Verstappen charges to Belgian GP win as Red Bull bag 1-2 finish

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Red Bull's Max Verstappen continued his crushing dominance of the 2023 F1 season, winning Sunday's Belgian Grand Prix to take his eighth consecutive victory.

Despite having set the fastest time during Friday's qualifying session, Verstappen lined up only sixth on the grid after incurring a five-place grid penalty for excessive component usage.

However, the Dutchman made his way up to fourth by the end of Lap 1, and passed teammate Sergio Perez on Lap 18 to take a lead he would keep to the flag, with a brief mid-race rain shower not impeding his serene progress at the front.

"I knew that we had a great car. It was just about surviving Turn 1. I could see that it was all getting really tight," said Vestappen, who has now won the last ten starts in F1, including Sprint races.

"I've been in that position before as well, so I was like, 'I'm just going to stay out of that', and it worked out and from there onwards, we all made the right overtakes. I just got a little bit stuck at the beginning and in a bit of a DRS train, but once that cleared, I could do my own pace."

Behind Verstappen, Perez continued his return to form with second place, though the Mexican may privately be concerned at how far off Verstappen's pace he continues to be.

Completing the top three was Ferrari's Charles Leclerc, who had lined up on pole position but lost the lead to Perez on Lap 1, and did not have the pace to live with the Red Bulls.

Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton took fourth place, and also took the bonus point for fastest lap, having pitted on the penultimate lap for a fresh set of Soft tyres.

Fernando Alonso took fifth for Aston Martin, with Hamilton's teammate George Russell in sixth place.

Seventh went to McLaren's Lando Norris, who recovered well after a tyre issue dropped him back in the early stages of the race.

Esteban Ocon took eighth for Alpine, ahead of Alonso's teammate Lance Stroll, with Yuki Tsunoda rounding out the top ten to take a useful point for AlphaTauri.

Verstappen's latest win sees him extend his already huge lead in the Drivers' Championship, and the Dutchman now has 314 points. Perez remains second on 189, with Alonso third on 149.

In the Constructors' standings, Red Bull have 503 points, more than double the total of second-placed Mercedes, who have 247, with Aston Martin third on 196.

F1 now takes its annual summer break, with a four-week gap until the Dutch Grand Prix at Zandvoort on August 27. 

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