Max Verstappen goaded his forlorn rivals by challenging Red Bull to pointless “pit-stop training” during his exhibition win in Belgium on Sunday.

Verstappen started sixth by virtue of a grid penalty for a gearbox change, but he assumed the lead on lap 17 of 44 before taking the chequered flag 22.3 seconds clear of Red Bull team-mate Sergio Perez.

Charles Leclerc finished third for Ferrari. Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton started third and crossed the line in fourth.

Verstappen’s triumph was his eighth in a row – leaving him just one short of Sebastian Vettel’s record.

It also marked his 10th victory from 12 rounds so far this season, his 19th from his last 23 outings and Red Bull’s 22nd in that period. The team from Milton Keynes head into Formula One’s summer break unbeaten this season.

Verstappen is riding on a wave of invincibility – a staggering 125 points clear in the championship – and with nine laps remaining here, his supreme confidence was expressed in a message to his race engineer Gianpiero Lambiase.

“I could also push on and we do another stop?” he said. “A little bit of pit-stop training?”

“Not this time,” replied Lambiase.

“He has reason to be cheeky because he is just driving circles round everybody else on merit,” was the verdict of Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff following another so-so afternoon for the Silver Arrows.

“The stopwatch never lies and there is one guy in one car above everyone else.”

From sixth to fourth at the end of the first lap, Verstappen dispatched of Hamilton at 210mph on the Kemmel Straight on lap six, and then Leclerc three laps later following a fine move round the outside of the Ferrari pole-sitter at Les Combes.

Then came the first of a series of sharp-edged radio exchanges with Lambiase which would provide some entertainment on a one-sided afternoon in the Ardennes.

Trailing Perez, Verstappen wanted Red Bull to perform a double-stack tyre-stop in order not to lose any time to his team-mate on fresh rubber. But his request was rebuffed by the Red Bull pit wall.

“So don’t forget Max, use your head please,” said Lambiase. “Are we both doing it (stopping) or what?” replied Verstappen.

“You just follow my instruction,” came Lambiase’s response. “No, I want to know both cars do it,” fired back Verstappen.

“Max, please follow my instruction and trust it, thank you,” said Lambiase.

Lambiase was promptly back on the radio to ask Verstappen if he could make his dry rubber last for the next nine minutes with fine drizzle anticipated.

“I can’t see the weather radar,” was Verstappen’s spiky response.

A lap after Perez stopped for tyres, Verstappen came in. He left the pit-lane 2.8 sec adrift of the Mexican but he required only two laps before he was crawling all over the back of his team-mate’s identical machine.

Verstappen tracked Perez through the fearsome Eau Rouge-Raidillon section before he applied DRS and roared round Perez along the Kemmel Straight. By the end of that 17th lap, Verstappen had already established a 1.6 sec gap over his team-mate.

It then began to drizzle, and Verstappen endued a hairy moment through Eau Rouge as the back end of his Red Bull stepped out at 180mph.

“F***, I nearly lost it,” said the championship leader after he regained control.

On lap 29, Perez now trailing Verstappen by nine seconds, stopped for a second time, with Verstappen following in on the same lap and then building on his lead.

Lambiase returned to the airwaves. “You used a lot of the tyre on the out-lap, Max,” he said. “I am not sure if that was sensible.”

Verstappen responded by producing the fastest lap of the race.

Verstappen’s back-and-forth with Lambiase, known as GP, came 48 hours after they squabbled over the radio in qualifying.

But Red Bull team principal Christian Horner said: “GP and Max have been together since the first race that Max stepped into the car. Max is a demanding customer. And you’ve got to be a strong character to deal with that.

“GP is our Jason Statham equivalent, certainly a lookalike, and he deals with him firmly but fairly.

“There’s a great respect between the two of them and that comes out of a mutual trust, which you must have between an engineer and a driver. There’s no counselling required.”

The sport will now head for a four-week shutdown before Verstappen’s home race in the Netherlands on August 27.

Max Verstappen’s invincible streak continued at the Belgian Grand Prix with another crushing win.

The double world champion started sixth but took the lead at Spa Francorchamps on lap 17 of 44 before taking the chequered flag 22.3 seconds clear of his forlorn Red Bull team-mate Sergio Perez.

Verstappen’s triumph was his eighth in a row – one shy of Sebastian Vettel’s record – and 10th from the 12 rounds so far.

He leads Perez by a mammoth 125 points in the standings – the equivalent of five victories – heading into Formula One’s summer break.

Pole-sitter Charles Leclerc took the final spot on the podium with Lewis Hamilton, who denied Verstappen a bonus point by setting the fastest lap, fourth.

Fernando Alonso finished fifth for Aston Martin, one place ahead of George Russell with Lando Norris seventh.

Verstappen qualified fastest on Friday evening but was demoted five places following a gearbox change.

