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Max Verstappen beats Sergio Perez, extends win streak to eight

Verstappen, who started sixth on the grid because of a gearbox penalty, was up to third by lap six at Spa-Francorchamps, in second place by lap nine and took the lead on lap 17 of 44.

His eighth successive victory means he is now one short of Sebastian Vettel’s record from 2013 and could draw level with a win at his home race at the Dutch Grand Prix in four weeks’ time. 

The only moment where the victory looked in doubt came on lap 21 when a brief rain shower resulted in him losing the rear of his Red Bull in the daunting Eau Rouge corner. He caught the slide, and the mistake barely made a dent in his lead.

“That’s probably the worse corner to have a moment,” Verstappen said after the race. “It’s tricky in those laps when it’s raining a bit but not too much.

“I had a bit of a sideways moment but luckily nothing happened.”

After that it was plain sailing, with the 25-year-old joking with his engineer about making an extra tire change simply to offer his mechanics some more pit stop practice. However, he lost out on the bonus point when Lewis Hamilton defeated his time following a late pit stop.

Perez, who started behind Charles Leclerc on the front row of the grid, took the lead of the race on the first lap but simply didn’t have the pace to hold off Verstappen when his teammate appeared in his mirrors.

“Max came through pretty quick,” Perez said, “there’s nothing I could have done there.”

The gap between the two Red Bull drivers at the top of the drivers’ championship now stands at 125 points in Verstappen’s favour, with the Dutchman on course to win the title with multiple races remaining.

Leclerc finished third, securing Ferrari’s third podium of the season, ahead of Hamilton in fourth and Fernando Alonso in fifth. George Russell took sixth for Mercedes.

After two podiums in a row at the last two races, Lando Norris slipped to seventh in the results at Spa-Francorchamps. His McLaren looked competitive in Saturday’s sprint race in wet conditions, but in the dry the car’s lack of straight-line speed was exposed.

Norris’ teammate Oscar Piastri started fifth but was involved in a collision with Carlos Sainz on the apex of the first corner, which resulted in terminal damage to the McLaren and dropped Sainz down the order.

Esteban Ocon took eighth place for Alpine on a turbulent weekend for the French team, which announced the departure of team principal Otmar Szafnauer and sporting director Alan Permane on Friday.

Lance Stroll was ninth for Aston Martin ahead of another impressive performance by AlphaTauri’s Yuki Tsunoda, who took his third point of the season in tenth place.

Steve Carr

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