Belgian GP ‘23: Verstappen Continues
The Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps is always an excellent venue for Formula 1. This year did not disappoint either. In a weekend with mixed weather conditions we saw plenty of action on track. From huge mistakes to masterful driving, F1 fans got the perfect race weekend before the long summer break.
Fascinating Belgian GP Sprint
The start of the F1 Sprint was already delayed by an hour due to issues throughout the day at Spa. When 17:00 came, a massive downpour hit the Spa-Francorchamps circuit, and the start was postponed yet again.
Spoon though, the weather cleared and the sun came out — but the race would start under the safety car. After four laps behind the pace car, it was clear that the track was ready for intermediate tires. As Max Verstappen bolted ahead of the pack, Oscar Piastri and 10 other drivers dove into the pits behind him.
Verstappen pitted for his inters just a lap later, but to his shock, Piastri snatched the race's lead away. The Australian became the first rookie to lead a race in the past decade as he pushed his McLaren to the limit with the Red Bull hunting him down.
Following a safety car caused by Fernando Alonso, Verstappen powered his way past the McLaren on the Kemmel straight to retake the lead of the race. Meanwhile, Sergio Perez was falling back after making contact with Lewis Hamilton while fighting for position. The damage to Checo’s car was severe, and the team decided to retire the car. Hamilton was also given a 5-second time penalty for the incident.
Verstappen took victory in the sprint, Piastri drove brilliantly to finish in second, and Pierre Gasly also had a superb race that saw him finish in third place.
Business as Usual for Red Bull
Max Verstappen might have been fastest in Q3, but he started the Belgian Grand Prix from 6th place on the grid. Leclerc inherited pole positon after Verstappen had to change his gearbox ahead of this weekend’s action.
The start of the race was chaos — Carlos Sainz was pushed to the inside barrier of La Source, whio in turn forced Oscar Piastri into the wall. The damage was so severe on the Australian’s Mclaren that he ahd tov retire from the Grand Prix. Certainly not the way he would have hoped for the race to go following an incredigle result in the Sprint the day before.
Meanwhile, at the front of the pack, Sergio Perez moved ahead of Charles Leclerc to take the lead of the Grand Prix. Verstappen benefited from the Ferrari-McLaren contact and got his car up into 4th place, just behind Lewis Hamilton.
With the pace of the Red Bull it was only a matter of time before Verstappen flew past Hamilton — that happened on lap 6. Just three laps later, Verstappen blasted past Leclerc to take second place in the race too.
Following the first round of pit stops, Verstappen charged down on his teammate, who could do nothing but was as the number 1 car came flying past him on the Kemmel straight on lap 17.
The threat of rain was looming in the area, and on lap 19 there were reports of a small downpour through a couple of corners. However, in the end it wasn’t enough to bring out intermediate tires thanks to the sheer size and length of the Spa circuit — making half the track dry, and the other half damp.
In the end, Verstappen took victory, Sergio Perez finished in second place, and Charles Leclerc took third place.
Verstappen has now won 8 races in a row, behind only Sebastian Vettel. Can the Dutchman equal the record at his home race in Zandvoort?
The Mid-Season Break is Here
Formula 1 heads into the summer break as drivers and teams take some time off and reset ahead of the the second half of the season.
The next race will be the Dutch Grand Prix on the 27th of August. It’s a circuit that doesn’t necessarily suit the Red Bull car, so we might see some interesting results.
McLaren were strong at Spa — on a circuit where they ran high downforce and would have benefited more from wet weather conditions. Zandvoort should be a stronger circuit for them, Mercedes, and Ferrari.