Rolex Belgian GP
August 26 - August 28, 2022
Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps
Race Winner
Max Verstappen
Red Bull
2 Pits
Rolex Belgian GP
Free Practice 1
Free Practice 2
Free Practice 3

Max Verstappen unstoppable as he wins Belgian GP from 14th

Max Verstappen claimed an astonishing and dominant victory despite starting from 14th on the grid at the Belgian Grand Prix to move even closer to successfully defending the F1 championship.

Verstappen had qualified quickest but started down the order after an engine penalty. Nevertheless, he looked ominously quick from the first lap.

Verstappen was in the lead by lap 12 of 44, vindicating Red Bull's decision to give him a fresh engine at the Spa-Francorchamps circuit.

The Dutchman controlled the race once he had the lead and, with title rival Charles Leclerc finishing sixth, now leads by a huge 93 points lead over teammate Sergio Perez and 98 to Leclerc with eight races left.

As it stands, Verstappen could wrap the title up as early as the Japanese Grand Prix in October. 

Perez, who finished a distant second, said: "Max was on a different planet today". 

Leclerc had started one place behind Verstappen and was following him up through the order until he was forced to make an unscheduled pit-stop for a brake duct issue under an early safety car.

He looked set for fifth position but Ferrari pitted him for fresh tyres to set the fastest lap, meaning he emerged in sixth behind Fernando Alonso. 

Although Leclerc got past Alonso on the final lap, he was given a five-second time penalty after the race for speeding in the pit-lane, dropping him back behind the Alpine driver. 

Behind Perez was Carlos Sainz, who had started from pole position and claimed the final spot of the podium ahead of Mercedes' George Russell. 

The mixed up grid caused by a slew of engine penalties had raised hopes of a chaotic race and there was drama from the very start.

Old rivals Lewis Hamilton and Alonso collided while fighting for third position on the opening lap.

Hamilton had reeled Alonso in down the Kemmel Straight and attempted to go around the outside, but the two made contact, with Hamilton's car briefly pitched into the air.

Alonso, who had been squeezed on the inside of the corner, was furious and let his feelings be known on his race radio.

"What an idiot," Alonso said after the collision. "Closing the door from the outside. We had a great start but this guy only knows how to drive and start in first"

Hamilton accepted blame, saying: "Looking back at the footage, he was in my blind spot and I didn't leave him enough space so it was my fault today. Just sorry for the team.

Hamilton's car clearly had floor damage and a few corners later Mercedes told him to stop the car and retire from the race.

The race stewards disagreed Hamilton was at fault, deciding neither driver was predominantly to blame.

A Safety Car came out the following lap when Williams driver Nicholas Latifi got wide on the exit of the Les Combes chicane and collided with Valtteri Bottas, ending both drivers' race on the spot.

Alonso recovered from the opening-lap clash to finish fourth, with Alpine teammate Esteban Ocon driving from the rear of the grid to sixth. 

It was a strong weekend for Alpine as McLaren, who they are fighting for fourth in the championship, failed to score a point.

Lando Norris was struggling in the final laps -- with McLaren amusingly telling him it was too late to move on to Plan G -- while Daniel Ricciardo's miserable run of form continued.

Ricciardo had started from seventh on the grid but he faded across the grand prix, finishing a lowly 13th.

The result comes just days after McLaren and Ricciardo confirmed they will part ways at the end of the season.

Sebastian Vettel finished eighth ahead of Pierre Gasly, who started from the pit-lane.

Alex Albon claimed a deserved point after a brilliant qualifying performance on Saturday.