Saturday, March 2, 2024

2023 Formula 1 Belgian Grand Prix highlights





 

Introduction

 

Max Verstappen recovered from a five-place gearbox penalty to claim his eighth successive victory in the 2023 Formula 1 Belgian Grand Prix, with teammate Sergio Perez adding to the celebrations for Red Bull as he completed a one-two result.

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Verstappen gradually picked off his rivals across a tense 44-lap encounter at Spa-Francorchamps, taking P1 after Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc had started the race on pole. The championship leader then kept his car on the track during a mid-race shower that threatened to – but did not quite force – a move from slick tyres to intermediates.

Perez also worked his way past Leclerc to come home in the runner-up spot, crossing the line some 20 seconds behind Verstappen and giving Red Bull their first perfect result since the Miami Grand Prix back in May.

Leclerc held on for the final podium position, denying seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton (who pitted late on to net the fastest lap), while Fernando Alonso put his Aston Martin ahead of the other Mercedes machine of George Russell to take fifth.

Lando Norris initially lost a host of positions after starting the race on medium tyres and then switching to hards, but a move to softs as spits of rain began to fall proved inspired, and he gobbled up the competition on his grippy rubber and eventually bagged seventh.

Aston Martin secured another double-point finish as Lance Stroll backed up teammate Alonso in the ninth, while Esteban Ocon and Yuki Tsunoda completed the points in the eighth and 10th, respectively, via some late scrapping.

Pierre Gasly went longer into the race than anyone else with a sizeable first stint, but a slow stop when he eventually boxed hindered his efforts and left him 11th at the chequered flag, followed by the Alfa Romeos of Valtteri Bottas and Zhou Guanyu.

Williams had mixed it in the points-paying places early on, with the FW45 showing incredible straight-line speed, but they faded as the different slick-tyre strategies played out, leaving Alex Albon 14th and Logan Sargeant 17th.

Haas duo Kevin Magnussen and Nico Hulkenberg, both impacted by pre-race penalties, wound up 15th and 18th, respectively, while 16th went to the second AlphaTauri of Daniel Ricciardo, who could not match teammate Tsunoda’s points-scoring efforts.

Only 18 cars finished the race after a first-corner clash between Sprint podium finisher Oscar Piastri and Carlos Sainz led to both drivers retiring – the McLaren man clipping the inside wall at La Source and stopping at the side of the track and the Ferrari nursing damage before being called in to retire.

When the drivers returned to parc ferme, Verstappen could not hide his delight as he punched the air in celebration for the 10th time this season, moving just one win away from matching Sebastian Vettel’s successive victory record of nine races in the process.

It also means Verstappen now holds a lead of 125 points over Perez in the drivers’ standings as the Dutchman continues his push towards what would be a third world championship on the bounce.

Mario Isola, Motorsport Director, Pirelli:

Finally, on a day with reasonable weather, the rain only made an appearance briefly without having any significant impact on the way the race played out. Coming into this final part of the weekend practically in the dark increased the number of unknown factors and, along with the large number of dry weather tyres available, as they were only used for a few laps in yesterday’s qualifying, this gave the teams a wider than usual range of possible strategies. Degradation on the Soft and Medium tyres was in line with our simulations, given the relatively low track temperature. These low temperatures also meant the Hard was not very competitive, and it was only used by one driver for a few kilometres. In terms of performance, the other two compounds were up to the task, and the stint lengths varied according to whether a driver chose to push right from the start to make the most of the available grip or manage the situation to lengthen the stint as much as possible, which was the case for the three drivers who only made a single pit stop.

Finally, I would like to congratulate the fans (380,000 attendance) who put up with some very wet weather. They were rewarded with a great show, partly down to the Sprint weekend format, which meant that, right from Friday, there was plenty of excitement on the track. Formula 1 is soon going to take a short break, although we still have two more days of testing on Tuesday and Wednesday here at Spa, working with Aston Martin and McLaren. The daily work programme will depend a lot on what the weather has to offer.

