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Verstappen wins Belgian GP to extend huge F1 lead, Red Bull teammate Perez 2nd

SPA-FRANCORCHAMPS, Belgium (AP) — Defending Formula One champion Max Verstappen emphatically won the Belgian Grand Prix on Sunday for an eighth straight win and 10th overall of a crushingly dominant season.

He finished 22.3 seconds ahead of teammate Sergio Perez to give Red Bull and easy 1-2. It moved Verstappen ominously closer to a third straight world title and his own F1 record of 15 wins from last year.

Verstappen is 125 points ahead of Perez after just 12 races, and his next target is matching Sebastian Vettel’s F1 record of nine straight wins with a victory at the Dutch GP when the lopsided season resumes on Aug. 27.

Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc finished in third spot for a third podium of the season, with Lewis Hamilton in fourth for Mercedes ahead of Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso.

George Russell was sixth for Mercedes, with Lando Norris (McLaren), Esteban Ocon (Alpine), Lance Stroll (Aston Martin), and Yuki Tsunoda (AlphaTauri) completing the top 10.

Leclerc started on pole ahead of Perez, with Hamilton and Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz Jr. behind them. McLaren rookie Oscar Piastri was on the next row alongside Verstappen — who was fastest in Friday’s qualifying but took a five-place grid penalty for a gearbox change.

Last year Verstappen won from 14th here so it felt easy from sixth, and once he overtook Perez on Lap 17 of 44 his 45th career win was seemingly inevitable.

Red Bull extended its record to 13 straight wins, including the final race of last season.

Hamilton came in on the penultimate lap for a tire change and the move paid off as he took the bonus point for fastest lap from Verstappen — a very minor blip for the dominant Dutchman.


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The Associated Press