Dominant Spa win shows Verstappen ‘took another step’ after becoming champion

2022 Belgian Grand Prix

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Max Verstappen’s dominant victory in the Belgian Grand Prix shows how he has raised his game since winning the world championship last year, says his Red Bull team principal Christian Horner.

The reigning champion made a rapid ascent from 14th on the grid yesterday, taking the lead of the race before half-distance and winning with 17 seconds in hand over team mate Sergio Perez, who started on the front row.

His ninth win of the year leaves him 93 points clear of Perez at the top of the championship standings, giving him a strong chance of retaining the title he won last year. Horner said that achievement propelled Verstappen’s performances to new heights.

“I think that Max, since winning that championship last year, has taken another step,” he told media including RaceFans yesterday. “It’s, in many ways, released him and he’s driving at an incredible level.”

The team took maximum points last weekend as Verstappen led Perez in a one-two and set the fastest lap of the race. He established the quickest lap when he began his final stint on a new set of medium compound tyres with 12 laps to go.

His time stood despite Ferrari fitting a fresh set of tyres to Charles Leclerc’s car in a bid to beat it. He fell short after being overtaken by Fernando Alonso, who he was briefly held up by at the start of his final lap, before gaining a useful slipstream as he passed the Alpine.

“It demonstrated the pace that even with the DRS up the hill and a soft set of tyres and probably 30 kilos less fuel than Max had, that Max’s lap still stood as the fastest from his first lap on the final set,” said Horner.

Verstappen, 24, is in his eighth season of F1 and is contracted to Red Bull until at least 2028. Horner says F1 is “witnessing a driver that is completely at one with the car and he’s in an absolute purple patch of his career.”

However Horner remains cautious about the championship situation. “As far as the championship tables look, they obviously look really healthy. But things can change very, very quickly.

“We saw that, I think we were 46 points behind when we left Australia and within a couple of races managed to turn that around. So our prerogative is on each race one at a time and the championship table will take care of themselves. So we just want to keep this momentum rolling forward.”

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2022 Belgian Grand Prix

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    Author information

    Keith Collantine
    Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...
    Claire Cottingham
    Claire has worked in motorsport for much of her career, covering a broad mix of championships including Formula One, Formula E, the BTCC, British...

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    25 comments on “Dominant Spa win shows Verstappen ‘took another step’ after becoming champion”

    1. Correction:

      “I think that Max, since being given that championship last year, has taken another step,” he told media including RaceFans yesterday. “It’s, in many ways, released him and he’s driving at an incredible level.”

      1. live in the moment dude, not in the past… it will make you a happier person.

      2. I feel sorry for you, you must have a horrible and tormented life.

      3. @khurtwilliams

        Keep going. Don’t let anyone forget.

    2. The difference is, this year the competition isnt punting him off.

      1. Imola, Spain, Monza, Silverstone (in the lead up to copps), Saudi.

        Little bit forgetful, are we?

        1. Hungary (18-25 pts), Silverstone (min 18 pts) – Mercedes bowling & tap show. Forgetful are we?

          1. the ‘competition’ they were referring to was a boring dig at Hamilton, he had nothing to do with Hungary

            Disingenuous, are we?

      2. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
        29th August 2022, 14:46

        When you hear stuff like that, you wonder how lucky the world is to have the rest of us. Otherwise, we’d still be in the stone age. You’re welcome for everything you have, including F1:)

    3. The trucks already arriving at Zandvoort at 03.45 AM and continues of arriving trucks.

      1. Of course they are, it’s only a 3,5 hours drive.

    4. Something something fastest car, something no competition, something teammate not allowed to challenge.

      1. You are referring to Lewis over the last number of years I presume?

      2. Itsmeagain (@)
        30th August 2022, 17:15

        Oh, so you think he’s faster?

      3. Itsmeagain (@)
        30th August 2022, 19:39

        Mister Mouse, it’s james….

    5. With Ferrari’s pace, both championships should be much closer. It really feels like RedBull and Mercedes are in a league of their own when it comes to exploiting their packages, they can deliver when in contention.
      Last year was amazing (despite the tinted end, whatever glasses we wear) as we had two teams and incredible drivers throwing everything at it. Few mistakes were made under pressure but on both sides. This year was promising but didn’t quite deliver. Working some teams catch up to spice things up.

      Next year should offer good opportunities as trans continue to discover performance within new regulations. Also looking forward if there is any trend in concept. Maybe cost cap will cost us some in season development.

      1. Yes, I think it is not uncommon that the first year after a big regulation change shows a widespread field that converges over time. Somebody was bound to get it right and some wrong (for now that is, they will catch up).

    6. Not buying it, he has the best car right now, full stop.

      1. Then Perez should be trailing him as Bottas did Lewis. The gap is however bigger. The car does however help indeed.

      2. If you would put Max in the Ferrari (and give him the Red Bull strategists😉) he would still win the race.

      3. Itsmeagain (@)
        30th August 2022, 19:43

        Indeed, we all saw it during the MB/lewis era,…. But hey did we all complain how boring that was after 1 season? I think not. Could be something to do with the support here for one driver

    7. Contracted to red bull till 2028? That’s the longest contract I’ve ever seen for a driver in f1.

    8. New engine for max etc

    9. The champions confidence has elevated him to another planet this year. A lot has been made of Ferrari making the worst out of their competitive car, but Max has been near-flawless this year. I struggle to think of any occasion where he hasn’t achieved the maximum result.

      I really hope we are seeing Max at the top of his game now. If he’s still able to improve, it’s hard to see how anyone can get a sniff of a championship this decade.

    10. *take popcorns and start to read the comments … *

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