Formula 1 action has fully resumed after a long summer break with an eventful 2022 Belgian Grand Prix at the scintillating Spa-Francorchamps circuit under the hot summer sun.
It didn’t even take one whole lap for driver drama to unfold, when Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso went side by side into Les Combes and the Brit closed the door on the Spaniard. With Hamilton’s front right tyre now sticking into the Alpine, his whole car was rendered airborne for a moment, before landing safely.
“He hit me, what an Idiot!” exclaimed a bemused Alonso, before adding “this guy only knows how to drive starting first!”
Having sustained damage, Hamilton’s race was over before it even began, as he was ordered to retire from the race. Speaking after the race, the Brit was happy to take responsibility for the incident, and said “It’s nice to know how he feels about me in a way, better that it’s out in the open… Like I said, it wasn’t intentional and I take responsibility for it. That’s what adults do.”
Meanwhile, Max Verstappen enjoyed a flying first lap, climbing up to P8 having started the race all the way back in P14. However, the start of the second lap saw another collision, as birthday boy Valtteri Bottas spun trying to avoid an out-of-control Nicholas Latifi, who in turn was avoiding the Alpine of Esteban Ocon.
The second incident in as many laps warranted a Safety Car, but the racing resumed without too much more trouble thereafter. By the eighth lap, Verstappen was in P3 with only his teammate Sergio Perez and Carlos Sainz to beat. By the 19th lap the Dutchmen was in the lead, and after a dominant display won the race by over 18 seconds to second place Perez. Verstappen also unsurprisingly claiming the fastest lap to boot.
Ferrari’s Sainz completed the podium ahead of Mercedes’ George Russell, who had previously passed Charles Leclerc but lost out on the final podium place by just over two seconds.
Leclerc made a late pit stop for soft tyres in an effort to claim fastest lap, but just missed out on that extra point, and narrowly held on to his P5 finish ahead of Alonso in sixth. However, the Monegasque was issued a five second penalty for speeding in the pit lane, and was subsequently dropped down to sixth behind the Spaniard.
Speaking after the race, Verstappen said “It was quite a hectic first lap to try and stay out of trouble, so many things were happening in front of me. But once we settled in after the Safety Car, the car was really on rails.”
The Dutchman seems to be walking away with the championship, as he is now 93 points ahead of teammate Perez, who has leap-frogged Leclerc, the Monegasque now occupying third place in the driver standings with 186 points of his own.
F1 fans won’t have to wait as long for the next race, as the Dutch Grand Prix will be held at the Zandvoort Circuit on Sunday, September 4.