Max Verstappen racked up a sixth consecutive Formula 1 podium on Sunday at the Belgian Grand Prix, running a competitive third behind a pair of Mercedes drivers in his Honda-powered Aston Martin Red Bull.
Verstappen’s solid finish in a largely uneventful race again led a trio of Hondas that earned championship points at the fabled Spa-Francorchamps circuit as Alex Albon (6th) and Pierre Gasly (8th) ended their days inside the top 10 after strong efforts.
Starting third Sunday, Verstappen had to fight off a stern challenge from Daniel Ricciardo in the opening corners of the race to hold onto that position, while Albon scuffled with Ricciardo’s Renault teammate Esteban Ocon for fifth throughout the early part of the race.
Behind them, the Scuderia AlphaTauri squad decided to start Pierre Gasly on the hard Pirelli tires, hoping the Frenchman might be able to use the longer-lasting shoes to his advantage by running longer than his competitors. But endurance wasn’t on the mind of the young Frenchman as he vaulted four spots in the first three laps, setting himself up to make the team’s strategy pay off handsomely.
Unfortunately an Antonio Giovinazzi crash brought out the Safety Car on Lap 11, allowing the rest of the field to pit for hard tires and negating Gasly’s advantage. He pitted on Lap 27 and dropped back to 16th, but with softer, faster tires on his Honda-powered machine, he stormed through the back of the field. The march was capped by a pass of Lance Stroll on the last lap to secure eighth place. His day was recognized by race viewers, who voted him Driver of the Day.
Verstappen’s Red Bull stablemate Albon started fifth and finished sixth, which was good enough to promote him ahead of Charles Leclerc and into fourth place in the F1 driver standings. Gasly’s teammate Daniil Kvyat started and finished 11th, although he was running in the points late in the race when he obeyed team orders and allowed the quicker Gasly car to pass him as he chased Stroll.
The finish allowed Verstappen to maintain his second-place position in the championship and makes him the closest driver to series leader Lewis Hamilton. Gasly’s finish moved him up a spot to 12th while Kvyat is tied for 15th. The Red Bull squad is solidly in second place in the constructor’s championship, 90 ahead of third-placed Renault. AlphaTauri continues to run 7th.
The teams and drivers of the Formula 1 World Championship will head to Italy next week, visiting the legendary Autodromo Nazionale Monza for the Italian Grand Prix.