Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Spa-Francorchamps, 2022

Verstappen takes dominant Spa win from 14th after another setback for Leclerc

2022 Belgian Grand Prix summary

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Max Verstappen secured his most dominant victory of the 2022 season by comfortably winning the Belgian Grand Prix from 14th on the grid.

The championship leader made his way quickly through the field in the early laps and gained the lead of the race from Carlos Sainz Jnr before half the race had been completed. Sergio Perez passed Sainz to take second place, the Ferrari driver going on to complete the podium in third.

Clear blue skies and a warm track awaited the field as the grid set off on their formation lap. On pole position, Sainz was the only driver in the top 10 to opt for the soft tyres for the start of the race.

When the lights went out, Sainz used his soft tyres to keep the lead, while Perez got a poor start and fell behind Fernando Alonso and the two Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton and George Russell. Alonso and Hamilton ran side-by-side into Les Combes, but the Mercedes driver left his rival little room at the apex and the pair collided, pitching the rear of Hamilton’s car in the air and causing an oil leak on his Mercedes.

As Hamilton slowed, the field behind him scrambled to get past until he was told to pull off the circuit. Sainz led from Perez, Russell and Alonso, until the Safety Car was deployed on the second lap when Nicholas Latifi spun on the exit of Les Combes and collected the innocent Alfa Romeo of Valtteri Bottas, sending both out of the race.

Charles Leclerc had to pit under the Safety Car due to a visor tear-off lodging in his right-front brake duct. That dropped him back towards the rear of the field.

Despite locking up at the Bus Stop chicane before the restart, Sainz was able to keep the lead as the race restarted on lap five. Over the next few laps, Verstappen clinically made his way up the order until he gained third place behind team mate Perez.

All drivers began to complain of excessive tyre degradation, leading to Sainz pitting from the lead at the end of lap 11 to switch to mediums, rejoining in ninth. With the Ferrari out of the way, Verstappen slipped past his team mate along the Kemmel Straight.

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Perez pitted before his team mate and, when Verstappen eventually boxed for medium tyres at the start of lap 16, he rejoined just ahead of Perez, within four seconds of leader Sainz. It took just two laps for Verstappen to catch and overtake Sainz along the Kemmel Straight to complete his charge from 14th on the grid to the lead before half-distance.

With Verstappen now ahead of him, Sainz fell into the clutches of Perez behind. Starting lap 21, Perez cruised up behind the Ferrari and breezed by Sainz into Les Combes to make it a Red Bull one-two out on the track. Ferrari brought Sainz into the pits for hard tyres soon after to take him to the end of the race, with Perez following suit two laps later. Verstappen also made his second and final stop for mediums at the end of lap 30, rejoining with a lead of eight seconds over his team mate.

Verstappen grew his lead as the laps ticked away. In the closing stages, Ferrari opted to pit Leclerc from fifth to attempt to go for the fastest lap, despite Leclerc expressing his desire not to “risk” his position. Ferrari pitted him anyway and he rejoined behind Alonso in sixth position.

After 44 laps, Verstappen took the chequered flag to take the win and extend his championship lead even further, 17 seconds ahead of Perez with Sainz completing the podium nine seconds later. Russell finished fourth, 2.2 seconds behind Sainz.

Leclerc passed Alonso on the final lap but failed in his fastest lap attempt, crossing the line in fifth. However, the stewards announced that Leclerc had broken the pit lane speed limit by 1km/h and instantly handed him a five second time penalty. That dropped Leclerc back behind Alonso in the classification.

Esteban Ocon took seventh place in the second Alpine ahead of Sebastian Vettel’s Aston Martin and Pierre Gasly’s AlphaTauri. After holding off a train of cars over the final third of the race, Alexander Albon took the final point for Williams in tenth.

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2022 Belgian Grand Prix reaction

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Author information

Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...

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72 comments on “Verstappen takes dominant Spa win from 14th after another setback for Leclerc”

  1. It was expected for Leclerc to kinda struggle around Spa after having a penalty (he didn’t look confident in Free Practice session/qualifying, plus Ferrari was weak overall around Spa), but the last 2 laps really hit a new season low for both driver and the team.

    Ferrari’s year has turned into a comical book,and it’s really mind blowing how a team with such experienced personnel is doing all these mistakes…

    1. Similar to 2018 when Seb was leading the championship before the team impleaded and became a joke at the end.
      The biggest downside is that Ferrari robbed fans of a solid battle for the title with stupid mistakes and tactical own goals.

