This race was everything we've come to know and love about Spa-Francorchamps. Arguably the most anticipated race of the season, Sunday's 2016 addition failed to disappoint. The stage had already been set for a memorable Grand Prix from the off; World Champion Lewis Hamilton was to start from the back of the grid, whilst Max Verstappen became the youngest ever front-row starter in the sport by qualifying in P2.
Things were chaotic right from the off; Kimi Raikonnen, Sebastian Vettel and Verstappen found out the hard way that three doesn't go into one one on the first corner. Vettel squeezed Raikonnen, who in turn squeezed Verstappen. The result was a damaged front-wing for the Red Bull man, a puncture for Vettel and damage for Raikonnen. Verstappen was fuming to say the least. After the race, he'd argue that the Ferrari's, Raikonnen, in particular, ruined his race with at the first corner, though quite why he was so tight into corner 1 and effectively off the racing line is anyone's guess; he was asking for trouble with this Playstation-esque move.
Not long after, Kevin Magnussen walked away from one almighty crash. Having lost the back-end of the car flying at full-speed through Eau Rouge, the Renault spun and smashed sideways into the barriers at close to full-speed. It was the kind of impact that sends a sense of dread around the body. Thankfully, and somewhat miraculously, cameras panned to Magnusson emerging from the wreckage, and that's how the car can only be described, with just a sore ankle.
In the build-up to the race, Martin Brundle presented a piece on the safety of Formula One, and the leaps and bounds its made in the past twenty years; this crash would not look out of place in the montage of crashes through the ages that was presented to the viewer.
The damage caused to the crash barriers meant that the race was red-flagged. Once it resumed, Nico Rosberg continued on his jollies to clinch victory, whilst Lewis Hamilton had expertly moved from P21 to P5 by the time his race restarted. The decision to incur the wrath of FIA penalties and start from the back of the grid by effectively rebuilding his engine was a masterstroke; in one swoop, Hamilton fixed his reliance issues, got a new power unit and lost little ground in the title race. Whisper it, but i think we're looking at the 2016 World Champion after this performance.
That wasn't the major talking point from the action, however. That belonged to Max Verstappen. The somewhat stroppy teenager decided to enact revenge of Kimi Raikonnen by recklessly blocking his overtake manoeuvre whilst in eight gear and sailing down the Kemmel Straight at over 300 km/h. Raikonnen's experience and guile prevented what would've been an incredibly nasty accident. At those speeds, a car hitting the back of another would result in an airborne crash that would have undoubtedly have put the Finn's live in danger. Verstappen got away with it unscathed from the FIA, whilst Raikonnen was naturally fuming. In a world where penalties are enforced for exceeding track limits or changing engine units, how can a driver not face sanction by such a reckless move at full-speed?
Put short, Verstappen is an accident waiting to happen. This wasn't the only incident from Spa, whilst you only have to go back to Hungary in July for a similar incident. He has all the talent to become a multiple World Champion, but he's learning on the beat on F1. Petulance, the desire to enact revenge on the tract, and inexperience can be a deadly mix in Formula One. Let's hope Verstappen's seniors eradicate that dark side from his racing.