Triumph for Verstappen at Spa, double win took Red Bull in Belgium –

Triumph for Verstappen at Spa, double win took Red Bull in Belgium –

Max Verstappen; photo: Red Bull Content Pool

Max Verstappen triumphed in the Belgian Grand Prix despite starting from the second half of the grid at Spa-Francorchamps. His Red Bull teammate Sergio Perez finished second. Carlos Sainz (Ferrari) was third.

Sunday turned out to be the warmest day of the race weekend in Belgium despite the initial forecast of rain. The air temperature was 21 degrees, on the track – as much as 36 degrees, 15 more than on Friday and Saturday. It was sunny and dry.

Carlos Sainz, Valtteri Bottas, Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc were on soft tires at the start. The rest – with a medium. Yuki Tsunoda was joined in the pit lane by his teammate Pierre Gasly.

After the lights went out, Sainz took the lead while Perez slowed too much. Both Alonso and the Mercedes drivers passed the Mexican driver. Lewis Hamilton attacked Fernando and the two collided

The seven-time world champion bounced into the air and landed back on the track as Russell overtook them both. Max Verstappen gained a few positions in the first lap and was already tenth, and in the next lap he gained two more places. Leclerc was two positions behind him. Mercedes called Hamilton to come home.

On the second lap Nicolas Latifi spun and took Valtteri Bottas with him. Hamilton, on the other hand, did not make it to the pits and stopped on the track. Air traffic control released a safety car.

Leclerc pitted and put on medium tires. He had said shortly before that he could see smoke coming from the front right tire. Turns out mica from his helmet ended up in the front and was interfering with the cooling of the brakes

The race was restarted at the start of the fifth lap. Perez was attacked by Russell, the Mercedes was unable to pass him and then had to defend against Alonso. In the end, Sainz pulled almost a second ahead of Sergio. This was followed by Perez, Russell, Alonso, Vettel, Daniel Ricciardo and Verstappen, who overtook the Australian on the sixth lap. By the seventh he was already fourth, passing Alex Albon, Vettel and Alonso.

In the eighth lap, Verstappen overtook Russell and was less than 3 seconds behind his teammate. During that time, Leclerc was 15th. Sainz’s lead over Sergio was 1.1-1.2s, while Charles gained one position to 14th.

“High degradation,” Verstappen called over the radio.

Leclerc was told outright that tire wear was higher than expected. The conditions on Sunday were completely different to those on Friday and Saturday.

“We’re losing an insane amount of time like that,” Verstappen told his team after closing to within half a second of Perez.

Sergio dropped him on lap 12 as Sainz pitted and put on a medium.

Russell also took a medium, pitting on lap 14. During this time, Carlos moved back up to third, and Leclerc was now sixth. Verstappen called that he was trying to extend the stint a bit and was told by Red Bull to keep it up

Perez, in turn, was in the pits in the 15th round, put on a medium and came out third, just behind Sergio. The Mexican defended himself from the attack of his rival from Ferrari. The order at that point was Verstappen, Sainz, Perez, Leclerc, Russell, Stroll, Tsunoda, Alonso, Albon, Vettel.

Max pitted at the end of lap 15 and put on a medium. He came third and Sainz told his Ferrari team that his grip had improved a bit. Leclerc lost ground to Russell. Verstappen quickly overtook his team-mate and in the 18th round he again took the first position in the column.

So the order was formed: Verstappen, Sainz, Perez, Russell, Leclerc, Alonso – all with a medium. Vettel, Albon, Ocon, Ricciardo and Gasly followed – with hard. Ferrari discussed the strategy with Leclerc and asked him what tires he wanted – hard or medium. Perez came out second.

At the midway point – the 22nd of 44 laps – Verstappen, who started from 14th on the grid, had a 6.7s lead over his team-mate and continued to extend his lead.

10 seconds was Verstappen’s lead over Perez in the 25th lap of the Belgian Grand Prix

At the start of lap 25, Sainz and Leclerc pitted one after the other. There was some delay with Charles. Alonso also pitted, as did Perez on the 28th lap. Carlos and Sergio put hard. The next driver in the pits was Russell, who also took the hard tires.

Verstappen also made a second pit stop – in the 31st round. He put tires medium. His lead before the pit was almost 26 seconds, so he returned first to the column.

11 laps before the checkered flag, Verstappen was again far ahead of Perez – 11.5 seconds behind. Third was Sainz ahead of Russell, Leclerc, Vettel, Alonso, Gasly, Ocon, Albon. Back in the column, overtaking took place in the style of the famous maneuver that saw Mika Hakkinen pass Michael Schumacher after both flew either side of Ricardo Zonta. Today, Esteban Ocon and Pierre Gasly caught up to Vettel, passed by and the French Alpin driver came out ahead of both (seventh).

On the penultimate lap, Leclerc pitted and took a soft in an attempt to take the fastest lap point. He got out right in front of Alonso, who immediately overtook him. Ferrari’s risk did not pay off – Charles regained the position from the Alpin driver, but the fastest lap remained for Verstappen. Max crossed the finish line first, followed by Perez and Sainz. Russell was fourth, followed by Leclerc, Alonso, Ocon, Vettel. Gasly and Albon completed the top 10.

In the end, it turned out that Charles had a 5 second penalty for speeding in the pit lane, which again put him behind Alonso.