F1: Can Verstappen drive from last to first on Sunday?

Max Verstappen produced a dominant showing in Free Practice 2 for the Belgian Grand Prix, lapping over eight-tenths faster than anyone else.

However, having taken on a raft of new power unit elements, Verstappen will be forced to battle his way through the field on Sunday. Was he confident he could make it up to the front by the end of the race? “That’s what we’ll try,” replied Verstappen. “We have to!”

Can he still win?

“I think as soon as we went out, the car was working pretty well,” said Verstappen. “There’s always little things that you want to fine-tune with the balance, but basically from the first run I was happy with the car.

Max Verstappen of the Netherlands and Oracle Red Bull Racing looks on in the Paddock during previews ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Belgium at Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps on August 25, 2022 in Spa, Belgium. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

“From the laps we did, the car was working well, so that’s a positive. Obviously I would have liked to run a little bit more, [like] everyone else, but so far it’s been a good start.”

Team boss Christian Horner later explained why Red Bull had decided to change Verstappen’s power unit here – with the Dutchman set to be joined by Lando Norris, Esteban Ocon, Valtteri Bottas, Mick Schumacher and title rival Leclerc at the back of the pack on Sunday.

Red Bull Racing Team Principal Christian Horner walks in the Paddock prior to practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Belgium at Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps on August 26, 2022 in Spa, Belgium. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)

“You look strategically at the calendar,” said Horner, “and we felt it was particularly tight to get to the end of the year with the engine allocation that we have, so then you look at the circuits coming up: Zandvoort, you don’t want to take it there; Monza’s actually harder to overtake than you’d think; Singapore, you don’t want to take it there; Japan’s tricky to overtake.

“So you start running out of options. This is a good track to overtake at and we feel we should be quick here so hence we’ve decided to take the opportunity here.

“Here, it’s probably the smallest overtaking delta needed of the season; here and Bahrain are probably two of the easiest circuits on the calendar to actually make an overtake, so that’s why probably so many people have nominated this circuit to take that penalty, to try and get engines in the pool for the rest of the year.”


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