Max Verstappen made light work of his penalty shootout to win the 2022 Belgian Grand Prix from P14 on the grid at Red Bull 1-2 backed by Sergio Perez, while first place player Carlos Sainz finished P3 for Ferrari.
Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso tangled at Les Combes on lap 1, leaving the Mercedes driver out of the race before Valtteri Bottas pulled over to avoid Nicholas Latifi and pulled out a safety car on lap 2.
The restart saw Verstappen lining up for eighth while Sainz-Perez-Leclerc drove after having to seek out the intermediaries with a tear in the brake duct. Verstappen made quick work of the cars in front of him, and swept P3 by Lap 8 with only Perez and Sainz for the win.
Sainz pitted from soft to medium on lap 12, when Perez allowed to pass Verstappen and take the lead. The Dutchman extended his lead to lap 15 and the difference returned to Sainz, leading on lap 19 – another stop on lap 31 – before beating Perez by more than 18 seconds in a dominant show, at the fastest bid. bosom to boot.
Sainz completed the podium ahead of Mercedes’ George Russell, who had previously passed Charles Leclerc but lost to last on the podium by just over two seconds.
Leclerc stopped late on the soft tires in an effort to take the fastest lap, but missed a bonus point and only stuck to P5 ahead of Fernando Alonso. However, after he was caught for speeding in the pit lane, a five-second penalty dropped him to P6.
The two-time champion was passed again by Ferrari on the last lap but finished ahead of teammate Esteban Ocon, who fixed Sebastian Vettel (P8) and Pierre Gasly (P9) late in the race. Alex Albon rounded out the top ten for Williams, surpassing Lance Stroll for the last point.
Lando Norris managed to take on the feuding Albon and Stroll by the end of the race, but the McLaren driver missed the race and finished 12th, ahead of Yuki Tsunoda, who won a late race against Zhou Guanyu of Alfa Romeo.
That left Daniel Ricciardo in P15 ahead of the Haas duo – Kevin Magnussen 16 and Mick Schumacher 17 – while Nicholas Latifi finished 18 after three stops.
Belgian Grand Prix 2022: Hamilton exits accident-ridden race at Spa
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as it happened
Almost heralded with the news that Spa-Francorchamps would remain on the calendar for 2023, the historic Ardennes circuit was basking in the sun on Sunday afternoon. This means, of course, that conditions will be significantly different from the cold weather on Friday and Saturday.
Qualifying saw Carlos Sainz take pole position ahead of Sergio Perez even though Max Verstappen set the fastest time, with eight drivers subjected to engine and gearbox penalties at the Belgian Grand Prix. Those drivers are Max Verstappen, Charles Leclerc, Esteban Ocon, Lando Norris, Chu Guanyu, Mick Schumacher and Yuki Tsunoda – who would have started a pit lane after additional power unit changes.
So Verstappen was aiming not only to expand his championship lead by 80 points, but become the first driver to win a Belgian Grand Prix of P14 or less since Michael Schumacher, in 1995. Only Sainz, Bottas, Verstappen and Leclerc would start in the softs, Tsunoda being the initiator. The only one with solid tires – the rest on the media.
The lights went out, Sainz reacted faster as Fernando Alonso jumped to second ahead of the Mercedes duo and Perez slipped to fifth behind the Silver Arrows. Hamilton advanced before Alonso went to Les Combes but the alpine driver ran out of room and briefly put his opponent in the air. The Mercedes driver was out of the race.
“This guy just knows how to drive and starts first,” Alonso shouted angrily.
Verstappen fought the first lap to fly, jumping all the way to the P8 on his soft chariots, while Leclerc was up to 10th by the end of lap 1. The Lap 2 start signaled another collision – and a safety car – as birthday boy Valtteri Bottas went out to avoid Nicholas Latifi outside Out of control, who seemed to avoid Ocon.
Behind the safety car, Sainz will line up ahead of Perez and then Russell and Alonso, with Vettel in the top five. Leclerc was going to line up 9th behind Verstappen but he reported smoke from his right front tire and soon had to drill under caution, on lap 4, he took the medium tires, and lined up 17th ahead of the new nose nice. Ferrari’s pit wall quickly confirmed that the rupture was causing Leclerc’s right front brake to overheat, and that he was aiming for a one-stop strategy from there.
The race resumed on lap 5, after Sainz locked out in the final round while preparing for the resumption, causing Perez to fall back and lock him up at La Source and Russell slowed to avoid. That gave Alonso a lead in Russell at Kimmel Street but no position change, at least in the top five; Verstappen jumped to seventh on Alex Albon’s account and took another to P6 from Daniel Ricciardo in the final round. Ricciardo would then give up the P7 to Albon down the Kemmel Straight.
Aside from Verstappen, the top gainers by the end of the fifth cycle were Ocon, Norris and Zhou, who made up five places each at the start, while Tsunoda advanced six.
The championship leader was the fastest on the track by far and away from the track, beating Vettel on lap 6 on the final round, then Alonso with the DRS on lap 7. Sainz, who was two seconds ahead of Perez, was told to switch to “plan” B “.
