Hamilton resists Vettel challenge to win Belgian Grand Prix

Lewis Hamilton beat his Formula 1 title rival Sebastian Vetel in the Belgian Grand Prix to reduce the gap in the championship to seven points.

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

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 Kimi Raikkonen the lap before Vettel pitted.

A great first full flying lap for Vettel took 1.2 seconds 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 seventh position, 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 safety car period, 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 speed on the slower tyre to bump Vettel out of DRS range and gradually extend his lead until the end to win by 2.3 seconds.

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 ten-second 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 “f***ing 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.

Belgian Grand Prix race result:

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-Ferrari    44    23h35m17.s
8    Felipe Massa    Williams-Mercedes    44    23h35m17.s
9    Esteban Ocon    Force India-Mercedes    44    23h35m17.s
10    Carlos Sainz    Toro Rosso-Renault    44    23h35m17.s
11    Lance Stroll    Williams-Mercedes    44    23h35m17.s
12    Daniil Kvyat    Toro Rosso-Renault    44    23h35m17.s
13    Jolyon Palmer    Renault    44    23h35m17.s
14    Stoffel Vandoorne    McLaren-Honda    44    23h35m17.s
15    Kevin Magnussen    Haas-Ferrari    44    23h35m17.s
16    Marcus Ericsson    Sauber-Ferrari    44    23h35m17.s
17    Sergio Perez    Force India-Mercedes    42    Not running
–    Fernando Alonso    McLaren-Honda    25    Retirement
–    Max Verstappen    Red Bull-Renault    7    Retirement
–    Pascal Wehrlein    Sauber-Ferrari    2    Retirement

Drivers’ standings:

1    Sebastian Vettel    220
2    Lewis Hamilton    213
3    Valtteri Bottas    179
4    Daniel Ricciardo    132
5    Kimi Raikkonen    128
6    Max Verstappen    67
7    Sergio Perez    56
8    Esteban Ocon    47
9    Carlos Sainz    36
10    Nico Hulkenberg    34
11    Felipe Massa    27
12    Romain Grosjean    24
13    Lance Stroll    18
14    Kevin Magnussen    11
15    Fernando Alonso    10
16    Pascal Wehrlein    5
17    Daniil Kvyat    4
18    Stoffel Vandoorne    1
19    Jolyon Palmer    0
20    Marcus Ericsson    0
21    Antonio Giovinazzi    0

Constructors’ standings:

1    Mercedes    392
2    Ferrari    348
3    Red Bull-Renault    199
4    Force India-Mercedes    103
5    Williams-Mercedes    45
6    Toro Rosso-Renault    40
7    Haas-Ferrari    35
8    Renault    34
9    McLaren-Honda    11
10    Sauber-Ferrari    5

7 thoughts on “Hamilton resists Vettel challenge to win Belgian Grand Prix

  1. Belgian Grand Prix race review as reported by Formula1.com.

    Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton took a narrow victory over Sebastian Vettel in Sunday’s 2017 Formula 1 Pirelli Belgian Grand Prix to slash the Ferrari driver’s championship lead from 14 to seven points. Just 2.3s separated the title rivals at the chequered flag, as Daniel Ricciardo secured an unexpected podium for Red Bull with third place at Spa-Francorchamps.

    Hamilton did just what he needed to in his 200th Grand Prix as he scored his 58th career success, but it was an intense nip-and-tuck battle all the way, with Vettel never more than two seconds adrift throughout the 44 laps, and sometimes a lot closer than that.

    Kimi Raikkonen was fourth in the second Ferrari, the Finn having been given a 10-second stop-go penalty for ignoring yellow flags when the luckless Max Verstappen retired his Red Bull with power loss on Lap 8.

    Valtteri Bottas finished a disappointed fifth for Mercedes, while Nico Hulkenberg scored his third sixth place of the year for Renault, followed home by the Haas of Romain Grosjean and the Williams of Felipe Massa.

    Esteban Ocon survived contact with Force India team mate Sergio Perez not once but twice in two separate clashes on the run down to Eau Rouge to take the flag in ninth, with Toro Rosso’s Carlos Sainz completing the top ten.

    Hamilton took charge from the start as Vettel pushed in his wake ahead of Bottas, Raikkonen, Verstappen and Ricciardo. But much to his 40,000 Dutch fans’ dismay the luckless Verstappen lasted only seven laps before coasting to a halt partway up the Kemmel straight with power loss.

    Hamilton retained control until another incident between Force India drivers Ocon and Perez, who had already rubbed wheels (and in Ocon’s case the wall) going down the hill to Eau Rouge on the opening lap, brought out the safety car on the 30th lap.

    This time Perez had again squeezed his team mate towards the old pit wall, and they made firmer contact. Perez sustained a punctured right-rear tyre, while Ocon lost a chunk of his front wing. There was debris everywhere, hence the safety car.

