An untouchable Max Verstappen romped to victory at the Belgium Grand Prix after another ruthless drive, leaving team-mate Sergio Perez trailing in his wake.
Despite starting sixth after his fifth gearbox change of the season, the world champion once again showcased his unparalleled ability during a red-hot display.
Just one lap into the race, Verstappen charged into fourth place and set about targeting both
Lewis Hamilton and polesitter Charles Leclerc in front of him.
Despite mounting a defence, both drivers were quickly picked off by the Red Bull, with Verstappen cruising beyond them and closing the gap on Perez in first.
Looking to respond to a horror sprint race around the same circuit in vain, Perez was then reeled in and overtaken, forcing him to settle for the runner-up spot.
After sealing his eighth-consecutive race win, Verstappen also matched
Fernando Alonso's record for racking up victories from nine different starting positions.
Leclerc, who had initially surrendered his position at the front of the grid to Perez, took third place after holding Hamilton at arm's length as the drama unfolded.
Fernando Alonso finished fifth, a promising step forward from Aston Martin after their setback in performance, while
George Russell moved from eighth to sixth.
Lando Norris, Esteban Ocon, Lance Stroll and Yuki Tsunoda completed the top 10. Verstappen eased up the grid to win his eighth-straight race
READ MORE: Verstappen FEUDS with engineer AGAIN in heated battle for race lead
Moments after lights out, Piastri's hopes of securing a place on the podium were dashed in heartbreaking fashion following a collision with
Having locked up at turn one, Sainz, seemingly in a desperate attempt to avoid Hamilton, squeezed toward Piastri, leading him to make contact with the wall.
"I don't know what he was doing. He just turned in like I didn't exist," Piastri reported over team radio, before rolling to a stop and retiring his car.
Adding insult to injury, Sainz was told his car had lost five per cent aero balance.
Oscar Piastri was forced to retire after an incident on the first lap Verstappen's charge
Unsurprisingly, Verstappen wasted little time in charging through the pack.
Hamilton was able to hold him off for six laps but ultimately found himself trailing in the wake of the rampant Red Bull after Verstappen's dart inside.
Verstappen had closed the gap down the Kemmel Straight under DRS and bombed down Hamilton's left-hand side at Les Combes to take third place.
Shortly after, Leclerc moved into view. With the
Ferrari planted down the middle, Verstappen moved outside and completed the overtake with ease. Red Bull duel
Perez, out in front and free of turbulent air, was instructed to nurse his tyres through the second sector while Verstappen looked to eat into his advantage.
The Mexican then pitted from the lead, though his 3.2 second stop did little to aid his bid to fend off his team-mate. Verstappen was the next to pull on fresh rubber.
Even after the lead briefly changed hands courtesy of Perez pulling away first, Verstappen rapidly caught up with the second Red Bull and looked to move past.
A superb exit out of La Source teed up the manoeuvre and Verstappen, lifting off through Eau Rouge, powered beyond Perez to take the lead of the race.
Sergio Perez eventually charged beyond polesitter Charles Leclerc Drizzly drama
There was another twist, however, with rain beginning on lap 20.
At the front, Verstappen almost spun out, having suddenly snapped and avoided a costly incident through Eau Rouge as the track began to dampen.
But in lieu of a downpour, drivers were able to avoid turning to the intermediates.
Sainz pulled into the pits on lap 24 and instead of pulling away with new tyres, he was hauled back into the garage, his damaged Ferrari belatedly retired.
McLaren's costly gamble
Piastri's early retirement proved to be just the start of a chastening day for McLaren, with Norris tumbling down the grid after a strategy error.
Fitted with medium tyres initially, Norris visibly struggled during the early stages of the race, forcing the team to haul him into the pits for an early stop.
But the sluggish straight-line speed of the MCL60 continued to burst to the fore, leaving Norris helpless as his opponents raced beyond him with little difficulty.
Having seemingly gambled on rain, McLaren were made to pay for large swathes of the race, though the shower midway through the action limited the damage.
Ultimately, Norris somewhat spared their blushes with a seventh-placed finish.
McLaren's gamble on rain backfired on Lando Norris Belgian Grand Prix 2023 results
The final classification from Spa is as follows:
1. Max Verstappen [Red Bull]
2. Sergio Perez [Red Bull] - +22.305s
3. Charles Leclerc [Ferrari] - +32.259s
4. Lewis Hamilton [
Mercedes] - +49.671s
5. Fernando Alonso [Aston Martin] - +56.184s
6. George Russell [Mercedes] - +1:03.101s
7. Lando Norris [McLaren] - +1:13.719s
8. Lance Stroll [Aston Martin] - +1:14.719s
9. Esteban Ocon [Alpine] - +1:19.340s
10. Yuki Tsunoda [AlphaTauri] - +1:20.221s
Pierre Gasly [Alpine] - +1:23.084s
Valtteri Bottas [ Alfa Romeo] - +1:25.191s
13. Zhou Guanyu [Alfa Romeo] - +1:35.441s
14. Alex Albon [
Williams] - +1:36.184s
Kevin Magnussen [ Haas] - +1:41.754s
Daniel Ricciardo [AlphaTauri] - +1:43.071s
17. Logan Sargeant [Williams] - +1:44.476s
18. Nico Hulkenberg [Haas] - +1:50.450s
19. Carlos Sainz [Ferrari] - DNF
20. Oscar Piastri [McLaren] - DNF
Lewis Hamilton [Mercedes] - 1:47.305sec
READ MORE: Perez slams Hamilton for RUINING his Spa race Related