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Formula 1 Belgian GP

F1 Belgian GP: Verstappen wins shortened sprint race from Piastri, Gasly

Max Verstappen beat early leader Oscar Piastri to win the delayed sprint race at Formula 1's 2023 Belgian Grand Prix.

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing, 1st position

After spots of rain had fallen sporadically as the cars initially lined up on the grid 20 minutes ahead of the scheduled start time, it began coming down heavily 10 minutes later.

The race started at 17:35 behind the safety car, which mandated all the cars to start the race on full wet tyres.

They were sent around for five formation tours, which was originally announced as four before one more was added in a bid to clear more water by the cars running at reduced speed.

This meant when the action did get going the distance was reduced from 15 to 11 laps, with several drivers including polesitter Verstappen reporting conditions were already good enough for intermediate tyres early in the initial formation lap procession.

When the safety car finally peeled in, plenty of drivers opted to pit.

This included Piastri from just behind Verstappen and the Australian driver was joined in making the final formation lap call by Carlos Sainz, Pierre Gasly and Lewis Hamilton – with the Alpine racer emerging behind Piastri as several teams had to hold their cars as others pitted around them.

Verstappen did not complete lap one on the track as he too came in for inters, joined by Charles Leclerc and Lando Norris behind – two drivers that could not stop on the final formation lap as they were running behind their team-mates and facing a potentially very long double-stack stop.

Leclerc got a long hold anyway as Ferrari had to wait for several cars to come by in the pitlane, with Verstappen slightly delayed waiting for Norris to come past.

When he re-emerged from the pits, Piastri had already swept away from La Source and was in the lead with a 1.5s advantage early in lap two.

Verstappen had halved that one lap later, but then the race was suspended by a safety car period after Fernando Alonso spun off while running behind Nico Hulkenberg in an incident that will be investigated after the race as it was labelled a possible "impeding" infraction on the FIA timing screens.

The race resumed at the start of lap six, with Verstappen sticking right with Piastri as they powered back up to speed and then immediately blasting ahead on the first time they ran back onto the Kemmel Straight having shot through the Eau Rouge/Raidillon sequence with the McLaren fractionally ahead.

Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing RB19

Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing RB19

Photo by: Michael Potts / Motorsport Images

Verstappen then ran clear to an easy win, ending up with a 6.6s final margin of victory over Piastri.

Gasly had come out of his final formation lap stop for inters ahead of Perez and Hamilton, with Sainz behind this pair too.

This became their order behind Verstappen under the safety car, with Leclerc's long stop meaning he was running adrift of Sainz at that point with Norris one place further back.

On the same lap six restart tour Verstappen was passing Piastri, Gasly trailed them a chunk back while he dropped Perez, who had Hamilton climbing all over his rear end.

Hamilton got a great drive out of the first part of the Stavelot sequence, Turn 14, and he was alongside Perez as they went through the next part, another fast right.

The Mercedes appeared to drift slightly left and his left front made contact with Perez's right-side sidepod – punching a hole as he did so, although the Red Bull was able to surge ahead.

At the start of lap seven, Hamilton powered around Perez's outside at La Source, with Sainz then outdragging him to Eau Rouge and thrillingly getting ahead at the left-hand kink at the foot of the hill.

Leclerc then closed in on Perez and got alongside on the outside line running down the Kemmel straight with Sainz's tow ahead and the second Ferrari demoted Perez from fourth to seventh in six corners when Leclerc steam around the outside of the Red Bull at the first part of the Les Combes chicane.

Perez then slid into the gravel when the pack reached Stavelot, with Norris by then close behind, and at the end of lap seven, he retired in the pits.

The incident with Hamilton was swiftly placed under investigation and the Mercedes driver was given a five-second penalty for causing it in the eyes of the stewards.

As Hamilton could not find a way by Gasly by the end and with the short sprint distance offering little chance for gaps to form, he fell to seventh behind Sainz, Leclerc and Norris in the final order at the flag.

George Russell sealed the final point on lap 10 when he outdragged Daniel Ricciardo on the outside run to La Source having seen off the close attentions of Esteban Ocon after the restart.

Pos Driver Team Engine Gap
1 HOL Max Verstappen Red Bull Red Bull  
2 AUS Oscar Piastri McLaren Mercedes 6.677
3 FRA Pierre Gasly Alpine Renault 10.733
4 ESP Carlos Sainz  Ferrari Ferrari 12.648
5 MON Charles Leclerc Ferrari Ferrari 15.016
6 GBR Lando Norris McLaren Mercedes 16.052
7 GBR Lewis Hamilton Mercedes Mercedes 16.757
8 GBR George Russell Mercedes Mercedes 16.822
9 FRA Esteban Ocon Alpine Renault 22.410
10 AUS Daniel Ricciardo AlphaTauri Red Bull 22.806
11 CAN Lance Stroll Aston Martin Mercedes 25.007
12 THA Alexander Albon Williams Mercedes 26.303
13 FIN Valtteri Bottas Alfa Romeo Ferrari 27.006
14 DEN Kevin Magnussen Haas Ferrari 32.986
15 CHN Zhou Guanyu Alfa Romeo Ferrari 36.342
16 USA Logan Sargeant Williams Mercedes 37.571
17 GER Nicolas Hülkenberg Haas Ferrari 37.827
18 JPN Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri Red Bull 39.267
  MEX Sergio Perez Red Bull Red Bull  
  ESP Fernando Alonso Aston Martin Mercedes  

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