Victorious Verstappen hails 'incredible weekend' in Spa

Race winner Max Verstappen (NLD) Red Bull Racing celebrates in parc ferme. 28.08.2022. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 14, Belgian Grand Prix, Spa Francorchamps, Belgium, Race
© XPB 

Max Verstappen was delighted to claim victory in Sunday's Belgian Grand Prix, his ninth win of the season which extends his lead in the drivers championship to 93 points over Red Bull team mate Sergio Perez.

Verstappen had been fastest of anyone in qualifying on Saturday, but grid penalties for taking on more power unit components this weekend meant that he ended up staring the race from 14th on the grid.

It made little difference to the outcome, with Verstappen taking the lead for the race for the first time on lap 12 having started on soft tyres. Deftly managing two rounds of pit stops, he was almost 18s clear by the finish.

He said that the main challenge of the race was staying out of trouble during an eventful opening two laps which saw retirements for Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas, the latter triggering an early safety car.

"It was quite a hectic first lap to try and stay out of trouble, there were so many things happening in front of me," Verstappen told the media in parc ferme after the end of the race.

"Once we settled in after the safety car, the car was really on rails," he continued. "I picked the right places to pass people, and we could look after our tyres. And that's how we made our way forward.

Race winner Max Verstappen (NLD) Red Bull Racing RB18 takes the chequered flag at the end of the race. 28.08.2022. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 14, Belgian Grand Prix, Spa Francorchamps, Belgium, Race

"After that - once we were in the lead - it was all about managing everything," he confirmed.

The grid penalty notwithstanding, the weekend could hardly have gone better for Verstappen and will surely be remembered as one of his most dominant victories of his career with no one in the same league.

"It's been a weekend that I could not have imagined before," he agreed. "But I think we want more of them so we need to keep on working hard."

As for his team mate, Perez had the advantage of starting from the front row alongside pole sitter Carlos Sainz but suffered a terrible start that saw him lose spots to Fernando Alonso, Lewis Hamilton and George Russell.

But the Alonso/Hamilton clash at Eau Rouge on the opening lap allowed him to recover the lost spots and he briefly led the race before Verstappen came blasting past to seal an emphatic victory.

Perez said it had been "a very hectic lap 1 and a lot of contact" all around him. "It was a bit of chaos on lap 1," he continued. "I had a really poor start and lost a couple of positions, but I managed to get them all back into turn 5."

Even though second place today moves him ahead of Charles Leclerc in the drivers championship, Perez was clearly a little disappointed to miss out on clinching his second win of the season.

Sergio Perez (MEX) Red Bull Racing celebrates with race winner and team mate Max Verstappen (NLD) Red Bull Racing on the podium. 28.08.2022. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 14, Belgian Grand Prix, Spa Francorchamps, Belgium, Race

"I really hoped for more," he admitted. "Today it was a good opportunity, but Max was just flying. He was on another planet, and was untouchable.

"But it was a very strong result for the team," he acknowledged. "I think we managed to get a lot of points today, which is important."

With Leclerc finishing in sixth place, today's result means that Perez moves five points ahead of the Monegasque with eight races remaining in the season, and the Red-Bull 1-2 puts the team 118 points ahead of Ferrari.

"That's I think one of our biggest ever team performances," team principal Christian Horner told Sky Sports F1.

"I never expected Max to win that race, and particularly to get to the front so quickly," he said. "Max has been exemplary this weekend.

"It was an amazing performance from Max. He wasn't greedy at the start, he was very patient particularly down at Eau Rouge, and he just picked his way through."

"It was an amazing performance, absolutely right up there with the very best that we achieved back in 2010," he added. "With Checo right there as well, the fastest lap, a 1-2 finish - it couldn't have been better for us today."

Gallery: The beautiful wives and girlfriends of F1 drivers

Keep up to date with all the F1 news via Facebook and Twitter