Max Verstapppen stormed from 14th on the grid to claim his ninth victory of the Formula 1 season in the Belgian Grand Prix, as title rival Charles Leclerc could only manage a penalised sixth.
Red Bull's Verstappen had set the quickest time in qualifying, but due to engine grid penalties was relegated down to 14th on the grid, opting to start on the red-walled Soft compound Pirelli rubber.
An early Safety Car allowed Verstappen to climb into the top 10 by Lap 5 of 44, and he was running third behind Carlos Sainz and teammate Sergio Perez.
Sainz pitted for fresh Mediums on Lap 12 – the same lap as Verstappen passed Perez at the Turn 5 Les Combes chicane to take the lead.
He pitted for the first time at the end of Lap 15, rejoining 4.6s behind Sainz, although the World Champion quickly reeled Sainz in, taking the lead again on Lap 18.
Verstappen would never lose it, pitting again at the end of Lap 31 to switch to another set of Mediums after those behind had already boxed for the second round of stops.
In the end, Verstappen crossed the line ahead 17.841s clear of Perez, who secured a 1-2 finish for Red Bull.
It is the 28th Grand Prix victory for Verstappen, whose championship lead is now 101 points as Leclerc faltered.
Result Race - Belgian
|Results are being loaded...|
Leclerc hampered early on
Leclerc also took grid penalties, lining up behind Verstappen – but while the Dutchman was able to carve through the field, Leclerc was not.
He pitted for Mediums due to a tear-off in his brakes during the early Safety Car period, triggered by Lewis Hamilton stopping after contact with Fernando Alonso on the opening lap and Valtteri Bottas beaching the Alfa Romeo at Turn 6.
On the penultimate lap, Ferrari boxed Leclerc for a third time to attempt the fastest lap and get the bonus point.
He emerged just behind Alonso as the gambled back-fired – although he did manage to repass for fifth place, but did not get the fastest lap.
To make matters worse, he was then slapped with a five-second time penalty for speeding in the pit lane, promoting Alonso to fifth.
George Russell had used strong late-race pace to reel in Sainz, but could not quite pass him for the final podium spot, as the Ferrari faded late in the race.
Alonso leads the midfield
Starting third, Alonso went defensive on Hamilton at Turn 5 on the opening lap, which ended with the Mercedes launching into the air and suffering a hard landing.
Despite front wing damage, Alonso was able to continue and come home as 'best of the rest' – albeit over a minute behind winner Verstappen.
He dropped as low as P13 after a second stop on Lap 26, but recovered well to beat home Alpine teammate Esteban Ocon – another with grid penalties in seventh.
The driver Alonso will replace at Aston Martin – Sebastian Vettel – had a strong afternoon by running long on the Hard tyres.
He was able to box on Lap 34 for Medium tyres and, although passed by Ocon, scored Aston's best result since finishing sixth in Azerbaijan.
Pierre Gasly, in his 100th Grand Prix, started from the pit lane, but recovered to take ninth place, as Alex Albon's weekend was rewarded with the final points position in 10th.
Albon had late-race attention from a five-car gaggle behind, although the Williams driver was able to use his superior straight-line speed to take one point.
McLaren pointless as Alpine go big
Alpine scored 16 points through Alonso and Ocon in sixth and seventh, but rivals for fourth in the Constructors' Championship McLaren went away pointless.
Lando Norris finished 12th and Daniel Ricciardo 15th, as McLaren undercut Ricciardo with Norris late on, with Zhou Guanyu and Yuki Tsunoda the meat in the orange sandwich.
Kevin Magnussen, Mick Schumacher and Nicholas Latifi were the other classified drivers – Latifi the only one to be lapped following the Lap 2 incident with Bottas at Les Combes.
The only two retirements were Bottas and Hamilton – the Mercedes driver suffering his first since the 2021 Italian Grand Prix – who was told by his race engineer to stop following the collision with Alonso.
F1 Podcast: What life was like as an F1 mechanic 60 years ago
RacingNews365.com F1 journalists Dieter Rencken and Michael Butterworth are joined by Cedric Selzer, former chief mechanic to Jim Clark in his championship-winning year of 1963.