Running a 15-lap stint on the soft tyres at Spa, Max Verstappen has been applauded for his tyre management but insists it’s nothing new.
The reigning World Champion was one of four drivers to opt for the red-marked Pirelli tyres for the opening stint of the Belgian Prix.
He was the third last driver to pit, only Lance Stroll on the mediums and Yuki Tsunoda on the hard tyres running longer.
In fact Verstappen even pitted two laps later than Sergio Perez, who was on the mediums, the Mexican driver renowned for his ability to eke out tyre life.
Even more impressive is the fact that Verstappen wasn’t nursing the tyres at all, he was cutting through the field as he worked his way from P14 to the very front.
Asked about his tyre management on Sunday, Verstappen says that’s something he can do too, it just isn’t often noticed.
“It’s not only today,” he said in the post-race press conference. “I think I’m always good on tyres. Maybe people don’t look at it.
“But yeah, just understanding, experience, trying to set up the car in the best way possible. And sometimes the car reacts better to it and sometimes not.
“I think when you look at, for example, Austria, we weren’t that great, but I think we learned from that. And we tried to apply that.”
He did concede that if the “if the car is that good, everything becomes easier.”
And his Red Bull RB18 was that good, if not better, around the Spa-Francorchamps circuit.
Verstappen was fastest in qualifying by six tenths and won the grand prix from 14th on the grid with a 17.8s advantage over Perez.
As such he now leads the Drivers’ Championship by 93 points ahead of his team-mate and is racing towards a second successive World title.
Back-to-back comebacks, courtesy of @Max33Verstappen 🙌
Hungary | P10 ⇢ P1 🏆
Belgium | P14 ⇢ P1 🏆 pic.twitter.com/0RyaUxP136
— Oracle Red Bull Racing (@redbullracing) August 29, 2022
His victory on Sunday was his most dominant of the season as he sliced his way through the field, a rather enjoyable experience.
“The first bit was just too hectic and especially when you… like I said before, with the car we had you don’t want to get damage or whatever because that will be really painful,” he said.
“But then yeah, it was it was nice, I really enjoyed it, passing cars of course, some of them are quite a lot slower than us so it was quite easy to get them but you still need to get them as quickly as possible. So that was definitely the nice part of it.
“And then of course when you get to the lead about just trying to manage your tyres in the best way possible, you know, being focused on that.”