The Dutch driver was up from sixth to fourth at the end of the first lap while Perez blasted past Leclerc on the Kemmel Straight to take the lead.

Oscar Piastri finished runner-up in Saturday’s 11-lap sprint race, but the Australian rookie’s Grand Prix lasted less than a lap after he collided with Carlos Sainz at the opening corner. Sainz turned into Piastri at La Source leaving the McLaren man with race-ending damage.

Back up front and Verstappen was on the move. On lap six he breezed past Hamilton at 210mph along the Kemmel Straight. Three laps later, Leclerc became his next victim, after he outbraked the Monegasque man with a fine move around the outside of Les Combes.

Perez was now three seconds up the road. In came Perez for new rubber on lap 12 but Verstappen wanted Red Bull to double-stack in order not to lose any time to his team-mate on fresher tyres.

“So don’t forget Max, use your head please,” said Verstappen’s race engineer Gianpiero Lambiase.

“Are we both doing it or what?” replied Verstappen.

“You just follow my instruction,” came Lambiase’s response.

“No, I want to know both cars do it,” Verstappen fired back.

“Max, please follow my instruction and trust it, thank you,” said Lambiase.

The following lap, Verstappen stopped for tyres and it only took a couple of laps before he was crawling all over the back of Perez’s Red Bull machine.

Verstappen tracked Perez through the fearsome Eau Rouge-Raidillon section before applying DRS and roaring round the outside of his team-mate along the Kemmel Straight on lap 17. By the end of the lap, he had already pulled out a 1.6 sec gap over his team-mate.

Verstappen was then on the radio, reporting rain, and the Dutchman endured a hairy moment through Eau Rouge as the back end of his Red Bull machine stepped out on him at 180mph.

“F***, I nearly lost it,” said the championship leader amid the light drizzle.

Lambiase was then back on the radio asking if Verstappen could make his tyres last with more rain due to arrive.

“I can’t see the weather radar,” came Verstappen’s spiky response.

On lap 29, Perez now trailing Verstappen by nine seconds, stopped for a second time with Verstappen following in on the same lap but it was not long before Lambiase was back on the radio lambasting his driver.

“You used a lot of the tyre on the out lap Max,” he said. “I am not sure if that was sensible.”

Verstappen responded by banging in the fastest lap of the race.

Such is Verstappen’s stranglehold of Formula One, he was back on the radio joking if he should stop for a third time.

“Should we push on and do another stop?” he said. “A little bit of pit-stop training?”

“Not this time,” replied Lambiase, having previously calling on his driver “to use your head a bit more.”

But Verstappen showed no sign of slowing down, delivering Red Bull’s 22nd win from the last 23 races and retaining the team’s unbeaten streak this season.

Lewis Hamilton criticised Formula One’s stewards after he was penalised for colliding with Sergio Perez in Saturday’s rain-hit sprint race in Belgium.

Max Verstappen overcame Oscar Piastri’s impressive challenge to land another win ahead of Sunday’s main event in Spa-Francorchamps.

Piastri finished runner-up with Alpine’s Pierre Gasly a surprise third. Hamilton crossed the line in fourth, but was demoted to seventh after he was dealt a five-second penalty for making contact with Perez as they diced for position through Stavelot.

Perez sustained race-ending damage in the accident – with Red Bull team principal Christian Horner accusing Hamilton of putting a big hole in the side of his driver’s machine.

But Hamilton, drawing on a famous quote from his childhood hero Ayrton Senna, said: “As Ayrton said, if you no longer go for a gap that exists, then you are no longer a racing driver.

“That is what I did. And when I watched it back it feels like a racing incident to me.

“The conditions were tricky out there. We are doing our best and it wasn’t intentional. He was slow and I went up the inside and I was more than half-a-car length alongside.

“I feel like we should not be deterred from racing. It would have been nice to finish fourth but I don’t really care about finishing fourth, I want to win.”

The four FIA stewards here – including former British grand prix driver Derek Warwick – also punished Hamilton with two points on his licence.

Surmising the lap-six flashpoint, the quartet determined: “Hamilton was attempting to pass Perez on the inside at Turn 15.

“While Perez was giving little room on the inside for Hamilton, Hamilton drove onto the kerb and subsequently understeered into Perez. The stewards consider that Hamilton was predominantly at fault for causing a collision.”

However, Mercedes boss Toto Wolff backed his superstar driver, adding: “It was absolutely a racing incident. This is a sprint race. We want to see them racing.

“The argument about the damage isn’t valid because he (Perez) was going backwards before then. Massively backwards. And then when you look at that corner, they were side-by-side, and it takes two to tango. It’s a racing incident. For me that’s really clear.”

The start to Saturday’s dash around Spa-Francorchamps was delayed just six minutes before it was due to begin after the heavens opened. A 30-minute postponement ensued.

