Verstappen strengthens F1 lead by winning Belgian Grand Prix

Sports Desk, Aug 28 (EFE).- Max Verstappen further strengthened his solid lead in the world Formula One rankings on Sunday by winning the Belgian Grand Prix at the Spa-Francorchamps circuit, with his Red Bull teammate Sergio Perez, of Mexico, and Spain’s Carlos Sainz, driving for Ferrari, finishing second and third, respectively.

The 24-year-old Dutchman made it quite clear that he wants to reassert his ownership of the F1 title as quickly as possible, notching his ninth victory of the year, and his 28th overall in Formula One in a contest where Spain’s other driver, Fernando Alonso with Alpine, finished fifth.

Verstappen had started in the 14th spot after being one of seven drivers to receive a grid penalty for using too many engine parts.

Moreover, the United Kingdom’s Lewis Hamilton had to withdraw from the race after a first-lap collision with Alonso, although the latter was relatively unaffected.

Alonso has classified for the race just behind Britain’s George Russell, with Mercedes and who finished the Grand Prix in fourth, by benefiting from the five-second penalty imposed on Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc for exceeding the speed limit in the pit lane, after the Monaco Ferrari driver had been fifth in the trials but lost his position due to the penalty.

France’s Esteban Ocon, also with Alpine, finished seventh, one spot ahead of Germany’s four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel, with Aston Martin.

France’s Pierre Gasly, with Alpha Tauri, and Thailand’s Alexander Albon, driving for Williams, also secured a few ranking points by finishing ninth and tenth, respectively.

Verstappen had started out the Belgian race in the 14th spot, but by the second lap was already in eighth, when the safety car came out onto the track, with Russell in third place and Alonso in fourth, positions they maintained when the race resumed in earnest.

The Dutchman knocked Alonso out of fourth place on the seventh lap on a track where the temperature climbed to 36 C (97 F), thus making tire management a key concern.

Verstappen then went ahead of Russell on the eighth of the race’s 44 laps and he then took the lead from Sainz, who had won the pole position, on the 18th lap.

Verstappen now has a whopping 284 ranking points on the F1 table, followed by Perez, known as “Checo,” with 191, who stood on the F1 podium for the 20th time by finishing second, and with Sainz in fourth place with 171 points and on the podium for the 13th time overall and the seventh time this season.

Leclerc is in third place in the rankings with 196 points.

Meanwhile, Red Bull is far out in front of its closest rival, Ferrari, with 475 ranking points, to the latter’s 357.

The next contest – the Dutch Grand Prix – will be pit the drivers against one another next weekend at Zandvoort.

EFE arh/og/bp

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