Verstappen on another planet in Belgian GP as he closes in on record win streak

Max Verstappen took a crushing victory at the 2023 Belgian Grand Prix, beating Red Bull teammate Sergio Perez by over 22 seconds.

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Max Verstappen eased to yet another victory in Formula 1 winning the 2023 Belgian Grand Prix from sixth on the grid, and Sergio Perez made it Red Bull‘s first one-two in almost 100 days.

Perez took the early lead from Charles Leclerc and always looked on course for a top-two finish, his first since the Miami GP, while Hamilton couldn’t catch the Ferrari for the final podium place.

Verstappen was up to fourth after just the first sector of the race and passed Leclerc for second on lap nine to move three seconds behind race leader Perez, who survived the first pit stop phase but not much more than that.

Verstappen breezed past Perez on lap 17 and never looked in danger of losing his eighth consecutive win – he’s now one away from equalling Sebastian Vettel‘s 2013 record.

The expected rain never really arrived apart from a few drops around lap 20, and McLaren‘s success streak ended with Oscar Piastri‘s early retirement and Lando Norris finishing seventh.

“It’s a new spot [to win from] P6!” Verstappen said post-race. “I knew we had a good car, it was just about surviving Turn 1, it all got very tight and I just stayed out of that.

“This track is super hard on the tyres, so you don’t want to do unnecessary things. It was tricky with the laps that it was raining – I had a little sideways moment, definitely not a corner you want it to happen on!”

Abrasive start claims Piastri and Sainz

Charles Leclerc of Ferrari leads Sergio Perez of Red Bull Racing into Turn 1 at the 2023 Belgian GP | Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

Piastri wasn’t quite sure how to react to his top three-finish in the sprint race, and was aiming for a first ‘proper’ F1 podium in the grand prix starting from fifth on the grid. But his race was over before it had really begun.

Carlos Sainz locked up and lunged to the inside to avoid rear-ending Hamilton, but that took him into Piastri‘s path hugging the inside wall and crunched the Australian against the barrier causing fatal damage to the McLaren.

Despite escaping a penalty, Sainz also dropped to the pack while his teammate was the other big loser at the start.

Leclerc led into turn one from pole but was powerless to stop Perez on the Kemmel straight as he flew past the 2022 runner-up to take the lead for the first time since the Miami GP.

Dry Belgian GP fails to deliver final fireworks

Fernando Alonso in action at the 2023 Belgian GP | Aston Martin F1 team.

Weather forecasts predicting up to a 90% chance of rain built hopes that it could be a classic Belgian GP, but once again Spa failed to deliver on the Sunday.

There were some memorable overtakes, most notably Norris around the outside of Logan Sargeant at Rivage, but it was mostly lacking in drama for the second half of proceedings.

Aside from a smattering around the halfway-point of the race, it was a rainless affair which was dire news for McLaren, Norris was dead last at one point and climbed up to ninth in the damp, but his machinery looked lifeless once the track dried out again.

Meanwhile Aston Martin equalled their best race since the Canadian GP finishing fifth and ninth led by Fernando Alonso, some good news as they head into the summer break.

Lewis Hamilton was fourth, he gave up the chase on Leclerc to successfully take aim at the fastest lap point while George Russell‘s charge up the field stalled and he finished sixth.

Esteban Ocon continued Alpine‘s strong Spa weekend with a valuable eighth-place finish, and Tsunoda capped off a lighting-quick bounceback race to claim the final point after a disappointing Hungarian GP.

But no one looked remotely close to stopping Verstappen, who won from sixth on the grid for the first time.

That means he breaks the record for the most grid positions won from, and he could equal Vettel‘s win streak at his home Dutch GP.

Adam Dickinson
Adam Dickinson
An international multi-award-winning journalist, Adam Dickinson has written for Total-Motorsport.com since June 2022 and also contributes to TNT Sports, Eurosport and the Rugby Paper. He's also had articles published in the Daily Telegraph and several local newspapers, and previously worked for Last-Lap.co.uk and FeederSeries.net in motorsport and graduated with a First-Class Journalism Degree from the University of Sheffield having also studied in Oklahoma. Adam started watching F1 by accident in 2007, catching the last race in Indianapolis, and attended his first race as a journalist at the 2023 British Grand Prix.
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