Race Weekend Central

Max Verstappen Takes Wet Sprint Win at Spa

Once again, Max Verstappen was able to win in Formula 1, albeit in Saturday’s (July 29) Sprint race. To date, Red Bull Racing has won every round of the 2023 F1 season. However, much like his pole run the day prior at Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps, Verstappen still had to overcome plenty to keep his place at the top of the grid.

“It was all under control,” Verstappen told Sky Sports’ Naomi Schiff after the race. “The car was quick, the tires were holding on. Just tiny little issues.”

Verstappen feels confident in his chances to win Sunday’s Grand Prix, despite starting in sixth place due to a grid penalty.

“I need to pass a few cars, so I think the biggest risk is just lap 1, turn 1,” Verstappen said. “It’s always very tricky there. As long as we stay out of trouble, we’ll have a quick car.”

The formation lap for the Sprint began an hour after it was originally scheduled and thirty minutes from where it was rescheduled due to rain delays in the undercard events of the day in Spa.

Five formation laps were done behind the safety car, before a rolling start to begin the now 11 lap race due to the four extra formation laps.

Every driver started on full wet tires, but at the start of the race, half of the grid pitted for the faster intermediate tires. This included second place Oscar Piastri, who leapfrogged Verstappen to take the lead after Verstappen stayed out for the first lap.

See also
Max Verstappen Survives Chaotic Qualifying for Pole in Belgium

On the third lap, Fernando Alonso spun around in turn 11 and into the gravel. The two-time F1 champion celebrated his 42nd birthday by walking back to the pits before the end of the race. The incident brought out the safety car, which came in with six laps to go.

Verstappen was able to get back by Piastri on the restart, then pulled away in the closing laps to finish over six-and-a-half seconds on Piastri, who finished second.

“I thought the safety car was going to be in my favor,” Piastri said following the race in the podium interview with F1 media, in reflection. “It meant less laps to hold [Verstappen] behind. But I looked out of turn 1, I thought I had a decent restart, looked at the top of Eau Rouge but he was already on top of me. I couldn’t keep him behind on the straight.”

Pierre Gasly also took advantage of many of the leaders not pitting to start the race to take third. The Ferrari drivers of Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc finished fourth and fifth respectively, while Lando Norris finished sixth.

In the two laps following the restart, there was a massive battle between multiple cars for fourth place, in particular the Ferrari drivers, Lewis Hamilton and Sergio Perez.

Hamilton and Perez made contact on lap seven and Perez damaged his side pods. Perez struggled with the damage, going off track at one point and running in 17th before the team finally called him into the pits to retire the car.

Hamilton was given a five second penalty for avoidable contact with Perez and finished seventh after crossing the line in fourth. George Russell was able to secure the final point of the Sprint by finishing eighth.

2023 F1 Belgian Grand Prix Sprint Results

The final leg of the 2023 Belgian Grand Prix weekend will come on Sunday, July 30. Lights out for the Grand Prix will come at 9 a.m. ET, with coverage on ESPN.

About the author

Michael has watched NASCAR for 20 years and regularly covered the sport from 2013-2021. He moved on to Formula 1, IndyCar, and SRX coverage for the site, while still putting a toe in the water from time-to-time back into the NASCAR pool.

Sign up for the Frontstretch Newsletter

A daily email update (Monday through Friday) providing racing news, commentary, features, and information from Frontstretch.com
We hate spam. Your email address will not be sold or shared with anyone else.

Share via