Max Verstappen overcame a five-place grid penalty to cruise to a 22-second victory over teammate Sergio Perez in this morning’s Belgian Grand Prix. The win makes it eight in a row for the two-time defending champion and a clean-sweep of all 12 Grand Prix for Red Bull ahead of the summer break.
Charles Leclerc rounded out the podium places, briefly leading off pole but quickly overcome by Perez on Lap 1. Lewis Hamilton was fourth as the front four built a sizable gap on the field over the opening laps.
The wet conditions that had plagued the venue for the past two days finally relented prior to the start, with Leclerc getting off to a good launch to hold the lead over Perez, only to be overtaken just four turns later.
Piastri’s high of yesterday’s podium lasted as far as Turn 1 when he was squeezed by Carlos Sainz, hitting the inside wall as well as his front left connecting with the Ferrari’s sidepod. He would fall down the order and eventually pull off at the end of sector two to retire.
Sainz, meanwhile, would continue, slotting into fifth behind Hamilton and Verstappen, who had moved forward from sixth on the grid following a five-place grid penalty for a new gearbox.
With the Ferrari acting as a moving road block the front four pulled to a 6-second gap by Lap 3, with Perez having built a 2-second lead over Leclerc.
Sainz’s compromised aero saw him begin to lose positions as Tsunoda took fifth on Lap 5, and he would continue to tumble down the order to be out of the points by Lap 8.
Despite an obvious pace advantage Verstappen took until Lap 6 to get past Hamilton and a further three circuits to take second off Leclerc.
At this point Perez was three seconds up the road, a gap he would manage until the first round of pit stops for the lead pack.
Hamilton was the first to come in on Lap 12, and he would hold fourth as the gap to the then-fifth Alonso had increased to over 20 seconds. Perez and Leclerc would follow the next lap to cover, while Verstappen came in on Lap 14 to slot back into second behind his teammate.
A slightly slower stop would cost Perez and left him exposed to the defending champion, who would take the lead at the end of Kemmel Straight on Lap 17.
A Belgian Grand Prix without rain is a rare occurance of late, and it was Lap 18 when the first reports came in. This would fail to eventuate to anything more than a passing shower, however, and had little influence on proceedings.
Sainz finally pulled the plug on his Grand Prix shortly after the midpoint, joining Piastri early in the lane.
The front four were well clear by this point and would come in for a second round of stops as the action unfolded behind for the minor points.
Alonso had returned to fifth ahead of the final laps, while Russell sat sixth. Lando Norris, who had struggled for early pace and at one point sat as the last of the runners, was seventh while Esteban Ocon, Lance Stroll and Tsunoda rounded out the top 10.
With three laps to run Verstappen had extended his lead to over 20 seconds over his teammate, who was in turn 5 seconds clear of Leclerc. Hamilton sat a lonely fourth, 2 seconds behind, with Alonso 25 seconds back.
Mercedes utilised the gap to stop Hamilton for a fresh set of tyres in an attempt to set the fastest lap at the commencement of the penultimate circuit. He would achieve this to take the bonus point in addition to finish fourth.
Verstappen would cross the line over 22 seconds ahead of Perez, while Leclerc rounded out the podium. Hamilton, Alonso, Russell, Norris, Ocon, Stroll and Tsunoda were the other point scorers, respectively.
Formula 1 now goes on their mid-season break and returns to action for the Dutch Grand Prix on August 28.
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