Max Verstappen expanded on clearing cars early on in F1 Belgian GP to get to lead as he adds on the Eau Rouge moment.
It was some fightback from Red Bull’s Verstappen having started from sixth in F1 Belgian GP. He gained couple of places due to contact between Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz and McLaren’s Oscar Piastri where he had to take evasive action to avoid it.
Once they were cleared, he got stuck behind Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton who had DRS from Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc. But when the Brit lost the DRS, Verstappen passed him quickly and did so with the Monegasque to set on the chase of teammate Sergio Perez.
It took him a while considering he lost tyre performance but eventually cleared him on Lap 17 after the pit stop and never looked back winning the Belgian GP by 22.305s margin. “Llap one, Turn 1, my start was OK, but then I could see Carlos lock up, so you had to go to the inside,” said Verstappen. “But then of course, Oscar was kind of there as well and then they both went deep into the corner.
“So I knew exactly what was going to happen, because I have had the same thing happen to me in 2016, I think it was or something. So it’s like, ‘OK, I’m going to stay out of it, I go wide’. But then, of course, they had damage. And you have to wait and see what they’re going to do on the exit, because I could see Oscar couldn’t really steer anymore.
“So we lost a little bit of momentum there, but luckily, it was all OK. And of course, I also got Carlos into Les Combes. And yeah, from there onwards, basically, my race started. But I was a bit unlucky, because I got stuck behind Lewis, because he was in the DRS of Charles, and with them having the highest top speed, Lewis, this weekend, it was just impossible to pass.
“So I had to wait for him to drop out of the DRS and as soon as he didn’t have DRS anymore, I could pass. And then I think two or three laps later, I could pass Charles. But with that, I think I hurt my tyres a bit too much. So basically, as soon as I had my stop on to the Medium, I could feel that the car was in a much better window and I could go a lot faster. So yeah, from there onwards that was really where it started to come alive.
“And really enjoyable to drive and once I got into the lead, also, I could really look after the tyres as well. But then, of course, the rain started to come down. So you had to slow down quite a bit in some places. And once that cleared, we went back to a Soft tyre set and, again, the car was well balanced. And it shows that, you know, once you’re not in traffic, how much better you can be on tyres. So yeah, it was, again, a great race,” summed up Verstappen.
In all of the grand prix, there was only one moment of blip for Verstappen when it started to rain and going through Eau Rouge he had a moment which he caught fortunately. That part of the track is high speed and prone to accidents.
“That’s probably not the best place to go sideways but luckily nothing happened,” said Verstappen. The rain was just moving around on the track, like sometimes it was just increasing in other places, you know, from lap to lap. So, I just got up there and it probably rained a bit harder when I was on the other side of the track, in Eau Rouge, and I got there and it just caught me out.
“It was just a bit more slippery than I thought it would be. So yeah. I mean, it happens, you quickly try to correct it. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. Luckily, at that speed as well, you have quite a bit of downforce on the car. That helps. Of course, also, with the new, like the changes through there, you have a little bit more run-off, but it’s still not a nice corner to have a moment. I had a swear word on my mind then,” summed up Verstappen.
Here’s how F1 Belgian GP panned out