Formula 1’s 2022 season returned with one of the most clear-cut contenders for the winners’ category this year.
Max Verstappen and Red Bull won the Belgian Grand Prix by over 18 seconds despite a back-of-the-grid penalty that left him 13th on the grid, an astounding performance that left chief rivals Ferrari and Charles Leclerc stunned.
With Verstappen, Red Bull and Ferrari among them, here’s our full list of the winners and losers from the 14th round of the 2022 season:
F1 drivers winning from outside of the top 10 on the grid is not all that rare.
F1 drivers winning from outside of the top 10 with such absurd ease, however, is quite the occasion.
Verstappen is now on the cusp of 30 wins, and yet he admitted after the race this was the most dominant race weekend of his F1 career. It certainly looked that way. – Valentin Khorounzhiy
Red Bull had no cars in the top four coming out of Turn 4, and yet the 1-2 never looked in any particular doubt.
And the best part about it was that it was a zero-controversy 1-2 – there was never any real question about how to manage a Verstappen/Perez battle, because after an initial complaint Verstappen breezed past with DRS and never looked back.
Both drivers seem very aware that this is unlikely to be the new norm, and that Ferrari should come back swinging at the high-downforce Zandvoort.
But that’s really only a pressing matter for Perez’s chances of finishing runner-up in 2022. Verstappen has checked out up the road, and Red Bull’s constructors’ lead now looks unassailable, too. – VK
With Fernando Alonso getting swiped at Les Combes on the opening lap and Esteban Ocon buried in the pack on account of his back-of-grid penalty, the day could have ended up very differently for Alpine.
Alonso kept it on the road after Hamilton’s assault, though, and led the midfield throughout (even if he was briefly challenged by Sebastian Vettel). This wasn’t just a drive to best-of-the-rest status, as the wily Alonso judged his attack on Charles Leclerc perfectly when the Ferrari emerged from the pits on the penultimate lap.
Alonso was always likely to be repassed, but the way his timed the move – striking up the hill rather than on the run to Eau Rouge – likely made the difference in him finishing fifth and not sixth when Leclerc’s five-second penalty was applied, such was the pace advantage of the Ferrari on that dash to the flag.
Ocon was the definition of decisive on his climb up the order, and in all sorts of places too: at the Bus Stop chicane, into La Source and approaching Les Combes.
The icing on the cake was his double pass on Vettel and Pierre Gasly that completed his run to seventh, finishing 2.4 seconds down on his team-mate from a lowly 16th on the grid.
The net result was a five-seven finish that makes it a clear favourite for fourth in the constructors’ championship. – Jack Cozens
It’s not unfair to caveat Vettel’s appearance in this list by saying he benefitted from the spate of grid penalties for those around him.
But those are the breaks, and Vettel made the most of his with a mega opening lap as he first passed Alex Albon, then got Daniel Ricciardo while the McLaren dithered behind an ailing Lewis Hamilton, and soon after cleared the Mercedes for good measure to run fifth.
Though Verstappen came through soon after the safety car, Vettel kept tabs on Alonso in the first stint. That was arguably race-defining given the way he pulled away from Albon behind, and the pace was strong on the hards in the middle of the race, too, as he threatened to challenge Alonso for the midfield lead.
His mistimed move on Gasly ultimately goes down as an error as it cost him both a place to Ocon and any chance of catching the Alpine again, but this was still the sort of fighting drive from Vettel that would represent a very solid conclusion to his F1 career if conditions allow for any repeats in his remaining eight races. – JC
Gasly’s pitlane start robbed him of a solid eighth place on the grid but a canny race left him one position short of that place by the end of the grand prix.
The Frenchman went for an aggressive early two-stopper, undercut many of his rivals and benefitted from Albon holding plenty of other drivers up, to secure first points finish since Baku.
A much-needed boost in what has been a difficult follow-up to his stellar 2021 campaign. – Josh Suttill
Sure, his Williams had the pace to reach Q3 and secure sixth place on the grid but it quickly became clear that it did not have the pace to stay with its midfield rivals in the battle for the points.
So instead, his team brought Albon in early for each of his pitstops and then relied on some impressive defence driving – aided by Williams’ supreme straight-line speed – to hold onto the final point.
