Hamilton dominates Belgian GPposted in F127 | 08 | 2017

    LEWIS HAMILTON DOMINATED his 200th Formula 1 weekend, bagging his record-equalling 68th pole position and winning the Belgian Grand Prix. The Mercedes driver now heads to Monza for this weekend’s Italian Grand Prix trailing the Ferrari of championship leader Sebastian Vettel by just seven points. (Related: Vettel wins in Hungary)

    Hamilton was in a class of his own all weekend. Having equalled Michael Schumacher’s current record of 68 pole positions, Hamilton led the 44-lap race on the iconic Spa-Francorchamps circuit from start-to-finish.

    Behind him, Vettel struggled to match the Mercedes’ pace. only seriously threatening Hamilton immediately after the safety car left the circuit.

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    On the restart, Vettel tucked his Ferrari up underneath the Mercedes' rear wing through Eau Rouge and Raidillon. The four-time world champ then managed to pull alongside as Hamilton defended on the run to Les Combes.

    Somehow the Mercedes driver hung on, and found enough pace on the slower tyre to bump Vettel out of DRS range and gradually extend his lead until the end to win by 2.3s.

    “It’s amazing to come back into the season and start on the right foot,” a delighted Hamilton said. “The Ferrari was very strong today and they put on a fantastic fight. We were both pushing every single lap and there was no room for error or mistake.

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    “The Safety Car was driving so slow that keeping tyre temperature was very difficult. On the restart, Sebastian got a good tow, it was very close.

    “It is fun to be racing against another team and Sebastian at his best and the car at its best – that’s what racing is all about. I want to thank the team, I would not have been able to win today without them.”

    The third step on the podium went to a surprised Daniel Ricciardo, who had started sixth on the grid. The Red Bull driver took advantage of having the faster super-soft tyres fitted to his car to overtake the Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas at the end of the safety car period.

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    The Aussie was also able to capitalise on Kimi Raikkonen’s woes. the Finn had been sitting a comfortable third before he received a 10-second stop-go penalty for failing to slow down under double waved yellow flags. He recovered though to finish fourth, one place ahead of Bottas.

    In contrast to Ricciardo’s delight, team-mate Max Verstappen’s disappointing season continued. The Dutchman’s Red Bull ground to an embarrassing halt, ironically directly in front of the grass banks packed with thousands of his fans, just after exiting Eau Rouge.

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    But the biggest talking point was the on-going inter-team clash between Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon at Force India.

    The duo first made contact on the opening lap on the run to Eau Rouge, after Perez eased to the right forcing Ocon to brush against the old pitwall (see image immediately above). Worse though was to come on lap 29.

    Fighting over a net seventh, Ocon cut back on his team-mate exiting La Source, only for Perez to swerve across and break the young Frenchman’s front wing with his right-rear tyre.

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    That caused Perez's tyre to deflate entering Eau Rouge and the pair littered the track with debris. Ocon, who labelled Perez a "fucking idiot" over the radio, recovered to finish ninth. The Mexican eventually retired.

    Nico Hulkenberg continued to score good points by bringing his Renault home in sixth, one place ahead if the Haas of Romain Grosjean, with Felipe Massa’s Williams eighth.

    The top 10 was completed by the Toro Rosso of Carlos Sainz Jr.

    The misery continued at McLaren where Fernando Alonso retired his car having run as high as seventh on the opening two laps. Team-mate Stoffel Vandoorne, finished 14th in his hone grand prix, albeit 57.078s behind Hamilton.

    F1 — Belgian Grand Prix, Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps (Result):

    1. Lewis Hamilton GBR Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport 44 laps


    2. Sebastian Vettel GER Scuderia Ferrari +2.358s


    3. Daniel Ricciardo AUS Red Bull Racing-TAG Heuer +10.791s


    4. Kimi Raikkonen FIN Scuderia Ferrari +14.471s


    5. Valtteri Bottas FIN Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport +16.456s


    6. Nico Hulkenberg GER Renault Sport F1 +28.087s


    7. Romain Grosjean FRA Haas-Ferrari +31.553s


    8. Felipe Massa BRA Williams Martini Racing-Mercedes +36.649s


    9. Esteban Ocon FRA Sahara Force India-Mercedes +38.154s


    10. Carlos Sainz Jr. ESP Scuderia Toro Rosso-Renault +39.447s


    11. Lance Stroll CAN Williams Martini Racing-Mercedes +48.999s


    12. Daniil Kvyat RUS Scuderia Toro Rosso-Renault +49.940s


    13. Jolyon Palmer GBR Renault Sport F1 +53.239s


    14. Stoffel Vandoorne BEL McLaren-Honda +57.078s


    15. Kevin Magnussen DEN Haas-Ferrari +67.262s


    16. Marcus Ericsson SWE Sauber-Ferrari +69.711s


    17. Sergio Perez MEX Sahara Force India-Mercedes + 2 laps

    Did not finish:

    Fernando Alonso ESP McLaren-Honda 25 laps

    
Max Verstappen NED Red Bull Racing-TAG Heuer 7 laps


    Pascal Wehrlein GER Sauber-Ferrari 2 laps

    Related: Scot Paul di Resta impresses on F1 return

    Keep up-to-date with all the latest news by following us on twitter.com/Scotcars

    Jim McGill

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