How the race was won from the tyre point of view:

Medium and Soft were the most used compounds during the race, with the Hard only used by Norris for 12 laps in his second stint. 13 drivers opted to start on Softs, seven on Medium. The softest of the three compounds Pirelli brought here proved to be very competitive, also giving the teams greater flexibility in terms of strategy, with seven drivers opting to push right from the start, stopping before lap 10 (Sainz also pitted, having sustained car damage) while others extended the stint as much as possible, like Gasly for example, who pitted after 23 laps. Those who started on Mediums also adopted different strategies: Russell managed to do 22 laps, Stroll just two fewer, while Tsunoda stopped on lap 9 and Alonso on 10. This compound was the out-and-out choice for the second stint, with much more similar stint lengths, in a window between 15 and 20 laps.

2023 Formula 1 Belgian gp

The most critical moment of this phase came shortly after half-distance when, for around ten minutes, it rained slightly. Lap times rapidly increased, reaching the limit for the crossover point to intermediates, but then the rain stopped, and the track dried quickly. For the final stages, based partly on what had been learned in the first part of the race, the Soft was back in favour of the teams and drivers. Here too, the stint lengths varied: the first three finishers completed a similar distance (Verstappen 14, Perez 15 and Leclerc 16), Norris did 27, while Ocon and Zhou ran for 19 while Tsunoda and Hulkenberg did 20.

Three drivers did just one stop – Russell, Stroll and Gasly – the first two of these finishing in the points, while the Frenchman was just outside in 11th. Another trio, the two Williams drivers and Lewis Hamilton made three stops. In the case of the Williams pair, it was for strategic reasons, while the seven times world champion came in for a set of new Mediums to secure the extra point for the fastest race lap.

2023 Formula 1 Belgian gp

What’s next?

Now it’s time for the Formula 1 summer break. The championship will resume with the Dutch Grand Prix at Zandvoort from 25 to 27 August, and just one week later, the action switches to the final European round of the season, from 1 to 3 September, when Monza hosts the Formula 1 Pirelli Gran Premio d’Italia 2023.

2023 Formula 1 Belgian Grand Prix Race Results

Pos No Driver Country Team Time Points Overall
1. 1 Max Verstappen Netherlands Red Bull Racing 1:22:30.450 25 314
2. 11 Sergio Perez Mexico Red Bull Racing +22.305s 18 189
3. 16 Charles Leclerc Monaco Scuderia Ferrari +32.259s 15 99
4. 44 Lewis Hamilton Great Britain Mercedes-AMG Petronas +49.671s 13 148
5. 14 Fernando Alonso Spain Aston Martin F1 Team +56.184s 10 149
6. 63 George Russell Great Britain Mercedes-AMG Petronas +63.101s 8 99
7. 4 Lando Norris Great Britain Mclaren Racing +73.719s 6 69
8. 31 Esteban Ocon France Alpine F1 Team +74.719s 4 35
9. 18 Lance Stroll Canada Aston Martin F1 Team +79.340s 2 47
10. 22 Yuki Tsunoda Japan Scuderia AlphaTauri +80.221s 1 3
11. 10 Pierre Gasly France Alpine F1 Team +83.084s 0 22
12. 77 Valtteri Bottas Finland Alfa Romeo F1 Team +85.191s 0 5
13. 24 Zhou Guanyu China Alfa Romeo F1 Team +95.441s 0 4
14. 45 Alexander Albon Thailand Williams Racing +96.184s 0 11
15. 20 Kevin Magnussen Denmark Haas F1 Team +101.754s 0 2
16. 3 Daniel Ricciardo Australia Scuderia AlphaTauri +103.071s 0 0
17. 2 Logan Sargeant USA Williams Racing +104.476s 0 0
18. 27 Nico Hulkenberg Germany Haas F1 Team +110.450s 0 9
8. 55 Carlos Sainz Spain Scuderia Ferrari DNF 0 92
5. 81 Oscar Piastri Australia McLaren Racing DNF 0 34
21. 21 Nyck De Vries Netherlands Scuderia AlphaTauri DNS 0 0

2023 Constructor Standings

Pos Picture Team Points
1. Red Bull Racing 503
2. Mercedes-AMG F1 Team 247
3. Aston Martin F1 Team 196
4. Scuderia Ferrari 191
5. McLaren Racing 103
6. Alpine F1 Team 57
9. Williams Racing 11
7. Haas F1 Team 11
8. Alfa Romeo Racing 9
10. Scuderia AlphaTauri 3

Here are the team-by-team highlights:

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