Max Verstappen extends huge lead with eighth consecutive win at Belgian Grand Prix

Max Verstappen - Max Verstappen extends huge lead with eighth consecutive win at Belgian Grand Prix

Max Verstappen claimed his eight straight win of the season – Getty Images/JOHN THYS

When your biggest fight in a race is with your own race engineer, you know things are getting too easy.

Max Verstappen won his eighth grand prix in a row in Belgium at a canter. Despite starting sixth on the grid thanks to a change of gearbox on Friday, the Dutchman cruised to victory by over 20 seconds from Red Bull team-mate Sergio Perez.

It was another statement win in a record-breaking season for the dominant Milton Keynes team who have now won 22 of the last 23 races in Formula One.

This one was never in doubt. Verstappen even had time to engage in some more bickering with his British-Italian engineer Gianpiero ‘GP’ Lambiase.

Max Verstappen - Max Verstappen extends huge lead with eighth consecutive win at Belgian Grand Prix

Despite starting from sixth place, Verstappen finished 22.3 seconds ahead of teammate Sergio Perez to give Red Bull an easy 1-2 – Getty Images/Joe Portlock

The two are like an old married couple, snapping at each other, throwing the odd laced barb in the other’s direction, before invariably kissing and making up.

They had already had one lovers tiff this weekend, on Friday, when Verstappen accused the team of “s— execution” in qualifying and said he did “not give a f—” about scraping through to Q3 in P10 (he later qualified on pole).

This time, after Verstappen questioned the team’s pitstop strategy, Lambiase told him rather tartly: “Max, please follow my instruction and trust it, thank you.”

That triggered a number of sarcastic exchanges between them in the second half of the race, as Verstappen extended his lead over Perez.

When Lambiase asked him whether he felt he could make his tyres last with some rain incoming, Verstappen responded that he “couldn’t see the weather radar”.

When Lambiase told him to “use his head” and questioned his decision to use so much of his rubber on his out lap after a pitstop, Verstappen banged in a fastest lap.

When Lambiase came on the radio again to tell him to save his tyres, Verstappan suggested they could always do a third pitstop “for the practice”. “No, not this time,” came the response.

He would still have won if he had done it. “I knew we had a good car. It was just about surviving Turn One,” he confessed afterwards.

Behind him, Perez was a convincing runner-up from Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc, with Lewis Hamilton fourth, but taking an extra bonus point for the fastest lap after he carved out a sufficient gap over fifth-placed Fernando Alonso (Aston Martin) to stop for some fresh tyres.

McLaren’s Oscar Piastri, the star of Saturday’s sprint qualifying and race, was forced to retire on the opening lap with damage. But team-mate Lando Norris managed to finish seventh, behind the second Mercedes of George Russell.

The day belonged to Verstappen, though; the double world champion stretching his lead in the drivers’ championship to 125pts as he closes in on a third title.

04:12 PM BST

Verstappen romps to another victory

Max Verstappen’s grasp over this season tightens. He comfortably won today, taking the lead on lap 17 after starting in sixth on the grid.

McLaren’s Oscar Piastri was the race’s first casualty, the Australian stopping by the side of the track after Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz squeezed him against the wall on the opening corner.

The summer break now follows, with the next race – the Dutch Grand Prix – on August 27.

04:06 PM BST

Lewis Hamilton speaks with Sky Sports

I think it was a non-eventful race really. Not much going on. I wasn’t able to keep up with the cars ahead of me, struggled in the beginnnig. And we had big bouncing this weekend.

In the end I was keeping the Ferrari within a few seconds.

It was gusty out there, difficult to keep on track.

To me it is a concern [the bouncing]. But we’ll work through the data this week and try and figure out what we do in the next race.

Lewis Hamilton

Lewis Hamilton

03:59 PM BST

Here’s how Piastri dropped out on the first corner

03:56 PM BST

Updated constructor standings

03:54 PM BST

Updated driver standings

03:50 PM BST

Here’s how it finished

03:44 PM BST

Next up: Dutch Grand Prix on August 27

2023 F1 season calendar: remaining races

2023 F1 season calendar: remaining races

03:37 PM BST

It’s an eighth win in a row for Verstappen, one short of the all-time record

Red Bull’s 13th consecutive victory made the team the first in the sport’s 73-year history to win the opening 12 races of a season.

Max Verstappen

Max Verstappen

03:35 PM BST

Max Verstappen speaks with Sky Sports

I know that we had a great car, it was just about surviving turn one. I just thought: I’m going to stay out of that. I just got stuck in the begining in a bit of a DRS stream, once I got out of that it was fine, enjoyable.

