For Max Verstappen, the day started with the highest of hopes. As the youngest ever driver to sit on the front row of a grand Prix, he set his sights on passing Nico Rosberg and taking another race win at the sport’s most hallowed tracks – Spa. Quite aggressively, he fitted Super Soft tires on his car in order to make first-lap run possible, as the majority of the grid started with the Soft compound. With Lewis Hamilton starting at the back of the grid as well, victory seemed entirely in his grasp.
Then he spent the rest of the day reminding us that he was still a teenager.
When the lights went out at the start, Nico Rosberg rushed ahead from Pole and Max balked with wheelspin allowing the dual Ferraris of Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel to overtake him. Reflexively, Max ducked across the rear of Kimi to dive down the inside of the turn and not only hit Raikkonen at the apex, but also force a collision between the two Ferraris. All 3 cars would have to pit at the end of the lap for repairs, but all 3 continued.
” I don’t think what Max was trying to do would have worked. Obviously he didn’t allow Kimi to move into the inside, and that prevented both of them from clearing Turn One in a normal way. ” – Sebastian Vettel
Benefiting from these first lap shenanigans were the pair of World Champions starting on the last row due to engine penalties – Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton. Both of them picked up multiple places on the first lap and they would continue to pick off the field throughout the rest of the race.
On the 6th lap, the race was abruptly halted with a Red Flag due to a massive accident from Kevin Magnussen’s Renault. Coming out of EauRouge and cresting the hill he lost the back end of his car and crashed hard into the barrier. Thankfully, he is ok with only an ankle injury and some obvious soreness.
The safety card period and subsequent red flag would provide a boost to the charging pair of Hamilton and Alonso since they were running in 4th and 5th when the race resumed.
Also greatly benefiting from all of the carnage was Daniel Riccardo, who would settle into Rosberg in 2nd place and drive a brilliantly managed race until the end.
Lewis continued to have great race pace, setting the fastest lap of the race late on Lap 40, but couldn’t quite catch up to Ricciardo, leaving him to finish and impressive 3rd place.
Nico Hulkenberg drove a notably tremendous race, at one point running in 2nd but just finished off the podium in 4th. One day Hulkenberg will get the car, and the championships that he deserves as a driver.
Vettel rounded out the top 5 with a masterful return from the turn one incident with his teammate.
Fernando Alonso’s McLaren with a newly fitted engined looked notably faster, with his lap times steadily on par with Williams through the race. He would finish an impressive 7th place after starting on the last row with Hamilton. His Teammate, Jenson Button was taken out on the first lap by Pascal Wehrlein.
Getting back to Max Verstappen – he had multiple run-ins and questionably aggressive blocking moves on both Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel later in the race, and also made contact with Sergio Perez while battling for position. He would finish a disappointing 11th place and watch his teammate(Ricciardo) stand on the 2nd step of the podium in the position where Max started the race.
“I’ve never had that with any other driver, if I hadn’t braked hard I would have hit him at full speed and it would have ended up in a massive accident.” – Kimi Raikkonen
Max, notably, didn’t seem to care about Raikkonen’s complaints:
“I was defending my position – if someone doesn’t like it that’s their problem” – Max Verstappen
In the end it would be a tremendously driven race by the top 3 finishers for different reason. Rosberg would get off the line first and never take a wrong step for the remainder of the race. Daniel Ricciardo would take advantage of some early chaos and stay ahead of the charging Lewis Hamilton and Lewis would once again drag his car into a points-scoring position to maintain his lead in the championship points despite starting from the back of the grid.
” I think before, even on Thursday there was an engine swap, warming one up, then warming another one up. A change after practice one, a change after practice two, so I had three new engines this weekend. So to come away with the points that we have today, I’m extremely proud of everyone.” – Lewis Hamilton