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Max Verstappen third in Belgian Grand Prix: 'More than this was not possible today'

Published on 30 August 2020 by Kees-Jan Koster

Max Verstappen finished third in the Belgian Grand Prix. The Dutchman started the race at Spa-Francorchamps from third position and held on to it the forty-four lap race, scoring his sixth podium in a row. Lewis Hamilton drove unthreatened to victory finishing on the highest tread of the podium for the 89th time in his Formula 1 career. Valtteri Bottas finished second more than eight seconds behind his teammate.

“It was pretty boring”, says the down-to-earth Max after the race. “I could not really keep up with the Mercedes when they started pushing. At the end of the race I ran out of tyres, so in the last eight laps I was backing out saving the front tires.”

It was not the most enjoyable race for the Dutchman, troubled by the quickly degrading rubber under his RB16: “I was not able to push and I ran out of tyres quickly, so it was not really enjoyable out there to be honest. On the mediums I did not have any grip. On the hard tyre I tried to put some pressure on Valtteri in the beginning, when they told him to speed up, I could not keep up. It was a bit lonely.”

Subsequently Verstappen explains why he did not do an extra pitstop to try and get the fastest lap (which went to Daniel Ricciardo in the end): “When the team asked if I wanted top pit, but then I would end one and a half to two seconds behind Daniel, I did not want that. The last couple of laps I backed off so I would not get a puncture. There was not any more to win, only to lose.”

Nevertheless the Aston Martin Red Bull Racing driver is happy with P3: “More than this was not possible today. It was not the most satisfying P3, but it is better than nothing. I am pretty happy.”

Even before the start of the race it is announced that Carlos Sainz will not take part in the race. The Spaniard was on his way to the grid when his McLaren had an issue with the exhaust. It is the second year in a row that the unfortunate Spaniard faces technical issues in the Ardennes.

When the lights go out, Max has a good start. The Dutchman is right behind Valtteri Bottas towards Eau Rouge and is on the Kemmel Straight even besides the black Mercedes, but Verstappen is not able to take advantage. Daniel Ricciardo then sees an opportunity and tries after a good slipstream when entering Les Combes to overtake Max for P3. The Dutchman keeps his RB16 wide in the following turns and fends off the attack. At the end of the first lap the top six if formed by Lewis Hamilton, Valtteri Bottas, Max Verstappen, Daniel Ricciardo, Esteban Ocon and Alexander Albon.

After ten laps Max has increased the gap to Daniel Ricciardo to seven seconds. The gap to the Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas in P2 is at that time four seconds.

A lap later we suddenly see George Russell and Antonio Giovinazzi with heavily damaged cars in the barriers. The former loses control over his ca rafter exiting turn 13, going of the track in a so-called ‘tankslapper’. A wheel of the Alfa Romea breaks off after the impact with the barrier, which in turn hits the Williams of George Russell. While both drivers get out of the cars unharmed, there is a lot of debris on the track.  The stewards decide to bring out the safety car and neutralise the race.

Except for Pierre Gasly and Sergio Pérez everyone goes in the pits for a new set of tyres. Only Alexander Albon changes to the yellow coloured mediums. All the others go for the hard tyre. At the end of lap fourteen the race restarts. Lewis Hamilton keeps the lead. Bottas, Verstappen, Gasly, Pérez and Ricciardo complete the top six.

Race leader Lewis Hamilton has halfway the race a three seconds lead on his teammate Bottas. Max stays near the Finn staying within one and a half second.

When entering the last ten laps, the ranking of the top three has not changed. Lewis Hamilton leads comfortable with almost five seconds, while Valtteri Bottas has increased the gap to Max to more than four seconds. The Dutchman then reports that vibrations in his tyres are worsening and asks the team to keep an eye on them. In the end it is not an issue for Verstappen who finishes third. Lewis Hamilton wins the race with a large margin over his teammate Valtteri Bottas, who finishes second. Renault scores some good points with fourth (Daniel Ricciardo) and sixed (Esteban Ocon) position. Alexander Albon finishes the seventh race of the season in P5.

Results Grand Prix Belgium:

1Lewis HamiltonHAMMercedes441:24:08.76125
2Valtteri BottasBOTMercedes44+8.448s18
3Max VerstappenVERRed Bull Racing Honda44+15.455s15
4Daniel RicciardoRICRenault44+18.877s13
5Esteban OconOCORenault44+40.650s10
6Alexander AlbonALBRed Bull Racing Honda44+42.712s8
7Lando NorrisNORMcLaren Renault44+43.774s6
8Pierre GaslyGASAlphaTauri Honda44+47.371s4
9Lance StrollSTRRacing Point BWT Mercedes44+52.603s2
10Sergio PerezPERRacing Point BWT Mercedes44+53.179s1
11Daniil KvyatKVYAlphaTauri Honda44+70.200s0
12Kimi RäikkönenRAIAlfa Romeo Racing Ferrari44+71.504s0
13Sebastian VettelVETFerrari44+72.894s0
14Charles LeclercLECFerrari44+74.920s0
15Romain GrosjeanGROHaas Ferrari44+76.793s0
16Nicholas LatifiLATWilliams Mercedes44+77.795s0
17Kevin MagnussenMAGHaas Ferrari44+85.540s0
0Antonio GiovinazziGIOAlfa Romeo Racing Ferrari9DNF0
0George RussellRUSWilliams Mercedes9DNF0
0Carlos SainzSAIMcLaren Renault0DNS0