Max Verstappen footage emerges after inadvertently ruining rival's race
Running at the finer edge of motorsport produces some of the most sunning images in sport, but as F1 ace Charles Leclerc found out last weekend it can also leave you vulnerable to sheer bad luck.
While there was no doubt whatsoever that Red Bull's Max Verstappen dominated the Belgian Grand Prix, Ferrari rival Leclerc was left to rue what might have been after a brutal misfortune on the opening laps.
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On lap three Leclrc had to come in for an unscheduled pitsop after his front right brakes began smoking, a dangerous prospect on the high-speed Spa-Franchorchamps course.
The one-time championship leader was quickly sent back on his way after a helmet visor tearoff was removed from the brake duct.
Leclerc's championship deficit to Verstappen ballooned to more than 90 points as he came home sixth - which would have been fifth had a pitstop on the penultimate lap not led to a five second time penalty for speeding in the pitlane, which dropped him back to sixth.
It had already been a somewhat frustrating grand prix for Ferrari, despite polesitter Carlos Sainz eventually claiming third, but a review of on-board footage after the race would only have further broken hearts in the garage.
Footage showed the visor tearoff had come from none other than Verstappen, who had driven through a cloud of dust on the opening lap after starting 14th thanks to a grid penalty.
Verstappen was sympathetic to his championship rival after the race, saying it was every driver's 'nightmare' to inadvertently pick up a tearoff in the brake ducts.
“It was super-hectic, and so much dirt as well,” Verstappen said of the chaotic first lap, which saw Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso collide.
“I pulled off my tear off because I barely could see anything just because of the previous sector, like everyone just going on the grass, on the gravel, but we survived without damage.
“I hope it’s not mine.
“But there was a lot of stuff, honestly people … they were all pulling stuff out and it’s just super unlucky, to be honest, that that happens.
“You’re always scared that it happens, especially when you’re in the pack because … especially on a track like this, you are taking them off very quickly.
"That is your worst nightmare, that these things happen, but yeah, unfortunately they do happen.”
Did Verstappen's visor tear-off cause Leclerc to pit? 👀
The Ferrari driver was forced to pit due to an overheating issue 🛠️#BelgianGP #F1 pic.twitter.com/Zph0YJOQJm
— Formula 1 (@F1) August 29, 2022
Max Verstappen untouchable in Belgian GP victory
The Dutch driver took the chequered flag on Sunday 17.8 seconds ahead of his Mexican teammate Sergio Perez, with Spaniard 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.
The win was Verstappen's 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 team mate with eight rounds remaining.
Leclerc 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," added Verstappen.
The Dutchman had been comfortably quickest in Saturday's qualifying but grid penalties meant Sainz inherited pole position.
The Spaniard kept the lead at the start, with Perez slow in getting away alongside as Alpine's Fernando Alonso and Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton slotted into second and third.
The former McLaren teammates then made contact as seven-times world champion Hamilton tried to overtake around the outsides into the Les Combes chicane.
Hamilton, who was called an "idiot" for his driving by Alonso, accepted responsibility for the collision and retired due to damage from the incident.
As they duelled for second place, Hamilton jinked to the left of Alonso under braking at Les Combes.
Hamilton was marginally ahead, but as he turned in for the right-left-right corner, his right-rear tyre made contact with Alonso's left-front wheel.
The Briton was launched into the air and landed forcefully on the belly of his Mercedes.
Hamilton ran over the rumble strips, and attempted to soldier on, but water was pouring out of his terminally-wounded machine. Hamilton was ordered by his team to stop.
"I am so sorry, guys," he said over the radio.
Alonso, though, was enraged. "What an idiot!" yelled the double world champion over the radio. "Closing the door from the outside.
"I mean, we have a mega start, but this guy only knows how to drive and start in first."
Further behind, Valtteri Bottas beached his Alfa Romeo in the gravel while trying to avoid the spinning Williams of Nicholas Latifi in an incident that brought out the safety car.
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