This track is super hard on the tyres.

03:33 PM BST

Perez speaks with Sky Sports

It was a good race for the team. We had a great start. I managed to get through Charles who was one of the targets for today.

Afterwards it was just making sure we brought it home safely without too much damage to the car.

03:31 PM BST

Final standings

  1. VER

  2. PER

  3. LEC

  4. HAM

  5. ALO

  6. RUS

  7. NOR

  8. OCO

  9. STR

  10. TSU

  11. GAS

  12. BOT

  13. ZHO

  14. ALB

  15. MAG

  16. RIC

  17. SAR

  18. HUL

DNF: SAI

DNF: PIA

03:27 PM BST

Hamilton gets the fastest lap of the race

He takes a point from Verstappen who had the fastest up to this point.

03:27 PM BST

Max Verstappen wins the Belgian Grand Prix

Imperious out in front, his teammate Perez comes in 22 seconds behind him. It’s a Red Bull 1-2.

It’s a fifth 1-2 finish for Red Bull this season.

Max Verstappen

Max Verstappen

03:24 PM BST

Lap 43 of 44

Zhou Guanyu makes a move into 13th.

Hamilton, in fourth, goes into the pit to change his tyres and go for the fastest lap on a brand new set of medium tyres.

03:21 PM BST

Lap 42 of 44

Ocon manages to get Stroll and steal 8th.

Max now has 20 seconds on his teammate.

Hamilton closes the gap to Leclerc in third to 2.5 second.

03:20 PM BST

Lap 41 of 44

Verstappen is now 18 seconds ahead of Perez.

Albon has taken Hulkenberg down in 15th.

03:16 PM BST

Lap 39 of 44

“It’s so windy, I’ve got to hold on so tight,” says Verstappen into the team radio.

Strange. It’s showing only 1.7 metres per second.

Ocon takes Tsunoda from the outside into the inside-line of the corner. He’s been hunting for the last couple of laps.

Max Verstappen

Max Verstappen

03:14 PM BST

Lap 38 of 44

Hulkenberg manages to hold off Ricciardo in 14th.

Hamilton gets a track-limit warning on turn nine.

03:10 PM BST

Standings – top-five, lap 36 of 44

  1. VER

  2. PER +13.4

  3. LEC +4.3

  4. HAM +2.5

  5. ALO +25.5

03:09 PM BST

This in from Tom Cary at Spa

Wondering whether Red Bull are so far ahead of the field, Verstappen and his engineer have been told to bicker constantly over the radio to create some drama.

03:08 PM BST

Lap 34 of 44

Verstappen is being asked to use his head a bit more by his race engineer, being told not to push it too much. He has a 13-second lead over Perez at the moment.

03:06 PM BST

Lap 33 of 44

Gasly is through past Albon into 11th. They both had their elbows out and Gasly just squeezed past him. But Albon isn’t having it and tries get him back. Albon goes for it on the chicane, but Gasly just holds him off with brilliant precision driving.

03:02 PM BST

Lap 31 of 44

Verstappen goes in to the pits for a tyre change, his second, but has such a lead over teammate Perez behind him that he comes out in pole position.

Max Verstappen tyre change

Max Verstappen tyre change

03:00 PM BST

Lap 31 of 44 – current standings

  1. VER

  2. PER

  3. LEC

  4. HAM

  5. ALO

  6. RUS

  7. NOR

  8. STR

  9. TSU

  10. ALB

02:59 PM BST

Lap 30 of 44

Perez comes in to the pits for a tyre change. A brand new set of softs for Alonso.

02:58 PM BST

Lap 29 of 44

Hamilton moves ahead of Alonso on the new tyres. He’ll now head off in search of Leclerc, one second ahead.

02:55 PM BST

Lap 28 of 44

Hamilton comes in for a pit stop. He puts soft tyres on.

02:54 PM BST

Lap 27 of 44

None of the top-five have taken a second pit-stop.

02:53 PM BST

Lap 26 of 44

Verstappen has built a seven-second lead ahead of his teammate Perez. Leclerc follows, and then Hamilton and Alonso.

02:50 PM BST

Lap 25 of 44

Sainz retires after limping along for half the race.

Russell takes Norris, moving into 8th.

02:48 PM BST

Lap 24 of 44

Verstappen back into 1:52 laps – the threat of rain seems to have dissipated.

