Max Verstappen says Red Bull adopted a cautious approach regarding his switch to Intermediate tyres during a rain-affected F1 Sprint Race in Belgium.

Verstappen led away after five formation laps behind the Safety Car, during which drivers are mandated to use the Full Wet tyres.

Half of the field – including second-placed Oscar Piastri – immediately came into the pits for Intermediate tyres when the race began, but Verstappen stayed out before pitting at the end of the second lap.

Piastri overhauled Verstappen to take the lead but the reigning World Champion re-claimed the lead mid-way through the race.

“I said already to the team that I know we can pit straightaway, [but] it’s very risky in case of having all the cars come in as well who would pit behind me, and then of course you have to hold the car,” he said.

“I think we just took the safer option to at least do one lap, maybe there will be a safety car, you get lucky, there wasn’t a safety car, so I knew I would lose out because the extreme tyres are a lot slower around here than an Intermediate.

“We did the pit stop, I had a little wait as well for the Ferrari, I came out behind Oscar, and then I knew of course that I had to get by him at some point.

“I could see that within two laps, he was struggling a lot more with the tyres, they were just overheating more. And then I guess with our top speed as well, I had a good run after the safety car.”

Verstappen, who now leads the championship by 118 points, will start Sunday’s Belgian Grand Prix from sixth place on the grid due to a gearbox penalty and is confident over his prospects.

“We knew already over one lap, we were not bad, but it also seemed like in the race, we were quite good on keeping the tyres alive,” he said. “So hopefully we can do the same tomorrow if it’s dry.

“Of course I’m starting a bit further back. I need to be careful to not have any damage on the car, and as soon as I just have a clean lap one, I think from there onwards we can just move forward.”

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