Motor Sports

Red Bull aim for another record before August break

LONDON: Max Verstappen can secure more Formula One records for Red Bull in Sunday's Belgian Grand Prix, held as a sprint weekend for the first time, to set up a milestone Dutch homecoming party after the August break.

Red Bull have won a record 12 races in a row but they can make history at Spa-Francorchamps as the first team to take the first 12 of a season as well as 12 consecutively in the same year.

Another victory for double world champion Verstappen would be his eighth in a row, one shy of the record for successive wins in a season set by former Red Bull driver Sebastian Vettel in 2013.

That would further crank up excitement for what will already be a festival of orange when the 25-year-old turns up at Zandvoort chasing victory for the third year in a row at the seaside circuit.

"Spa is of course my favourite track on the calendar so I'm looking forward to racing there and seeing the fans, it should be a fun weekend," said Verstappen, who was born in Belgium but races with a Dutch licence.

"I have good memories from Spa and coming off the back of a great team result in Hungary, I hope we can deliver this weekend, it's the final push before summer break."

Verstappen has won in Belgium for the past two years, from 14th on the grid in 2022, and will be favourite for a hat-trick unless the rain gods intervene.

The current weather forecast is for rain on Friday, when qualifying is held, and Saturday which features the sprint qualifying and standalone race.

Verstappen is 110 points clear of closest rival and team mate Sergio Perez after 11 of 22 rounds and could extend that advantage to the equivalent of five races.

Perez finished second in Spa last year, the only time he has appeared on the podium there.

"The weather will be tricky, as it always is in Spa, and we have the sprint format to contend with so running could be very limited," said the Mexican who is the season's top scorer in sprints after two of six so far.

McLaren's Lando Norris will be chasing his third podium in a row, after finishing second in Britain and Hungary with a car that is very quick through the fast corners, while Australian team mate Oscar Piastri is after a first top three finish.

"You will fly in Spa. Everyone should go and stand in Pouhon (corner), because you will be flat," Verstappen told Norris after the race in Budapest.

"One-handed. Blindfolded as well," joked the Briton in return.

Compatriot Lewis Hamilton has had more wins than any other active driver at the circuit, with Mercedes' seven times world champion a quadruple winner there.

Hamilton was on pole in Hungary, his first since 2021, and could again be a threat along with team mate George Russell in an upgraded car.

Williams could also be in the mix for solid points at a circuit likely to favour their car's aerodymamics.

The race takes place also amid concern about the dangers of racing in rain and spray after the death this month of Dutch teenager Dilano van't Hoff in a junior series.

Alpine's French driver Pierre Gasly has organised a track run on Thursday evening for all F1, F2 and F3 personnel to remember compatriot Anthoine Hubert, who died in a 2018 F2 accident, and van't Hoff. -- Reuters

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