Max Verstappen defied all the odds at the Belgian Grand Prix to claim his ninth victory of the season, despite having started in P14.
The reigning World Champion had qualified on pole but took a grid penalty due to an engine change which saw the Dutchman exceed his legal limit.
This didn’t faze the championship leader, as by Lap 18 he was in the race lead properly; he had taken the lead a few laps prior, but it was only because Carlos Sainz pitted from the lead.
It was one of the Dutchman’s greatest ever F1 performances, with his lead in the Drivers’ Championship now sitting at an almost uncatchable 93 points, over his team-mate Sergio Pérez, who finished second.
However, was the Mexican driver given the opportunity to fight Verstappen and win the race?
That was a question asked after the race, as once again the Dutch driver appeared to overtake Pérez far too easily.
Red Bull team principal Christian Horner denied that team orders had been used, insisting that they pair were told the were “free to race”.
“We discussed that [team orders] during the [pre-race] briefing – they were free to race,” Horner said.
“We expected that they might meet in the last stint and then they would be free to race each other, provided they were respected.”
Verstappen’s pace was nothing short of unbelievable, with the 24-year-old having been over half a second a lap faster than everybody all weekend.
It’s a type of domination that hasn’t been seen for a very long time, with the Dutchman’s pace even surprising Horner himself.
“It is always difficult to make predictions in advance, but our simulations showed that Max would be somewhere around a podium place by his last pitstop,” Horner explained.
“The fact that he was leading after 18 laps instead surpassed all our predictions.
“We chose to start on the Soft tyres, even though we didn’t quite know how that would affect the car’s performance [as] the temperatures were a lot higher.
“It was difficult, but we took the performance advantage we had in qualifying into the race.”