Hamilton resists Vettel for Spa Grand Prix win

Autosport

Lewis Hamilton defeated Formula 1 title rival Sebastian Vettel in the Belgian Grand Prix to close the gap in the championship to seven points.

Mercedes driver Hamilton managed a late safety car and a tyre disadvantage to fend off Vettel with relative ease, as Daniel Ricciardo claimed a surprise third for Red Bull.

Hamilton made a good start from pole position and built a 1.7-seconds lead before stopping for new soft tyres on lap 12 of 44.

Vettel ran two laps longer in the opening stint and rejoined two seconds behind Hamilton, who cleared the second Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen the lap before Vettel pitted.

A great first full flying lap for Vettel took 1.2s out of Hamilton’s lead and thrust the Ferrari into DRS range, but Hamilton responded immediately.

He built his advantage up to two seconds, before a safety car changed the complexion of the race entirely.

Force India duo Esteban Ocon and Sergio Perez had clashed on the run to Eau Rouge on the opening lap, then came together in more dramatic fashion on lap 29.

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

That caused Perez’s tyre to deflate entering Eau Rouge and the pair littered the track with debris.

The field swapped tyres under the caution, with Hamilton taking softs to Vettel’s ultra-softs and then complaining over the radio as the safety car remained on track for three laps.

Vettel was tucked up underneath the Mercedes’ rear wing through Eau Rouge and Raidillon at the restart and pulled alongside as Hamilton defended on the run to Les Combes.

Somehow Hamilton 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.

Ricciardo started the race sixth but made his way to the podium, at a track not suited to the Renault-powered Red Bull, with a blend of fortune and opportunism.

Max Verstappen suffered a mechanical problem early on and stopped at the side of the track exiting Eau Rouge, which handed Ricciardo fifth – and ultimately fourth as well.

Kimi Raikkonen failed to slow sufficiently under the yellow flags that were thrown while Verstappen’s car was recovered and had to serve a 10s stop-go penalty.

That meant Ricciardo ran fourth under the late safety car, and used a slipstream and ultra-soft tyres at the restart to nail Valtteri Bottas’s soft-shod Mercedes into Les Combes.

Raikkonen dived inside Bottas at the same time to recover to fourth, as Bottas finished a muted fifth having run comfortably in third before the caution.

Nico Hulkenberg finished best of the rest for Renault with a quiet but excellent drive, while Romain Grosjean and Felipe Massa took advantage of the messy race to claim seventh and eighth.

Ocon, who labelled Perez a “fucking idiot” over the radio, recovered to ninth as Perez eventually retired, while Carlos Sainz Jr took the final point.

Fernando Alonso ran as high as seventh but gradually fell back down the order and eventually retired with an engine problem in his McLaren-Honda.

Race result

POSDRIVERCARLAPSGAP
1Lewis HamiltonMercedes441h24m42.820s
2Sebastian VettelFerrari442.358s
3Daniel RicciardoRed Bull/Renault4410.791s
4Kimi RaikkonenFerrari4414.471s
5Valtteri BottasMercedes4416.456s
6Nico HulkenbergRenault4428.087s
7Romain GrosjeanHaas/Ferrari4431.553s
8Felipe MassaWilliams/Mercedes4436.649s
9Esteban OconForce India/Mercedes4438.154s
10Carlos SainzToro Rosso/Renault4439.447s
11Lance StrollWilliams/Mercedes4448.999s
12Daniil KvyatToro Rosso/Renault4449.940s
13Jolyon PalmerRenault4453.239s
14Stoffel VandoorneMcLaren/Honda4457.078s
15Kevin MagnussenHaas/Ferrari441m07.262s
16Marcus EricssonSauber/Ferrari441m09.711s
17Sergio PerezForce India/Mercedes42Not running
Fernando AlonsoMcLaren/Honda25Retirement
Max VerstappenRed Bull/Renault7Retirement
Pascal WehrleinSauber/Ferrari2Retirement

Drivers’ standings

POSDRIVERPOINTS
1Sebastian Vettel220
2Lewis Hamilton213
3Valtteri Bottas179
4Daniel Ricciardo132
5Kimi Raikkonen128
6Max Verstappen67
7Sergio Perez56
8Esteban Ocon47
9Carlos Sainz36
10Nico Hulkenberg34
11Felipe Massa27
12Romain Grosjean24
13Lance Stroll18
14Kevin Magnussen11
15Fernando Alonso10
16Pascal Wehrlein5
17Daniil Kvyat4
18Stoffel Vandoorne1
19Jolyon Palmer0
20Marcus Ericsson0
21Antonio Giovinazzi0

Constructors’ standings

POSCONSTRUCTORPOINTS
1Mercedes392
2Ferrari348
3Red Bull/Renault199
4Force India/Mercedes103
5Williams/Mercedes45
6Toro Rosso/Renault40
7Haas/Ferrari35
8Renault34
9McLaren/Honda11
10Sauber/Ferrari5

Hamilton resists Vettel for Spa Grand Prix win

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