F1: Verstappen 14th to 1st to win Belgian GP

Defending World Champion Max Verstappen started 14th after a grid penalty for a power unit change, passed the 13 cars in front of him, and won the Belgian GP at Spa going away in his #1 Red Bull Honda.

His Red Bull teammate Sergio Perez finished over 18s behind, no match for his more talented teammate.

It was the 29th F1 win for the young Max Verstappen as he continues to pile on the victories.  It was Verstappen’s 9th victory of 2022. “Amazing Sunday day guys, car was a rocket ship all weekend,” he said to his crew over the radio, and you can almost hear the smile that must be plastered across his face.

#1 Max Verstappen Red Bull Racing Honda during the Belgian GP, 25-28 August 2022 at Spa-Francorchamps track, Formula 1 World championship 2022.

Verstappen, who also got the point for the fastest lap, extended his point lead to 93, now over Sergio Perez who passed Charles Leclerc for 2nd in points.

Leclerc drove from 15th at the start to 5th, passing Fernando Alonso on the final lap after Leclerc made a late stop for red Pirellis to get the point for fastest lap, but failed. He also sped on the pit lane and was moved back to 6th by the officials after the race.

“Hectic first lap to stay out of trouble, but after the Safety Car, the car was on rails. After that once we were in the lead, just managing everything,” said a happy Verstappen.

“The whole weekend was incredible. It’s been a weekend I couldn’t imagine, I’m going to enjoy today and then next week let’s see what we can do.”

Polesitter Carlos Sainz Jr. held off the Mercedes of George Russell to get the final podium position.

“I really hoped for more, but Max was just flying, he was on another planet,” said Perez. “He was untouchable. Still, a strong result for the team and I think we managed to get a lot of points today which is important.”

“Harder than expected, the pace was just not there. We had a lot of overheating of the tires, we were sliding around a lot. The Red Bull, Max and Checo, they were in a league of their own today,” said a defeated Perez.

Fernando Alonso came home sixth, while Esteban Ocon, Sebastian Vettel, Pierre Gasly and Alex Albon rounded out the points.

Lewis Hamilton was out on lap one after he collided with Alonso in Turn 5, flew up in the air, and broke his car.

Lewis Hamilton flies into the air after pinching Fernando Alonso in Turn 5 on lap 1 of the Belgian Grand Prix 2022, Sunday – LAT Images for Mercedes

Asked by Sky if he gave Alonso enough room, Hamilton admitted: “No. looking back at the footage he was in my blind spot.

“I didn’t give him space.

“It was my fault today.

“It was my fault, I couldn’t see him, he was in my blind spot, which is BS because Alonso was right next to him.  Hamilton tried to squeeze Alonso at the apex and screwed himself.

Lewis Hamilton takes a lonely walk back to the pits after crashing out on lap 1 after making a mistake

Alonso labelled Lewis Hamilton as an “idiot” after their early collision.

On the opening lap at Spa-Francorchamps, the two World Champions collided, with Hamilton attempting to go around the outside of Alonso for second place.

However, Alonso’s front-left wheel collected Hamilton’s rear-right, launching the Mercedes into the air before a hard landing in the Les Combes (Turn 5) run-off.

Hamilton initially continued, but later pulled off the track due to severe damage, with fluids pouring from the car.

“Yeah, what an idiot! Closing the door from the outside,” exclaimed the Spanish driver.

“I mean, we had a mega start, but this guy only knows how to drive and start in first!”

How the race unfolded

When the lights went out at the start, polesitter Carlos Sainz got away well to take the lead. Front-row start Pérez was swamped into Turn 1, however, and the Mexican was passed by Alpine’s Fernando Alonso and the Mercedes cars of Lewis Hamilton and George Russell.

Alonso’s stay in second place was brief, however. Into Les Combes Hamilton attacked Alonso around the outside but the Mercedes driver failed to give his rival enough room and the pair collided. Hamilton’s car was launched into the air and both went off track. After passing Russell on the approach to the corner, Pérez then profited from the collision ahead to claim P2.

Further back, Verstappen made a good getaway and the champion was soon carving his way through the field, rising to eighth place at the start of the second lap.

The Safety Car was released when Hamilton pulled over at the side of the track and following an incident involving Williams’ Nicholas Latifi and Alfa Romeo’s Valtetri Bottas and that allowed Verstappen to close right up to the cars ahead. Under the Safety Car, Leclerc made a pit stop after spotting smoke coming from a brake. He switched from softs to mediums and the smoke was later revealed to be a visor tear-off strip that had got caught in his brake duct.