That’s exactly what Albon was able to deliver as Williams’s revised FW44 earned its first point to add to the three that the initial version of the car scored. – JS
There wasn’t much that Ferrari did wrong on Sunday at Spa, or all weekend for that matter, but the fact remains that it was blown away by a rival that it’s largely been on a par with in 2022.
Sainz dug in deep to ensure it wasn’t a second race weekend in a row where Ferrari conspired to miss the podium altogether but, given Mercedes’ struggles on Saturday, a two-second buffer to George Russell at the finish after starting on pole should set some alarm bells ringing.
And though there wasn’t much that Ferrari did wrong in the race, it wasn’t error-free. Sure, Leclerc had a far superior car to Alonso in the final two laps, but did it really need to pit him in an attempt to take the fastest lap with such a fine pit margin back to the Alpine?
Ultimately it was Leclerc’s speeding offence that cost him fifth place when his penalty was applied. But he managed to lose two points in pursuit of an extra one that always looked like it would be difficult to grab.
Perhaps if there’s a crumb of comfort it’s that it shows Ferrari is still willing to take chances to get as many points as it can. It just felt as though the margin was too fine on this occasion. – JC
Perez’s hopes of winning seemed to be pinned on nailing Sainz on the run to Les Combes, so his sluggish getaway – which he attributed to “something with the clutch” – effectively put paid to those within metres of the start.
Though he was offered a reprieve when Hamilton launched himself at Alonso’s Alpine, clearing the path for Perez to move back into second, the truth is he never looked likely to challenge Carlos Sainz in the first stint. That inevitably meant Perez played second fiddle to Verstappen once the full extent of his team-mate’s pace could be unleashed.
Nobody could live with Verstappen this weekend, that much is true. But an 18-second deficit to the sister car, having effectively started 10 places up the road, doesn’t reflect all that well on Perez. – JC
The stewards did not penalise Hamilton for the collision – a lucky break given you really don’t want a grid drop at Zandvoort – but they made it extremely clear he was more at fault than Alonso in their verdict. And Hamilton himself didn’t really deny that.
It will have probably hurt to watch the race after that and see that, for all the pain of that gap to pole on Saturday, the race pace of the W13 was A-OK in Russell’s hands – meaning Hamilton, had he stayed in the race, would’ve certainly also been a podium threat.
Whether the individual podiums are much of a boon anymore is a different matter, though. Mercedes is still somewhat keeping pace with Ferrari in the constructors’ standings, but given its previous hybrid-era form this season is inescapably a write-off – one that could’ve only really been saved by a huge post-summer break transformation that it seems just isn’t coming. – VK
This is a grand prix that really got away badly from McLaren.
It didn’t have the pace to match Alpine nor did its chief points scorer Lando Norris have the right grid position (16th with the AlphaTauris in the pitlane), but it underachieved with both its cars outside of the points.
Daniel Ricciardo erroneously stayed out far too long during his final stint where he was jumped by his team-mate Norris who then got stuck behind Albon’s train and he was grounded to a 12th-place finish.
Alpine scooping 16 points makes McLaren’s deficit to fourth place in the constructors’ 20 points.
That’s hardly unassailable but it can’t afford more weekends like this when Alpine is consistently getting both cars well inside the top 10. – JS
The two Ferrari customer teams are leaving Spa pining for some high-downforce tracks, with neither having made the points in any of the last three races.
For Alfa/Sauber, the scoreless streak is actually five – and it’s not so nice on a weekend where Sauber’s presumed future partner Audi announced its F1 entry – but the race itself at least didn’t look all bleak. Valtteri Bottas was caught up in an incident not of his own making early on, and Guanyu Zhou mounted a genuine, if doomed, bid for the points, which is not the worst showing given both cars served major engine penalties.
Haas’s performance, with both its cars now in upgraded spec, was likely more alarming. As Kevin Magnussen pointed out after the race, the top car finishing 16th is not too great a look at all – even if he felt just a minor pace gain would’ve thrust him to the edge of the points battle.
And while Alfa is probably fine in terms of the constructors’ standings, at least for now, Haas has every reason to look nervously over its shoulder at AlphaTauri and Aston Martin. – VK