February 20, 2024

Verstappen cruises past Perez to win eighth grand prix in a row · RaceFans

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Max Verstappen won his eighth consecutive grand prix after overtaking team mate Sergio Perez to win at Spa-Francorchamps.

After serving a five-place grid penalty for exceeding his gearbox allocation, Verstappen overtook Lewis Hamilton and Charles Leclerc before catching and passing team mate Sergio Perez before winning by 22 seconds. Leclerc took the final podium place in third ahead of Lewis Hamilton.

The top four drivers on the grid all lined up on soft tyres, with Oscar Piastri in fifth the highest-placed starter on mediums in fifth, ahead of Max Verstappen in sixth on softs. When the race began, pole-winner Charles Leclerc held off Sergio Perez on the short run to La Source to keep the lead. Behind, contact between Carlos Sainz Jnr and Oscar Piastri at the apex of the first corner left the McLaren with heavy damage which ended his race.

Along the Kemmel straight, Perez slipstreamed the leading Ferrari and charged passed him into the lead before Les Combes. Perez led from Leclerc, Hamilton and Verstappen, who benefitted from the clash ahead to move up to fourth. Sainz quickly dropped back from the Red Bull with significant damage on his own, gradually falling down the order.

Gallery: 2023 Belgian Grand Prix in pictures

Perez opened up a gap of a couple of seconds over Leclerc behind. Meanwhile, Verstappen took third from Hamilton into Les Combes on the sixth lap, before using DRS along the Kemmel straight to breeze by Leclerc into second place on lap nine.

Hamilton was the first of the leading four to pit at the end of lap 12 for the medium tyre compound, but rejoined just ahead of Lance Stroll still in fourth. Hamilton appeared to make more than one defensive move on the straight, but the stewards determined there was no need to investigate the Mercedes driver for weaving.

Race leader Perez pitted at the end of lap 13 for mediums, with team mate Verstappen following suit a lap later. Verstappen quickly closed the gap to his team mate and began putting him under heavy pressure. He slipstreamed him up the hill of Raidillon on lap 17 and easily drove around Perez to take the lead of the race for the first time.

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Light rain arrived to the south side of the circuit, but with only a short shower expected drivers were all advised to ride out the rain on their slick tyres without stopping for intermediates. Lap times dropped by around five seconds for a few laps, but the rain soon passed, allowing drivers to push at their full pace once more.

The second round of pit stops saw the leaders switch onto soft tyres for the final stint, with Verstappen retaining the lead ahead of Perez, Leclerc under five seconds behind Perez and Hamilton fewer than two seconds behind Leclerc.

Verstappen continued to push – against the wishes of his race engineer Giampiero Lambiase – and extended his lead well over 15 seconds. Leclerc remained within five seconds of Perez in third, with Hamilton unable to catch the Ferrari driver ahead. That dynamic remained until the end of the race, with Verstappen winning by over twenty seconds ahead of his team mate by the chequered flag.

Leclerc claimed the final podium place in third, with Hamilton fourth after pitting with two laps remaining to take fresh tyres and set the fastest lap on the final tour. Fernando Alonso split the two Mercedes with Russell in sixth, with Norris completing a 27 lap final stint on soft tyres to claim seventh place. Esteban Ocon, Lance Stroll and Yuki Tsunoda took the final points finishes.

All 44 laps ran without any Safety Car or Virtual Safety Car interventions, with all 18 drivers running finishing on the lead lap.

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2023 Belgian Grand Prix reaction

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