As a result, his spinning car was compromised at Turn 1 and he gave up position, leaving Sainz untroubled in front, just when Red Bull’s straight-line speed advantage could have had a big effect.
However, the loss was temporary, as Pérez moved back up the order, thanks to the clash between Hamilton and Alonso. The graph shows that the leaders are already making a big gap with Leclerc and Verstappen, even though the championship leader was already eighth.
Then the safety car arrived to restart the race and compress the field. It is clear how Verstappen gets back in touch with the leaders.
Leclerc’s hopes go the way of the dotted red line, which dips as he makes a pit stop after a torn strip (Verstappen’s, no less) got caught in his brake duct. He is now in a totally different career from the rest.
Sainz holds on to the lead from Pérez but his pace slows quickly and average lap time drops as his soft tires wear faster than expected. By contrast, Verstappen’s average race pace continues to increase as he cuts through the field and comes to the front on lap 12 after Sainz pits. He would have led a lap earlier if Perez had let him pass immediately.
From here, Verstappen was in clean air and was able to unleash his true pace. He pitted, then passed Sainz on lap 18 and galloped away from the rest of the field so far that he had a pit stop gap with his teammate, as shown above. A truly dominant performance to take victory at the Belgian Grand Prix.
The gap around Perez’s solid purple line shows just how lonely the final part of his race was, but Sainz had to watch his rear-view mirrors as Russell made a late charge for the podium.
Box 2 Race Pace Compared
Graph 2 analyzes the pace trend for each driver, smoothing out anomalies to illustrate where drivers were fastest and slowest during the race. The effect of the new tires is clear, as lap times plummet after each driver’s pit stop.
From the start, the sharp angle lines of Sainz, Pérez and Russell illustrate how tire degradation led to a rapid drop in lap times, whether on soft or medium tyres. In contrast, the smooth curves of Leclerc and Verstappen show them without the excessive wear and with an increasing pace during the first few laps.
That brought Verstappen to the front, where his performance was in a league of its own during the second leg: his dotted yellow line is almost a second above Perez’s solid purple line in second and he is followed by Russell, who makes up the time. of Sainz. , still dogged by degradation issues.
Verstappen continues his dominance into stage three, where Russell improves further, as the second fastest driver behind Red Bull. Sainz’s pace, although slower than Pérez’s, is finally stable, with similar levels of tire degradation for all drivers.
Although Pérez lost ground to Russell in the final stage, he had done enough in the first and second stages to finish comfortably second, trailing his teammate for most of the race.
Ultimately, Pérez finished where he should based on his pace, although his starting position of second, compared to Verstappen’s 14th on the grid, does not suggest a strong performance.
Where Sainz went wrong
Table 3 Sainz tire degradation profile
By correcting Sainz’s performance to account for his reduced fuel load, we can better see how the tires limited his pace.
Graph 3 maps his lap time on each of the three sets of tires he used, with an immediate drop on the soft tire from the safety car restart on lap 5.