When the race resumed at the start of lap 5, Verstappen pounced.  The Red Bull driver passed Williams’ Alex Albon and McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo’s and then powered past Aston Martin’s Sebastian Vettel into the chicane on lap 6 to rise to fifth. On the next lap, he blasted past Alonso into Les Combes and a remarkable opening phase was completed when he overtook Russell on the following lap to claim a provisional podium position.

Max Verstappen of the Netherlands driving the (1) Oracle Red Bull Racing RB18 leads Kevin Magnussen of Denmark driving the (20) Haas F1 VF-22 Ferrari during the F1 Grand Prix of Belgium at Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps on August 28, 2022 in Spa, Belgium. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images) // Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

Sainz pitted from the lead at the end of lap 11 and Pérez took P1. His lead was short lived, however, and he allowed his team-mate to pass on the Kemmel Straight and take the lead. Pérez then pitted at the end of lap 12 and the Mexican took a second set of medium tires in a 2.2-second stop. He rejoined in P3 ahead of Leclerc who had also climbed up the order following his early stop.

Verstappen made his first stop at the end lap 15 and switched from opening softs to a set of medium tires in a 2.8s stop. The champion emerged from the pit lane just behind Sainz. The Red Bull driver then retook the lead on lap 18 using DRS to power past Sainz on the Kemmel Straight.

Pérez got to within DRS range of Sainz on lap 20 and on the following lap Checo effortlessly slipped past the Ferrari driver into Les Combes. Verstappen now led his team-mate by 6.7s, with Sainz third. Russell held fourth with Leclerc in fifth, 9.5s behind the Mercedes.

Ferrari pitted both its drivers at the end of lap 25. Sainz moved to hard tires in a 2.4s halt and Leclerc took to medium tires in a 3.0s stop. Sainz rejoined in fourth while his team-mate emerged in P7.

Pérez made his second stop at the end of lap 27 and this time the Red Bull driver switched to hard tires in 2.4 seconds. He rejoined in third place behind Russell but two laps later the Mercedes driver made his second stop, for hard tires, and took P2 behind Verstappen.

Sergio Perez of Mexico driving the (11) Oracle Red Bull Racing RB18 during the F1 Grand Prix of Belgium at Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps on August 28, 2022 in Spa, Belgium. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images) // Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool // SI202208260215 // Usage for editorial use only //

The race leader’s final pit stop of the afternoon came at the end of lap 30 and he moved to another set of mediums for his final stint. And from there the final laps became a victory march for the Dutchman who took his ninth win of the season and the point for the fastest lap of the race. Pérez took second to complete Red Bull’s fourth 1-2 of the season and to secure his seventh podium of the year so far.

Behind them, Sainz finished third ahead of Russell and Alonso, while Leclerc was left with sixth. The Ferrari driver made a third stop for soft tires to try for the fastest lap but he was then handed a five-second penalty for speeding in the pit lane and dropped behind Alonso in the classification. Esteban Ocon finished seventh for Alpine ahead of Aston Martin’s Sebastian Vettel, while AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly claimed two points with ninth place after his pit lane start. The final point on offer went to Williams’ Alex Albon.

Race Results

1 1 Max Verstappen Red Bull Racing Honda 44 +0.000s
2 11 Sergio Perez Red Bull Racing Honda 44 +17.841s
3 55 Carlos Sainz Ferrari 44 +26.886s
4 63 George Russell Mercedes 44 +29.140s
5 14 Fernando Alonso Alpine Renault 44 +73.256s
6 16 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 44 +74.936s
7 31 Esteban Ocon Alpine Renault 44 +75.640s
8 5 Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin Aramco Mercedes 44 +78.107s
9 10 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri Honda 44 +92.181s
10 23 Alexander Albon Williams Mercedes 44 +101.900s
11 18 Lance Stroll Aston Martin Aramco Mercedes 44 +103.078s
12 4 Lando Norris McLaren Mercedes 44 +104.739s
13 22 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri Honda 44 +105.217s
14 24 Zhou Guanyu Alfa Romeo Ferrari 44 +106.252s
15 3 Daniel Ricciardo McLaren Mercedes 44 +107.163s
16 20 Kevin Magnussen Haas Ferrari 43 +1 lap
17 47 Mick Schumacher Haas Ferrari 43 +1 lap
18 6 Nicholas Latifi Williams Mercedes 43 +1 lap
NC 77 Valtteri Bottas Alfa Romeo Ferrari 1 DNF
NC 44 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 0 DNF


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