Sebastian Vettel has put in a dominate drive to beat his championship rival Lewis Hamilton to victory at the Belgian Grand Prix. The Ferrari driver got the jump on the Mercedes on the way down to the first corner and then made gap stick after Les Combe using the tow along the Kemmel Straight.
The race started in dramatic style as a shunt into La Source saw many cars retire after Nico Hulkenberg lost control going into the back of the McLaren of Fernando Alonso who went flying over the Sauber of Charles Leclerc.
The accident mirrored a similar accident at the start of the 2012 race, it appears as Hulkenberg got his breaking wrong starting the chain reaction and saw all three retire and bring out the safety car. Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo was tagged in the incident breaking the rear wing, Kimi Raikkonen also suffered a puncher from the incident, leading to their retirements.
Alonso told Sky Sports “I saw Hulkenberg in the mirrors with all four tyres locked and he was coming at very high speed There is no way you can avoid that. He hit my car and then I went over Charles. But on the positive side, we are all ok, with Charles, with the Halo or whatever, it’s good news that all three of us are ok.”
Hulkenberg added “No problem [on the car], it’s just incredible to find out on lap one again how sensitive these cars are with aerodynamics. When you have a few cars bunch up in front of you how much grip and load you lose.”
“When I hit the brakes, I instantly locked up the front wheels and was sliding into Fernando. Probably a misjudgment from my side, a bit too late on the brakes, a bit too keen. Frustrating for him, Charles as well, but also for myself.”
The stewards decided that the German was responsible for the incident and awarded Hulkenberg a ten-place penalty for next weekend’s Italian Grand Prix.
When the race resumed following the safety car, Vettel soon took control leaving Hamilton in the distance to drive to victory. The German’s win gives Ferrari there first win at Spa since 2009, a race also marked with chaos at the start.
While Hamilton tried to catch Vettel, the race appeared to go into the normal pattern. The Englishman began to chip away at the Ferrari’s led, however, he was close but not enough to close down to pass Vettel, the gap started around one and a half seconds.
By the end of the race, Vettel opened up the gap to about five seconds over Hamilton, while Hamilton held a steady thirty-second gap over Verstappen.
Red Bull’s Max Verstappen was left miles behind the two four times champions. The Dutchman made a perfect start to his home race, getting the jump on both of the Force India’s before passing Esteban Ocon at Les Combes.
The Force India managed to finish in fifth and sixth with Sergio Perez ahead of Ocon. The points are very important for the team, following the take over the team lost all the points scored in the first half of the season, but have moved into ninth.
Ocon became an easy target after getting past Hamilton, he did, however, use the slipstream to try and overtake the two champions. Then he became stuck behind his teammate after Perez passed him down the inside.
Valtteri Bottas recovered from the back of the grid to finish fourth, the Finn was able to gain following the first lap shunt. Bottas climbed his way through the field and made his way to fifth before passing Perez in the closing stages. Bottas also ran into the back of Sergey Sirotkin at the start earning himself a five second penalty, but that doesn’t effect the race result.
It was a solid race for Haas with Romain Grosjean seventh and Kevin Magnussen eighth, it was a very low key but an important race for the US team as they move to within six points of Renault in the constructors. Renault didn’t score points for the second time this season, Hulkenberg retired in the first lap shunt and Carlos Sainz only managed eleventh.
- Notebook – Belgian Qualifying
- Belgian GP – Qualifying Result
- BELGIAN GP – Lewis Hamilton beats Sebastian Vettel with a dominant wet drive to pole
- Notebook – Belgian Practice
- BELGIAN GP – Raikkonen keeps Ferrari on top in FP2 a tenth faster than Hamilton
- BELGIAN GP – Vettel edges out Verstappen in first practice going fastest by a tenth
- Prixview – Belgian Grand Prix