A king emperor in his kingdom: Unsurprisingly, Max Verstappen once again honored his status as Formula 1 World Championship leader by claiming his eighth consecutive victory in Belgium this season, ahead of his Red Bull team-mate Sergio Pérez and the Ferrari of Charles Leclerc.

As the lights went out on the legendary Spa-Francorchamps track covered in threatening clouds, polesitter Leclerc knew: behind him, the mighty Red Bulls were going to be hard to contain. The Monegasque was not mistaken since from the first laps, Pérez, second on the grid, took the advantage over the Ferrari.

Behind, Verstappen – who started from an unusual 6th position because of a penalty for changing his gearbox – benefited from a collision at the start of the race between Australian Oscar Piastri (McLaren) and Spaniard Carlos Sainz (Ferrari) to climb to 4th place at the end of the first lap.

The Dutchman then unrolled, overtaking in turn the seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) then, a few minutes later, Leclerc. After eight laps he was second behind Pérez. “In terms of pace we were pretty confident, but against Red Bull we have a lot of work to do,” conceded Leclerc.

Carried by the clamor of a public mostly won over to his cause, it took a little more than a third of the race for the native of Hasselt, less than a hundred kilometers from the Ardennes route, to take the advantage over his teammate.

“I knew we had a good car, we just had to survive the first corner,” Verstappen said at the finish. The double reigning champion, who signs his 3rd consecutive success at Spa in F1, now has a stratospheric lead of 125 points over his first pursuer Sergio Pérez, author of his second consecutive podium in GP.

“I want to continue my momentum until the end of the season,” assured the Mexican, who is having a complicated season in the ranks of Red Bull against his unstoppable teammate.

As in Hungary last weekend, Lewis Hamilton finished at the foot of the podium, but still recovered the point for the fastest lap. He is ahead of the Spaniard Fernando Alonso, 5th at the wheel of his Aston Martin.

Behind, Alpine drivers Esteban Ocon and Pierre Gasly finished 8th and 11th respectively. A solid result for the French team which had suffered two consecutive double retirements in the last two GPs (in Great Britain at the start of July and in Hungary last weekend). Friday, the team had also announced to separate from its director Otmar Szafnauer at the end of this 12th round of the season.

The American pays for the team’s lack of performance, only 6th in the Constructors’ World Championship. Since the start of the season, Alpine has struggled to meet its objective of getting closer to the top 3 in the championship announced in February.

Logically expected after their performances in the last two GPs, the McLarens of Piastri and Lando Norris were the favorites to stand up to Red Bull.

Missed appointment for the British team, since Piastri had to give up after his collision with Sainz. Lando Norris, second in the last two races, only finished 7th.

The day before, Piastri had finished in an impressive 2nd place in the sprint race for his first season in F1, ahead of Frenchman Pierre Gasly (Alpine), but behind… Verstappen.

On the legendary circuit of Spa-Francorchamps, nestled between hills and forests of the Belgian Ardennes, the rain, which played the spoilsport on Friday and Saturday, sprint day, only made a brief appearance shortly before mid- race on Sunday. Insufficient to upset the hierarchy.

Belgium was the last meeting for F1 before the summer break. The paddock will return to the circuits on the weekend of August 27 for the Dutch GP, on the coastal track of Zandvoort.

Carried by the cheers of his “Oranje army”, Verstappen will now have the opportunity at home to equal the record of nine consecutive victories of the German Sebastian Vettel.