Hamilton extends championship lead thanks to Spa victory

Hamilton Spa 2015 race

Reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton produced a masterclass display at Spa-Francorchamps to record victory number 39 and thereby extending his lead in the championship from Nico Rosberg to 28 points.

The Mercedes driver made a good start from the grid and held off the challenge from Sergio Perez in the Force India at Les Combes to lead.

Rosberg was slow off the grid, dropping down to fifth, and though he recovered to second and started closing the gap to Hamilton, he was unable to get close enough to challenge.

Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel was on course to complete the podium, after attempting a one-stop strategy that required a 29-lap stint on the mediums, but a right-rear tyre failure with a few laps to go ended his race.

That allowed Romain Grosjean, who had been chasing Vettel, to give Lotus its first podium of the season – a big boost considering uncertain future and legal battles inside the team.

The start was initially aborted when Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg suffered mechanical issues on the grid, waving his hands to signal he would be unable to get away.

The field went round for a second formation lap while Hulkenberg was pushed into the pits where he retired the car.

At the second start, the field got away with Perez battling Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo into La Source and coming out on top to take second.

Red Bull ran its low downforce setting at Spa, which allowed Daniil Kvyat and Ricciardo to attack on the straights.

Kvyat charged to fourth after going out of sequence on tyre strategy, but last year’s winner Ricciardo was in contention for a podium, running third early on, before slowing and retiring on the exit of the Bus Stop. A brief virtual safety car was required while the Red Bull was taken away.

Perez secured his best result of the season with fifth in the Force India ahead of Williams’s Felipe Massa and Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen, who rescued some points after starting P16.

Max Verstappen tried a move on Raikkonen at Les Combes on the last lap but ran out of space and had to settle for eighth, ahead of Valtteri Bottas, whose race unravelled when Williams mistakenly fitted his car with three soft tyres and a medium, which earned him a drive-through penalty.

Sauber fitted the 2015-spec Ferrari engine to its cars for the first time this season with Marcus Ericsson benefiting from Vettel’s late tyre failure to snatch the final point with tenth, one position ahead of team-mate Felipe Nasr.

Vettel was classified P12 for his first non-scoring finish of the season.

McLaren’s Jenson Button and Fernando Alonso made brilliant getaways, on a weekend when drivers had to find their own clutch bite point under new rules.

Alonso climbed from last to P12 while Button rose from P19 to P14, but duo struggled on the high-speed Spa circuit and finished P13 and P14 respectively.

Carlos Sainz Jr pulled into the pits after the formation lap, citing a loss of power, and though Toro Rosso managed to get him going, he retired with 11 laps to go.

Lotus’s Pastor Maldonado was unable to take advantage of his top ten start as he parked the car early in the race with a mechanical problem.

So another Mercedes one-two with the championship leader winning at Spa-Francorchamps for the first time.

Congratulations to Lotus in scoring a podium finish with Romain Grosjean. Finally a positive result considering the future of the Enstone-based team.

Mercedes Spa 2015 race

Belgian Grand Prix, race results after 43 laps:

1    Lewis Hamilton    Mercedes    1h23m40.387s
2    Nico Rosberg    Mercedes    2.058s
3    Romain Grosjean    Lotus-Mercedes    37.988s
4    Daniil Kvyat    Red Bull-Renault    45.692s
5    Sergio Perez    Force India-Mercedes    53.997s
6    Felipe Massa    Williams-Mercedes    55.283s
7    Kimi Raikkonen    Ferrari    55.703s
8    Max Verstappen    Toro Rosso-Renault    56.076s
9    Valtteri Bottas    Williams-Mercedes    1m01.040s
10    Marcus Ericsson    Sauber-Ferrari    1m31.234s
11    Felipe Nasr    Sauber-Ferrari    1m42.311s
12    Sebastian Vettel    Ferrari    Tyre
13    Fernando Alonso    McLaren-Honda    1 Lap
14    Jenson Button    McLaren-Honda    1 Lap
15    Roberto Merhi    Marussia-Ferrari    1 Lap
16    Will Stevens    Marussia-Ferrari    1 Lap
–    Carlos Sainz    Toro Rosso-Renault    Retirement
–    Daniel Ricciardo    Red Bull-Renault    Retirement
–    Pastor Maldonado    Lotus-Mercedes    Retirement
–    Nico Hulkenberg    Force India-Mercedes    Not started

Drivers’ standings:

1    Lewis Hamilton    227
2    Nico Rosberg    199
3    Sebastian Vettel    160
4    Kimi Raikkonen    82
5    Felipe Massa    82
6    Valtteri Bottas    79
7    Daniil Kvyat    57
8    Daniel Ricciardo    51
9    Romain Grosjean    38
10    Max Verstappen    26
11    Sergio Perez    25
12    Nico Hulkenberg    24
13    Felipe Nasr    16
14    Pastor Maldonado    12
15    Fernando Alonso    11
16    Carlos Sainz    9
17    Marcus Ericsson    7
18    Jenson Button    6
19    Roberto Merhi    0
20    Will Stevens    0

Constructors’ standings:

1    Mercedes    426
2    Ferrari    242
3    Williams-Mercedes    161
4    Red Bull-Renault    108
5    Lotus-Mercedes    50
6    Force India-Mercedes    49
7    Toro Rosso-Renault    35
8    Sauber-Ferrari    23
9    McLaren-Honda    17
10    Marussia-Ferrari    0

Next race: Italian Grand Prix, Monza. September 4-6.

