Max Verstappen reveals stance after fighting Oscar Piastri

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen is looking to leave the 2023 Belgian GP with maximum points despite a penalty.

Two-time Formula 1 champion Max Verstappen has expressed his appreciation for facing new competition as he encountered the young talent of Oscar Piastri during the gripping Belgian sprint race. 

The Australian driver’s outstanding performance earned him the runner-up position, marking his best day in F1 yet, even after a razor-thin margin of 0.011 seconds separated him from Verstappen in the pole position shootout.

The race commenced under the safety car due to heavy rainfall before the 15-lap showdown. 

McLaren made a strategic move by bringing Piastri in for a tyre change from full-wets to intermediates, while Verstappen opted to stay on track.

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Piastri’s tactical maneuver allowed him to jump ahead of Verstappen once the Dutchman completed his pit stop. 

The Australian driver impressively held off the Red Bull, but his lead was short-lived as the safety car made a return after Fernando Alonso’s incident at Pouhon, sending him into the gravel.

Once the race resumed, Verstappen showcased his dominance, effortlessly overtaking Piastri out of Raidillon and along the Kemmel Straight. 

He went on to secure victory, finishing six seconds ahead of the 22-year-old.

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Reflecting on the challenges of the race and the pit stop decision, Verstappen explained, 

“I just think to make the call when to pit. I said to the team, I know we can pit straight away.” 

He acknowledged the risks involved, considering potential safety car scenarios and the slower pace of extreme tires compared to intermediates.

Verstappen praised Piastri’s performance, saying, “It’s always good… It’s nice, and it’s great, too. 

“Oscar is having a very strong season, in general, but I also think this weekend he has been really on it… 

“It’s always nice, for the first time, to basically race.”

Looking ahead to the grand prix on Sunday, Verstappen’s five-place grid penalty for a gearbox change pushed him to start from sixth position. 

Despite the setback, he remained confident, having demonstrated his ability to navigate through the field previously. 

His RB19’s performance and his recent streak of eight consecutive wins boosted his spirits for the upcoming race.

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Verstappen emphasised the importance of keeping the tires in good condition, especially if the weather remains dry. 

With the RB19’s impressive performance in both one-lap pace and tire management during the sprint race, he aimed to make progress throughout the grand prix. 

However, he acknowledged the need to be cautious in the opening lap to avoid any potential car damage.