F1 qualifying for the Belgian Grand Prix threw up a bit of a bizarre scenario on Saturday afternoon, as the amount of grid penalties being taken by drivers up and down the field meant that not one driver will start Sunday's race in the position they qualified in.
Max Verstappen was fastest but, after taking a new engine, he was handed with a "back of the grid" penalty, meaning Carlos Sainz will start from pole. Verstappen's main championship rival Charles Leclerc also took a similar penalty, meaning the order at the front of the grid is quite shaken up for Sunday's race at Spa-Francorchamps.
F1 qualifying: Seven grid penalties mean chaotic starting order in Belgium
F1 returned this weekend, with qualifying at Spa signalling the first competitive GP session since the race in Hungary four weeks ago.
Since that race in Budapest, the F1 world has been dominated by rumours surrounding the driver market for next season, with Sebastian Vettel's retirement kicking off a chain reaction that has seen drivers axed, others moving, and lawsuits afoot over contentious moves.
The focus of the F1 world was on qualifying on Saturday afternoon but, rather unfortunately, the session descended into farce.
The engine regulations in the sport dictate that drivers must take position drops if they exceed a certain amount of engine components over the course of the season. Seven drivers incurred those penalties ahead of the Belgian Grand Prix, meaning that the grid looks rather different to how the running order looked at the end of qualifying.
— Formula 1 (@F1) August 27, 2022
Title rivals Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc both took "back of the grid" drops, as they both in effect completely changed their engines for the race at Spa. Alongside them, Esteban Ocon, Lando Norris, Zhou Guanyu, and Mick Schumacher took "back of the grid" penalties, while Valtteri Bottas took a twenty-place penalty.
The rather bizarre scenario means that Bottas, despite qualifying in last place, will start the race in 14th, ahead of the fastest man in qualifying, Max Verstappen.
|Where they qualified||Where they'll start|
|P1||Max Verstappen (Red Bull)||P1||Carlos Sainz Jr (Ferrari)|
|P2||Carlos Sainz (Ferrari)||P2||Sergio Perez (Red Bull)|
|P3||Sergio Perez (Red Bull)||P3||Fernando Alonso (Alpine)|
|P4||Charles Leclerc (Ferrari)||P4||Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)|
|P5||Esteban Ocon (Alpine)||P5||George Russell (Mercedes)|
|P6||Fernando Alonso (Alpine)||P6||Alex Albon (Williams)|
|P7||Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)||P7||Daniel Ricciardo (McLaren)|
|P8||George Russell (Mercedes)||P8||Pierre Gasly (AlphaTauri)|
|P9||Alex Albon (Williams)||P9||Lance Stroll (Aston Martin)|
|P10||Lando Norris (McLaren)||P10||Sebastian Vettel (Aston Martin)|
|P11||Daniel Ricciardo (McLaren)||P11||Nicholas Latifi (Williams)|
|P12||Pierre Gasly (AlphaTauri)||P12||Kevin Magnussen (Haas)|
|P13||Zhou Guanyu (Alfa Romeo)||P13||Yuki Tsunoda (AlphaTauri)|
|P14||Lance Stroll (Aston Martin)||P14||Valtteri Bottas (Alfa Romeo)|
|P15||Mick Schumacher (Haas)||P15||Max Verstappen (Red Bull)|
|P16||Sebastian Vettel (Aston Martin)||P16||Charles Leclerc (Ferrari)|
|P17||Nicholas Latifi (Williams)||P17||Esteban Ocon (Alpine)|
|P18||Kevin Magnussen (Haas)||P18||Lando Norris (McLaren)|
|P19||Yuki Tsunoda (AlphaTauri)||P19||Zhou Guanyu (Alfa Romeo)|
|P20||Valtteri Bottas (Alfa Romeo)||P20||Mick Schumacher (Haas)|
Ferrari man Carlos Sainz takes the second pole position of his career as a result of Max Verstappen's penalty, and will line up on the front row alongside the Red Bull of Sergio Perez.
The bizarre circumstances also mean that, for the second year in a row, Williams F1 team are treated to a brilliant result in qualifying at Spa, with Alex Albon set to start in P6, alongside George Russell's Mercedes.
Sunday's race is set to be a thrilling one, with the likes of Verstappen and Leclerc fighting their way through the field, but the circumstances which got us here are fairly farcical.
It is, of course, vital to limit waste by F1 teams, and so the penalties handed out at the end of qualifying make sense as a means to deter teams from overextending their resources. Many fans, however, will feel there is a better way to do this than by punishing the drivers.