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Belgian Grand Prix: Max Verstappen extends lead after eighth straight win at Spa-Francorchamps
Despite starting from 6th place due to a five-place grid penalty, Max Verstappen cruised to victory at the Belgian Grand Prix in Spa-Francorchamps on Sunday.
The Dutchman’s winning margin was 22.3 seconds over his Red Bull teammate Sergio Perez, further confirming the driver and stable’s dominance in the Formula One championships.
Joining the pair on the podium was Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) who had started in pole position, while Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) came fourth and Fernando Alonso (Aston Martin) fifth.
It was the last meeting of the season before a one month break in which rival stables will be wondering how they can even attempt to chase down Verstappen’s supreme lead.
But if the final laps were a relaxed affair, the 25 year-old had to concentrate as the lights went out. "As expected, you had to survive the first corner. It was tight and cars hit each other. I wanted to stay out of it all.”
The Ardennes circuit is the most challenging in the world and Verstappen like the rest of the pack had to carefully manage his tyres when light rain briefly showered down on the fickle track from the 19th lap. “I almost lost the car in the Raidillon. It was raining, but it was difficult to estimate the intensity. This is exactly the corner where you don't want anything to happen.”
But the driver performed with a self-assurance that included a testy exchange with his engineer over tactics and pit-stops. For Red Bull team principal Christian Horner it was a “magic race” even if the outcome was inevitably rather predictable for onlookers.
The top 10 was completed by George Russell (Mercedes), Lando Norris (McLaren), Esteban Ocon (Alpine), Lance Stroll (Aston Martin) and Yuki Tsunoda (AlphaTauri). Oscar Piastri (McLaren) and Carlos Sainz Jr (Ferrari) were forced to retire after making contact in the intense first lap.
If Verstappen scored victory at his favourite track in front of a cheering orange army of supporters, he can expect a bigger fan roar at the next championship meeting in Zandvoort in the Netherlands on 27 August.
Photo: Max Verstappen (Red Bull) in action at Spa-Francorchamps ©Belga/Benoît Doppagne