Max Verstappen made light work of his grid penalty by storming through the field to claim a dominant win in the Belgian Grand Prix.
Reigning world champion Verstappen had been in dominant form all weekend at Spa but was among seven drivers to receive a grid penalty after using too many engine parts.
Verstappen was 14th on the grid but streamed through the field untroubled despite a dramatic opening lap where Lewis Hamilton retired after colliding with Fernando Alonso.
The Dutchman was into the podium places by lap eight and, following the first round of pit stops, he passed Ferrari’s pole-sitter Carlos Sainz to lead on lap 18.
It was plain sailing for Verstappen and he is now trailed in the drivers’ standings by Sergio Perez, who is 93 points behind his teammate after completing a Red Bull one-two.
Sainz completed the podium, with team-mate Leclerc – who started 15th – coming in fifth behind George Russell, who salvaged something from a difficult weekend for Mercedes that reached its nadir when Hamilton’s race ended early.
Alonso’s Alpine emerged unscathed and he finished sixth after a last gasp joust with Leclerc, although those positions were reversed when the Mongasque was penalised for speeding in the pit lane.
Esteban Ocon was seventh in the other Alpine as Aston Martin’s Sebastian Vettel, Pierre Gasly in the AlphaTauri and Williams’ Alex Albon completed the points positions.
Verstappen in a class of his own
Spa is one of F1’s grandest stages and generally promises lots of drama. That was certainly the case during the early stages on Sunday, although once Verstappen hit the front, there was a sense of procession. Having won his first world title when things went to the wire in Abu Dhabi last season, the Dutchman is in a class of his own this time around. A tenth-placed start in Hungary, 14th here and the result was inevitably the same.
Russell salvages Mercedes weekend as Ferrari toil
After Hamilton said it felt like he was driving his Mercedes with a parachute on the back of it this weekend, it felt a little on the nose when he sent himself airborne by clattering into Alonso. The seven-time world champion conceded the collision was his fault, with Alonso in his blindspot. Russell stuck to his task after a tough time in qualifying and briefly looked like he might haul in Sainz.
As it happened, the Ferrari man held on to the final podium spot, but he’ll have had designs on much more after making a clean start from pole position. Leclerc’s travels through the field were nowhere near as straightforward as Verstappen’s and a pit-lane speeding penalty that dropped him down to fifth summed up the Mongasque’s weekend as he dropped below Perez to third in the drivers’ standings.
Belgium back with a bang
Although Verstappen’s brilliance meant this wasn’t quite the thriller many anticipated, there was plenty of great racing and overtaking. This was much-needed for Spa after last season’s deluge that forced red flags after only three laps. Unexpected scorching sunshine let the drivers get to work, with managing tyre degradation their only concern. Before the race, F1 announced it will be back at the circuit in 2023 – a decision to delight purists.
F1 Belgian Grand Prix 2022 live updates, highlights from Spa
CHEQUERED FLAG: Verstappen wins the Belgian Grand Prix! From 14th on the grid, that really has been a ridiculously dominant performance to claim a ninth win of the season. Perez completes a Red Bull one-two. Sainz holds off Russell to complete the podium and Leclerc at least manages to get back past Alonso to claim fifth position.
Lap 43: Leclerc nipped into the pits and it’s a gamble that might not pay off as Alonso slipstream him on his return and gets past to go fifth.
Lap 42: Two second separate Sainz and Russell with two-and-a-half laps to go. Can the Ferrari driver hang on to a podium place?
Lap 40: Has Sainz stemmed the tide. Russell is still taking time out of him but it’s down to one or two tenths per lap rather than a second a time. Perhaps the Mercedes man has gone too hard and is now feeling it with his tires. He needs to get into the DRS zone soon, as we have only four laps to go.
Lap 35: Russell continued to gain on Sainz. That gap is down to under four seconds. Ferrari could come out of this weekend without a podium. As Red Bull dominate at the front, that would be a particularly bruising experience.
Meanwhile, there’s all sorts of caper going on in the fight for seventh. Vettel got himself in position with a smart pass out of turn now before Ocon and Gasly passed him down either side. The former world champion recovered track position at the expense of the latter and is now eighth.
Gasly ⚔️ Vettel ⚔️ Ocon 🍿#BelgianGP #F1 pic.twitter.com/CZxOTNeO6Y
— Formula 1 (@F1) August 28, 2022
Lap 33: Hamilton has spoken about his retirement and concedes the collision with Alonso was his fault. “He was in my blindspot,” he said, before apologising to the Mercedes team. Russell is fourth and can still salvage something from their weekend.
Lap 31: Verstappen pits and his crew are a swift as he is on the track. He’s back out in the lead and it should be a procession for him from this point. The battle behind Perez, Sainz and Russell behind him could be a thriller as Leclerc gets past Vettel to go fifth.
Lap 26: Russell is third as Sainz and Leclerc pit. The Mercedes was lapping quicker than the Ferraris before those stops, so it will be interesting to see how that one shakes out. Verstappen’s lead over Perez is up to 11.8 seconds.
Lap 21: Perez deals with Sainz and it’s Red Bull 1-2. Looking like a long afternoon for everyone else from this point.
Lap 18: Max Verstappen leads the Belgian Grand Prix. The world champion gets into Sainz’s slipstream and the Ferrari cannot respond. He’s already 1.8 second behind the man who started 14th on the grid. Verstappen is about to disappear from the field.
Lap 17: Vettel makes a nice pass on Albon to get his Aston Martin up into eighth, while Ocon gets around Ricciardo to go up into the final points position. As is customary at Spa, there’s gripping action everywhere you look, not least at the front of the field…
Lap 16: More good news for Red Bull as Mercedes’ Russell benefits from better traction out of La Source, gets in Leclerc’s slipstream and passes the Ferrari.
