Race Weekend Central

Max Verstappen Comes From 14th for Belgian Grand Prix Win

Max Verstappen marched through the field in the Belgian Grand Prix, charging from 14th position Sunday (Aug. 28) to take the race win and a commanding lead in the 2022 Formula 1 standings.

Starting that far back due to power unit replacement penalties, Verstappen easily dispatched much of the F1 field for his ninth win of the season and 29th of his career.

It was also his second straight victory at Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps, a repeat after last year’s fiasco that consisted of two laps behind the safety car in a monsoon.

“It was a hectic first lap, to stay out of trouble,” Verstappen told Martin Brundle in F1 media’s podium interviews after the race. “So many things were happening in front of me. But once we settled in after the safety car, the car was really on rails. Picked the right places to pass people and we could look after our tires, that’s how we made our way forward. Then, once we were in the lead, it was all about managing everything.”

Sergio Perez made it a Red Bull one-two lockout in second.  What at one point seemed to be a season during which Ferrari would finally retake its throne after over a decade groveling has turned instead into a Red Bull track meet, as the bulls now have 10 wins to the horse’s four.

Carlos Sainz, who started on pole in his Ferrari, could only watch the two Red Bulls get by with their superior race pace but was able to salvage a podium in third. George Russell made a valiant charge in the closing laps to catch up with Sainz but could only manage fourth.

Alpine took a massive step forward in the battle for fourth in the constructors’ standings, putting Fernando Alonso in fifth and Esteban Ocon in seventh while neither McLaren finished in the points.

There were two incidents in the race, both occurring in the first two laps. On lap one, Lewis Hamilton squeezed into Alonso on the inside of turn 5 for second position, causing the Mercedes to take major damage and go airborne with the rear up. Hamilton tried to get back to the pit lane but only got back to turn 16 at the longest track on the F1 calendar.

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Alonso, despite his eventual good finish, was not pleased with the driver he has raced with hundreds of times and who came into the series as his teammate in the legendary championship battle of 2007.

“What an idiot!” Alonso exclaimed on the team radio. “Closing the door from the outside. I mean, we have a mega start but [Hamilton] only knows how to drive and start in first.”

The next lap, Valtteri Bottas and Nicholas Latifi spun out in turn 7, with Bottas beached in the gravel and helping to bring out the safety car along with the stalled Mercedes of Hamilton. It was the lone safety car of the day as Bottas and Hamilton were the only drivers on the grid that did not finish the race.

Charles Leclerc had a very up-and-down day, having to start alongside Verstappen due to those same power unit replacement penalties. He also needed an unplanned pit stop due to minor damage from debris in the brake ducts due to the Hamilton/Alonso wreck.

Leclerc never challenged for a podium as a result while a last-lap bid for fastest lap was denied by both being passed by Alonso getting out of pit road and a five-second time penalty due to pit road speeding that negated his last lap pass of Alonso, anyway. Leclerc ended up sixth after the penalty.

Rounding out the final three points positions were Sebastian Vettel, Pierre Gasly and Alex Albon.

With eight races remaining in the 2022 season, Verstappen now has a 93-point lead on teammate Perez, while Leclerc sits in third, down by 98 to Verstappen. In constructors’, Red Bull is now running away with a 118-point lead on Ferrari, followed by Mercedes, while Alpine took a 20-point lead on McLaren for fourth. Further back, the battle for seventh has come down to Haas (34 points), AlphaTauri (-5), and Aston Martin (-10).

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About the author


Michael has watched NASCAR for 20 years and regularly covered the sport from 2013-2021, and also formerly covered the SRX series from 2021-2023. He now covers the FIA Formula 1 World Championship, the NASCAR Xfinity Series, and road course events in the NASCAR Cup Series.

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