Back of the grid start for Verstappen and Leclerc at Spa

Verstappen: Ferrari a well respected competitor

Red Bull’s Formula 1 world championship leader and reigning champion Max Verstappen and Ferrari rival Charles Leclerc will start the 2022 Belgian Grand Prix near the back of the grid due to engine penalties.

The governing FIA said both drivers had exceeded their allowed use of engine components, triggering the automatic penalties.

McLaren’s Lando Norris, Alfa Romeo’s Valtteri Bottas and Alpine’s Esteban Ocon will also have grid drops for the same reasons while Haas driver Mick Schumacher has a 10 place penalty.

The penalties will boost the chances of Mercedes’s seven times champion Lewis Hamilton and teammate George Russell taking a first win of the season.

Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz and Red Bull’s Sergio Perez will also fancy their chances with their teammates likely to start far behind them.

Sainz topped the weekend’s opening FP1 session, with Leclerc second and Verstappen third fastest.

Also taking penalties are McLaren’s Lando Norris, Alpine’s Esteban Ocon, Haas’s Mick Schumacher and Alfa Romeo’s Valtteri Bottas will all be required to start from the back of the grid as their teams also opted to make changes for Spa. report that “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. Ocon will change every power unit element, meaning he too has a new energy store and a new control electronics unit – Schumacher also taking on the latter element.

“Leclerc, Bottas and Schumacher will take on new gearbox cases and cassettes, while Verstappen, Leclerc, Bottas and Schumacher will change their gearbox driveline, gearchange and auxiliary components beyond their allocations.”

The race on Sunday at Spa-Francorchamps is Round 14 in this year’s F1 calendar, Verstappen leads closest rival Leclerc by a mighty 80 points after 13 of 22 races. (Reporting by Alan Baldwin)