Lap 15: Snappy pit stop for Perez, who returns to the track by splitting the Ferraris. Leclerc is all over him on warm tires but Perez has managed to fend him off. That’s worked out very well for Red Bull.
Lap 14: Sainz makes use of those fresh tires to pass Vettel. That put him into fourth and Russell’s first pit stop means the Ferrari man is third, 11 second behind Verstappen. The world champion is extending his first stint on the track and pushing for a one-stop strategy.
13 laps in and Max Verstappen leads an already hectic Belgian Grand Prix! 🇧🇪 pic.twitter.com/0hklTIplMx
— Sky Sports F1 (@SkySportsF1) August 28, 2022
Lap 12: Sainz dives into the pits and is back out in sixth, stuck behind Ricciardo. He’s behind the Australian for four of five corners before making a pass. How costly will that be as the Red Bull duo get the hammer down at the front. Verstappen leads the Grand Prix now, having passed his team-mate.
Lap 11: Sainz has been told by the Ferrari garage that he is experiencing higher tyre degradation than expected. That could very well be the case throughout the field but the Red Bulls are closing in.
Lap 9: This is stunning stuff from Verstappen, who storms around Russell to enter the podium places. The world champion was 14th on the grid and for about four of the eight laps so far we were behind the safety car. His grid penalty buddy Leclerc is grafting away and has just made up a couple of places to move into 14th. Leclerc has made an early pit stop, whereas Verstappen is yet to come in.
Lap 6: Albon is the next man to dart past Ricciardo, with the Williams showing some slippery speed. Verstappen negotiates Vettel, with Alonso next in his sights.
Lap 5: We are racing again, with Sainz keeping his lead ahead of Perez. After tangling with Hamilton, Alonso is now all over the back of Russell, but the remaining Mercedes driver keeps hold of third. At the bus stop chicane, Verstappen nips around Ricciardo and is up into sixth from 14th on the grid.
Lap 2: It’s all going off, Spa style. Bottas and Latifi come together and the former’s car is beached. That’s his race done too.
We’ll have a safety car, which means Sainz will have to do it all again after a flying start. The Ferrari driver leads from Perez and Russell. Meanwhile, Verstappen and Leclerc are up to eighth and ninth, with this pause giving them chance to take further chunks out of the field.
Lap 1: Hamilton is in trouble, is loosing pace and has been told to come to a halt by the Mercedes garage. His race is over. Wil we need a safety car?
LIGHTS OUT: Sainz gets into the first corner first, Alonso up to second and Perez has lost places. Sainz now striking clear, but there’s contact between Hamilton and Alonso. Hamilton’s Mercedes bounces up in the air. Both men carry on but what’s the damage?
2 mins to lights out: We’re off on the formation lap. It’s going to be intriguing to see how things pan out for those who have plumped for soft tires.
15 mins to lights out: Fresh from playing his part in Manchester City’s 4-2 comeback win over Crystal Palace on Saturday, Kevin De Bruyne is on the grid and hanging out with Verstappen’s team. Team chief Christian Horner says he can have a go in the Red Bull if he signs for Coventry City. It’s an audacious pitch with the transfer deadline approaching…
📸 @KevinDeBruyne taking a few shots on the grid#BelgianGP #F1 pic.twitter.com/yDagjkyHy2
— Formula 1 (@F1) August 28, 2022
20 mins to lights out: The slew of penalties have had the knock-on effect of former world champion Fernando Alonso sitting third on the grid in his Alpine. The veteran is loving life up there and told Sky Sports today is about having fun. He expects Mercedes’ race pace to make them a different proposition than during qualification and senses inevitable involvement around the podium places from Verstappen and Leclerc before long.
30 mins to lights out: The cars are out on the grid and the usual pre-race jamboree is unfolding. It’s a sweltering day at Spa, which is unexpected and it’ll be interesting to see what impact that has on tyre strategy.
50 mins to lights out: Everyone loves race weekend at Spa, especially in today’s atypical sunshine. So it’s great news the race will be back next year. Go on, roll out your own take on that Wolf of Wall Street gif. You know you want to.
BREAKING: The #BelgianGP will return in 2023 #F1 pic.twitter.com/zrJ0uKlUtV
— Formula 1 (@F1) August 28, 2022
1hr to lights out: Verstappen and Leclerc’s misfortune should have created an opportunity for Mercedes, who had George Russell on pole in Hungary. It still might but they have struggled this weekend. Lewis Hamilton is fourth on the grid, one place ahead of Russell, but was 1.8 seconds shy of Verstappen in qualifying and told Sky Sports it feels like he is driving “with a parachute” attached to the back of his car on straights. Hamilton and the Mercedes garage crew were apparently burning the midnight oil to try and find some solutions on the eve of the race, but the story of an unsatisfactory 2022 looks set to continue.
1hr 10 mins to lights out: Max Verstappen, as has been the case for much of the season, has been in a class of his own this weekend. However, a grid penalty for using too many engine parts – the reigning world champion is one of six drivers to have been punished – means he must start down in 14th. With Charles Leclerc 15th and Lando Norris 17th for similar reasons at a famously high-speed track, expect plenty of drama in a little over an hour from now.
1 hr 30 mins to lights out: Hello and welcome to The Sporting News’ live coverage of the 2022 Belgian Grand Prix from Spa.
F1 Belgian Grand Prix 2022 provisional starting grid
*Driver given a grid penalty
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- Race: Belgian Grand Prix
- Date: Sunday, Aug. 28
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