Belgian Grand Prix driver ratings: Lewis Hamilton endures a day to forget

Jon Wilde
Belgian Grand Prix driver ratings from PlanetF1

Belgian Grand Prix driver ratings from PlanetF1

Max Verstappen achieved a feat not seen in F1 for 52 years with a faultless display that brought his first ‘proper’ grand prix victory in the country where he was born.

No driver has won back-to-back Formula 1 races from outside the top nine on the grid since Bruce McLaren in 1969-70 (end of one season, start of the next) – with the World Champion’s accomplishment proving just how dominant he and Red Bull are at present.

Any suggestions the new FIA technical directive would slow Red Bull down at Spa went out of the window as, instead, and for what seems like the umpteenth time this season, it was Ferrari who were left to ponder what had gone wrong.

Here are our driver ratings for a race which, with a mixed-up grid, ultimately promised a great deal more than it delivered – certainly in what was a largely processional second half.

Max Verstappen: We weight our ratings more towards to the race, but even also taking qualifying into account the Dutchman simply could not be faulted.

Still being made favourite to win when it was thought he was starting 15th – that became essentially 13th when the two AlphaTauri cars had to start from the pit lane – Verstappen’s progress was even more serene than anticipated.

Red Bull’s decision to have his engine-related grid penalty applied here was completely vindicated and there was never a moment’s anxiety in the race.

The performance of a driver and car completely in tune and in a class of their own, 12 months after he was ‘awarded’ victory in the washout at the venue 100km from his birthplace of Hasselt. 10.

Sergio Perez: Second place was, of course, the best Perez could have done in the circumstances, but with the same machinery as Verstappen you have to think he must have been slightly embarrassed to be swept aside so easily.

Nevertheless, after a poor start, the Mexican did everything he needed to do with regard to the rest of the field, having too much pace for Ferrari and Mercedes and putting himself at more than arm’s length in second, nine seconds clear of the rest.

As a result, he is up to second in the Drivers’ standings, 93 points behind his colleague – and if that doesn’t say the title race is all over, then what does? 7.5.

Carlos Sainz: There was not much more Sainz could have done, considering the F1-75 was simply no match for the RB16.

His starts, both off the line and after the Safety Car period, were exemplary and in the end he never had a prayer of keeping the Red Bull duo behind him due to the respective pace of the cars. 8.

George Russell: Yet another result, P4, that bolsters the validity of his Mr Consistency nickname – although Russell thought it could have been better when he chased down Sainz in the closing stages.

“Two really scrappy laps” cost the Briton a shot at the podium on a day when he thought Mercedes’ race pace was better than Ferrari’s. 8.

Fernando Alonso: It could have all gone badly wrong for Alonso when he tangled with Lewis Hamilton on the opening lap, but as the innocent victim – which the Mercedes driver admitted – it was only fair his car emerged unscathed.

From there, the Alpine driver was able to maintain his status as ‘best of the rest’ – and even inherited fifth position at the end when Charles Leclerc was penalised for speeding in the pit lane. 8.

Charles Leclerc: Unlike Verstappen, whom he started just behind, Leclerc was unable to carve through the field – although an early stop behind the Safety Car that dropped him towards the back compromised him until those ahead in the train also visited the pits.

The Monegasque achieved Ferrari’s target of reaching P5, but had that snatched away when his third stop, for soft tyres to try and grab the fastest lap, left him with little margin to Alonso when he incurred a five-second penalty for speeding in the pit lane.

That meant a P6 result, and a 98-point deficit to Verstappen now looks completely insurmountable. 6.5.

Esteban Ocon: Starting a net 15th as another of the cluster affected by grid penalties, Ocon provided some of the best entertainment with not one but two double overtakes in a single corner.

First it was Nicholas Latifi and Daniel Ricciardo at the Bus Stop Chicane, later Pierre Gasly and Sebastian Vettel into Les Combe as Ocon helped Alpine to increase their gap over McLaren to 20 points in the Constructors’ Championship.

