Max Verstappen passed Oscar Piastri to win a rain-affected sprint race at the Belgian Grand Prix, denying the McLaren rookie his first race win in Formula 1.
Piastri found himself lead soon after the heavily-delayed race got underway because he pitted – along with half the field – at the end of the final formation lap to switch from wets to intermediates, one lap earlier than Verstappen (and the other half of the field), which proved critical.
Verstappen soon caught new race leader Piastri but he had to pause his efforts to take the lead back when Fernando Alonso lost control of his Aston Martin, spun it into the gravel at Pouhon and necessitated the safety car.
When the race resumed Verstappen hung close to the back of Piastri, who was unable to shake off the Red Bull driver and was powerless to stop Verstappen from easily passing him along the Kemmel Straight.
Verstappen pulled a comfortable margin out front thereafter, claiming his second sprint victory of the season while Piastri earned the first podium (albeit in a sprint) of his short F1 career so far.
Completing the podium was Pierre Gasly as he provided a much-needed morale boost to Alpine after it announced the exit of three of its senior figures one day earlier.
Gasly held off Lewis Hamilton who finished fourth on the road but was bumped to seventh place after the stewards deemed he caused a collision with the second Red Bull of Sergio Perez.
Hamilton was challenging Perez for fourth when he pulled alongside Perez through the Turn 15-16 right-handers and clipped the Red Bull, which plummeted thereafter before ending up in the gravel one lap later.
Perez hauled his wounded RB19 back on track but Red Bull retired his car shortly afterwards.
Hamilton’s penalty promoted the Ferraris of Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc into fourth and fifth places with Lando Norris bringing his McLaren home in sixth place.
George Russell passed Esteban Ocon and Daniel Ricciardo on his way to claiming the last points-paying position in eighth place behind Hamilton.
Ricciardo was three laps away from the first points of his F1 comeback but he was unable to prevent Russell from passing him into La Source. Ocon also passed him afterwards to further demote him to 10th place.
The race was already delayed 30 minutes from its original start time due to weather delays to the sprint shootout qualifying session earlier in the day. It was then delayed another 30 minutes as a rain shower started just before the rescheduled start time.
Five formation laps followed and a shortened 11-lap sprint race.
Sprint Qualifying Results
|1||Max Verstappen||Red Bull||0s|
|10||Daniel Ricciardo||AlphaTauri-Honda RBPT||+22.806s||0s|
|11||Lance Stroll||Aston Martin-Mercedes||+25.007s||0s|
|13||Valtteri Bottas||Alfa Romeo-Ferrari||+27.006s||0s|
|15||Guanyu Zhou||Alfa Romeo-Ferrari||+36.342s||0s|
|18||Yuki Tsunoda||AlphaTauri-Honda RBPT||+39.267s||0s|
|Sergio Pérez||Red Bull||0s|
|Fernando Alonso||Aston Martin-Mercedes||0s|