Daniel Ricciardo has suffered more agony in his misery-filled F1 season, slumping to 15th in the Belgian Grand Prix despite starting seventh.
Max Verstappen roared from 14th to first to take a dominant one-two win for Red Bull and accelerate his run towards a second Formula One title.
The Dutch driver took the chequered flag on Sunday, 17.8 seconds ahead of his Mexican teammate Sergio Perez, with Spaniard Carlos Sainz a distant third in his Ferrari after starting on pole.
"Max was on another planet today, he was flying, he was untouchable," said Perez.
Ricciardo finished 15th at the end of a week in which his end-of-season split with McLaren was finally confirmed.
It was another bitter blow for the Aussie driver after he started seventh on the grid, with McLaren prioritising teammate Lando Norris ahead of Ricciardo.
However the strategy backfired brutally, with Norris also finishing out of the points in 12th.
“Time will tell,” Ricciardo said on Sunday when asked if he wants to stay in F1.
“We’ll see. We’ll see what feels right, and is right, but it’s purely going to be on where I feel like it’d be the most competitive.
“That’s ultimately what it’s going to come down to. It’s not going to be about any other factors than that.”
Sky Sports commentator Martin Brundle described Ricciardo as a 'broken man'.
“I’m not enjoying watching Daniel,” he said.
“It’s painful isn’t it. I consider him a friend and I rate him massively as a person and a racing driver.
“If I was McLaren I would have been doing the same thing because he’s struggling to get pace and you can’t take that for another 18 months. I would have done exactly the same thing. How they’ve done it - they’ve made an agreement, this is a tough business.’
“Daniel didn’t convince me that he wanted to stay on the grid, that he wanted to go to Alpine or anywhere else.
“I think he potentially does, but I saw a bit of a broken man, I didn’t see ‘I’m going to win a race this year, I am going to be on the grid next year. I’ll show them they’ve made the wrong decision here’.”
F1 icon David Coulthard said he doesn't know if Ricciardo still has the hunger to compete at the top level of motorsport.
“I don’t think drivers lose their speed, whatever age they are, it’s just they lose the need,” he told Channel 4.
“It’s whether he’s just lost that raw youthful hunger that he had when he first arrived in the sport?”
Today seems like the day Ric nation came to the conclusion that Daniel having a seat in 2023 is getting more unlikely by the day, it’s sad but we might have to prepare ourselves for the end
— Jo 🦡 (@itsIightsout) August 28, 2022
Sad to see decline of Daniel Ricciardo's career at McLaren.
— Eoin Mc 🇺🇦 (@digitalfarmer05) August 28, 2022
Can’t believe they strategised Norris ahead of Ricciardo again....
Can’t wait for Norris fans to use this race for their agenda
— seth 🏳️🌈💜💜 (@peggles_V8SC) August 28, 2022
— Scott Meikle (@oz_bassguy) August 28, 2022
Ricciardo hasn’t been driving well, but Norris should be doing a hell of a lot better than he has been this season. Their cars are awful, and their strategies are just as bad.
— Moz Morris (@Moz_Morris) August 28, 2022
Well, I hope to see Ricciardo in a seat for 2023. It would be good to see him in an @AlpineF1Team. In that car, with better strategy (that was horrible strategy today by @McLarenF1), I can see Ricciardo doing very well. #BelgianGP
— Darth Riker (@darthriker) August 28, 2022
Max Verstappen's huge lead in F1 world championship
Verstappen's win was his ninth from 14 races so far this season and put him a massive 93 points clear of Perez, who moves into second place overall behind his teammate with eight rounds remaining.
Ferrari's Charles Leclerc, who started one place behind Verstappen in 15th after collecting similar engine and gearbox-related grid drops, finished fifth on the road but was demoted to sixth after a penalty for speeding in the pit lane.
The Monegasque is now third overall, 98 points behind Verstappen who also took a bonus point for the fastest lap.
Verstappen's home Dutch Grand Prix at Zandvoort follows next weekend.
"The car was a rocket ship all weekend," he said after his second successive win at Spa, although last year's victory was after just three laps splashing through the rain behind the safety car.
"It was quite a hectic first lap to try and stay out of trouble, so many things were happening in front of me but, once we settled in, the car was really on rails."
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