Lewis Hamilton won the Belgium Grand Prix on Sunday, closing the gap to Sebastian Vettel at the top of the Formula 1 driver standings.
Hamilton looked comfortable, surviving a late safety car period, to secure victory by the end of his 200th start -- having now won 58 of them.
“It’s been a strong weekend for the team and me, the team did an amazing job,” Hamilton said. “Sebastian put a great fight on but it winning is what I said I was coming to do so I did it.
“I came here in 1996 with my dad and it was our dream to be here one day so this just shows to those of you just watching that dreams do come true and you just got to keep striving for it, believe in yourself and never give up.”
Ferrari had been confident heading into the race, believing that they would be able to run at a quicker pace than Hamilton and Mercedes, but that failed to materialize. Even after the safety car, during which Ferrari had fitted the ultra-soft tires while Mercedes opted for the regular softs, Vettel was unable to mount a challenge on Hamilton.
“It was good fun,” Vettel said. “It was really intense because every lap I was waiting for Lewis to make a mistake but he didn’t. He was probably waiting for me to make a mistake but I didn’t so it was really close.
“The restart I wasn’t entirely happy. I was fearing that I wouldn’t be close enough but I was too close so I had to back out and then it’s a drag race and I was on the outside. I think we had a very good pace when you compare it to Silverstone, I think it’s a lot better here so we’ve made good steps forward.”
Victory sees Hamilton close the gap at the top to just seven points – meaning that a win at next weekend’s Italian Grand Prix will see him overtake Vettel in the standings.
While Vettel had been unable to capitalize on the safety car’s late involvement, Daniel Ricciardo managed to jump Valtteri Bottas after the long drag down to Les Combes and snatch a podium finish at a Grand Prix where his Red Bull team had been written off before turning a wheel.
“We had pretty good pace mid-race and then we got the safety car so we knew we’d been given a bt of an opportunity and it was good to capitalise on that at the restart,” Ricciardo said. “I’m super pleased with that. We just got ourselves into a position where we could capitalise so I’m happy with that.”
Kimi Raikkonen and Bottas finished in fourth and fifth ahead of two strong performances from Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg and the Haas of Romain Grosjean. For eighth, Felipe Massa put behind him Saturday’s problems, climbing from his 16th place grid slot to put a shine on William’s otherwise forgettable weekend.
Force India had again qualified both Sergio Perez inside the top ten but the pair twice made contact – the second time being the cause for the safety car intervention as Ocon’s front wing flew across the track as Perez’s tire gained a dramatic puncture. The drivers couldn’t agree who was at fault but, as a result, the team have now said that team orders will be imposed for the remainder of the season.
Ocon managed to finish in ninth with Carlos Sainz Jr. rounding out the points
Two drivers who can’t buy any luck in 2017 have been Max Verstappen and Fernando Alonso and that trend continued in Belgium.
Verstappen had been running in fifth but, on just lap eight of the race, he was struck by yet another problem with his Renault power unit – causing the Dutchman to retire for a sixth time in 2017.
An impressive start had seen Alonso as high up as seventh but the lack of power from his Honda unit saw him rapidly drop down the order. Unable to mount a defence, Alonso retired the car citing a power unit problem.
After four weeks without any Formula One action, the Grand Prix now come thick and fast with Monza and the Italian Grand Prix in just one weeks time.
Results - F1 Belgium Grand Prix
By Sam Hall
Formula 1, Racing
Car news, reviews, motorsports,
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