Magnificent Verstappen surges to dominant Belgian Grand Prix win

·4-min read

Max Verstappen produced a scintillating drive to surge from 14th on the grid to win the Belgian Grand Prix and further extend his huge championship lead.

The reigning Formula One champion was fastest in Saturday's qualifying session but was one of several drivers to take a grid penalty for a power unit change, leading to him starting on the seventh row.

Yet, just as in the Hungarian Grand Prix before the mid-season break, when he started in 10th, Verstappen expertly worked his way through the field to prevail and claim a second successive win at Spa-Francorchamps.

The raw pace of the Red Bull allowed Verstappen to easily make his way to the front after a chaotic start and a second lap safety car, and he was never threatened after overtaking Carlos Sainz for the lead on lap 18.

His team-mate Sergio Perez made it a Red Bull one-two, with the Ferraris of Sainz and Charles Leclerc sandwiched by Mercedes driver George Russell and the Alpine of Fernando Alonso in third and sixth across the finish line respectively on a day that saw Verstappen's lead stretched to 93 points.

Alonso got a lightning start to put his Alpine ahead of Perez into the first corner, with the Red Bull man also overtaken by the Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton.

Yet the good work of the two former McLaren team-mates was soon undone when they collided going into the Les Combes chicane, sending Hamilton airbone as he suffered damage that ended his race.

The next lap saw the Williams of Nicholas Latifi spin into Valtteri Bottas' Alfa Romeo, prompting a safety car as the latter ended up beached in the gravel.

Sainz locked up at the bus stop chicane at the restart but was still able to stay ahead of Perez and retain the lead.

Yet he soon began losing time to the Red Bulls and had both in his mirrors by the time he pitted on lap 12, Verstappen's spectacular charge through the field rewarded with the lead as he passed Perez while Sainz was in the pit lane.

Sainz was back ahead when Verstappen pitted for medium tyres four laps later, but Ferrari's lack of pace was encapsulated as Leclerc was unable to get past Perez on warmer tyres following the Mexican's pit stop and Verstappen succeeded in breezing past Sainz for the lead.

That set the stage for a serene second half of the race for Verstappen, whose title battle with Leclerc – who surrendered fifth to Alonso due to a five-second penalty for speeding in the pit lane – is turning into a procession for the Dutchman.


MAX WINS ANOTHER HOME RACE

Verstappen is in the unique position of having three homes. The Austrian Grand Prix is dominated by Dutch fans, who will again pack the grandstands at Zandvoort next week.

But Verstappen, who competes under the Dutch flag, was born in Belgium and, in terms of distance to the place of his birth, this is his home race.

He won it last year in a race reduced to two laps behind the safety car due to rain but, after emerging victorious in much more impressive fashion, this triumph will feel much sweeter.

'WHAT AN IDIOT!'

The collision between Alonso and Hamilton led to a furious radio message from the former, who had a tense rivalry with the Briton at McLaren.

An apoplectic Alonso, who finished in sixth, said: "What an idiot! Closing the door from the outside.

"We had a great start, but this guy only knows how to drive and start in first."

Ouch.

IN THE POINTS

1. Max Verstappen (Red Bull)

2. Sergio Perez (Red Bull) +17.841 seconds

3. Carlos Sainz (Ferrari) +26.886

4. George Russell (Mercedes) +29.140

5. Fernando Alonso (Alpine) +73.256

6. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) +74.936

7. Esteban Ocon (Alpine) +75.640

8. Sebastian Vettel (Aston Martin) +78.107

9. Pierre Gasly (AlphaTauri) +92.181

10. Alexander Albon (Williams) +101.900

CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS

Drivers

1. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) 284

2. Sergio Perez (Red Bull) 191

3. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) 186

4. Carlos Sainz (Ferrari) 171

5. George Russell (Mercedes) 170

Constructors

1. Red Bull 475

2. Ferrari 357

3. Mercedes 316

4. Alpine 115

5. McLaren 95