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Max Verstappen Masters Belgian Grand Prix, Third Championship on Horizon

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Max Verstappen's Belgian Grand Prix Victory

Max Verstappen secures victory in the Belgian Grand Prix for a third consecutive year.

Currently, Verstappen is ruling Formula 1.

The Dutch driver triumphed in the Belgian Grand Prix for Red Bull, moving up from sixth position on the grid without seemingly exerting too much effort.

When he decided to pass Sergio Perez for the lead, he clocked laps two seconds faster than his Red Bull colleague whenever he chose.

Once he led the race, Verstappen passed time with playful exchanges with his race engineer, Gianpiero Lambiase, debating over how much he should push his car.

In a commanding position, Verstappen could afford to jest with his team. When Lambiase suggested he take it easier on his last set of tyres due to Red Bull’s doubts about their longevity, Verstappen counter-proposed pushing harder, building a larger gap, and swapping for another set to offer the team some pit stop practice.

Not that they required it, considering Red Bull consistently deliver the quickest pit stops.

“He has every right to be slightly audacious,” said Toto Wolff, the head of Mercedes team who once competed fiercely with Verstappen for the title but now seems at a loss to comprehend the significant lead Red Bull has.

“[He’s] simply cruising. Merely on merit. Nothing more to add. As irksome as it may be.”

Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton offered his own interpretation: “He is having a leisurely puff and a pancake,” referring to a line from Austin Powers about the Dutch and cannabis.

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Although Verstappen’s blistering speed might have suggested that he ignored Lambiase’s calls to slow down, especially considering he finished 22.3 seconds ahead of the only other driver in the same car, that wasn’t the case.

Verstappen “did pay heed,” Lambiase stated post-race. It just didn’t appear like it given Verstappen’s overwhelming dominance.

Despite securing a dominant pole position by over 0.8 seconds, Verstappen was penalized five places due to overusing gearbox parts.

It took him just over 16 of the 44 laps to reclaim the lead. “I’m surprised it took him that long,” quipped Red Bull team principal Christian Horner.

While Horner was joking, there is truth in jest. His comment reflected the general consensus in the F1 paddock – before the grand prix started, many pondered how many laps it would take Verstappen to take the lead.

Most estimates were in single digits – some extremely low.

The reason for this delay was because for several laps he was trapped in a ‘DRS train’ behind Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc and Hamilton’s Mercedes.

Hamilton was within range of Leclerc and could use his DRS for a speed boost. This meant that even though Verstappen was close enough to use his, the advantage was nullified, partly because Hamilton’s car was the fastest on Belgium’s main straight.

“Once Charles lost Lewis’s DRS, I could overtake and then get Lewis,” explained Verstappen, “but it damaged my tyres. Once I fitted the new mediums, I could keep my pace.”

‘A Once-in-a-Lifetime Prodigy’
Max Verstappen and team-mate Sergio Perez cooperated to clinch Red Bull’s 27th one-two finish – and fifth of the season.

Despite a series of shaky races, Perez received a warning from Horner before Friday’s qualifying – another case of humor mingled with truth.

“I told him I wouldn’t speak to him unless he made the top five,” Horner shared. “And I’d give part of his anatomy a squeeze [too]. It appeared to have the desired effect.”

Perez did eventually deliver the kind of performance expected of him by Red Bull every weekend. However, this did not prevent it from being a disheartening weekend for the Mexican driver.

Perez was 0.877 seconds behind Verstappen in Friday’s qualifying for the grand prix, lagging by 0.905 seconds in the sprint shootout on Saturday. The grand prix demonstrated Verstappen’s awe-inspiring supremacy.

Perez was the first to pit, as was his right as the leader. Verstappen followed a lap later, ending up two seconds behind.

With the intent to not overheat his tyres, Verstappen was 1.1 seconds behind after his out lap. That distance became 0.3 seconds as they completed the next lap. Using Perez’s slipstream through Eau Rouge, he had seized the lead well before the end of the Kemmel straight and had pulled out 1.6 seconds by the end of the lap.