An excellent display from the Frenchman, who knows his time has come to take a step up in responsibility at the team with Alonso’s impending departure. 9.

Sebastian Vettel: This was something like the vintage Vettel as he made a strong start and was running as high as fourth in the early stages before Verstappen and Leclerc had made their way through.

Last to make his second pit-stop, the soon-to-retire former World Champion made the most of Aston Martin’s stronger race-day pace. 8.

Pierre Gasly: Some had raised conspiracy theories, others had laughed them off. But coincidence or not, the truth is that pre-race the two AlphaTauri cars vacated their grid positions in front of Max Verstappen and started from the pit lane instead.

From there, Gasly did a great job to finish in the points – very timely, considering it was a weekend when rumours linking him with a move to Alpine began to strengthen. 8.5.

Alex Albon: This looked a perfect opportunity for Williams to increase their paltry points total for the campaign – and Albon, starting sixth, was just about able to do so.

With hard tyres fitted at his second stop on lap 27, the London-born Thai was clinging on at the end to P10 but deserved some reward for a terrific qualifying performance. 9.

Alex Albon's Williams heads a DRS train during the Belgian GP. Spa-Francorchamps August 2022.
Alex Albon's Williams heads a DRS train during the Belgian Grand Prix. Spa-Francorchamps August 2022.

Lance Stroll: Starting one place ahead of Vettel, the Canadian did not have such a productive time in the opening flurry of action and even did well to hold the car in a nervy moment when he got out of shape.

Finishing just over a second behind Albon for that last points-paying position, Stroll found himself stuck in a DRS train during the second half of the race. 6.5.

Lando Norris: A weekend that began promisingly for McLaren ended with both of their cars out of the points, and Norris was able to do little after a grid penalty had knocked him down to a net 16th on the grid.

The Briton, whose mother is Belgian, will be disappointed he could not get past Albon or Stroll – having been told it was “too late for Plan G” – in what he regards as his second ‘home’ event. 7.

Yuki Tsunoda: It was always going to be a struggle for Tsunoda from the pit lane, starting on hard tyres, and he could not replicate the headway made by his team-mate Gasly.

A heart-in-mouth – for those watching – pass on Guanyu Zhou was as exciting as the afternoon got for fans of the Japanese racer. 6.5.

Zhou Guanyu: The Alfa Romeo driver latched himself on to the back of the midfield DRS train in the second half of the race but never had the pace to challenge for the top 10.

A net gain of three positions on his starting place represented a solid enough effort. 6.5.

Daniel Ricciardo: From seventh on the grid, Ricciardo had a great opportunity to show McLaren they had made the wrong decision in replacing him for next year.

But could he take it? Sadly not. He tumbled down the order, as has been the case so often this season, and ended up last of those on the lead lap.

A poor audition if he still harbours hopes of returning to Alpine in 2023. 5.

Kevin Magnussen: Quite simply a race in which Haas failed to feature at all – and for Magnussen it was particularly disappointing as he trailed in five places below where he had started.

Nothing more to say, unfortunately. 5.

Mick Schumacher: It sounds increasingly as though Schumacher will not be spending a third year at Haas and there was little to advertise his credentials to other teams here.

Started 18th, finished 17th, although this was not a circuit suited to the VF-22. 5.5.

Nicholas Latifi: Inadvertently ended Valtteri Bottas’ race when his spin took out the Alfa Romeo.

The Canadian was able to continue after a front-wing change, but finished last after starting 10th and it will be a shock if Williams keep faith with him for a fourth season next year. 3.5

Lewis Hamilton: An uncharacteristic error from the seven-time former World Champion as he clipped wheels with Alonso’s Alpine, launching the Mercedes into the air and out of the race on lap one.

As he held up his hands to take responsibility, it only provided more evidence for a rare low score. 4.

Valtteri Bottas: With the incident that led to his retirement not being his fault, as he took avoiding action against the spinning Latifi, a mark for Bottas would not be appropriate.

Let’s hope his 33rd birthday took a turn for the better afterwards. 5.