One formation lap behind the safety car became five in a bid to make the track safe enough to race with visibility caused by spray a major concern ahead of this weekend’s event.

Only four weeks ago, Dutch 18-year-old Dilano Van ‘t Hoff lost his life after a crash during a rain-hit Formula Regional European Championship race.

The approach from race director Niels Wittich resulted in Saturday’s round being reduced to just 11 laps.

But Wolff added: “You can absolutely understand that everyone wants to play it safe.

“We have had terrible accidents here – the last one under similar conditions in the race where drivers couldn’t see because of the spray. So the approach needed to be on the super-safe side and that was right thing to do.”

By the time the safety car peeled in, the track was good enough for the intermediate tyres. And Piastri benefited from being among 10 of the 20-strong field to change from the full wets before a proper racing lap had even taken place.

Verstappen switched to inters at the end of the first lap round allowing Piastri to lead an F1 race for the first time in his career. But on the sixth lap – following a safety-car period to deal with Fernando Alonso crashing out – Piastri’s defence lasted only a handful of corners.

Verstappen tracked Piastri through the fearsome Eau Rouge-Raidillon section and then blasted by on the Kemmel Straight to claim another win and extend his championship lead from 110 points to 118.

Asked if it was a mistake not to stop for inters at the very start of the race, Verstappen said: “No, it was just a safer call.

“I could have come in first and be blocked by other cars in the pits. We lost one position but we knew we were quick and when we put the inter tyres on we were flying.”

Max Verstappen overcame Oscar Piastri to win Formula One’s sprint race at the Belgian Grand Prix.

Pole-sitter Verstappen fell behind Piastri after the Australian moved from wet tyres to intermediate rubber a lap earlier before blasting back into the lead at the midway stage of a frantic rain-hit dash at Spa-Francorchamps.

Rookie Piastri finished runner-up with Pierre Gasly a surprise third for Alpine. Lewis Hamilton finished fourth but was hit with a five-second penalty for colliding with Sergio Perez, dropping him to seventh.

Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc were promoted to fourth and fifth respectively for Ferrari with McLaren’s Lando Norris sixth. George Russell took the final point in eighth.

Perez was forced to retire from the race allowing Verstappen to extend his championship lead from 110 points to 118 ahead of tomorrow’s 44-lap Grand Prix.

Six minutes before the race was due to get under way, the FIA announced the start would be postponed following heavy rainfall in the area.

A 30-minute delay followed before a rainbow emerged over Spa-Francorchamps and the weather improved.

At 5:35pm local time, the Safety Car led Verstappen et al on five formation laps in an attempt to clear the spray and aid the drivers with visibility.

FIA race director Niels Wittich’s decision over when to enable the start of the race was heightened following the death of 18-year-old Dilano Van ‘t Hoff at a rain-hit Formula Regional European Championship (FRECA) race four weeks ago.

The safety car peeled in, paving the way for a rolling start and a shortened 11-lap dash to the chequered flag.

But, before a proper racing lap had even taken place, half of the 20-strong field came into the pits to change from the full wets to the intermediate tyre.

Among them was Piastri, Perez and Hamilton with Verstappen staying out on track.

Verstappen immediately knew he was on the wrong rubber, calling on his team to change him to the intermediate tyres.

In Verstappen came at the end of the opening lap, but by the time he emerged, Piastri had done enough to leapfrog him and lead a Formula One race for the first time in his career.

Gasly, Perez and Hamilton benefited from their early stops to move up the pecking order.

On lap three, the Safety Car was back out after Fernando Alonso crashed. The double world champion, who turned 42 on Saturday, lost control of his Aston Martin through the left-hander Turn 11, pirouetting through the gravel and nudging the barrier.

Piastri headed the field when the race restarted on lap six, but his defence lasted only a handful of corners.

Verstappen tracked Piastri through the fearsome Eau Rouge-Raidillon section and then blasted by on the Kemmel Straight.

Asked if it was a mistake not to stop for inters at the very start of the race, Verstappen said: “No, it was just a safer call.

“I could have come in first and be blocked by other cars in the pits. We lost one position but we knew we were quick and when we put the inter tyres on we were flying.”

Piastri, 22, said: “I feel very happy. We tried our best and led a few laps but we were no match for Max.

“I thought the safety car would play in my favour with less laps to try and hold him behind. I got a good restart but by the top of Eau Rouge he was on top of me already. I could not keep him behind on the straight.”

Further back in the battle for fourth, Hamilton attempted to muscle his way past Perez but the Mercedes man made contact with his Red Bull rival. Perez briefly remained ahead before Hamilton drove round the outside of the Mexican at La Source.

Perez sustained damage in the accident and fell down the field, sliding through the gravel and then being ordered by his Red Bull team to retire the car.