On the lap where he overtook Perez, Verstappen was two seconds faster than his team-mate. A couple of laps later, he was 1.5 seconds faster. He then eased off, extending his lead by just over 0.5 seconds a lap.

When Lambiase cautioned him a few laps later that he was overworking his tyres, he replied by recording the fastest lap – 2.3 seconds faster than Perez on the same lap.

Even a nerve-racking moment when he almost lost control of the car at 180mph through Eau Rouge during mild mid-race rain did not halt him.

“It’s not the ideal place to slide,” confessed Verstappen, “but fortunately, nothing occurred.” It was stressful enough to warrant “an expletive” in the cockpit, he admitted.

“What we’re witnessing from Max at the moment,” commented Horner, “is something you see once in a generation.

“Like all the legendary drivers, he has that extra capacity. And what we’re seeing is his ability to read a tyre, understand a race, extract everything from it. It’s incredible to watch. He is simply in peak form.”

The superlatives are on the verge of running out. This was Verstappen’s 10th victory in 12 races this year and his eighth straight. If he wins his home grand prix at Zandvoort after the summer break on 27 August, he will equal Sebastian Vettel’s all-time record of nine consecutive grand prix wins.

When the main talking point of a grand prix is a debate between the winner and his race engineer about how fast he should or shouldn’t be going, it’s a clear sign that the competition is in trouble.

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Max Verstappen’s Belgian Grand Prix Victory

Who won the Belgian Grand Prix?

Max Verstappen won the Belgian Grand Prix.

How many times has Max Verstappen won the Belgian Grand Prix consecutively?

Max Verstappen has won the Belgian Grand Prix for three successive seasons.

What was the special interaction between Verstappen and his race engineer Gianpiero Lambiase during the race?

Throughout the race, Verstappen engaged in light-hearted banter with his race engineer Gianpiero Lambiase as they bickered about how hard he should push his car.

How does Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff describe Verstappen’s performance?

Toto Wolff refers to Verstappen as ‘cheeky’ and acknowledges that Mercedes is struggling to understand why Red Bull’s advantage is so significant.

What record might Verstappen equal with a win at Zandvoort?

If Verstappen wins at Zandvoort, he will equal Sebastian Vettel’s all-time record of nine consecutive grand prix victories.

What changes have occurred within the Alpine team recently?

The Alpine team has seen significant changes recently, with the dismissal of several key figures including the chief executive officer, Laurent Rossi, the team principal, Otmar Szafnauer, and the sporting director, Alan Permane.

Who performed well from Ferrari and Mercedes at the Belgian Grand Prix?

Charles Leclerc of Ferrari performed well, keeping Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes at bay for a significant portion of the race. However, both were still considerably behind Verstappen.

How many wins in total has Verstappen achieved this year?

As of the Belgian Grand Prix, Verstappen has claimed victory in 10 out of 12 races this year.

More about Max Verstappen’s Belgian Grand Prix Victory

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MaxFanatic July 31, 2023 - 8:49 am

Way to go Max! Knew he’d make it. take that Mercs!

FerrariLover July 31, 2023 - 9:01 am

So close Leclerc, so close! next time champ!

PetrolHead July 31, 2023 - 9:50 am

Was a great race, just love the thrill and adrenaline! can’t wait for the next one.

F1Expert July 31, 2023 - 10:43 am

Been noticing a shift in power dynamics this season. Intrsting to see if Mercedes can bounce back.

DutchDelight July 31, 2023 - 11:15 am

Looking forward to Zandvoort! Max, do us proud!

MercedesForever July 31, 2023 - 7:53 pm

Wht’s happening with our team? This isn’t the Mercedes I know…

RacingFan93 July 31, 2023 - 11:24 pm

Wow, didn’t expect Vettel to be at the podium. not bad for an old guy, haha.


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