Max Verstappen stormed from 14th on grid to victory at 2022 Belgian Grand Prix to extend his title lead.
Verstappen started the race from 14th on the grid following various grid penalties for several drivers and stormed through the field on soft tyres, which eventually saw him claim the lead from Red Bull teammate – Sergio Perez on Lap 12.
Verstappen soon afterwards lost the lead when he made his first pit stop but passed pole-sitter Carlos Sainz on Lap 18 to regain the lead, from which he stormed unchallenged to a ninth Grand Prix win of the season ahead of Perez and Sainz.
George Russell, Charles Leclerc, Fernando Alonso, Esteban Ocon, Sebastian Vettel and Pierre Gasly rounded out the top nine, as Williams’ Alex Albon clung on for the final point in tenth ahead of Lance Stroll following a tense battle.
In the drivers’ standings, Verstappen extended his title lead to 93 points as Perez leapfrogged Leclerc into second, as Sainz regained fourth from Russell.
At lights out, Sainz got a clean start to lead as Alonso, Lewis Hamilton and Russell demoted Perez to fifth, although the Mexican passed Russell on Kemmel Straight and gained second after Alonso launched Hamilton high in the air through Les Combes.
Hamilton consequently retired with floor damage whilst the Safety Car was deployed on Lap Two, after Valtteri Bottas was spun out by Williams’ Nicholas Latifi on exit of Les Combes as the Canadian slid across the track following his initial slide into the gravel trap.
Leclerc meanwhile pitted under the Safety Car in an unsuccessful attempt to go to the checkered flag on medium tyres.
Verstappen meanwhile had climbed to tenth in the order and racing resumed on Lap Five as Sainz fought off Perez, Russell, Alonso and Vettel, whilst Verstappen charged to third between laps 5 to 8 as he maximised his advantageous soft tyre decision.
Up front, Sainz pitted from the lead at end of Lap 11 as Verstappen instructed Red Bull to tell him to let him through, which the Mexican duly did a lap later as he then pitted at the end of Lap 14 with Verstappen following suit a lap later.
Sainz consequently regained the lead on Lap 16 but couldn’t cope with Verstappen’s pace as the Dutchman rapidly reeled him in, culminating in a race-winning overtake on Lap 18 on the Kemmel Straight as Verstappen sped away to a dominant win in his birth country.
Sainz then lost second to Perez into Les Combes on Lap 21 and opted to make a second stop on Lap 26 but Perez pitted two laps later to successfully cover the Spaniard, as the top three thereafter was set in stone despite Russell attempting a late charge after also making a second stop.
Leclerc meanwhile dropped to seventh after his second stop on Lap 26 but recovered to fifth yet a late gamble on the penultimate lap for soft tyres to go for fastest lap almost backfired, as he was overtaken by Alonso but regained the position on the final lap but not fastest lap.
A post-race five-second time penalty for speeding in the pit lane however demoted Leclerc to sixth behind Alonso.
Esteban Ocon snatched seventh following a double overtake on Vettel and Gasly on Lap 35 with double-slipstream on Lap 35, with Vettel snatching eighth from Gasly later that lap.
Albon meanwhile fought off Lance Stroll following a race-long duel to clinch a third top-ten finish of season for Williams.
F1 now heads to Zandvoort, Netherlands for Verstappen’s home race as he looks to win in his home country for a second consecutive season.
|1||Max Verstappen||Red Bull||44||1h 25m 52.894|
|2||Sergio Perez||Red Bull||44||+ 17.841|
|3||Carlos Sainz||Ferrari||44||+ 26.886|
|4||George Russell||Mercedes||44||+ 29.140|
|5||Fernando Alonso||Alpine||44||+ 73.256|
|6||Charles Leclerc||Ferrari||44||+ 74.936|
|7||Esteban Ocon||Alpine||44||+ 75.640|
|8||Sebastian Vettel||Aston Martin||44||+ 78.107|
|9||Pierre Gasly||AlphaTauri||44||+ 92.181|
|10||Alex Albon||Williams||44||+ 101.900|
|11||Lance Stroll||Aston Martin||44||+ 103.078|
|12||Lando Norris||McLaren||44||+ 104.739|
|13||Yuki Tsunoda||AlphaTauri||44||+ 105.217|
|14||Guanyu Zhou||Alfa Romeo||44||+ 106.252|
|15||Daniel Ricciardo||McLaren||44||+ 107.163|
|16||Kevin Magnussen||Haas||43||+ 1 Lap|
|17||Mick Schumacher||Haas||43||+ 1 Lap|
|18||Nicholas Latifi||Williams||43||+ 1 Lap|
|RET||Valtteri Bottas||Alfa Romeo||1||Collision|