Max Verstappen fastest for Belgian GP despite X-rated row with race engineer

Max Verstappen qualified fastest for the Belgian Grand Prix despite an X-rated radio row with his race engineer.

Verstappen was embroiled in a squabble with Gianpiero Lambiase after he only just made it through to Q3 during a wet-dry session at Spa-Francorchamps.

But the championship leader regained his composure at the business end of qualifying to demolish the opposition, finishing eight tenths clear of Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc, with Sergio Perez third in the other Red Bull. Lewis Hamilton qualified fourth.

However, Verstappen will only start Sunday’s race from sixth position as he serves a five-place grid drop for exceeding his gearbox allocation.

Verstappen made it into the final phase by the skin of his teeth in 10th place and then vented his anger at his long-serving engineer.

Verstappen accused his team of “s*** execution”, claiming he should have pushed harder on an earlier lap after the field switched from wet to dry rubber.

“I don’t give a f*** that we are P10, mate”, he yelled over the radio.

Charles Leclerc (left), Max Verstappen (centre) and Sergio Perez

Charles Leclerc (left) and Sergio Perez (right) start on the front row for Sunday’s race (Geert Vanden Wijngaert/AP)

Lambiase snapped back: “OK, and then when the track was two seconds quicker for your final lap and you didn’t have any energy left, how would that have gone down?”

A surly Lambiase added: “But you tell me what you want to do in Q3 and we’ll do it. Tyre sets, fuel, run plan.”

But after qualifying fastest, Verstappen, 110 points clear at the standings and on a run of seven-consecutive wins in his all-conquering Red Bull machine, said over the radio: “Sorry to GP for being such on the rant.”

Lambiase replied: “Slowly getting used to it, Max.”

Hamilton secured pole a week ago in Hungary, but he is facing an investigation from the stewards after he ran off the circuit at Eau Rouge before re-joining in front of team-mate George Russell in Q2.

Russell was forced to slow down to avoid making contact with the sister Mercedes. Race control noted the incident before confirming they would investigate.

It was an underwhelming afternoon for the Silver Arrows with Hamilton nine tenths slower than Verstappen, and Russell ever further back in eighth, 0.8sec adrift of his team-mate. Lando Norris finished seventh, a spot behind Oscar Piastri in the other McLaren.

Daniel Ricciardo qualified a commendable 13th on his return a week ago, but the Australia will line up from the penultimate spot on the grid on Sunday.

Ricciardo temporarily hauled his AlphaTauri through to Q2 only to see his lap time deleted for exceeding track limits.

“F***, I am sorry,” said Ricciardo when informed of the bad news. “I just lost it through turn three. I am sorry.”

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