The stewards investigated the flashpoint and slapped Hamilton with a penalty, demoting him down the order.

Verstappen remained in control of the race, taking the chequered flag 6.6 sec clear of Piastri to rack up yet another win in a one-sided campaign.

Max Verstappen will start on pole position for Saturday’s sprint race after beating McLaren’s Oscar Piastri to top spot by just 0.011 seconds.

Verstappen qualified fastest here on Friday for Sunday’s Grand Prix, but he will line up in sixth after serving a grid penalty for a gearbox change.

But for the 15-lap dash in the Ardennes, the Red Bull driver begins from the front after edging out the impressive Piastri in wet-dry conditions at Spa-Francorchamps.

Carlos Sainz finished third, just 0.025sec adrift of Verstappen, with Ferrari team-mate Charles Leclerc fourth.

Lando Norris took fifth for McLaren, while Lewis Hamilton and George Russell, who appeared to trip over one another in the closing moments, only seventh and 10th respectively for Mercedes.

“It was difficult, but we stayed calm,” said Verstappen. “The gap to second was not as big as yesterday, but there was no need to risk it all.

“My second sector was a bit careful – turns eight and nine were very slippery so I left a bit of time on the table – but I am still on pole and that is what counts.

“Let’s see if it rains in the afternoon. I will try to have a clean start and have good vision and that is very important when it is wet.”

The start of qualifying was delayed following heavy rainfall in the area, but the sun suddenly broke through allowing the action to get under way 35 minutes later than advertised.

The final running took place on an almost dry track and the times tumbled as grip improved and the clock ticked down.

Rookie Piastri, 22, looked to have done enough to take the spoils when he crossed the line fastest, only for Verstappen to steal his thunder

“There wasn’t much left in that lap,” said Piastri over the radio. “Probably 11 milliseconds.”

Verstappen is on course to gallop to his third world championship in as many years and the Dutch driver will be expected to extend his 110-point lead over team-mate Sergio Perez later on Saturday, with the Mexican only eighth on the grid.

Eight points are awarded for the winner of the 15-lap dash, with a sliding scale down to to eighth place.

The result of Saturday’s sprint, which could take place in the wet with more rain forecast, has no bearing on Sunday’s 44-lap main event.

Lance Stroll’s gamble to switch from wet rubber to slicks with a couple minutes of Q2 remaining backfired as he crashed out.

The Canadian driver lost control of his Aston Martin through the left-hand ninth corner, skidding through the gravel and into the tyre barrier.

The front of Stroll’s machine was heavily damaged in the accident and the running was suspended.

His crash meant team-mate Fernando Alonso, who turned 42 on Saturday, did not post a time, leaving him a disappointing 15th on the grid.

Saturday’s race is due to get under way at 5:05pm local time (4:05pm BST).

Max Verstappen vowed to kiss and make up with his race engineer following their X-rated row in Belgian Grand Prix qualifying.

Verstappen finished fastest in a wet-dry session at Spa-Francorchamps, but he will start Sunday’s 44-lap race from sixth following a gearbox penalty.

Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc is promoted to pole position, with Red Bull’s Sergio Perez second. Lewis Hamilton, on pole a week ago in Hungary, will line up in third.

Verstappen made it into Q3 – the final phase of qualifying – by the skin of his teeth and vented his anger at long-serving race engineer Gianpiero Lambiase, known as GP, following the close-call.

“I should have just f****** pushed two laps in a row like I said,” said Verstappen, who sneaked through in 10th place.

“But you are through, Max,” replied Lambiase.

“I don’t give a f*** that we are P10, mate. It is just s*** execution,” came Verstappen’s fiery response.

Lambiase snapped back: “OK, and then when the track was two seconds quicker for your final lap and you didn’t have any energy left, how would that have gone down?”

A surly Lambiase added: “But you tell me what you want to do in Q3 and we’ll do it. Tyre sets, fuel, run plan.”

After returning to finish eighth tenths clear of Leclerc, Verstappen issued an apology.

“Sorry to GP for being such on the rant,” he said over the radio.

Lambiase replied: “Slowly getting used to it, Max.”

Speaking afterwards, Verstappen added: “It happens sometimes. Most of it is blocked off.

“We are mates. We can get quite emotional, quite vocal. We sort it out afterwards.”

Verstappen’s grid drop for exceeding the allocated number of four gearboxes will provide his rivals with forlorn hope they can end his seven-race winning streak.

However, the Dutchman, a winner of nine of the 11 rounds so far this season, started this race from 14th last year owing to engine penalties and still took the victory in his all-conquering Red Bull machine.

For Hamilton, the seven-time world champion faced a post-qualifying investigation from the stewards after he ran off the circuit at Eau Rouge before re-joining in front of team-mate George Russell in Q2.