By lap 8, Verstappen had made his way to the podiums with a DRS pass on Russell ahead of Les Combes, with only 2.5 seconds between him and the captain. Meanwhile, Leclerc was 14th at the start of lap 9, having passed Alfa Torres in a Ferrari speed show, and fixed Alfa Romeo from Zoe and Haas from Kevin Magnussen shortly after.
Albon and Gasly chose to drill for difficulties in Lap 11, and Williams and AlphaTauri all stick to one stop, before Sainz stopped for media at the end of that round – coming out in sixth but working his way past Ricciardo for fifth shortly after.
At the start of lap 12, Verstappen lit up the airwaves by telling his team he was losing a “ridiculous amount of time” behind Perez, and duly swept the Dutchman down the straight to take the lead at Les Combes.
The stops for hard tires for Ricciardo and Akon Alpine – but not Red Bull – quickly came to a halt with Russell taking the middles and Norris having a hard time shortly thereafter on lap 14.; Verstappen was adamant about extending his tenure.
Perez had to interact with Russell and look for the middlemen on lap 15, appearing dangerously close to Leclerc (the pair had little dealings with Kimmel) and just behind Sainz.
With a 13.8sec lead over Sainz, Verstappen entered the hole at the end of lap 15 and came out in second, just 4.6secs off the pole position.
Leclerc reeling from his close call with Perez, overtaking Ferrari’s Russell with the DRS, dropped Leclerc to P5. As for the other Ferrari, Verstappen rolled it and the Dutchman took the lead straight, having previously and reasonably aborted a movement around the outside of La Source on lap 19. By the end of that lap, he topped his lead in just over 2.5 seconds.
While Verstappen outlasted Sainz, Ferrari opened long negotiations with Leclerc – asking him if he would like to stop again to ensure a P5 finish…
Perez had one and two Ferrari backing chances long before Les Combes raced on lap 21 and a pass duly to Sainz, leaving the Spaniard in last place on the podium.
As Red Bull approached sunset to finish the game two places, Ferrari rounded up their drivers twice – struggling Sainz and middleweight Leclerc – on lap 26 with the fourth rookie chasing Russell’s center on the podium, and the final seventh. Leclerc will soon pass Ocon for P6, bypassing Vettel’s P5 on lap 31.
Perez reacted to the Ferraris on lap 28, taking his second stop on hard tyres and third – which became second when Russell went from middle to hard on lap 30. This saw Sainz return to last place on the podium, and the Briton chased him. He extended his second term.
After Verstappen extended his first soft-tire stint, he got into another batch of mods at Lap 31 and emerged well on the lead. Ferrari may be starting to feel its problems are only getting worse with Russell smashing into Sainz’s five-second podium lead. That became apparent when Sainz asked if there was a three-stop strategy, before being told that this would leave him behind Russell.
With a lead of 17.841 seconds, Verstappen drove a resounding Red Bull one and two while Sainz held onto P3, and Russell just over two seconds later made a mistake in P4.
As for Leclerc, he stopped on the penultimate lap in pursuit of the fastest lap but got out before Alonso, who overtook him. The Monegasque driver was able to fight back and save P5 but it turned out that he had sped up the pit lane, dropping Leclerc to P6 off the flag, behind Alonso.
Alonso ignored his tangle on lap 1 with Hamilton – who took no action by the hosts as they considered it a racing accident – to finish fifth, ahead of teammate Ocon in P7. The Frenchman made two daring moves, first a double pass on Ricciardo and Latifi through Blanchimont on lap 17, before making a wide treble with Gasly and Ricciardo on the Kemmel Straight on the Lap 36 as he advances to P7.
Vettel knocked out Gasly’s P8 in that melee but couldn’t fix Ocon, as the pair made similar mid-hard-medium strategies. Although Gasly and Albon followed the same strategies, they finished ninth and tenth respectively thanks to longer runs in third – ending long dry spells without points for both AlphaTauri and Williams.
Stroll missed the last point, picking the mods for his first two stints before finishing the race on difficulties. Despite the strong start, Norris finished just over a second behind the Aston Martin driver in the P12,
Zhou and Tsunoda both finished the race on soft tires and clashed at the end of the race, and Tsunoda beat the Alfa Romeo driver to take the P13 for AlphaTauri.
Ricciardo was running in the top 10 with Norris until the second task, and the Australian fell to 15th with the checkered flag. Kevin Magnussen settled on the P16 after a slow 11 lap pit stop, and Mick Schumacher’s 17th in an event-free first race with Haas’ latest upgrade – while Nicholas Latifi carried a race to P17 after pitting three times.
“The first lap was very frantic to try and get out of trouble,” Verstappen said. “There were a lot of things going on in front of me. But once we settled after the safety car, the car was really on the rails, we picked the right places to pass people and we could take care of our tires and that’s how we made the road ahead.
“Then, once we were up front, it was all about managing everything – but the whole weekend was great. It was a weekend that I hadn’t imagined before, but I think we want more of it, so keep working hard” – Max Verstappen, Red Bull
Verstappen’s second home race of the season ends next weekend on September 2-4 at Zandvoortthe Dutchman has a 93-point lead over teammate Perez – who jumped Charles Leclerc in the Drivers arrangement.
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