Spa-Francorchamps, 2023

“Surviving turn one” was key to Belgian GP victory – Verstappen

2023 Belgian Grand Prix

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Belgian Grand Prix winner Max Verstappen says that his eighth consecutive victory was all down to “surviving turn one”.

The championship leader started from sixth on the grid after a gearbox penalty but overtook Lewis Hamilton, Charles Leclerc and team mate Sergio Perez to win by 22 seconds at Spa-Francorchamps.

The two drivers who started directly in front of him, Carlos Sainz Jnr and Oscar Piastri, were the only two retirements from the race after they clashed at the apex of La Source at the start. Verstappen says he was deliberately cautious into the first corner to try and avoid any potential trouble of his own.

“I knew that we had a great car, it was just about surviving turn one,” he said after the race.

“I could see it was all getting really tight – I’ve been in that position before myself. So I was like ‘I’m just going to stay out of that’ and it worked out.

“Then from there onwards, I think we made all the right overtaking moves. I just got a little bit stuck in the beginning in a bit of a DRS train, but once that cleared, I could do my own pace. Really enjoyable.”

Sergio Perez, Red Bull, Spa-Francorchamps, 2023
Gallery: 2023 Belgian Grand Prix in pictures
After fitting soft tyres for his final stint with 15 laps remaining, his race engineer, Gianpiero Lambiase, chastised Verstappen for pushing on his out-lap due to concerns about making the soft compound last until the end of the race. Verstappen increased his lead over Perez by a second a lap over his final stint, but insisted that he was pacing himself.

“I did slow down,” he said. “Of course, we all look at the numbers, we look at the wear of the tyre and this track is super hard on the tyres, so you don’t want to do any unnecessary things. So that’s what we did ’til the end.”

The one concerning moment of his race came when light rain began to fall just before half distance. Verstappen had to save a moment heading up Raidillon as grip levels fell, but avoided losing control of his car.

“That’s probably the worst corner to have a moment,” he explained. “It was tricky in those laps when it was raining, because you could see that it was raining but not how much exactly. I had a little sideways moment. Luckily nothing happened, but it’s definitely a corner where you don’t want that to happen.”

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2023 Belgian Grand Prix

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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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4 comments on ““Surviving turn one” was key to Belgian GP victory – Verstappen”

  1. Superman says “Escaping Krypton” key to success (teasing)

    Max has a superior car, and is highly capable.

  2. That’s the reality for him on every race this year.
    the biggest threats are race starts and reliability.

    If none of these happen, it’s a done deal.

  3. He did exactly what I thought he’d do. A very wide line through turn 1 is normally safe unless there is a car flying through the air. The Sainz / Piastri collision was a typical clash where no one wants concede an early advantage. Even if he’d lost a place or two it would have been fine

  4. He did took it easy in S1 and S3 but his advantage in S2 was were all that time come from.

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