By James Broughton, August 28, 2022
Max Verstappen returned from F1’s summer break to begin the second half of the Grand Prix season with a dominant performance at the 2022 Belgian Grand Prix, despite starting from 14th on the grid. Verstappen was demoted from pole position due to requiring new engine parts which necessitated automatic penalties under the rules. Charles Leclerc was in the same boat and thus found himself one place behind his only title rival. Verstappen has been driving at a level where his natural driving talent should be. The temper tanrtrums have lessened somewhat to be replaced with a relentless focus, driving precision, and an ability to maximize his equipment. It is clear that the Dutchman has raised his game beyond the level of the car beneath him.
Verstappen was patient but assertive on the opening lap, he battled into 8th and assumed command of the lead by lap 18. From that point on he required no invitation to take total control of the race and go on to earn a deserving victory. One person who should have shown more patience on the opening lap was Lewis Hamilton.
The Mercedes driver attempted a daring overtake on old foe Fernando Alonso around the outside of Les Combe. The two banged wheels with Hamilton side-flipping into the air and impacting hard onto the surface. Not long after Mercedes ordered Hamilton to stop immediately out on track due to irreparable damage caused by the collision. Alonso survived the incident and finished the race in 5th.
Not even Perez, who finished second, could find an answer to thwart his teammate’s advance. Verstappen’s new engine effectively gave him a performance boost and he made use of it to the fullest. Ferrari was in a league of their own making, Leclerc could not match Verstappen’s pace and ended the race in 6th.
For Leclerc and Ferrari, the 2022 drivers championship is over, it was sealed here in Belgium by Verstappen and Red Bull even though the mathematics say otherwise.
2022 Belgian Grand Prix: Race Results
1 Max Verstappen Red Bull
2 Sergio Perez Red Bull + 17.841
3 Carlos Sainz Ferrari + 27.055
4 George Russell Mercedes + 29.707
5 Fernando Alonso Alpine + 73.860
6 Charles Leclerc Ferrari + 74.936
7 Esteban Ocon Alpine + 76.169
8 Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin +78.631
9 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri + 92.655
10 Alex Albon Williams + 102.326
11 Lance Stroll Aston Martin + 103.078
12 Lando Norris McLaren + 104.896
13 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri + 105.217
14 Zhou Guanyu Alfa Romeo Racing + 106.252
15 Daniel Ricciardo McLaren + 107.163
16 Kevin Magnussen Haas + 1 LAP
17 Mick Schumacher Haas + 1 LAP
18 Nicholas Latifi Williams + 1 LAP
Did not finish
Valtteri Bottas Alfa Romeo spin – lap 2
Lewis Hamilton Mercedes damage – lap 2