. 

After the session, Leclerc was shocked at the Red Bull pace while Sainz also raised the Red Bull threat in tomorrow’s race. He explained: “I’m happy to be starting on pole, obviously not so happy to see the gap to Max this weekend and the gap Red Bull have on us.

“We need to keep digging to see why Red Bull are so fast around this track…but to start from pole is good and we will try to win tomorrow. I think our race pace is better than our qualifying pace, but there is still something to find.”

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