F1 championship leader Max Verstappen easily won the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa-Francorchamps in 2022 despite serving a back of the grid penalty.
Verstappen, who had already demonstrated his superior speed in Saturday qualifying, took the lead early in the 44-lap race and controlled the situation from there. With eight races remaining, the Dutchman currently holds a 93-point advantage over Red Bull teammate Perez.
Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz easily maintained his lead from the line, helped by fellow front-row starter Perez’s weak start. Perez then desperately tried to chop around Fernando Alonso’s Alpine but instead lurched sideways, letting the two Mercedes cars by as well.
Behind them, Verstappen’s other Red Bull, which had also started on the softs, was moving in the opposite direction. Although he was supposed to start 15th, he gained two extra laps thanks to two pit stops by AlphaTauri, which were caused by Yuki Tsunoda’s engine penalties and Pierre Gasly’s grid-side electrical issue.
Verstappen moved up to 10th at the start and was poised to move up even further when former McLaren teammates Lewis Hamilton and Alonso made contact while dueling for second into Les Combes.
Alonso appeared to be completely pressed against the inside kerb as Hamilton attempted to pass him around the outside on entering. Alonso then punted Hamilton off and referred to him as a “idiot” and someone who “only knows how to drive starting first.”
Perez and George Russell used Hamilton and Alonso’s contact as a chance to overtake both cars, even though Perez had just re-passed Russell on the Kemmel straight for what would later become second. Alonso was able to continue, but Hamilton was shortly told to park up his broken-down Mercedes W13.
Another retirement occurred on the second lap, and this one led to the deployment of a safety car, which eliminated Sainz’s two-second advantage.
Williams’ Nicholas Latifi, was essentially to blame for hitting the gravel on the exit of Les Combes and spinning, but Valtteri Bottas was the one who suffered the greatest loss. Bottas’ Alfa Romeo beached in the gravel while desperately attempting to avoid the spinning Williams; Latifi was able to keep going.
Verstappen, who was in eighth place at the time of the restart after the safety car was withdrawn two laps later, overtook Williams’ Alex Albon and McLarens’ Daniel Ricciardo inside one lap of the restart.
He later overtook Sebastian Vettel’s Aston Martin into Les Combes and then made unopposed passes on Alonso and Russell over the course of two consecutive laps to move into the podium.
Verstappen took the lead on lap 12. Verstappen easily passed Perez on the straight after Sainz pitted out of first place after catching the medium-shod Perez and complaining to the team that he was wasting “silly amounts of time.”
Surprisingly, considering the different tyre compounds, Perez was the first Red Bull to stop, on lap 14, likely to take Charles Leclerc’s place. The Monegasque had persevered after stopping under the early safety car after having a jammed visor tear-off from his front right removed.
Verstappen emerged ahead of both but behind the undercutting Sainz, who he would reel in and pass with ridiculous ease a few laps later. Perez had aggressively fought Leclerc off into Les Combes, infuriating the Ferrari driver over the amount of space between the two cars.
Perez quickly made a similar maneuver, but by that time Verstappen had already gotten ahead by six seconds. Verstappen was never seriously threatened for the remainder of the race and that advantage had nearly increased by the time the Red Bulls pitted once more.
The two Red Bulls were separated by 17.841 seconds at the chequered flag as Sainz, who had resisted Russell’s late challenge, came in third, finishing nine seconds after Perez. With two laps remaining, Leclerc pitted for new soft tires and came out just ahead of Alonso, who subsequently passed him on the Kemmel straight. He was on track to finish a dismal fifth.
Leclerc, who had newer tires, was still unable to grab the fastest lap point away from the Red Bull ace on the final lap. He then received a warning for exceeding the pit lane speed limit and moved behind Alonso as required. Alpine’s Esteban Ocon who had previously served a back-of-the-grid infraction, made a highlight-reel two-in-one pass into Les Combes in the closing stages to take seventh.
Vettel finished eighth as Gasly advanced from his pitlane start to finish ninth, while Albon, who had fought off Vettel’s Aston Martin teammate Lance Stroll late in the race, finished tenth for Williams.
2022 F1 BELGIAN GRAND PRIX – RACE RESULTS
|1||Max Verstappen||NED||Oracle Red Bull Racing||44 Laps|
|2||Sergio Perez||MEX||Oracle Bull Racing||+ 17.841s|
|3||Carlos Sainz||ESP||Scuderia Ferrari||+ 26.886s|
|4||George Russell||GBR||Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team||+ 29.140s|
|5||Fernando Alonso||ESP||Scuderia Ferrari||+ 73.256s|
|6||Charles Leclerc||MON||Scuderia Ferrari||+ 74.936s|
|7||Esteban Ocon||FRA||BWT Alpine F1 Team||+ 75.640s|
|8||Sebastian Vettel||GER||Aston Martin Aramco Cognizant Formula One Team||+ 78.107s|
|9||Pierre Gasly||FRA||Scuderia AlphaTauri||+ 92.181s|
|10||Alexander Albon||THA||Williams Racing||+ 1:01.900s|
|11||Lance Stroll||CAN||Aston Martin Aramco Cognizant Formula One Team||+ 1:03.078s|
|12||Lando Norris||GBR||McLaren F1 Team||+ 1:05.217s|
|13||Yuki Tsunoda||JPN||Scuderia AlphaTauri||+ 1:06.252s|
|14||Guanyu Zhou||CHN||Alfa Romeo F1 Team Orlen||+ 1:07.163s|
|15||Daniel Ricciardo||AUS||McLaren F1 Team||+ 1 Lap|
|16||Kevin Magnussen||DEN||Haas F1 Team||+ 1 Lap|
|17||Mick Schumacher||GER||Haas F1 Team||+ 1 Lap|
|18||Nicholas Latifi||CAN||Williams Racing||+ 1 Lap|
|Valtteri Bottas||FIN||Alfa Romeo F1 Team Orlen||DNF|
|Lewis Hamilton||GBR||Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team||DNF|