Max Verstappen revealed he expected contact before Oscar Piastri and Carlos Sainz ahead of their contentious turn-one incident at the 2023 Belgian Grand Prix.
Sainz locked up heading into the La Source hairpin and dived to the inside to avoid rear-ending Lewis Hamilton, but that brought him straight into Oscar Piastri‘s path hugging the wall and the McLaren was crunched before retiring due to damage.
Sainz escaped a penalty for the incident but then blamed Piastri post-race after he finished outside the points, while Verstappen navigated the chaos on his way to yet another victory in 2023.
“My start was okay, but then I could see cars lock up so you had to go to the inside,” Verstappen told the media.
“But then of course, Oscar was there as well and they both went deep into the corner so I knew exactly what was going to happen because I had the same happen to me in 2016. I was like, Okay, I’m gonna stay out of it, I go wide.”
“But then of course, they had damage and you have to wait and see what they’re going to do on the exit because I could see Oscar couldn’t really steer anymore.
“So we lost a little bit of momentum there. But luckily, it was all ok and of course and yeah, from there basically my race started.”
Starting fifth in the 2016 Belgian GP, Verstappen dived down the inside of Kimi Raikkonen at the start, pushing the Finn out and causing him to tag Ferrari teammate Sebastian Vettel in the process.
There were some differences – his move was much later than Piastri‘s, who had held the inside off the start – and it was the start of a controversial race for the Dutchman as he continued to tussle with Raikkonen and pulled some borderline moves later on.
Verstappen: Belgian GP win wasn’t as easy at it looked
For most onlookers, Verstappen‘s 2023 Belgian GP victory – his eighth on the trot – was a foregone conclusion as soon as he navigated the first sector safely.
He got onto the podium on lap six, passed Charles Leclerc for second three laps later and then chased down the three-second gap to the front and eased past Sergio Perez for the lead on lap 17 – well before the halfway point of the race.
It moves Verstappen one win behind Sebastian Vettel‘s record win streak set in 2013 and means the Dutchman could equal that tally at his home race.
However, Verstappen insisted his 22-second win at Spa wasn’t as easy as it looked.
“I was a bit unlucky,” Verstappen added. “I got stuck behind Lewis because he was in the DRS of Charles and with them having the highest top speed it was just impossible to pass.
“So I had to wait for him to drop out of the DRS and as soon as he didn’t have it anymore, I could pass. And then I think two or three laps later, I could pass Charles.
“But with that, I think I hurt my tyres a bit too much. So basically, as soon as I had my stop on to the medium, I could feel that the car was in a much better window and I could go a lot faster.”