      1. Yep, despite the fact that their cars have been solid in both 2018 & 2022,the team operations are in a tragic state and the team can’t do a championship fight atm…

        And John Elkann rejected the return of Jean Todt, who would have massively helped…….

        1. @miltosgreekfan
          While I have been very critical of Ferrari’s management but the decision to reject Todt’s return was spot on!

          Technically speaking Todt could have helped with the current mess. Though he is an excellent politician who cares only about himself.

          He was behind the stupid hybrid agenda and was pushing against Ferrari’s interest when he was president of the FIA.

          He was categorically against any change that favoured Ferrari so that his personal image and integrity will not be questioned.

          He was shown the finger by Marchionne when Ferrari vetoed his proposal to cut PU prices after he forced everyone to invest hundreds of millions.

          Another thing is that he didn’t want to be involved in the daily team’s operation. He wanted a special advisor role so that Ferrari brand would give him more exposure to lecture is about climate change and electric mobility.

          Glad Elkann rejected his return. Good riddance.

    2. Coventry Climax
      29th August 2022, 0:51

      Talk about expectations:
      Well, so much for Red Bull and Ferrari cheating with their floors.
      Everyone thought, that with the new mid-season ‘safety related porpoising’ rules that Mercedes whined so much about and lobbied so hard for, and their standard accusations of teams cheating when it’s not them who are fastest, Red Bull and Ferrari would have had to modify their floors, and be slower. For Ferrari that wouldn’t matter anyway. Things like “Charles, Mattia here; We have no clue as to what the strategy should be, what do you think?” speaks volumes.
      That makes it hard for me to decide on what’s more entertaining, the Ferrari Management Clowns or the Great Mercedes Whine Show backfiring.

      Liberty, FIA; are you paying attention here? Who put on the better show here, the Clowns or the Whiners? Or is it about racing after all?

      1. The extreme dominance of DRS suggests that whatever the answer is, it’s not racing…

        1. Coventry Climax
          29th August 2022, 18:37

          Ha, you may be right. But anyway, it’s not the Clowns or the Whiners either.

  2. Forget about Verstappen’s win even though it was the drive of the season. Excellent job from them in maximizing everything. Ferrari are already a meme and getting worse every race. Let’s just give both 1st place trophies to Red Bull and let Mercedes and Ferrari fight until the end. Ferrari are lucky Hamilton did not finish this race because I reckon had he been more cautious, he would have gotten P3. Ferrari should focus on getting P2 now. How sad really from Ferrari. Give them Hamilton or Verstappen and probably the results could be different, but meh who cares. It looks more of a management problem.

    1. So, decide….. it’s Ferrari or the driver at fault?!

    2. Hamilton p3 absolutely possible, agree, see how close russell was and hamilton looked a bit stronger.

  3. What Ferrari did with Leclerc going for the fastest lap can be classified in the top 10 pranks of 2022 :)

    Absolutely hilarious, the risk they took for 1 point with Leclerc speeding in the pitlane and still fall behind Alonso. Even without speeding in the pitlane, how Leclerc is going to get the fastest lap in normal conditions – not to mention the pace difference with Verstappen – if ends up behind Alonso who will lose him time and screw his outlap.

    What a bunch of clowns !

    1. Itsmeagain (@)
      28th August 2022, 16:28

      You forgot the ‘democratic’ way they are debating about the right strategy with their drivers. Absolutely hilarious. Great driver pairing they have, but absolutely a team of clowns

      1. @itsme Debating and then going their own way anyway…

  4. I mean, it was still a nice season.

    1. Ahah, I mean, ferrari doesn’t even look capable to win a race any more, let alone fight for title!

  5. Can’t wait for Monza already!

    1. some racing fan
      28th August 2022, 20:52

      Zandvoort’s next

      1. no it’s tuesday next

  6. Ocon’s double pass, though. More or less identical to Häkkinen’s famous 2000 pass.

    1. But Hakkinen had no DRS

      1. José Lopes da Silva
        28th August 2022, 17:24

        But had a huge Mercedes power advantage, usually forgotten.

        1. Yes, I think schumacher only got ahead when there was some slight rain that race (hakkinen was one of the worst wet weather drivers), mclaren was stronger in spa 2000.

          1. @esploratore1
            Ferrari also went for the wrong high downforce set-up in that race and were losing much speed compared to McLaren in the straights. Though, Schumacher covered it up and didn’t say a single word.

