Max Verstappen has won this mornings Belgian Grand Prix in comfortable fashion, with teammate Sergio Perez making it a Red Bull one-two. Carlos Sainz, starting from pole, rounded out the podium ahead of a fast finishing George Russell.
It was an impressive drive from the championship leader, the win being his ninth of the year. Verstappen cruised to victory in the event, a win of over 18 seconds over Perez. Sainz was a further 10 seconds down the road, showing the level of domination Red Bull had at the Spa-Francorchamps circuit over the weekend.
Grid penalties to nine of the 20 car field saw Sainz start from pole, with Perez alongside. Fernando Alonso was promoted up to third on the grid, with the two Mercedes behind. Further penalties overnight for power unit changes saw Yuki Tsunoda begin from the rear, elevating Verstappen to 14th on the grid and Leclerc to 15th.
Sainz was the better starter, with Perez slow off the line and being picked up by Alonso, Russell and Lewis Hamilton by Turn 1.
Alonso held second place but was challenged by Hamilton, with contact between the paid sending Hamilton airborne through the Turn 8 chicane. Amazingly, Hamilton maintained control of his car to continue on, but was forced to retire later in the lap due to damage sustained. Alonso also continued on, only dropping two places to sit fourth.
Nicholas Latifi also had an incident at Turn 14 on Lap 1, running wide on the corner exit and spinning his Williams in the path of Valtteri Bottas. The Finnish driver avoided contact, but spun into the gravel at Turn 15, beaching his car and forcing his retirement.
The safety car was called upon to remove the stricken vehicles of Hamilton and Bottas, with Verstappen already sitting eighth and Leclerc 10th by this point. An issue with a front tyre, however, saw Leclerc pit under the caution and return to the back of the field.
Verstappen caught the leading duo of Sainz and Perez on Lap 11, with Sainz pitting at this point. This gave the lead to Perez, temporarily, as Verstappen quickly overtook his teammate to take the race lead, utilising the soft tyres he started on in comparison to Perez’s mediums.
Perez and Verstappen stopped on Lap 14 and 15 respectively, with Sainz getting the better of the pair and retaking the race lead by over four seconds.
Championship-leader Verstappen quickly made this time up, taking the lead come Lap 18, with Perez taking second spot three laps later.
Russell had driven a clean race through here, and was comfortably running fourth with only 10 laps to go, some 15 seconds ahead of Leclerc who had worked his way back up to fifth.
The four second gap to the final podium spot of Sainz was a challenge for the Mercedes and proved to much, with Sainz holding on to round out the podium places behind the Red Bull duo.
A gap of over 18 seconds from Verstappen to Perez shows the calibre of the defending champion, with the pace of the Red Bulls being far superior than the field throughout the weekend. Sainz was a further 10 seconds down the road.
Leclerc finished in fifth , and loses his second spot in the championship standings to Perez. The one-two also sees Red Bull extend their lead in the Constructors Championship. The result was almost put in jeopardy by Ferrari, who pitted Leclerc on the penultimate lap to attempt the fastest lap on the final lap, only for him to emerge behind Alonso.
Leclerc gained back the place on the final lap but failed to beat Verstappen’s fastest lap, seeing the Dutch driver gain maximum points from the event. Following the race, however, Leclerc was awarded a five second penalty for speeding in the pit lane, relegating him to sixth behind Alonso.
Alpine finished impressively, with Alonso holding sixth ahead of teammate Esteban Ocon in seventh. Alonso was promoted to fifth post-race following the penalty of Leclerc. This sees the team extend their lead over McLaren in the Constructors Championship in what has previously been a closely fought battle. Both McLaren’s failed to score points in this race.
Sebastian Vettel finished eighth, with Pierre Gasly and Alex Albon rounding out the top 10.