Max Verstappen easily carved through the pack to win Formula 1's 2023 Belgian Grand Prix from his sixth-place grid penalty start place, winning ahead of Sergio Perez and Charles Leclerc.

When the lights went out, polesitter Leclerc swung across Perez's bows to maintain the lead at La Source, where Carlos Sainz, starting fourth, locked up and then collided with Oscar Piastri running just behind from fifth on the grid on the inside.

The McLaren was pinched against the inside wall, damaging its suspension and ripping the side of the Ferrari's right-side sidepod, with Piastri slowing on the run downhill to Eau Rouge and later stopping on the first lap of 44.

Up ahead, Perez used his RB19's straightline speed to blast by Leclerc into the lead the first time they ran up the Kemmel straight and he quickly built a DRS-breaking lead.

Verstappen was by the end of lap one up to fourth from his abnormally low grid spot, earned for taking a fifth gearbox of the season this weekend, where he remained behind Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton, who had started third, and Leclerc over the first phase of the race as Perez continued to pull clear ahead.

But when Hamilton lost DRS to Leclerc on lap six, Verstappen pounced going up the Kemmel straight and, with DRS himself, had enough to make a move to the inside and seal third place.

He then pursued Leclerc, whose gap to the lead had stabilised somewhat at just over two seconds, but as the end of the opening 10 laps approached it had eked out again to three seconds.

On lap nine, Verstappen shot to Leclerc's outside as the pair traversed the Kemmel straight, with the Ferrari defending the inside, but it was an unsuccessful defence as Verstappen braked later and swept ahead at the first part of Les Combes.

Perez's gap to his team-mate was still the same he had over Leclerc at the start of lap 10, but over the next stage of the race Verstappen gradually ate into that advantage.

On lap 13, with Perez's lead down to 2.4s, he came into the pits, his stop nearly a second longer with a lot of sparks coming off his left-rear wheel and with Leclerc coming by as he pitted from third at the same time, as they switched the softs they had started on for mediums.

Verstappen was brought in at the end of the following tour having been asked if he could make it staying out on his softs until predicted rain arrived around half-distance, which he dismissed.

The second Red Bull stop was a second quicker than the first and that all added up to Perez's lead being down to 1.5s on Verstappen's out-lap and that was down to 1.1s on lap later, with the chaser soon getting DRS on the Kemmel straight for the first time.

Inevitably, the next time by at the same spot, Verstappen powered into the lead with an outside line DRS-run heading on the straight, easily surging ahead of Perez, who tucked in behind his team-mate.

Verstappen stayed on it to snap Perez's DRS threat on the same lap, then shot to a near four-second lead by the time the rain arrived on the 20th tour.

It stayed light initially, but times went up by nearly three seconds for the leaders and Verstappen nearly dropped his car running through Eau Rouge one lap later.

That did not dim his momentum, however, as he was soon over five seconds clear of Perez, as the rain remained light compared to the deluges that delayed the sprint qualifying and race.

It eased off completely around half-distance, with Verstappen then ploughing on to extend his lead to near 10s by the time the leaders prepared for a second round of stops.

As the leaders had made a longer stint on the softs work better than many in the pack behind on full tanks, the red-walled rubber was the compound of choice for the final run to the flag.

Hamilton, who started to close in on Leclerc in fourth during their stint on the mediums before dropping back again as it wore on, was the first to come in on lap 27.

Leclerc was brought in the next time by to cover the Mercedes, which had to fight by Fernando Alonso's Aston Martin as the Ferrari rejoined.

This phase cut Leclerc's advantage, such as the undercut's power, that Hamilton was the closest he had been to the Monegasque driver since Verstappen came by in the early laps, but again the Ferrari was able to pull away.

Red Bull made the same strategy call with Perez coming in on lap 29 and Verstappen on lap 30, after which the leader set a fastest lap nearly two seconds quicker than the personal best Perez had just pumped in.

From there, Verstappen continued pulling away and eventually won with a crushing victory of 22.3s over Perez, who was 9.9s ahead of Leclerc.

Hamilton had been running a few seconds adrift of the final podium spot when he was pitted with two laps to go to switch back to the mediums for a final stint, which he used to deprive Verstappen of the fastest lap as the Briton set that on the final tour, with a 1m47.305s against the Red Bull driver's 1m48.922s set during that initial period after his second stop.

Hamilton was able to stop for a third time because Alonso was more than a pitstop adrift in fifth, having edged clear of various pack battles during the two pitstop phases.

George Russell took sixth having started on the contra-strategy with mediums for the opening stint, which meant he ran long and also had to put in several passes to rise from his eighth-place starting spot.

That included a late pass on Lando Norris, who was one of the first to stop as McLaren struggled for pace early on – his machine's added downforce from its big rear wing being a boon during the brief rain shower and a hindrance when defending against rivals.

Norris eventually finished seventh, while behind Esteban Ocon put in a series of bold late passes to move up to eighth – including a forceful move through the first part of the Les Combes chicane on AlphaTauri's Yuki Tsunoda, who eventually came home behind Lance Stroll in 10th.

Sainz was the race's other retirement – the Spaniard stopped in the Ferrari garage just before half-distance as he ran at the rear of the pack showing little pace in his damaged car.

Pos Driver Chassis Engine Gap
1 HOL Max Verstappen Red Bull Red Bull  
2 MEX Sergio Perez Red Bull Red Bull 22.305
3 MON Charles Leclerc Ferrari Ferrari 32.259
4 GBR Lewis Hamilton Mercedes Mercedes 49.671
5 ESP Fernando Alonso Aston Martin Mercedes 56.184
6 GBR George Russell Mercedes Mercedes 1'03.101
7 GBR Lando Norris McLaren Mercedes 1'13.719
8 FRA Esteban Ocon Alpine Renault 1'14.719
9 CAN Lance Stroll Aston Martin Mercedes 1'19.340
10 JPN Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri Red Bull 1'20.221
11 FRA Pierre Gasly Alpine Renault 1'23.084
12 FIN Valtteri Bottas Alfa Romeo Ferrari 1'25.191
13 CHN Zhou Guanyu Alfa Romeo Ferrari 1'35.441
14 THA Alexander Albon Williams Mercedes 1'36.184
15 DEN Kevin Magnussen Haas Ferrari 1'41.754
16 AUS Daniel Ricciardo AlphaTauri Red Bull 1'43.071
17 USA Logan Sargeant Williams Mercedes 1'44.476
18 GER Nicolas Hulkenberg Haas Ferrari 1'50.450
  ESP Carlos Sainz Ferrari Ferrari  
  AUS Oscar Piastri McLaren Mercedes