Defending champion Max Verstappen extended his lead atop the Formula 1 driver’s championship by cruising to victory in the Belgian Grand Prix here as teammate Sergio Perez completed a 1-2 for Red Bull on Sunday.
Verstappen made light work of his grid penalties to win the 2022 Belgian Grand Prix starting from 15th position on the grid to win the race.
The Dutch driver is leading with 284 points with teammate Sergio Perez at 191. Charles Leclerc of Ferrari is third with 186 points while former champion Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes is sixth with 148 points, after failing to finish Sunday’s race following an incident with Fernando Alonso at the start of the race.
Hamilton and Alonso tangled at Les Combes on Lap 1, leaving the Mercedes driver out of the race before Valtteri Bottas spun out in avoidance of Nicholas Latifi and brought out a Safety Car on Lap 2.
The restart saw Verstappen line up eighth while Sainz led Perez — Leclerc having had to pit for mediums with a tear-off in his brake duct. Verstappen made quick work of the cars ahead, sweeping into the third position by Lap 8 with only Perez and Sainz to beat.
Sainz pitted from softs to mediums on Lap 12, when Perez allowed Verstappen past and into the lead. The Dutchman extended his lead until Lap 15 and clawed back the deficit to Sainz, taking the lead on Lap 19 – taking another free pit stop on Lap 31 – before going on to win over Perez by over 18 seconds in a dominant display, with the fastest lap to boot.
Sainz completed the podium ahead of Mercedes’ George Russell, who had previously passed Charles Leclerc but lost out on the final podium place by just over two seconds.
Leclerc made a late pit stop for soft tyres to take the fastest lap, but missed out on the bonus point and only just held on to P5 ahead of Fernando Alonso. However, after being caught for speeding in the pit lane, a five-second penalty dropped him to P6.
The two-time champion was re-passed by the Ferrari on the final lap but finished ahead of teammate Esteban Ocon, who overhauled Sebastian Vettel (P8) and Pierre Gasly (P9) late in the race. Alex Albon rounded out the top 10 for Williams, fending off Lance Stroll for the final point, said a report on the Formula 1 website.
Lando Norris caught up to a battling Albon and Stroll by the end of the race but the McLaren driver missed out and finished 12th, ahead of Yuki Tsunoda, who won a late-race battle against Alfa Romeo’s Zhou Guanyu.
That left Daniel Ricciardo in P15 ahead of the Haas pair – Kevin Magnussen 16th and Mick Schumacher 17th – while Nicholas Latifi finished 18th after taking three pit stops.
(Inputs from IANS)