Verstappen storms to Sprint victory ahead of Piastri and Gasly
Sainz 4th, Leclerc 5th
Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen won the Sprint at the 2023 FIA Formula 1 Belgian Grand Prix, beating McLaren’s Oscar Piastri and Alpine’s Pierre Gasly in a tricky 11-lap race shortened to heavy rain that required a rolling start behind the Safety Car.
After a 35-minute delay caused by thunderstorms, Race Control informed teams that the Sprint would get underway with a formation lap followed by four laps behind the SC. That meant starting on full Wet tyres and during the period behind the Safety Car, a number of drivers radioed through to their teams to report that the conditions were good enough for Intermediate tyres.
However, when the Safety Car left the track, Verstappen, wary of any potential mishaps in what was likely to be a crowded pit lane, stayed on track to take the race lead. Behind him, Piastri dived into the pits for Inters, followed by a host of drivers including Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton, Alpine’s Pierre Gasly, Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz and Red Bull’s Sergio Pérez.
The early move benefited all, as ahead the cars on full Wets laboured through the opening lap on slower tyres. Verstappen and the rest of the full Wet runners then filed into the pit lane at the end of the first lap to take on the green-banded tyres but when the rejoined the order had changed massively with Piastri now ahead of Verstappen and with Pérez and Gasly owever, the time lost on that lap of full Wets meant that when Max rejoined he was behind Piastri who streamed through to take the lead.
Behind the top two, Checo had perfectly worked his pit stop and as the field crossed the line to start the second lap, the Mexican was in P4 behind Gasly with Hamilton in fifth place. On lap four, however, the race was neutralised. Fernando Alonso went off track at the exit of Pouhon and with his car beached in the gravel track, the Safety Car was released.
At the end of lap 5 the SC left the track and Verstappen closed in on Piastri as they exited La Source. Aided by a slipstream he powered past the Australian and into the lead as they made their way down the Kemmel straight.
Behind them, Pérez was coming under pressure from Hamilton and after a wheel-banging battle at the end of lap 6, during which the Red Bull driver sustained major damage to his sidepod, he could do nothing at the start of the next lap when the Mercedes driver got past at La Source.
Complaining that he had “no rear grip” Pérez was then passed by Sainz and Leclerc on the Kemmel straight, and when he slid off and clattered through the gravel at Stavelot and let Norris past, the Mexican’s race was done and he limped back to the pits to retire.
At the front, Verstappen was in total control and after 11 laps he took his second Sprint win of the season 6.6s ahead of Piastri. Gasly finished third ahead of Sainz and Leclerc, with Norris in sixth place. Hamilton, after taking his time penalty at the flag finished in seventh place and the final point on offer went to George Russell.
|01||Max Verstappen||Red Bull Honda RBPT RB19||11 laps - 24m58.433s||1|
|02||Oscar Piastri||McLaren Mercedes MCL60||+6.677||1|
|03||Pierre Gasly||Alpine Renault A523||+10.733||1|
|04||Carlos Sainz||Ferrari SF-23||+12.648||1|
|05||Charles Leclerc||Ferrari SF-23||+15.016||1|
|06||Lando Norris||McLaren Mercedes MCL60||+16.052||1|
|07||Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes W14||+16.757||1|
|08||George Russell||Mercedes W14||+16.822||1|
|09||Esteban Ocon||Alpine Renault A523||+22.410||1|
|10||Daniel Ricciardo||AlphaTauri Honda RBPT AT04||+22.806||1|
|11||Lance Stroll||Aston Martin Mercedes AMR23||+25.007||1|
|12||Alex Albon||Williams Mercedes FW45||+26.303||1|
|13||Valtteri Bottas||Alfa Romeo Ferrari C43||+27.006||1|
|14||Kevin Magnussen||Haas Ferrari VF-23||+32.986||1|
|15||Guanyu Zhou||Alfa Romeo Ferrari C43||+36.342||1|
|16||Logan Sargeant||Williams Mercedes FW45||+37.571||1|
|17||Nico Hülkenberg||Haas Ferrari VF-23||+37.827||1|
|18||Yuki Tsunoda||AlphaTauri Honda RBPT AT04||+39.267||1|
|19||Sergio Pérez||Red Bull Honda RBPT RB19||DNF||1|
|20||Fernando Alonso||Aston Martin Mercedes AMR23||DNF||1|