Max Verstappen makes F1 history in 60-year first at Belgian Grand Prix
Max Verstappen has tightened his strangelhold on the 2022 F1 drivers championship after becoming the first driver to win back to back races starting outside the top 10 in 60 years.
Despite the reigning F1 champion starting from 14th on the grid at the Belgian Grand Prix, Verstappen's pace was unmatched as he powered through the field to lead Red Bull teammate Sergio Perez home.
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Verstappen was one of eight drivers to take a grid penalty for changing engine or gearbox components, which left Ferrari's Carlos Sainz on pole.
After an early safety car, Verstappen set about climbing through the field, a task he accomplished with ruthless efficiency.
He was back in the podium places by lap eight, saying his Red Bull felt as though it was 'on rails' and even Perez remarking after the race that Verstappen simply had the entire field covered.
Verstappen crossed the line an astonishing 17 seconds clear of Perez, with Sainz a distant third.
Ferrari's Charles Leclerc, those closest championship rival to Verstappen, had a day to forget after he was penalised for speeding in the pitlane on the penultimate lap, after a late stop to try and win the fastest lap of the race.
The plan backfired thanks to the penalty, which saw him drop to 6th position behind Alpine's Fernando Alonso.
"The car was a rocket ship all weekend," Verstappen 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."
Here's an incredible stat 🤓
Consecutive race wins starting 10th or lower had (until today) only happened once before in F1 history
1959/60 Bruce McLaren - USA (P10), Argentina (P13)
2022 Max Verstappen - Hungary (P10), Belgium (P14)#BelgianGP #F1 pic.twitter.com/gQuLEiRkoI
— Formula 1 (@F1) August 28, 2022
Been fascinating watching the last two races from home, outside “the bubble.” A little bit of detachment can do the world of good. Been left utterly mesmerised by the almost effortless brilliance of @Max33Verstappen. A whole new level from the champ. Just supreme.
— Will Buxton (@wbuxtonofficial) August 28, 2022
Max actually has wings. Dominant drive, well done @Max33Verstappen #F1 #BelgianGP
— Pato O'Ward (@PatricioOWard) August 28, 2022
Well done to @redbullracing and @Max33Verstappen on taking another step closer to your next F1 World Championship @f1 Made it look easy, which means you are like the proverbial Swan. #f1 #BelgianGP #Spa
— Damon Hill (@HillF1) August 28, 2022
14th to 1st in 18 laps….
Incredible speed from @Max33Verstappen & Red Bull this weekend!
— Karun Chandhok (@karunchandhok) August 28, 2022
His teammate Perez couldn't help but be impressed with Verstappen's performance.
"Max was on another planet today, he was flying, he was untouchable," said Perez.
Verstappen's home Dutch Grand Prix at Zandvoort follows next weekend.
Max Verstappen dominates Belgian GP after starting 14th
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.
Verstappen, meanwhile, was unstoppable. "It's been a weekend I couldn't imagine before," he said. "But we want more of them... we'll see next weekend what we can do."
George Russell was fourth for Mercedes, with Alonso fifth.
Australian Daniel Ricciardo finished 15th in Sunday's race at the end of a week in which his end-of-season split with McLaren was announced.
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