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Hamilton keeps Vettel away to win Belgian Grand Prix in 200th F1 start

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Hamilton keeps Vettel away to win Belgian Grand Prix in 200th F1 start
Aug 27, 2017, 2:55 PM

Lewis Hamilton won the Formula 1 Belgian Grand Prix in his 200th start with a start-to-finish lead over runner-up Sebastian Vettel.

Lewis Hamilton won the Formula 1 Belgian Grand Prix in his 200th start with a start-to-finish lead over runner-up Sebastian Vettel. Hamilton held off his title rival on soft tyres as Vettel gave chase on ultra-softs after a Safety Car period on lap 30, to take victory and reduce the gap in the drivers' standings to seven points.

Daniel Ricciardo took third having swept ahead of Valtteri Bottas and Kimi Raikkonen on the restart as Bottas ran wide at Les Combes to finish fifth and Raikkonen retained fourth place.

Both Force Indias collided to trigger that Safety Car period, with Sergio Perez ultimately retiring as an internal inquiry surely awaits the hot-headed pair.

Hamilton led the field up Eau Rouge in a mostly clean start with few incidents as Vettel followed. The Force India duo avoided a serious collision, banging wheels before Eau Rouge on the opening lap, but nothing serious occurred with Esteban Ocon having stolen a place off his team-mate in the melee.

On lap eight, the sea of orange fans lining the Kemmel Straight witnessed Max Verstappen grind to a halt as the young Dutchman shook his head as his Renault power unit failed.

“Unbelievable,” said an exasperated Verstappen. Yet this was his sixth retirement in 12 races and his Renault-powered Red Bull's frailty has become as recurrent a tale as McLaren's in 2017.

And indeed, by lap 26 Alonso had retired his McLaren to the garage as the fragile Honda engine eclipsed his opening lap heroics: a brilliant start to jump from 11th to seventh at the expense of the Force Indias and Renaults.

In that period, Raikkonen was made to take a 10-second stop-and-go penalty from fourth for ignoring yellow flags as Verstappen pulled over earlier, gifting Daniel Ricciardo the position.

Pitting from the lead for soft tyres on lap 13, Hamilton had undercut Vettel by two laps but when Vettel rejoined, the gap was within a second between the two as he began to chase effectively on the hardest compound available. The lead battle was still open at this point but there was uncertainty in the air as neither Mercedes nor Ferrari knew how long their soft tyres would last.

Yet, on lap 29, red mist descended on the Force Indias, with Perez – who had earlier taken a five-second penalty for running wide at Les Combes – battling his team-mate for eighth place. Perez cut off Ocon in a clumsy, dangerous move on the run-up to Eau Rouge and his right-rear tyre was shorn off, with Ocon's front wing scattered into pieces.

The Safety Car was pulled out on lap 30 and an audibly irritated Hamilton pitted for softs, with no ultra-softs remaining, while Vettel took the ultra-softs as the field threw their strategy plans away and took the opportunity for a stop.

Hamilton slowed the field in an effort to cool down brakes and tyres of his rivals as the gravity of his situation set in. The field fanned together and apart as Hamilton dictated the pace, knowing his restart would be crucial in taking victory.

On the restart, Ricciardo picked up the tow of those in front of him to slip into third after Hamilton held off Vettel, pushing him wide at Eau Rouge and pulling ahead with the brunt of his Mercedes' power on the Kemmel straight.

Team-mate Bottas went wide at Les Combes as Raikkonen cemented fourth and Ricciardo's podium suddenly grew within reach.

Vettel couldn't close the gap, even with the faster tyre, and Hamilton pushed those soft tyres to retain his lead, aware that the ultra-softs would drop-off late on. Through the middle sector, Hamilton consistently made up a tenth on his baying rival and by the last lap he had widened the gap to 1.7s.

The straight-line speed advantage of the Mercedes had paid dividends here, and both would have been on the podium had Bottas not run wide on the restart – he finished fifth.

Hamilton ultimately took his fifth victory of the season by just 2.358 seconds in what was an astonishing final battle. And Ricciardo, owing to another excellent restart and a lack of the power failures which plague Verstappen, snatched his sixth podium of the season.

Renault's Nico Hulkenberg didn't have too much trouble against the Force Indias, which were betting on a two-stopper until their intra-team tiff, nor did he have much to contend with against the ailing McLaren of Alonso which briefly ran ahead of him at the beginning of the race. Again, Hulkenberg finished top of the midfield in a deserved sixth place.

Romain Grosjean took seventh, owing to Verstappen's earlier failure and the Force India fury ahead of him mid-race, while Felipe Massa did the same to put his Williams eighth.

The duo of Ocon and Perez will be lectured and possibly reprimanded but the rivalry between the two has reached boiling point. Their actions shaped the Belgian GP for all and Perez ultimately retired with team-mate Ocon finishing a lukewarm ninth ahead of Toro Rosso's Carlos Sainz Jr who took a point in 10th.

On a day when the VJM10s were seemingly set-up perfectly for the power intensive circuit of Spa, this was a wasted opportunity for the pink pair.

Jolyon Palmer faded to 13th on a day where his Renault looked more potent than before, as only McLaren's Vandoorne (14th), Haas' Kevin Magnussen in 15th (who locked up on the Safety Car restart) and Sauber's Marcus Ericsson finished behind. His team-mate, Pascal Wehrlein, became the first of the four retirees as he finished only two laps.

Have your say on the Formula 1 Belgian Grand Prix in the comment section below.

Results:

POSITION

DRIVER

CAR

LAPS

GAP

1

Lewis Hamilton

Mercedes

44

1h24m42.820s

2

Sebastian Vettel

Ferrari

44

2.358s

3

Daniel Ricciardo

Red Bull/Renault

44

10.791s

4

Kimi Raikkonen

Ferrari

44

14.471s

5

Valtteri Bottas

Mercedes

44

16.456s

6

Nico Hulkenberg

Renault

44

28.087s

7

Romain Grosjean

Haas

44

23h35m17.s

8

Felipe Massa

Williams

44

23h35m17.s

9

Esteban Ocon

Force India

44

23h35m17.s

10

Carlos Sainz Jr

Toro Rosso

44

23h35m17.s

11

Lance Stroll

Williams

44

23h35m17.s

12

Daniil Kvyat

Toro Rosso

44

23h35m17.s

13

Jolyon Palmer

Renault

44

23h35m17.s

14

Stoffel Vandoorne

McLaren

44

23h35m17.s

15

Kevin Magnussen

Haas

44

23h35m17.s

16

Marcus Ericsson

Sauber

44

23h35m17.s

-

Sergio Perez

Force India

42

Retired

-

Fernando Alonso

McLaren

25

Retired

-

Max Verstappen

Red Bull

7

Retired

-

Pascal Wehrlein

Sauber

2

Retired

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