Lewis Hamilton has held off his championship rival Sebastian Vettel to close the gap in the championship to just seven points after taking victory in the Belgian Grand Prix.
The two championship rivals fought hard and cleanly in race long battle where they were able to remain within two seconds of each other. But Hamilton was able to stay in control and successfully fend off the attacks from the Ferrari.
Hamilton said “It has been a strong weekend for myself and the team,” said Hamilton. “Really grateful for all the hard work. Vettel did a great race, he was very consistently throughout.”
“It was fun to be racing against Sebastian at his best and the car at his best, we were within half a tenth every lap and that is what racing is about. They were able to keep up so I think they had better pace.”
Vettel said “It was good fun, it was really intense. I was waiting for him to make a mistake, he didn’t. He was waiting for me to, I didn’t. Restart is maybe why I am not entirely happy. I was on the outside and nowhere to go.”
Hamilton made the better start and soon started to build his gap in his opening stint of the race, before making his first stop on lap twelve re-joining in fourth on soft tyres. However, he could have waited for the safety car two laps later
Vettel followed him in shortly afterwards after running two laps longer, but Hamilton soon responded to the German’s stunning out lap, by clearing Vettel’s team-mate Kimi Raikkonen for the lead of the race. Vettel had a great out lap to get nearing the DRS range of Hamilton, who responded by upping his pace.
He built his advantage up to two seconds before a safety car changed the complexion of the race entirely. That was before the Force India’s of Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon, collided twice during the race.
The second crash, saw the Frenchman get the run on Perez on the run out of La Source, the Mexican responded by closing him down and squeezed him into the wall. Contact followed, as Ocon front wing being damaged and Perez suffering a puncture.
The Lap before, the two had a close call at Les Combes and at the beginning of the race, they had another close call too. The Frenchman using team radio to call his team-mate an “F****** idiot.”
Ocon recovered to ninth as Perez eventually retired, while Carlos Sainz Jr took the final point.
Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo took third place after making a move on Valtteri Bottas following the late safety car. The Australian started sixth but luck and opportunism saw him gain the podium.
That was partly due to the retirement of team-mate Max Verstappen, his Red Bull stopped on the exit of Eau Rouge after his engine blew. Him having to stop his car on track, inadvertently hindered the race of Raikkonen.
Raikkonen was found not to have slowed down enough to allow the marshals to recover the Dutchman’s car. He was awarded a five-second stop-and-go penalty for failing to slow sufficiently.
Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg was the best of the rest finishing seventh, ahead of Romain Grosjean and Felipe Massa took advantage of the messy race to claim seventh and eighth.
It was looking as it was a decent afternoon for Fernando Alonso, he was running well early on. But then the reality of the lack of power that the Honda has set in as he was soon easy pickings for the midfield, with him dropping down the field.
Frustration set in early on, on lap five he told his team “Embarrassing. Really embarrassing.” His engineer response was “Magnussen is 1.4seconds behind Grosjean.” “I really don’t care too much about the gaps. This is just a test.”
Lap 17: Engineer: “I suggest shape four to protect rears, just be careful of front locking.” FA: “No more radio, the rest of the race. Every car I overtake, they pass me on the next lap. I have no protection now…anyway, it doesn’t change my life.”
- Notebook – Belgian Qualifying
- BELGIAN GP – Qualifying Result
- BELGIAN GP – Hamilton edges out Vettel by two-tenths to take another record breaking pole
- Notebook – Belgian Practice
- BELGIAN GP – Hamilton Tops The Times By Two-Tenths In Second Practice Over Raikkonen And Bottas
- BELGIAN GP – Raikkonen goes fastest in first practice by five tenths over Hamilton
- TFTV – Story of 1998 Belgian Grand Prix
- Preview – Belgian Grand Prix