  7. I was really surprised to see Leclerc coming in for the fastest race lap. He almost had no gap to Alonso so he had to take a lot of risk. And so it went. Another dubious strategy from Ferrari and another personal mistake from Leclerc. Red Bull and Verstappen on the other hand are in a flow. Absolutely flawless! And that for the entire season so far. Poor performance from Checco but still a p2 because of having the best car. 2022 is definitely decided.

  8. Max really is driving well at the moment. Ocon made some good moves, McLaren very nowhere again. Wonder which Merc will turn up for the next race? I think they just can’t run a low downforce setup because every time they try they bounce around like crazy! Feel sorry for them for Monza.

  9. Ferrari’s strategists really need to be raked over some coals after the last few races. Openly discussing strategy with drivers whilst they’re trying to race, giving crucial information to their competitors as they do so, is dumb. But the decision to put Leclerc for fastest lap despite a very close margin to Alonso was absolutely crazy. He was lucky to get away with finishing behind Alonso; if something had gone wrong at the pit stop he could have ended up out of the points altogether. All for one point when he’s over 80 behind in the drivers championship? There’s taking risks, and there’s just being silly.

    1. Not to mention, with how superior verstappen was all weekend, are we sure they’d have been able to beat his fastest lap? There were races last year or so where hamilton was able to keep the fastest lap from people trying with new tyres on 30 lap old tyres!

      1. Jelle van der Meer (@)
        28th August 2022, 18:24

        Interestingly it was Alonso action in turn 1 that prevented Leclerc from getting FLAP.
        As Leclerc stayed behind Alonso before final chicane and on start/finish straight to benefit from tow/DRS, Alonso went deep and slightly slowed down before DRS detection line (Alonso already knew he would not keep Leclerc ahead) hoping to get DRS against Leclerc but Leclerc slowed down as well to get DRS but with that losing much needed time to beat Max’s FLAP set earlier in the race on mediums.

    2. But the decision to put Leclerc for fastest lap despite a very close margin to Alonso was absolutely crazy.

      Come on, realistically the champs are pretty much over for few races already, also (not considering PER… ”the Monaco champ”) there’s at least a feeling Ferrari more like fought Mercedes for 2nd position rather than RBR for the wins. That being said, there’s nothing important to lose anymore for them, so I prefer them to take some risks and try to ”upset” RBR as much as possible rather than settling for a “comfy” position outside the podium. 5th or 6th for LEC… makes no difference.

  10. Regarding Ferrari, I’m obviously not a native English speaker. So I struggle to find an expression below ‘shooting yourself self in the foot’.

    I could only come up with ‘committing seppuku’

    1. “Shooting yourself in the foot” means to do something that makes your life harder, with absolutely no benefit to you and without meaning to do so, with the implication that it is due to carelessness, incompetence or just plain making an error.

  11. Max stated 14 and if you wanted a bet he was odds on favourite. Not taking it away from max even though I can stand him but he is a very talented driver. Red bull have built a very dominant car. Out of interest what is the record for winning the drivers championship with races remaining?

    1. I don’t have all the stats, but Jim Clark in ’63 or ’65 would be up there.

    2. Also check schumacher in 2002 and 2004, he got those titles with several races to spare, I don’t think verstappen can beat that realistically just considering the gap and the races missing, but obviously this red bull wasn’t dominant for many races.

      1. Schumacher and Clark both old points system. More interested in the new points system.

        1. In 2011 Vettel won the championship in Japan (15th GP out of 19)

    3. Red bull have built a very dominant car.

      To quote an ‘expert’ “My granny could win in that car” – so Max doesn’t really need the assistance that Ferrari are giving race after race.

  12. I think it’s time to stop pushing Leclerc as Verstappen’s main title rival. However close some races may be (and I love that, what I want from F1 is wheel to wheel racing, always and forever), it’s obvious that Verstappen has no rival in the championship, that ship has sailed with a strong wind from the Ferrari pit wall.
    RB did the best job with the car, and by a mile. Ferrari is fast, but brittle, and that’s without the pit wall sabotageing their fastest driver.
    Verstappen and RB have effectively won both championships, and Perez will probably be second in the WDC, and deservedly so.

    1. Brittle = unreliable is absolutely unfair, they’ve had the exact same number of technical problems, and it’s several races none had any issue like that, it’s all about bad strategy and more costing mistakes.

