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Belgian Grand Prix 2023

Winners and Losers from the 2023 F1 Belgian GP Sprint

Who has made the list of Winners and Losers from the 2023 F1 Belgian Grand Prix Sprint?

This was an actual Sprint.

Owing to the multiple formation laps ran behind the Safety Car at the start, the planned 15 laps at Spa-Francorchamps was reduced to 11.

Throw in the fact that there was the early pit-stop cycle and then the Safety Car for Fernando Alonso's uncharacteristic mistake at Pouhon, the racing did not truly get going until the start of Lap 6.

But in that time, years of experience was on display as a lesson was taught while a rather harsh penalty was dished out - not that the driver cared that much.

Winner - Verstappen

It is a stat that can now be updated.

Since the Miami Grand Prix, 198 points have been up for grabs, and Max Verstappen has taken 196 of them, only missing fastest lap in Monaco and Canada.

It is a run of form never seen before in Grand Prix racing as Verstappen moves lap by lap, race by race closer to one of the all-time great seasons from any sportsperson in any generation in any sport.

That is how good he is at the moment.

He taught Oscar Piastri a lesson on the restart by looking after his tyres and then unleashing the straight-line grunt of his RB19, roaring past on the Kemmel Straight, even if Piastri was running much higher downforce and wing settings.

Verstappen starts sixth in the Grand Prix.

Chances are, he'll be leading within five laps.

What did Verstappen say?

"I could have come in first but then I might have been blocked by other cars, there might have been a Safety Car and then you would lose out massively. We lost one position, we knew we were quick and you could see that when we put the Inters on, we were flying."

Loser - Sergio Perez

Sergio Perez was brought in by Red Bull immediately with the thinking being that he could capitalise on switching to Inters early and leapfrog under the order.

This was playing out exactly as he could have hoped, coming out in fourth and giving Pierre Gasly a firm examination in the battle for third.

Running slightly wide at the entry to Stavelot cost him dear though as Lewis Hamilton got up the inside before the two made contact, putting a severe dent in the side of the Red Bull.

He was retired shortly thereafter with nothing else to gain.

But those are the fine margins at the very top of elite sport, especially when an all-time great is in the other car.

What did Perez say?

"It was massive damage from contact from Lewis. He just [hit] the whole right-hand side of the car and it damaged the floor - and that was game over.

"He ran out of grip and just went into the side of me. It was unfortunate.


			© Red Bull Content Pool
	© Red Bull Content Pool

Winner - Oscar Piastri

Yes, the result is a standout for Piastri and McLaren, but the lesson he learnt in the Sprint will serve him well for what is looking like a championship-winning career.

Verstappen remarked behind the Safety Car that Piastri was moving about and damaging his tyres, while also trying to get the jump on the Red Bull by going at Blanchimont was never going to work.

You need to get up pretty early in the morning to pull such a fast one on a driver such as Verstappen - but Piastri will learn from that.

His reputation was already high before his debut in Grand Prix racing, but his performance over the course of this weekend has been outstanding, whatever happens in the race.

What did Piastri say?

"We tried our best. When the Safety Car came in, we led a few laps, I tried my best but we were no match for Max."

			© XPBimages
	© XPBimages

Loser - Lewis Hamilton/Mercedes

The only reason this is not a wholly Mercedes entry is the fact that George Russell had a reasonable Sprint, rediscovered his "mojo" and recovered to eighth after a terrible weekend up until that point.

Both Mercedes somehow managed to come across each other in Qualifying on Friday and again in the Sprint Shootout running up the hill towards Eau Rouge-Raidillon.

Mercedes took the blame, but this is not the Mercedes of a few years again. There was also a similar incident in Spain where the two actually collided in Qualifying after a miscommunication.

When did this happen before?

As for Hamilton in the Sprint, he was very unfortunate to earn the penalty that dropped him from fourth to seventh in the final results.

It was predominantly a racing incident, but owing to the damage Perez sustained, Hamilton was sanctioned with the five-second penalty.

But he is optimistic of chances in the Grand Prix, where he starts in third, which should guarantee a strong run up the hill at the start

What did Hamilton say?

"Of course, it wasn't intentional. I went for a gap, he was going slow through [Turn] 14, I went up the inside, more than half a car length up the inside and if you are not going for a gap, you are no longer racing, as Ayrton once said."

			© XPBimages
	© XPBimages

Winner - Pierre Gasly

If ever a team needed a result like this, it was Alpine.

Its Team Principal and Sporting Director are leaving after the weekend, shortly after the CEO was removed.

Double DNFs have been suffered in the past two Grands Prix, including a first-corner chain-reaction incident in Hungary for which the Gasly and Esteban Ocon were completely innocent and just in the wrong place at the wrong time.

But a stunning sixth in the Sprint Shootout was converted to third by Gasly as he was one of the first-lap pitters.

He then fended off Perez and Hamilton's attentions to bank a much-needed result, especially as Gasly is 12th and Ocon 15th on the grid for the Grand Prix.

What did Gasly say?

"We took some risks in Sprint Qualifying this morning and it paid off as we ended in sixth place. Then, it was down to a well-executed pit-stop to switch to Intermediates which meant we jumped a number of positions and put ourselves in contention for the top three."

			© XPBimages
	© XPBimages

Loser - Fernando Alonso

Now we are about to see how committed Fernando Alonso is to the Aston Martin project.

You learn more in adversity than in the good times when the champagne is flowing and the trophy cabinet gets a new addition.

Aston Martin has slipped to the fifth-fastest team and its early-season momentum is fizzling out.

It was an uncharacteristic day for Alonso - on his 42nd birthday.

He was picked up for alleged dangerous driving by stewards while exiting the pits, but ultimately cleared.

Just when was the last time Alonso threw the car at the scenery and put himself out of the race?

Answers on a postcard please.

What did Alonso say?

"I lost quite a few positions and in the end, it was my mistake, I ended up in the gravel. But today we were going to take zero points, so it was zero points and in the gravel."


			© XPBimages
	© XPBimages

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