Red Bull's Max Verstappen went from 14th to first to take a dominant one-two win in Belgian Grand Prix and accelerate his run towards a second Formula One title.
Formula One championship leader Max Verstappen has quickly carved his way through the field from 14th to win the Belgian Grand Prix and widen his lead in the title race.
Verstappen, who in the final race before F1's summer break drove from 10th to win the Hungarian Grand Prix, produced another imperious drive and moved closer to a second straight world title on Sunday.
“It’s been a weekend I couldn’t have imagined before," Verstappen said. "But I think we want more of them and we’ll keep working hard.”
His lead in the standings is now 93 points — but it is over Red Bull teammate Sergio Perez because Charles Leclerc dropped to third in another poor Ferrari showing.
“It was quite a hectic first lap to try and stay out of trouble. So many things were happening in front of me, picked the right places to pass people, looked after our tires," Verstappen said.
Verstappen was leading the race by Lap 12, and he earned a bonus point for fastest lap. His third straight win was his ninth this season and 29th overall.
Perez finished second to jump ahead of Leclerc in the season standings. Carlos Sainz Jr. started from pole for Ferrari and finished a disappointing third.
Leclerc started 15th and finished fifth behind the Mercedes of George Russell, but Leclerc dropped to sixth after he was handed a five-second penalty for speeding in the pit lane.
That pushed Alpine driver Fernando Alonso into fifth, and Leclerc, who is now 98 points behind Verstappen in the standings, was shocked by the penalty and appeared defeated in the championship race.
Hamilton goes airborne
Lewis Hamilton's bid for a sixth straight podium ended on the first lap when he clipped Alonso and briefly went airborne.
Sainz started from pole because Verstappen and Leclerc were among several drivers to be hit with grid penalties. Sainz got away at the start and Russell and Hamilton zoomed past Perez and behind Alonso.
Hamilton then overtook Alonso on the outside but clipped the side of his Alpine, sending Hamilton's Mercedes up in the air. Race stewards reviewed and took no action, though Alonso clearly felt Hamilton had not left him enough room as he tried to regain the position.
For Hamilton it was the fifth time he’s retired on Lap 1, with three retirements coming at the 7-kilometre Spa-Francorchamps circuit — the longest in F1 and one of the best for overtaking, as Verstappen showed.
Seconds after Hamilton pulled over, Nicholas Latifi slid across the track and nudged the Alfa Romeo of Valtteri Bottas into the gravel, bringing out the safety car.
Hamilton stood next to his car as smoke billowed out, then walked slowly back to the team garage. He was later issued a warning for refusing to visit the medical centre.