Russell was forced to slow down to avoid making contact with the sister Mercedes. Race control noted the incident and confirmed they would investigate.

Hamilton finished nine tenths slower than Verstappen, with Russell even further back in eighth, 0.8sec adrift of his team-mate.

“It was definitely very hectic because it was consistently drying up,” said Hamilton after the running started on a wet track.

“It was difficult to see with the spray. I was head down, just maximining as much as I could.

“At the end, I was still a good chunk off Max. But I am really happy with the result I’ve got.”

Carlos Sainz qualified fifth for Ferrari, one spot ahead of Oscar Piastri, with Lando Norris seventh in the other McLaren.

Daniel Ricciardo finished a commendable 13th on his F1 comeback but the Australian will line up from the penultimate spot on the grid.

Ricciardo temporarily hauled his AlphaTauri through to Q2 only to see his lap time deleted for exceeding track limits.

“F***, I am sorry,” said Ricciardo when informed of the chalked-off lap. “I just lost it through Turn 3. I am sorry.”

Spa-Francorchamps is hosting the sport’s third sprint event of the year with a shortened race on Saturday to come before Sunday’s main event – the concluding round ahead of the sport’s summer shutdown.

Max Verstappen took pole position for the Belgian Grand Prix despite an X-rated radio row with his race engineer.

Verstappen was embroiled in a squabble with Gianpiero Lambiase after he only just made it through to Q3 during a wet-dry session at Spa-Francorchamps.

But the championship leader regained his composure at the business end of qualifying to demolish the opposition, finishing eight tenths clear of Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc with Sergio Perez third in the other Red Bull. Lewis Hamilton qualified fourth.

However, Verstappen will only start Sunday’s race from sixth position as he serves a five-place grid drop for exceeding his gearbox allocation.

Verstappen made it into the final phase by the skin of his teeth in 10th place and then vented his anger at his long-serving engineer.

Verstappen accused his team of “s*** execution”, claiming he should have pushed harder on an earlier lap after the field switched from wet to dry rubber.

“I don’t give a f*** that we are P10, mate”, he yelled over the radio.

Lambiase snapped back: “OK, and then when the track was two seconds quicker for your final lap and you didn’t have any energy left, how would that have gone down?”

A surly Lambiase added: “But you tell me what you want to do in Q3 and we’ll do it. Tyre sets, fuel, run plan.”

But after taking pole, Verstappen, 110 points clear at the standings and on a run of seven-consecutive wins in his all-conquering Red Bull machine, said over the radio: “Sorry to GP for being such on the rant.”

Lambiase replied: “Slowly getting used to it, Max.”

Hamilton secured pole a week ago in Hungary, but he is facing an investigation from the stewards after he ran off the circuit at Eau Rouge before re-joining in front of team-mate George Russell in Q2.

Russell was forced to slow down to avoid making contact with the sister Mercedes. Race control noted the incident before confirming they would investigate.

It was an underwhelming afternoon for the Silver Arrows with Hamilton nine tenths slower than Verstappen, and Russell ever further back in eighth, 0.8sec adrift of his team-mate. Lando Norris finished seventh, a spot behind Oscar Piastri in the other McLaren.

Daniel Ricciardo qualified a commendable 13th on his return a week ago, but the Australia will line up from the penultimate spot on the grid on Sunday.

Ricciardo temporarily hauled his AlphaTauri through to Q2 only to see his lap time deleted for exceeding track limits.

“F***, I am sorry,” said Ricciardo when informed of the bad news. “I just lost it through Turn 3. I am sorry.”

Ferrari driver Carlos Sainz topped a rain-hit practice session for the Belgian Grand Prix.

With persistent rain falling at Spa-Francorchamps, not one driver completed more than eight laps.

Sainz headed the timing charts, half-a-second clear of McLaren’s Oscar Piastri with team-mate Lando Norris third.

Max Verstappen, who is set to serve a five-place grid penalty following a gearbox change, was among five of the 20-strong field who did not complete a timed lap.

Qualifying is due to take place at 5pm local time (4pm BST), but the running is under threat given the bad weather and poor visibility generated by the spray in the Ardennes.

Formula One’s governing body, the FIA, said their priority is to ensure qualifying for Sunday’s main event takes place with other sessions throughout the weekend – including Saturday’s sprint schedule – likely to be sacrificed.

Heavy rain is expected to continue on Friday, and into Saturday with conditions forecast to improve on Sunday. One option is to move qualifying to Sunday morning, as the FIA did in Japan in 2019 when Typhoon Hagibis struck.

If qualifying can not take place, the FIA confirmed the grid for Sunday’s main event will be set by championship order.

Conditions worsened through Friday’s one-hour session with Logan Sargeant crashing out at the midway stage.