5 thoughts to “Hamilton extends championship lead thanks to Spa victory”

  1. Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg was annoyed at himself over a poor start. Autosport.com has the story.

    Nico Rosberg admitted he “completely messed up” at the Belgian Grand Prix start and missed a chance to close on Mercedes team-mate and Formula 1 title rival Lewis Hamilton.

    In the first race for F1’s tweaked start rules – under which drivers are not allowed radio advice on the ideal clutch settings – Rosberg dropped from second to fifth on the run to the first corner at Spa.

    Polesitter Hamilton meanwhile made a clean getaway and was eight seconds in front by the time Rosberg was back up to second place.

    Although that gap came down as low as 2s later on, Hamilton always had enough in hand and stretched his championship lead to 28 points.

    “I completely messed up the start, which was very annoying,” said Rosberg.

    “The start was really bad so I need to practice that a bit more.

    “When I had clear air in the front, I chased Lewis, I was always coming close, apart from one phase in the second stint when he pulled away.

    “I tried to hunt Lewis down but it wasn’t enough.”

    Rosberg felt the extra formation lap required after Nico Hulkenberg’s Force India hit trouble on the original grid was a key factor in his clutch handling going awry.

    “We did another formation, which puts more temperature in and things change, that also caught me out,” he said.

    “But it’s my job to do it well and I didn’t do it well.”

    Hamilton said he never felt under too much pressure from Rosberg even as his team-mate gained.

    “It was really just about utilising the tyres and not having to push on the out-laps,” he said.

    “I took it quite easy on three or four laps in areas when Nico could be closing, then I started pushing.

    “I was never in a position when I was nervous.”

  2. Following that late tyre puncture that cost Sebastian Vettel a podium finish, the Ferrari driver was left feeling angry saying this Pirelli issue was ‘unacceptable’. Autosport.com has the full details.

    Sebastian Vettel has called Formula 1 tyre supplier Pirelli’s performance “unacceptable” after a blowout on his Ferrari cost him third in the Belgian Grand Prix.

    Ferrari was attempting a unique one-stop strategy in the Spa F1 race, with Vettel changing from softs to mediums on lap 14 and then running to the finish on lap 43.

    He was fending off Romain Grosjean for third place on the penultimate lap when his right rear tyre gave way on the Kemmel Straight.

    A furious Vettel said he could have been badly injured had the tyre blown at Eau Rouge.

    “Things like that are not allowed to happen,” he told the BBC.

    “If it happened 200 metres earlier, I’m not standing here now, I’d be stuck in Eau Rouge.

    “I don’t know what else needs to happen.

    “I tell you what’s upsetting. What’s upsetting for one thing is the result. We deserved to finish on the podium.

    “The other thing, like I said, if this happens earlier…

    “[Tyres are] a theme that keeps coming around, that nobody is mentioning, but is unacceptable.”

    Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg had a tyre blow approaching Blanchimont during Friday practice.

    Although Pirelli said that failure was due to an external cut in the tyre rather than a structural failure, Rosberg remained sceptical.

    Vettel said he shared his countryman’s concerns.

    “What was the answer [from Pirelli]? The same as every time: ‘yeah, well there was a cut, debris, there might be something wrong with the bodywork, the driver went wide’,” said Vettel.

    “If Nico tells us he didn’t go off the track, then he didn’t go off the track.

    “Why should he lie to us?

    “It’s the same with me, I didn’t go off the track, just out of the blue the tyre explodes.

    “If this happened earlier then I’m f****d.

    “It’s probably not as bad as it was at Silverstone some years ago [when Pirelli had a spate of failures in 2013] but it’s not acceptable.”

  3. Lewis Hamilton has described his victory at the Belgian Grand Prix as “a dream” after extending his championship lead.

    The defending champion led from pole position and was never under serious threat from Nico Rosberg as he led home a Mercedes one-two to open up a 28-point gap at the top of the standings. Having been able to extend his advantage over Rosberg whenever his team-mate got within 2.5s, Hamilton praised the car given to him by Mercedes.

