Verstappen cruises to stunning victory in Spa

Verstappen cruises to stunning victory in Spa

August 28, 2022

There was no stopping Max Verstappen in Belgium as the reigning World Champion eased to victory in Spa after starting a lowly P14. His teammate Sergio Pérez made it another 1-2 for the Red Bull team, while pole-sitter Carlos Sainz finished third. George Russell finished fourth ahead of Fernando Alonso, while Charles Leclerc, who finished fifth initially, was demoted to sixth following a late penalty. Alonso’s teammate Esteban Ocon ended seventh ahead of Sebastian Vettel, while Pierre Gasly and Alex Albon rounded off the points places.

Verstappen was just in a league of his own; even a low-starting position couldn’t stop the Dutchman. The reigning World Champion was untouchable in Spa, and it feels like only a matter of time before he secures his second World title.

Pole-sitter Carlos Sainz got off well, but Sergio Pérez had a shocking getaway which saw Fernando Alonso take the second spot from the Mexican. Alonso’s strong start was undone, however, as the two-time World Champion had first-lap contact with his former McLaren teammate Lewis Hamilton, with the latter making a rare driver error and tagging Alonso from the back.

The tangle with Alonso saw Hamilton suffer heavy damage and he became the first retiree of the race. His teammate George Russell was P3, while four-time World Champion Sebastian Vettel also had a stunning start and was P5. 

Further down the grid, Valtteri Bottas and Nicholas Latfi came together which saw the Finn retire on the second lap. With the cars of both Hamilton and Bottas stuck on the track, an early Safety Car was deployed.

Racing resumed on Lap 5 and Sergio Pérez almost caught Carlos Sainz napping, but the Ferrari driver managed to hold on to his position. Behind them, George Russell was being pressured by Fernando Alonso, whose stellar start was undone by Hamilton. Verstappen, who started P14 due to engine penalties, was already up to fourth place by Lap 7 after performing a double overtake in a single lap on Vettel and Alonso. His title rival Charles Leclerc, meanwhile, was struggling and was behind Pierre Gasly in P16. 

By Lap 10, Verstappen was already in the podium places and only two seconds behind race leader Carlos Sainz. Sainz came in for his first pit-stop on Lap 12, having complained about high tyre degradation. Verstappen, meanwhile, took the lead of the race from his teammate on the same lap, while the only remaining Mercedes of George Russell remained in third ahead of Sebastian Vettel.

Sainz was back in the podium positions following Russell making his pit-stop on Lap 14, with the Mercedes driver rejoining in seventh place. Sainz’s teammate Leclerc was also making up places, and by Lap 14 was in fifth position behind his former Ferrari teammate Sebastian Vettel.

Sergio Pérez and Vettel both pitted on Lap 15. The Mexican rejoined in third place, while Vettel rejoined in tenth. Leclerc tried to take third position from Pérez as he came back out on the track, but the Mexican held his own and managed to fend off Leclerc, leaving him complaining about the Mexican’s overly aggressive move.

Race leader Verstappen came in for his stop on Lap 16 and rejoined in second place, just ahead of Sergio Pérez. Russell, meanwhile, got past Leclerc at La Source, taking fourth position from the Monégasque.

Verstappen re-took the lead of the race on Lap 18, going past Sainz on the main straight. With the Dutchman running away with the race, Ferrari called in Sainz for his second pit-stop on Lap 26 in an attempt to consolidate a podium position at least. George Russell, who was P2 following Sainz’s second stop, came in for his own stop on Lap 29 and re-joined in fourth.

The following lap, race leader Verstappen came in for his own second stop. Such was his first stint, however, that he came out in first place, still a good 8 seconds ahead of his teammate Sergio Pérez.

While Russell and Sainz kept entertaining the viewers by battling it out for that third spot, there was just no touching Verstappen, who romped to yet another win and finished a stunning 17 seconds ahead of teammate Sergio Pérez, having started P14. 

By securing his ninth victory of the season, Verstappen is now a whopping 98 points ahead of Charles Leclerc in third place, while Sergio Pérez has sneaked into the second spot in the title battle, 91 points behind his teammate.

Another 1-2 for Red Bull sees them build their Constructors’ lead to 118 points ahead of Ferrari, while Alpine’s fifth- and seventh-place finishes sees them strengthen their fourth-place position by 20 points. 

Racing continues next week as we head to Max Verstappen’s home country, the Netherlands. Given his current form, the signs are pretty clear as to who is likely to win.

Aditya Chaudhuri

Hailing from the City of Joy, the things that bring me joy are cricket, a good non-tilt CS:GO session, F1 and movies.

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