    2. And tbh if we have to rank the speed of the cars atm it would be leaning in red bull’s favour as well, on average across the season.

    3. Ferrari is fast, but brittle

      There are tracks where Ferrari is competitive, but they’re not fast. Their lack of outright speed has kept them on the back foot in multiple races, and cost them the wins in Saudi Arabia and Miami where Verstappen was able to easily fly past.

      Brittle, yes – but only compared to Mercedes which has been solid. Both Ferrari and both Red Bull drivers have each had two technical DNFs. Verstappen in Bahrain and Australia, and Pérez in Bahrain and Canada. Leclerc in Spain and Azerbaijan, and Sainz in Azerbaijan and Austria. Both Ferrari drivers have each caused one additional DNF, with Sainz spinning off in Australia and Leclerc in France.

    4. @ifiamnotwerymuchmistaken Technically Leclerc is Verstappen’s biggest rival, since Red Bull have made it plain that Perez was obliged to yield quite a few points to Verstappen earlier this year (back when the Leclerc title challenge was not mere theory). This is why one of the other RaceFans articles from the Spa race mentions Verstappen awaiting coronation).

  13. LH fan – How did he escape a “causing a collision” from the stewards?

    1. Jonathan Parkin
      28th August 2022, 18:24

      Possibly because although he was judged to have been at fault, he retired whilst Alonso finished in the top six

      1. Jelle van der Meer (@)
        28th August 2022, 18:31

        The outcome/impact of the collision is not allowed to be a factor in stewards decision. Obviously the Stewards did take that in consideration and used first lap incident as excuse.

        Lewis is just escaping penalty after penalty and if unlucky he gets a warning.
        Causing a collision at turn 4 or 5 by turning in on competitor = no penalty
        Not going to mandatory end of year award ceremony = warning
        Not going to medical clinic for mandatory medical check = warning

        Toto/Lewis were so concerned about Lewis health due to purposing that they got FIA to change rules mid season and for 2023 yet after Hamilton flies at least 2 meters into the air before crashing down hard – nag no need to go to medical clinic.

        1. I guess you are not a Lewis fan. End of year ceremony made me chuckle. First lap incident, I still think the stewards took into account he was out of the race.

        2. Not going to mandatory end of year award ceremony = warning

          Not going to an event that marks the handing over of a prize based on a terminally dodgy race that saw the official responsible placed on 6 months gardening leave before departure.
          Can’t think why anyone would avoid an event like that…

    2. A couple of years ago, the teams, drivers and Liberty asked the FIA to basically ignore lap 1 collisions. And the FIA, never too bothered about their own regulations in motorsport, agreed.

    3. @blueruck By the stewards apparently not wanting to penalise much of anything this weekend – they weren’t even penalising blatant breaches of track boundaries in qualifying.

  14. BLS (@brightlampshade)
    28th August 2022, 17:58

    Driver and car in perfect harmony, could easily win this with 6+ races to spare.

  15. Jonathan Parkin
    28th August 2022, 18:24

    WTMFF is that trophy

    1. Haha, it’s the track lay-out

      1. Jonathan Parkin
        28th August 2022, 19:10

        It’s one of the most prestigious races on the calendar. It needs a proper trophy!!

        Not the track layout made of wood, it needs to be a proper metal cup

        1. It’s made from wood from the trees that were cut down at Radiation, Glass with waterdrops and Asphalt from the circuit, pretty proper I think.

          1. Good concept, but the end result (I think) could be more prestigious and befitting to the long history Spa has.

        2. Coventry Climax
          29th August 2022, 0:23

          Nothing will ever beat the plastic monkey trophies handed out at Paul Ricard some years back.
          That alone -contempt for the sport – would have been reason for me to scrap that race – forever.

  16. Leclerc lost this championship at the French GP, the points deficit, rather than decreasing, increased to such a huge extent it had an opposite psychological effect on both teams and drivers, Red Bull focusing confidently on their own thing, perfecting the car, Ferrari increasingly panicking and losing confidence in their own decisions. Verstappen has been pretty much flawless all season and can now relax and enjoy being the dominant driver in Formula 1 for the rest of the year and who knows how long after. Last season seems a long time ago already. He’s easing into a champion’s role perfectly. His performance at Spa was supremely good, even factoring in how little of a challenge his team mate seems capable of posing.

