Max Verstappen (Red Bull) has taken a dominant victory at the Belgian F1 GP 2022 this Sunday at the Spa-Francorchamps Circuit after executing the greatest comeback of his Formula One career.
The Dutchman, who started in fourteenth place, has finished ahead of teammate Checo Pérez by more than seventeen seconds to seal the fourth Red Bull 1-2 of the season.
Pole holder Carlos Sainz, for his part, has taken his seventh podium of the year, completing the top three. Despite his best efforts, the Ferrari driver was overwhelmed by the strength of the energy drink team.
Sainz took the risky decision of starting the race on soft tires, but it was in vain. The degradation and overheating of his compounds prevented him from standing up to his Milton Keynes rivals.
Back onto the star of the day – and of the championship – the Dutch champion has taken his ninth victory of the season after Saudi Arabia, Emilia-Romagna, Miami, Spain, Azerbaijan, Canada, France & Hungary 29th of his career, to increase his lead of the standings to 93 points. To round up a perfect day, his main rival for the crown, Charles Leclerc (Ferrari), finished in sixth place from fifteenth.
The young Monegasque had to endure a five-second penalty for approaching the pit lane above the allowed speed when he was trying to rob the Dutchman of the fast lap. That sanction has dethroned him from second place in the standings, in favour of Pérez (191 vs 186 points).
Sainz holds on to the pole at the start
Sainz, the only one of the favourites on soft tires, defended his first position with ease at the start of the Belgian F1 GP 2022. Pérez, on the other hand, had a bad start from second place and was overtaken by Alonso and Mercedes´ Hamilton & Russell.
The seven-time champion also tried to overtake Alonso on the first lap and, but ended up crashing against him. Soon after that incident, which left the #44 out of action, came the second accident of the day.
On the first lap of the Belgian F1 GP 2022, Nicholas Latifi (Williams) spun and crashed onto Valtteri Bottas (Alfa Romeo), triggering a safety car.
The race resumed three laps later with Sainz at the lead keeping Russell and Alonso at bay behind. At this point, Verstappen had already climbed to eighth place.
Max is coming!
Nine laps on and Sainz was still nearly two seconds ahead of Pérez, despite his badly degraded tires. Meanwhile, the flying Dutchman was already prowling behind in third. What a performance!
Three laps later, Sainz went on his first pit stop (2,4 seconds) and Checo gave the head of the race to Max. The Dutchman would then take control of the situation on the fourteenth lap despite his medium tires, opening up a 3-second distance in just a few meters.
Moments later the Mexican driver went to the pits for the first time (2,2 seconds) to mount medium tires again. Copying the move, Max changed his softs for mediums (2,8 seconds), and Sainz regained the Belgian lead with 4,6 seconds over the current champion. Max, however, setting a relentless pace on his medium tires, caught up with and passed the Spaniard on the eighteenth lap.
The Dutch whirlwind escapes ahead
From that moment on, the ‘Mad’ Max escaped ahead, accruing a five-second advantage in just three laps. The Spaniard, on the other hand, was gobbled up by Pérez on lap 21.
Past the halfway point, both the Austrian cars commanded the race at will, with a 7-second gap between them. Given their overwhelming superiority, the focus moved on to the fight for third place. The collapse of Sainz’s medium tires allowed George Russell (Mercedes), fourth, to get to four seconds behind the Spaniard.
Following his second pit stop, Sainz saw his advantage shrink to two seconds, and, although he had to sweat for it, the driver from Madrid held the Briton off to claim his seventh podium of the year. By then Max and Pérez had already given Red Bull its fourth 1-2 of the current season.
Images of Belgian F1 GP 2022: Red Bull Racing.