Max Verstappen’s dominating victory at the Belgian Grand Prix shows how much he’s raised his game since winning the world championship last year, says Red Bull team principal Christian Horner.
The defending champion made a rapid ascent from 14th on the grid yesterday, taking the lead before the halfway mark and winning 17 seconds ahead of team-mate Sergio Perez, who started on the front row.
His ninth win of the year leaves him 93 points clear of Perez at the top of the championship standings, giving him a strong chance of retaining the title he won last year. Horner said the achievement propelled Verstappen’s performance to new heights.
“I think Max, since winning that championship last year, has taken another step,” he told media including RaceFans yesterday. “It has, in many ways, liberated him and he’s driving at an incredible level.”
The team took maximum points last weekend as Verstappen led Perez in a one-two finish and set the fastest lap of the race. He set the fastest lap when he started his final stint on a new set of medium compound tires with 12 laps to go.
Its time lasted despite Ferrari installing a new set of tires on Charles Leclerc’s car in a bid to beat it. He fell short after being passed by Fernando Alonso, who briefly held him up at the start of his final lap, before gaining a useful wake as the Alpine passed.
“It demonstrated the pace that even with the DRS up the hill and a set of soft tires and probably 30 kilos less fuel than Max, Max’s lap was still fastest from his first lap of the last set” , said Horner.
Verstappen, 24, is in his eighth season in F1 and is under contract with Red Bull until at least 2028.
However Horner remains cautious about the championship situation. “As for the league tables, they obviously look really healthy. But things can change very, very quickly.
“We saw that, I think we were 46 points behind when we left Australia and in a few races we managed to turn things around. So our prerogative is on each race one at a time and the table championship will take care of itself, so we just want to keep that momentum going.
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Belgian Grand Prix 2022
Browse all articles from the 2022 Belgian Grand Prix