The Williams rookie lost control of his car under braking for Les Combes, heading straight into the barrier. The American was unharmed in the accident but the red flags were deployed to recover his stricken machine.

Alfa Romeo’s Zhou Guanyu also grazed the barrier after he ran through the gravel.

The FIA’s decision whether or not to run in the wet conditions will be heightened following the death of 18-year-old Dilano Van ‘t Hoff at Spa-Francorchamps earlier this month.

The Dutch teenager was killed after a crash in a rain-hit Formula Regional European Championship (FRECA) race on July 1.

Max Verstappen will not start Sunday’s Belgian Grand Prix from pole position with the world champion set to serve a five-place grid penalty.

Verstappen, 110 points clear at the top of the standings, is due to take on his fifth gearbox, one more than he is permitted.

It means the 25-year-old will begin the grand prix on Sunday no higher than sixth in something of a boost to his forlorn rivals.

However, the Dutchman started the race from 14th last year owing to engine penalties and still took the win in his dominant Red Bull machine.

Verstappen has won the last seven races, nine of the 11 rounds staged so far this season, and is on course to wrap up a hat-trick of titles.

At last weekend’s Hungarian Grand Prix, Verstappen’s Red Bull team set a new F1 record of 12 consecutive wins.

Qualifying for Sunday’s race is due to take place at 5pm local time (4pm BST) on Friday. A sprint race will be staged at Spa-Francorchamps on Saturday, but Verstappen’s penalty will apply only to the main event.

George Russell has raised the prospect of this weekend’s Belgian Grand Prix being cancelled amid poor weather.

Heavy rain fell over the Spa-Francorchamps Circuit on Thursday, with the grizzly weather expected to continue throughout the weekend.

Although the forecast is better for Sunday’s Grand Prix, the weather is notoriously difficult to predict in the Ardennes and there is a fear in the paddock that the weekend’s running – which features a sprint race on Saturday – could be heavily disrupted.

Indeed, it is understood Formula One are already looking into potential changes to the timetable.

The FIA’s decision to run in the wet conditions will be heightened following the death of 18-year-old Dilano Van ‘t Hoff at Spa-Francorchamps earlier this month.

The Dutch teenager was killed after a crash in a rain-hit Formula Regional European Championship (FRECA) race on July 1.

“Obviously to have a race cancelled is not perfect for anybody, but we don’t want to see another huge incident that we have just seen,” said Russell, 25, director of the Grand Prix Drivers’ Association.

“The conditions are safe and suitable enough to drive for one Formula One car. But when you have got 20 cars on track at once, anybody from third position backwards literally cannot see 20, 30, 40 metres ahead of them.

“We have no visibility whatsoever. To give it some perspective, it is like driving down the motorway in pouring rain, and turning your windscreen wipers off. That is how it feels in the cockpit.

“It was only a matter of time before the incident in the FRECA race happened. Drivers do not go flat out on the straight because they cannot see, someone gets rear-ended, and then there is a car in the middle of the track.

“I also fear a little bit for the junior categories. I truly think Formula Three should not have 30 cars out there at one time at any point, even in dry conditions. I feel like it is a matter of time before a big incident happens there, too.”

In 2021, the race here was abandoned after just two laps behind the safety car because of torrential rain, and Mercedes’ Russell continued: “It was the correct decision to call off the race.

“The FIA has to be bold with its decisions when it comes to safety and when it comes to visibility.

“We want to race, everybody wants to race, but when you go down that straight at over 200mph and you can’t see in front of you, there will be huge incidents, so they have got a big responsibility.”

Van ‘t Hoff died following a multiple car pile-up on the exit of the notorious Eau Rouge corner and leading into the Kemmel Straight.

In the spray, Van ‘t Hoff was tagged from behind, rebounding off the wall, and into the middle of the circuit where he was hit at high speed by another driver.

Frenchman Anthoine Hubert was killed four years ago in an F2 race following a similar incident, albeit in the dry, at a circuit which has now claimed 49 lives.

Seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton said: “It is not something I ever think of. As a driver, you can’t let it enter your mind, but you have to trust in what the FIA do.

“We wouldn’t be here if they didn’t think it would be safe. They have done such incredible work over the past few decades and I trust them to make the right decisions moving forwards.”

Jamaican rally cross sensation Fraser McConnell praised the Caribbean's young cadre of Karters, who participated in the third Caribbean Junior Karting Academy Trophy (CJKAT) at the Palisadoes International Raceway from July 21 to 23.

The Rally Cross champion and driver for Lewis Hamilton’s X44 Vida Carbon Racing, who was third among the seniors, was impressed with the high level of competition.

"It's good to see Jamaica hosting this competition for the first time, and even better to see the high level of talent at all levels," he said.

