The 2023 Belgian Grand Prix ended up devolving into what many Formula 1 races have this year: a Max Verstappen track-meet.
Even with Verstappen taking a grid penalty for new engine components and starting down in sixth, there was little doubt the Dutchman would end the day anywhere but on the top step of the podium.
“I knew that we had a great car,” Verstappen told Sky Sports. “It was just about surviving turn 1. I could see it was all getting a little bit tight. Been in that position before so just stayed out of that and it all worked out. After that, I think we just made the right moves. Got a little stuck there in the beginning in a DRS train but once that cleared, I could do my own pace.”
Verstappen passed pole-sitter Charles Leclerc for second on lap nine in turn 5, using the Red Bull’s superior straight line speed to make the pass following the Kemmel Straight. Verstappen then made a similar pass on Sergio Perez on lap 17, taking the lead for the first time outside of the first pit cycle.
Verstappen never looked back to take his eighth consecutive win in F1, just one off from the all-time driver record of nine by Sebastian Vettel in 2013. A third straight championship is almost a formality now for the Red Bull driver.
Perez was able to make it a Red Bull 1-2 by finishing second. Leclerc was able to save face and finish third to take the final spot on the podium.
Lewis Hamilton took a gamble in the closing laps to go for fastest lap after building up enough of a cushion on Fernando Alonso in fifth to take a free pit stop. The gamble paid off, Hamilton thus swiped a point from Verstappen.
Alpine was able to get some points in the final race of the Otmar Szafnauer era, with Esteban Ocon finishing eighth. Lance Stroll finished ninth and Yuki Tsunoda took the last point of the day in 10th.
Oscar Piastri, after finishing second in the Sprint earlier in the weekend, hit the wall after contact with Carlos Sainz in the first corner of the first lap. The McLaren stalled out between turns 13 and 14 and Piastri ended up as an early did-not-finish after starting fifth.
Sainz would retire mid-way through the race due to being so slow from the damage. These two would be the only drivers to retire prematurely from the incident-free race.
Next up for F1 is the traditional summer break. The factories will shut down and the drivers will go on holiday for much of the month of August. Everything will get back into gear, however, by Aug. 27, when the lights go out for the 2023 Dutch Grand Prix. Coverage will begin at 9 a.m. ET 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.
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.