Verstappen beats Piastri to Belgium sprint victory
Max Verstappen caught and passed McLaren’s Oscar Piastri to win an incident-packed wet sprint race at the Belgian Grand Prix.
Piastri, who started second behind Verstappen, took the lead as a result of stopping for a change to intermediate tyres as soon as the race was started following five laps behind the safety car.
Verstappen stuck with the mandatory full wet tyres for a lap before his own change, and had to ride out a safety car period before blasting through into the lead by passing Piastri on the Kemmel straight.
The Australian hung on for second place, his best F1 finish in his rookie season, ahead of Alpine’s Pierre Gasly.
Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton finished fourth on the road, but was given a five-second penalty for a collision with Red Bull’s Sergio Perez that caused the Mexican to retire, and dropped to seventh just in front of team-mate George Russell.
Hamilton triggered the most exciting racing of the shortened 11-lap distance when he went side by side with Perez through the two right-hand Stavelot corners.
Hamilton drifted a little wide, and had to drop behind the Red Bull for the remainder of the lap, coming under pressure from the Ferrari of Carlos Sainz.
Hamilton then passed Perez around the outside of the first corner, the La Source hairpin, before Sainz went side-by-side with Perez into Eau Rouge and came out ahead.
Sainz’s team-mate Charles Leclerc took advantage of the Red Bull’s loss of momentum to pass Perez up the straight towards the Les Combes chicane.
Perez then lost control and slid off the track under pressure from McLaren’s Lando Norris at Stavelot and eventually had to retire his car. (BBC Sport)