After three days of competition, the lone female among the juniors, Trinidad & Tobago's 13-year-old Naomi Jade Garcia, emerged as the new Caribbean Junior Karting Champion, with Jamaica's Zander Williams and Matthew Warmington in second and third, respectively.

"I had a great time watching the young talent from across the region. Congratulations to Naomi Garcia, we need more diversity in the sport at all levels, and she was pretty solid all weekend!" said McConnell.

CJKAT is the Caribbean's version of the CIK-FIA Karting Academy Trophy, the first rung on the ladder of the FIA's single-seater path to F1. CJKAT allows more opportunities for Caribbean hopefuls to race. The regional series caters for a more comprehensive age range than in Europe, where the limits are 12 to 14 years.

"Kudos to the FIA and the Jamaica Karting Association for partnering with the Barbados Motoring Federation for this event. It's a reminder of the quality the Caribbean continues to produce in motorsports, and I look forward to coming back time and time again because this is where it started for me, and I'm honoured now to be one of the flagbearers for the sport." McConnell added.

The 24-year-old McConnell is the most competitively successful Jamaican driver in the history of international rallycross racing—with a championship victory in 2019, a supercar victory in 2021, and a fourth-round win in the 2022 season.

He occupies the top spot in NitroCross 2023/24 after winning the season opener in June. He returns to competition in Salt Lake City, Utah, for second-leg action from August 18-to-19.

Jamaican Formula Woman driver Sara Misir locked eyes with a competitor that looked too familiar. Among the thirteen karters, who participated in the third Caribbean Junior Karting Academy Trophy (CJKAT) was a lone female, Trinidad and Tobago's Naomi Jade Garcia.

After three days of competition between July 21 and 23, at the Palisadoes International Raceway, the 14-year-old finished ahead of the pack. Garcia emerged as the new Caribbean Junior Karting Champion, with Jamaica's Zander Williams and Matthew Warmington, finishing second and third, respectively.

When asked how pleased she was to see Garcia atop the podium, Misir, the Caribbean's only Formula Woman driver, Misir, welcomed the fearless personality of a young female in what is deemed, a male-dominated sport.

"She has been incredible all weekend. So focused, fearless and full of personality on the track. It was great seeing her outclass the competition and hoisting the trophy,” Misir said.

Misir also had a one-on-one with Garcia after the victory, as she imparted knowledge to the promising female prospect.

"I urged her to stay focused as we need more women and girls in motorsports. The level of physicality required to get to the very top of the sport is a pretty steep curve. Still, with her level of will and determination, and of course, given more opportunities to compete at a high level, anything is possible,” she reasoned.

CJKAT is the Caribbean's version of the CIK-FIA Karting Academy Trophy, the first rung on the ladder of the FIA's single-seater path to Formula One. CJKAT allows more opportunities for Caribbean hopefuls to race. The regional series caters for a more comprehensive age range than in Europe, where the limits are 12 to 14 years.

Misir, 25, is the Caribbean's only competitive female race car driver. She competed as part of the Formula Woman Team for McLaren Customer Racing in the British GT Cup Championship in races at Snetterton, Oulton Park and Silverstone.

Max Verstappen’s Hungarian Grand Prix victory gave his Red Bull team a record 12th successive Formula One race win.

Here, the PA news agency looks at how the dominant Dutchman and his team compare to the greats of the grid.

Prost and Senna’s record falls

Verstappen has won nine of this season’s 11 races, with team-mate Sergio Perez taking the other two.

Verstappen also won last season’s final race and not since the great McLaren pairing of Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost in 1988 has a single team dominated to such an extent.

That season began in Brazil and while Senna was disqualified from his home race for an illegal car change, Prost took the chequered flag.

Senna won in San Marino and he and Prost shared the next four races equally before Prost recorded a home win in the French Grand Prix.

Four straight victories for Senna followed before Ferrari’s Gerhard Berger broke the streak in Italy, the only race all season not won by McLaren as they and Senna won a championship double with Prost close behind in second in the drivers’ standings.

That is the case for Verstappen and Perez this season as well, albeit with Verstappen over 100 points clear of his team-mate.

Verstappen added Bahrain and Australia to last season’s success in Abu Dhabi, alternating at the start of the season with Perez’s wins in Saudi Arabia and Azerbaijan before taking sole control.

Mercedes had three separate runs of 10 successive wins during Lewis Hamilton’s period of dominance, with Michael Schumacher’s Ferrari team also hitting double figures in 2002.

Magnificent seven

Since the start of May, Verstappen has won the Miami, Monaco, Spanish, Canadian, Austrian, British and now Hungarian Grands Prix to equal the second-longest winning run for an individual driver.

Only Sebastian Vettel’s record of nine straight wins in 2013 remains for him to chase – victory in the next two races would see him equal that mark in front of his adoring home fans at August 27’s Dutch Grand Prix in Zandvoort.