    “For me it was just an amazing weekend,” Hamilton said. “An incredible job done by the team throughout the pit stops, throughout the weekend, the guys back at the factory … today was a dream. The whole weekend the car was fantastic.

    “Nico obviously had good pace but I was able to answer most of the time, so I was fairly relaxed at the front. The car was feeling great, so it was really about looking after the tyres. Particularly at the end when I saw one of the tyres had blown on another car, I was being very cautious so in the last two laps Nico was allowed to close the gap. I felt really under control the whole way and as I said a lot of good assistance from the team, so it felt like 100% all weekend.”

    And Hamilton says he is pleased to be able to put last year’s race behind him after he collided with Rosberg and claimed his team-mate had allowed contact to happen on purpose.

    “At the moment it’s a lot different to last year, obviously at this point. Last year we came away from here and it was a very difficult time, but after that great pace and great results. So for sure that’s the goal, to continue that from here.”

    Source: F1i

  4. Ferrari have commented that Sebastian Vettel’s tyre strategy was not crazy. The four-time world champion was heading for a podium finish at Spa, but suffered a tyre failure in the final moments of the Belgian Grand Prix. Autosport.com has the story.

    Ferrari Formula 1 team boss Maurizio Arrivabene says there was nothing “stupid or crazy” about the one-stop strategy that ended in tyre failure for Sebastian Vettel when set for third.

    Vettel changed from softs to mediums on lap 14 of the 43-lap race and was trying to run to the finish when his right rear tyre gave way on the Kemmel Straight on the penultimate lap.

    Although Vettel was the only driver to try a one-stop tactic in a race Pirelli had suggested would require two tyre changes, Arrivabene said the decision was based on solid data that the tyres would last.

    “The strategy was absolutely right,” he said.

    “I want to clear that up immediately, because when we do the strategy we have the data, and the data is based on the strategy.

    “Seb is of course disappointed. When you have one and a half laps and you can see the third position on the podium and you are going to lose it suddenly of course you are disappointed.

    “But I tell you the strategy normally, even if aggressive, is based on clear data.

    “We are not so stupid or crazy to take a risk for the driver if you are not reading quite well the data.”

    Arrivabene said Ferrari had gone into the race planning one stop for Vettel rather than adopting the strategy as the grand prix unfolded.

    “It was our main plan before the race. We decided that at 11 o’clock this morning,” he said.

    He insisted there was no warning from Pirelli during the race of any potential problem.

    “All the teams have an engineer from Pirelli, and what do you think that engineer is doing?” Arrivabene said.

    “He’s not there to chew chewing gum, he’s there to check the tyres and to read the data from the team.”

    Although Vettel was vociferous in his criticism of Pirelli after the race, Arrivabene said he preferred not to comment on the tyre manufacturer’s products.

    “I don’t want to open any kind of fight. I don’t want to start a story going back and forwards,” he said.

  5. Williams has apologised to Valtteri Bottas following the pitstop blunder that potentially cost the Finn a top-four finish in Formula 1’s Belgian Grand Prix.

    Bottas was forced to serve a drive-through penalty as his team incorrectly fitted a medium tyre to the right-rear wheel among a set of softs, leaving him ninth.

    Williams’s head of vehicle performance Rob Smedley could offer no valid explanation for what unfolded, but also is refusing to point any accusing fingers at those to blame.

    “There are two things we should do – the first is apologise to Valtteri because obviously we absolutely ruined his race as he was there with Sebastian [Vettel] and [Romain] Grosjean before that happened,” Smedley told Sky Sports.

    “Secondly, what we shouldn’t do is blame individuals. We need to go away as a group of people and look at what happened.”

    Asked by AUTOSPORT for his feelings on the incident, Bottas replied: “It’s very disappointing, I’ve never heard of anything like this happening.

    “But what can you do? For sure that cost us a lot, looking at the times in the end without that penalty we might have been fifth or something as I was at the front of that pack.

    “But our pace was not enough to be top three, which was our aim, so it was not our day.”

    Bottas and team-mate Felipe Massa started from third and sixth on the grid, but could only finish sixth and ninth.

    “We’re massively disappointed with it,” added Smedley.

    “”Unfortunately, the race didn’t unfold for us very well right from the start. The starts themselves weren’t great, wheelspin with both cars and we lost positions.

    “The biggest issue we then had was the first stint pace. We couldn’t get the pace out of the car, [due to the] front tyres graining more than likely, and that is what put us on the back foot.

    “That’s why we were passed so easily and fell back into the clutches of the sixth, seventh, eighth positions, or whatever it was.

    “Then afterwards, when we pitted the pace was all right. I guess what we would have done differently is slightly different preparation for the front tyres on that first stint.

    “That’s what we need to address. We need to go away and understand what it is with our car that sometimes the front tyres don’t work.”

    Source: Autosport.com

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