02:46 PM BST

Lap 23 of 44

Norris, round the outside of Sargeant on those fresh tyres. It has given him a lot more confidence. He moves to 16th on those softs.

Tsunoda meanwhile takes Gasly – who is the only driver who hasn’t gone in for a tyre change yet.

02:44 PM BST

Lap 22 of 44

The pack are quite spread out at the moment. The only team that would have to stack slightly are Red Bull if teams are to change tyres.

02:42 PM BST

Lap 21 of 44

The rain: the top-four are about three seconds slower on the last lap.

02:40 PM BST

Lap 20 of 44

The rain has started, but it’s light at the moment. It’s only expected to be here for 10 minutes. No incentive to change to intermediate tyres yet.

02:37 PM BST

Lap 18 of 44

Lando Norris is coming into the pits again. He puts soft tires on. Rain expected in two minutes.

02:35 PM BST

Lap 17 of 44 – Verstappen takes the lead

Max has been so much neater and tidier through the corners, he takes his teammate on the straight. We have a new race leader!

02:33 PM BST

Lap 16 of 44

Alonso has taken Russell. Verstappen is absolutely flying here in second to Perez, right up behind his teammate.

02:32 PM BST

Top-five standings – lap 15 of 44

  1. PER

  2. VER +1.915

  3. LEC +3.971

  4. HAM +2.662

  5. STR 7.937

02:31 PM BST

Lap 14 of 44 – Verstappen comes in

New tyres are fitted. He drops back to second, behind teammate Perez.

Rain expected in around 10 minutes.

02:29 PM BST

Perez goes into the pits for a tyre change

Verstappen goes into pole position – but he’s yet to change his tyres.

02:28 PM BST

Lap 13 of 44 – Lewis Hamilton comes into the pits

Tyre change for him, straight onto the Mediuns. He comes out in 4th, ahead of Stroll.

02:26 PM BST

Tyre changes

A lot of cars have come in early to change tyres. The early change to put them onto the fresh medium tyre, but rain expected in the next 15 minutes.

02:24 PM BST

Verstappen taking Leclerc

02:24 PM BST

Lap 11 of 44

Alonso goes in for a tyre change. He drops behind Hulkenberg.

02:23 PM BST

Race standings

  1. PER

  2. VER

  3. LEC

  4. HAM

  5. ALO

  6. STR

  7. RUS

  8. GAS

  9. HUL

  10. ALB

02:21 PM BST

Lap 10 of 44

Verstappen moves up to second!

Supreme confidence and control. Slipstream from Verstappen, Leclerc parking it in the middle on the straight and Verstappen goes left and swings into the chicane. No chance for Leclerc.

02:18 PM BST

Lap 8 of 44

Medium tyres on for Sainz. He comes out onto 18th. He’s walking wounded after that clash with Piastri on the first corner.

02:17 PM BST

Lando Norris switches from Medium to Hard tyres

02:15 PM BST

Lap 6 of 44 – Verstappen moves to 3rd

Verstappen takes Hamilton, taking him on the inside, some instability on the exit of the corner from Hamilton, allowing Verstappen to gain advantage and utilise the straight-line speed advantage of the Red Bull car.

02:12 PM BST

Lap 5 of 44 – standings

Stroll breezes past Norris into 9th. It looks like Norris fell asleep there.

Stroll just manages to hold off Russell.

02:10 PM BST

Lap 4 of 44 – standings

1. PER

2. LEC

3. HAM

4. VER

5. SAI

6. ALO

7. NOR

8. TSU

9. ALB

10. STR

02:08 PM BST

Piastri’s exit on the first corner

An aggressive start from Perez, the lock-up from Sainz, Piastri hitting the wall. He braked quite early, but the space he was aiming at disappeared.

02:07 PM BST

We’re away! Perez takes the lead

Leclerc on the inside heads towards the corner, Sainz tangles on the inside.

It’s Leclerc from Perez, Piastri has a broken front wing, contact with Sainz.

Perez into the lead of the Grand Prix. Piastri is out!

  1. PER

  2. LEF

  3. HAM

  4. VER

  5. SAI

02:02 PM BST

The formation lap begins

Max Verstappen, starting from sixth, is aiming for his eighth victory in a row and also Red Bull’s 13th consecutive chequered flag.

On the tyre front, Charles Leclerc, Sergio Perez, Lewis Hamilton and Carlos Sainz, are starting on the soft compounds, while Oscar Piastri has opted for the yellow mediums.

01:59 PM BST

We’ll be under way any moment now

It’s a 44-lap race here at Spa.