Alberto Ascari has a claim to matching Vettel. The Italian won the last six races of the 1952 season and the Argentine Grand Prix at the start of 1953 before not entering the Indianapolis 500, which at the time was part of the drivers’ championship. He went on to win the Dutch and Belgian GPs on his next two starts.

Michael Schumacher won seven in a row in 2004, as did Nico Rosberg at the end of 2015 and the start of his 2016 title-winning season.

Schumacher also had a run of six across the 2000 and 2001 seasons while Hamilton’s longest run is five wins, as was Verstappen’s before his current streak.

He is on track to be the first driver ever to win over 80 per cent of races in a season – beating Ascari’s 75 per cent in 1952, when there were only eight races in total – while he has won over 93 per cent of the maximum points available with 281 of a possible 302 so far.

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff believes Max Verstappen’s dominance of the sport is so one-sided that he is making the rest of the grid look like they are racing in a junior category.

Verstappen took his ninth win of the season, extending Red Bull’s unbeaten streak to 11 from 11 this year with just one race remaining before the summer break.

The Dutchman, now a staggering 110 points clear in the championship, finished more than half-a-minute clear of his rivals following another supreme showing in his supreme Red Bull machine.

McLaren’s Lando Norris was runner-up – scoring consecutive podium finishes for the first time in his career – with pole-sitter Lewis Hamilton only fourth and his Mercedes team-mate George Russell sixth.

“It was like a bunch of Formula Two cars against a Formula One car,” said Wolff.

“In the F2 gang, our car was quick. The F1 car won by 33 seconds.

“We had the second quickest car today, and obviously we can talk it up and say we could have been second, but that’s irrelevant because you have a car that finished 39 seconds ahead [of Hamilton], and was probably cruising a lot of the time.

“We are going to fight back and win races and championships, but we saw the pace Max had, and that’s the bitter reality.

“But it’s a meritocracy, and as long as you’re moving within the regulations, then we need to acknowledge Red Bull has just done a better job.”

Hamilton has now gone 34 appearances without a victory – the longest streak of his career – while Verstappen has triumphed 24 times during the same period, moving him to 44 career wins.

Verstappen’s Red Bull set a new record of 12 consecutive wins on Sunday, with Mercedes’ unprecedented 19 victories in a single campaign under threat.

At the midway stage of this 22-round campaign, the world champions also remain on course to become the first team to complete the perfect season.

However, speaking ahead of this weekend’s Belgian Grand Prix at Spa-Francorchamps – which includes a sprint race and the possibility of rain – Red Bull team principal Christian Horner was keen to guard against complacency.

Horner said: “How long can we keep this winning run going? Who knows?

“We’ve got another challenge next weekend, a sprint race, with the variable conditions of Spa. Anything can happen, so we’re really just taking it pretty much one event at a time.”

Max Verstappen said it would be “terrible” to remain stuck on the same number of career wins as Lewis Hamilton’s car number following his crushing triumph at the Hungarian Grand Prix.

The all-conquering Dutchman beat pole-sitter Hamilton to the opening bend at the Hungaroring before going on to lead every lap and claim his seventh successive win and 44th of his career.

“Hopefully I don’t stay on 44 for too long,” joked Verstappen. “That would be terrible I need to get to 45 quickly.”

The evidence of the season so far would suggest Verstappen’s wait will last only a week with Spa-Francorchamps the venue for the final round before the summer break of this most one-sided of campaigns.

Indeed, Red Bull will head into next Sunday’s Belgian Grand Prix unbeaten from the opening 11 rounds of 22, setting a new record on Sunday with their 12th consecutive win.

The perfect dozen includes the final round of last season in Abu Dhabi, eclipsing McLaren’s 11 in a row in 1988 when Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost were at the wheel.

“Twelve wins in a row is just incredible,” added Verstappen, who is now 110 points clear at the summit of the world championship on his unstoppable march towards a hat-trick of titles.

“What we’ve been doing for the last two years has been unbelievable. Hopefully we can keep this momentum going for a long time. We always want to do better but days like this are just perfect.”

Verstappen, 25, crossed the line more than half-a-minute clear of runner-up Lando Norris to record his ninth win of the season and retain Red Bull’s chance of becoming the first team in F1 history to complete a perfect campaign.

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner said: “As a young kid I remember watching Alain Prost and Ayrton Senna under the incredible leadership of Ron Dennis achieve that feat (11 wins in a row) and to think we have bettered that is something all the team in Budapest and back in Milton Keynes have worked so hard for and means so much.

“Max is a driver totally at one with himself in the car and with total confidence and trust in the team. We are witnessing a sportsman at the top of his game and he is a joy to work with.

“Max is a modest guy and he is uncomfortable with the plaudits he is given, but he deserves all the credit he is getting at the moment.”

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