Hamilton takes Belgian GP victory in controlled race

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

Lewis Hamilton started from pole, and didn't leave any doubt that he was out to win the race. The Brit didn't give first place away and led Valtteri Bottas to a Mercedes 1-2 finish. Max Verstappen completed the podium by finishing in third place.

The top three for the Belgian Grand Prix started on medium tyres, with the rest of the top 10 on softs. Carlos Sainz, who qualified in 7th, wasn't in though as an exhaust issue prevented him from participating the race. The Spaniard and his McLaren were seen sitting at the sidelines when all others got off the line.

Hamilton got away nicely and kept first place from pole, followed by Bottas. The Finn got under attack from Verstappen, but when the latter was challenged by Ricciardo through Les Combes, Bottas was safe to maintain second place.

Behind Ricciardo followed Ocon who managed to get past Albon at the start. Next up was Stroll, followed by Leclerc who had a great start and first lap to move up from 13th to 8th. Completing the top 10 after the first lap were Perez and Gasly with Norris dropping out of the top 10, into 11th after going off track at Les Combes.

The next few laps saw Gasly process to 8th on hard tyres while Charles Leclerc lacked top speed and gradually dropped down the pecking order. On lap 6, he fell back behind Kvyat, just ahead of team mate Sebastian Vettel.

On lap 9, the race got neutralised with a safety car as a serious crash from Giovinazzi left a lot of debris on the track. He lost control of his Alfa Romeo Ferrari on the exit of the Pif-Paf chicane and spun into the tyre barriers. While doing so, a wheel got loose and was hit by George Russell. The Williams driver did his best to avoid it, but he was basically a passenger, and also ended up into the tyre barrier.

Both drivers, fortunately, left their cars immediately and without harm.

When the safety car left the circuit after lap 14, most drivers had pitted and changed to hards. Gasly and Perez didn't pit while Albon changed to new medium compound Pirellis.

The restart brought zero position changes, although Perez's ongoing first stint on softs started to prove problematic a few laps later, as Ricciardo and Albon soon breezed past. The Mexican then pitted on lap 19, returning on track at the very back.

At the back, Raikkonen overtook Vettel on the straight, leaving Ferrari 13th and 14th with only both Haas and the remaining Williams behind them - joined by Perez of course after he stopped. To make things exciting, both Ferrari drivers then got involved in a team battle at Les Combes. Leclerc attempted a pass, but Vettel had none of it, and after some mild touching between the two, Leclerc backed out of it.

As the race progressed, more and more drivers started to complain about their hard tyres being dead. Vettel wondered if a pitstop would make sense, given he was only losing ground to the cars ahead. Verstappen reported some vibrations while both Mercedes were seen locking up their front tyres and missing the chicane ahead of the finish line.

No driver however came in real trouble, but differing wear meant some were enjoying a pace advantage towards the end of the race compared to others. Albon for instance got challenged by Ocon and Norris, with Ocon taking 5th in the very last lap.

The other Renault with Ricciardo behind the wheel also went strong in the end, with the Australian setting fastest lap, snatching a hattrick away from Lewis Hamilton as he ominously won.

The Driver of the Day award went to Pierre Gasly for finishing a strong 8th, even with the safety car not coming at the best time for him.

Results

Pos.No.DriverCarLapsTimePts
144Lewis HamiltonMercedes AMG441:24:08.76125
277Valtteri BottasMercedes AMG44+8.448s18
333Max VerstappenRed Bull Racing Honda44+15.455s15
43Daniel RicciardoRenault44+18.877s13
531Esteban OconRenault44+40.650s10
623Alexander AlbonRed Bull Racing Honda44+42.712s8
74Lando NorrisMcLaren Renault44+43.774s6
810Pierre GaslyAlphaTauri Honda44+47.371s4
918Lance StrollRacing Point BWT Mercedes44+52.603s2
1011Sergio PerezRacing Point BWT Mercedes44+53.179s1
1126Daniil KvyatAlphaTauri Honda44+70.200s0
127Kimi RäikkönenAlfa Romeo Racing Ferrari44+71.504s0
135Sebastian VettelFerrari44+72.894s0
1416Charles LeclercFerrari44+74.920s0
158Romain GrosjeanHaas Ferrari44+76.793s0
166Nicholas LatifiWilliams Mercedes44+77.795s0
1720Kevin MagnussenHaas Ferrari44+85.540s0
NC99Antonio GiovinazziAlfa Romeo Racing Ferrari9DNF0
NC63George RussellWilliams Mercedes9DNF0
NC55Carlos SainzMcLaren Renault0DNS0

Ricciardo given an additional championship point for fastest race lap