01:51 PM BST

Martin Brundle getting in amongst it

01:49 PM BST

Update from Tom Cary at Spa

Last race for this man? Suspect we may see him again somewhere down the road. One of the great survivors.

F1 pitside

F1 pitside

01:45 PM BST

Starting grid

1. LER  2. PER

3. HAM  4. SAI

5. PIA  6. VER

7. NOR  8. RUS

9. ALO  10. STR

11. TSU  12. GAS

13. BOT  14. OCO

15. ALB  16. MAG

17. ZHO  18. SAR

19. RIC

PIT LANE: HUL

01:40 PM BST

A blow for Nico Hulkenberg

01:37 PM BST

Verstappen is making his way up the grid

A reminder that Max is starting from P6 today – he’s taking a five-place grid following a gearbox change.

Max Verstappen

Max Verstappen

01:30 PM BST

30 minutes until lights out

Red Bull's Max Verstappen

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen

01:20 PM BST

There’s a potential chance of rain today, but looking much better than Friday and Saturday

A few clouds around the track at Spa, but it’s looking clear at the moment.

01:14 PM BST

Current constructor standings

01:11 PM BST

Current driver standings, top 10

01:09 PM BST

Race start time

We’ll be underway at 2pm BST.

01:06 PM BST

Times after qualifying

  1. Max Verstappen (Ned) Red Bull 1min 46.168secs

  2. Charles Leclerc (Mon) Ferrari 1:46.988

  3. Sergio Perez (Mex) Red Bull 1:47.045

  4. Lewis Hamilton (Gbr) Mercedes GP 1:47.087

  5. Carlos Sainz Jr. (Spa) Ferrari 1:47.152

  6. Oscar Piastri (Aus) McLaren 1:47.365

  7. Lando Norris (Gbr) McLaren 1:47.669

  8. George Russell (Gbr) Mercedes GP 1:47.805

  9. Fernando Alonso (Spa) Aston Martin 1:47.843

  10. Lance Stroll (Can) Aston Martin 1:48.841

  11. Yuki Tsunoda (Jpn) Scuderia AlphaTauri 1:53.148

  12. Pierre Gasly (Fra) Alpine 1:53.671

  13. Kevin Magnussen (Den) Haas F1 Team 1:54.160

  14. Valtteri Bottas (Fin) Alfa Romeo Racing 1:54.694

  15. Esteban Ocon (Fra) Alpine 1:56.372

  16. Alexander Albon (Tha) Williams 2:00.314

  17. Guanyu Zhou (Chn) Alfa Romeo Racing 2:00.832

  18. Logan Sargeant (USA) Williams 2:01.535

  19. Daniel Ricciardo (Aus) Scuderia AlphaTauri 2:02.159

  20. Nico Hulkenberg (Ger) Haas F1 Team 2:03.166

12:54 PM BST

Good afternoon!

Hello and welcome to Telegraph Sport’s live coverage of the Belgian Grand Prix, the final race before the traditional summer break.

Max Verstappen won the rain-hit sprint race on Saturday to extend his huge lead over Red Bull teammate Sergio Perez to 118 points.

Lewis Hamilton criticised Formula One’s stewards after he was penalised for colliding with Sergio Perez in Saturday’s rain-hit sprint race.

Perez sustained race-ending damage in the accident – with Red Bull team principal Christian Horner accusing Hamilton of putting a big hole in the side of his driver’s machine.

But Hamilton, drawing on a famous quote from his childhood hero Ayrton Senna, said: “As Ayrton said, if you no longer go for a gap that exists, then you are no longer a racing driver.

“That is what I did. And when I watched it back it feels like a racing incident to me.

“The conditions were tricky out there. We are doing our best and it wasn’t intentional. He was slow and I went up the inside and I was more than half-a-car length alongside.

“I feel like we should not be deterred from racing. It would have been nice to finish fourth but I don’t really care about finishing fourth, I want to win.”

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff backed his driver, adding: “It was absolutely a racing incident. This is a sprint race. We want to see them racing.

“The argument about the damage isn’t valid because he (Perez) was going backwards before then. Massively backwards. And then when you look at that corner, they were side-by-side, and it takes two to tango. It’s a racing incident. For me that’s really clear.”

Verstappen set the fastest time in qualifying for today’s race, but Charles Leclerc will start from pole because of Verstappen’s five-place grid penalty for a gearbox change. He begins Sunday’s race from sixth, but that will not bother Verstappen considering he won here last year from 14th.

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