    1. Maybe it did effect their approach to the season, but ultimately if Verstappen hadn’t had two DNFs from the first three races nobody would talk about this season as a title battle that Leclerc lost but more like a season reminiscent of 2011, where Vettel and Red Bull easily cruised to a championship but Button was sometimes able to be competitive.

  17. Yeah, Max was just something else this weekend. Over half a second faster than anyone else. Leclerc couldn’t even beat his fastest lap set early on in the race with a boatload of fuel in the car on mediums right at the end with soft tyres and a tow from Alonso.

    What were Ferrari thinking? Sure, they had high degradation (or maybe just needed to be more patient bringing them in? Max showed us the softs could run fine even while getting through the field), but their strategy never looked like being on top of things. Surely they must have know they weren’t far enough ahead of Alonso. And they should probably have realised they would not have the pace anyway.

    I actually liked hearing Ferrari at least did something to adress them ignoring what the drivers feel on track and what is going on (the communications heard with Leclerc) but that still did not save them from messing up.

    1. It must be very dispiriting for them, the team and Leclerc, to more or less carry on where they left off before the summer break. I mean in terms of bad decisions. I too think it was good to hear them asking their drivers what they wanted to do in terms of tyres. But despite this they still messed up with the stupid late pit-stop.

      I really think that Ferrari management, above Binotto’s level, need to consider some changes in personnel and procedures before 2023.

    2. @bascb Max wasn’t stuck in an 8-car DRS train while running the softs, which Charles was. The low drag on the Red Bull made quite a difference there. Also, Charles realised that pitting to attempt fastest lap was not something he was advised (he said so on the radio) but got ordered in anyway – and it seems like he doesn’t have the same freedom to disobey a bad order as drivers at some other teams have.

      1. Yes, there certainly were quite a lot of things that did not help Leclerc gaining headway (and still he finished 5th before the penalty from being right at the back of the field after being forced to stop early due to that visor tear off) @alianora-la-canta.

        It goes to show how far both Ferrari and Red Bull really still are at most tracks. But here Red Bull, and Max especially, were just too far ahead on pace for Ferrari to have a real shot at that fastest lap, indeed as Charles himself signalled when asked – the gap to Alonso was too small to make it a reasonable choice, and the attempt to actually beat the laptime was certainly not a given.

        Earlier in the race I took the more intensive back and forth between the team and him as a sign they might have agreed on improving on this point. But the call to pit him in the end despite his clear misgivings shows they haven’t gone far enough.

  18. BTW apart from Max being “on a different planet” to quote Perez in the post race interview, the driver of the race, or even of the weekend has to be Albon. Great qualifying, did really well to hold on to that point to the end.

    Also really good job by both Alonso and Ocon, that pass of his on Vettel and Gasly was very well done.

  19. And just like that, Red Bull demonstrates why reverse grid starts would be stupid. VER was in lead around lap 10 after just cruising by people. Kudos to the RB team especially the designers.

    1. It is the infinite reverse grid conundrum: it only makes sense if the difference between the front and the back of the grid is too big, otherwise most of the grid can fairly fight for position, but if the difference is too big reverse grids makes no sense, because the slower cars that started in the front of the grid cant/wont fight with the faster cars catching them up.

    2. The first 10 laps were still by far the best 10 laps of this race.

  20. Bravo to the organisers for the track revamp and additional gravel traps. The runoff solution at No-Name Corner is clever—instead of paving runoff on the outside, make a new section of track on the inside for bikes (and possibly amateur track days) and use the outer section as the runoff. I wonder if there are any other tracks on the calendar that could adopt a similar solution for certain corners, or whether Tilke et al. might look to include similar features when designing new circuits. It fits well with the comments he has made on this site about how tracks designed for F1 drivers can present greater risks with less of a margin for error.

  21. I wonder if we might see our first 9 rating by @willwood this week.

  22. Leclerc passed Alonso on the final lap but failed in his fastest lap attempt, crossing the line in fifth. However, the stewards announced that Leclerc had broken the pit lane speed limit by 1km/h and instantly handed him a five second time penalty. That dropped Leclerc back behind Alonso in the classification.

    I don’t need to say more :mammamia:

    1. @qeki If we say that there was a broken sensor, due to a visor tear-off in the brake duct, and that there were… …issues… with the call to come into the pits for that last stop in the first place…

  23. Ferrari messing up so regularly a normal race will be shocking to it’s tifosi, If, a BIG If, that ever happens.

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