Max Verstappen, Charles Leclerc slapped with penalties
Red Bull’s Formula One world championship leader Max Verstappen and Ferrari rival Charles Leclerc will start Sunday’s 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. Verstappen leads closest rival Leclerc by a mighty 80 points after 13 of 22 races. On Friday, Carlos Sainz edged out Ferrari teammate Leclerc to the fastest time in the rain-disrupted opening practice, the first track action since F1 returned from its summer break.
The Spaniard clocked a 1:46.538s on the softs to finish 0.069s clear of Leclerc. Verstappen was third quickest. Partnership change Alfa Romeo will end its F1 partnership with Swiss-based Sauber at the end of next season, the Stellantis-owned marque said on Friday after Audi announced it would be entering the sport in 2026. Volkswagen’s Audi have said they will be partnering a team, without giving details, and are widely expected to join forces with Sauber. The Italian marque returned to Formula One in 2017 and has been the title sponsor of Sauber.