Charles Leclerc had to battle back on track to return to fifth position after being forced to make an early pit stop due to plastic from his visor getting stuck in his car’s brake duct.
Ferrari called him back into the pits with two laps to go before the checkered flag to try and score the extra point for the fastest lap despite Leclerc being unconvinced on the radio.
Although the Monegasque overtook Fernando Alonso as soon as he left the pits, the Asturian passed him again on the Kemmel straight, compromising the start of the last lap for Leclerc .
The Ferrari driver ended up doing a lap six tenths slower than Verstappen ‘s, and although he regained fifth position on the track, he received a five-second penalty for exceeding the speed limit in the pitlane at his last stop which dropped him to the sixth place.
Leclerc denied being frustrated with Ferrari over the late decision to pit and took full blame for the penalty, explaining “it had nothing to do with the team”.
“In the end, it’s more frustrating to see the difference in pace between us and Red Bull, which is what we have to work on,” said the Monegasque.
Max Verstappen rallied from 14th on the grid to win the race 17 seconds clear of Sergio Pérez, extending his points lead over Leclerc in the drivers’ championship to 98 points with eight grands prix to go.
The #1 showed unrivaled pace throughout the weekend at Spa, setting the fastest time in qualifying, six tenths better than the second fastest time, before falling down the grid due to his power unit change penalty of your car.
“If you look at Red Bull, they were on another level, they found something this weekend that is a bit worrying for us,” said Leclerc, who admitted the title “definitely looks extremely complicated now” for Ferrari .
“At the moment, we don’t get it. They’re still very quick on the straights, they don’t seem to have any downforce, but then they go into the corner and they’re as quick as us, or sometimes faster. So it’s a bit worrying.”
The race also saw Leclerc and his engineer communicate numerous times over the radio, regularly asking questions about strategy options.
At one point, the Monegasque asked Ferrari why they were considering pitting again and seemed unsure, but there was no change on the Maranello wall despite radio discussion and they tried to go for the lap. fast, something they did not achieve and that also caused the five-second penalty that made him fall to 5th.
“No, we always have,” Leclerc said. “This time we were a little clearer because we were in a bit of a no man’s land, so we had more freedom to talk about it,” he concluded.