Hamilton fends off Vettel to win Belgian Grand Prix

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F1 Grand Prix, GP Belgium, Circuit De Spa-Francorchampsbe

Lewis Hamilton has won the Belgian Grand Prix by leading the race from start to finish. It wasn't as easy as that sounds however, as Vettel's Ferrari was a continuing threat every single lap. Daniel Ricciardo made the most of his opportunities to complete the podium for Red Bull Racing.

Sunny skies greeted the numerous fans at Spa-Francorchamps for what looked likely to be an all-dry race. Most of course came to cheer on Max Verstappen, or otherwise Stoffel Vandoorne. The latter unfortunately started from the very back, due to 65 penalty positions due to engine component changes.

As the lights went out, everybody managed to make a clean start and get away without damage or incidents whatsover. Positions in the top 6 remained the same, but Fernando Alonso managed to move up from 10th to 7th. Hulkenberg made it back past Alonso through Blanchimont, but was later re-passed at the Kemmel straight. 5 laps later, Alonso was already back down into 10th, as each lap, one car got past him on the Kemmel straight due to the obvious advantage in power, something that Alonso later also reported via the team radio.

Kevin Magnussen had a similarly good start and moved up two positions, up into 10th. Massa and Vandoorne also gained two places on their first laps.

For Wehrlein, this meant he was running at the back, but only for 2 laps, as he dove into the pits after that, only to be rolled back into the garages to retire from the race.

On lap 8, Verstappen suffered the same fate, retiring the from the race with a technical issue. Having reported a loss of power, he rolled to a halt and parked his car on the Kemmel straight, in front of hundreds of fans.

Three laps later, Ocon and Alonso are the first of the top 10 runners to pit, changing from ultrasoft to soft. Nico Hulkenberg stopped one lap later, and Hamilton on lap 12. Hamilton took on a new set of softs and rejoined the race in fourth, not too far ahead of Ricciardo.

Bottas pitted the next lap with Vettel waiting one additional lap. At the same time, Hamilton took back the race lead by passing Raikkonen at the top of the Raidillon. Vettel saw it all happen ahead of him, just like he saw Raikkonen dive into the pits at the end of that lap.

Moments later, Raikkonen was handed a 10 second stop-and-go penalty for failing to slow under yellows. The message triggered the Finn to say "What do you mean!? He was on the side of the road". The penalty is interesting for sure, as its the most severe penalty that the stewards can give for such an infringement. And even more so, it's the same penalty that Vettel received for bumping into Hamilton at Baku.

The Finn served his penalty quickly, but as a result fell back from third to 7th, in between the Force India cars. Raikkonen didn't sit about though and managed to get past Ocon for 6th at the end of that lap.

While at the front, Vettel keeps on pressuring Hamilton, Alonso continued to vent his frustration for his lack of top speed, even despite McLaren opting for a reasonably low downforce rear wing for the Belgian Grand Prix weekend. Having asked not to be informed anymore at all over the radio on lap 15, he couldn't help send a message himself on lap 21: "The only f*cking car I can overtake today. I will pass [Vandoorne], but anyway, it doesn't change my life".

Two laps later, Alonso retired from the race early, dropping down to 17th before returning to the pits to get out of his troubled McLaren Honda.

Lap 30 marks the second coming together of the Force India drivers. Just like at the start, where Ocon was sandwished by Perez between the Mexican and the right wall, Perez again squeezed Ocon to the right, with the latter having no option but to back out. Ocon though broke his front wing on Perez' rear right tyre. The debris triggered a safety car, during which Ocon and Perez both pitted, along with nearly every other driver.

Hamilton notably changed to a new set of soft tyres while Vettel got a set of ultrasofts.

On the restart on lap 34, Hamilton only just kept his lead to Vettel, whereas Bottas missed Combes, and dropped fro third to fifth. Bottas was forced into an error perhaps as Ricciardo passed him on the left, and Raikkonen was side by side on his right hand side.

Magnussen meanwhile had a terrible restart and had to resort to the run-off area at the Chicane to avoid hitting anyone after badly locking up his front wheels. The Danish Haas driver therefore ended up at the very back of the pack, in 17th, behind Palmer, Vandoorne and Ericsson.

While the battle at the front seemed to freeze with a difference of 1.5s between the two front runners, Sergio Perez retired from the race.

Results

Pos.No.DriverCarLapsTimePts
144Lewis HamiltonMercedes AMG441:24:42.8200
25Sebastian VettelFerrari44+2.358s0
33Daniel RicciardoRed Bull Racing TAG Heuer44+10.791s0
47Kimi RäikkönenFerrari44+14.471s0
577Valtteri BottasMercedes AMG44+16.456s0
627Nico HulkenbergRenault44+28.087s0
78Romain GrosjeanHaas Ferrari44+31.553s0
819Felipe MassaWilliams Mercedes44+36.649s0
931Esteban OconForce India Mercedes44+38.154s0
1055Carlos SainzToro Rosso44+39.447s0
1118Lance StrollWilliams Mercedes44+48.999s0
1226Daniil KvyatToro Rosso44+49.940s0
1330Jolyon PalmerRenault44+53.239s0
142Stoffel VandoorneMcLaren Honda44+57.078s0
1520Kevin MagnussenHaas Ferrari44+67.262s0
169Marcus EricssonSauber Ferrari44+69.711s0
1711Sergio PerezForce India Mercedes42DNF0
NC14Fernando AlonsoMcLaren Honda25DNF0
NC33Max VerstappenRed Bull Racing TAG Heuer7DNF0
NC94Pascal WehrleinSauber Ferrari2DNF0