    Where all but supersoft runners Grosjean and Sainz went for ultrasoft tyres in the ensuing rash of pit stops, Mercedes put their drivers on softs, and it seemed that they might have thrown away the race.

    Bottas got things wrong at the restart on the 34th lap and was passed on the left on the run to Les Combes by the ever-opportunistic Ricciardo and on the right by Raikkonen.

    As one Mercedes fell back, however, the other forged ahead again, and against expectations Hamilton was able to contain Vettel’s challenge, even though the Ferrari was on the theoretically faster rubber.

    The result brings him within seven points of the German, 213 to 220, with Bottas third on 179, Ricciardo on 132, and Raikkonen on 128.

    Behind them, Hulkenberg easily took sixth, but a mid-race change of strategy helped Grosjean to take seventh for Haas ahead of Massa, whose Williams fended off Ocon’s damaged Force India to the flag. Sainz salvaged 10th and a point for Toro Rosso, as Williams’ Lance Stroll led Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kvyat, Renault’s Jolyon Palmer, McLaren’s Stoffel Vandoorne and Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson home.

    Perez’s car was withdrawn late in the race, joining McLaren’s Fernando Alonso, Verstappen and Sauber’s Pascal Wehrlein on the retirements list.

  2. With yet another clash between Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon, Force India has commented that the pair are no longer free to race. Motorsport.com has the news story.

    Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon will not be allowed to race each other in future after the Force India Formula 1 teammates collided again at the Belgian Grand Prix, says Otmar Szafnauer.

    Perez appeared to squeeze Ocon towards the wall on the run down to Eau Rouge, with the pair making contact that broke Ocon’s front wing and punctured Perez’s right-rear tyre.

    The incident comes after the pair collided in Baku earlier this year, with both cars damaged.

    Force India said at the time that both were responsible and that the pair would still be free to race each other – but after their collision at Spa, chief operating officer Szafnauer said the approach would change.

    “I only saw what you saw [on TV], but it looked like Sergio squeezed Esteban into the wall and came out the loser of that scrap,” Szafnauer told Sky Sports.

    “In the future they’ll never have that opportunity again. We’ve let them race up until now. If they can’t do it in a manner which is good for the team, then they won’t be racing anymore.

    “They shouldn’t be coming together. We’ve given them the latitude to race and I’ve always said that.

    “We’ve told them if it happens again, if a Baku-type incident happens again, then we’ll be calling the race from the pitwall in the future.

    “If we stay fourth it will cost us nothing, but it’s definitely cost us points.”

    The incident occurred shortly after Ocon has complained that Force India had pitted Perez before him despite the former having track position.

    The team said it was because Perez had a penalty, which he was given for leaving the track and gaining an advantage but to “stick with him, you have fresher tyres”.

    When it was put to him that fans want to see racing, Szafnauer agreed but insisted teammates simply shouldn’t be making contact.

    “For sure, which is why we let them race,” he said. “But once it gets to the point of safety margins and crashing into each other we’ve got to take it into our own hands.”

    The clash was not the only Belgian GP incident involving the pair as an opening-lap incident tussle had seen Ocon squeezed towards that very same wall heading into Eau Rouge – with no significant damage sustained on that occasion.

    Both Ocon and Perez recovered to the pits after their second clash, with Ocon finishing the race ninth but Perez being called into the pits to retire the car with two laps to go.

  3. Force India driver Esteban Ocon says Sergio Perez is putting their lives at risk with collision. Motorsport.com has the details.

    Esteban Ocon says Force India Formula 1 teammate Sergio Perez risked both their lives in their Belgian Grand Prix collision.

    The pair collided on the run to Eau Rouge twice in the Spa F1 race.

    They escaped the first contact without damage, despite Ocon hitting both Perez and the support race pitwall, but the second incident gave Ocon front wing damage and Perez a puncture.

    The clash follows discord over team orders in the Canadian GP in June and then a collision in the following Azerbaijan race, and has already prompted Force India to declare they will no longer be free to race each other.

    Ocon said Perez’s driving was “just too much” as he defended following their second pitstops.

    “Risking our lives for nothing. He risked my life in there, at 300km/h [186mph] down to Eau Rouge,” Ocon told Channel 4. “That’s the first thing, the second thing is we lost a lot of points.

    “He’s supposed to be a professional driver, today he didn’t show it. He has not done that with any other teammates, I don’t know why he’s doing it with me.

    “I’m going to go and speak to him man to man and tell him the truth. He’s going to have a child. I don’t know if he wants to die or something. It’s just ridiculous.”

    Asked if he thought Perez knew he was drawing alongside in their second clash, Ocon replied: “Of course he knew. I accept the first one. We were three-wide, maybe he didn’t see me – even if I think he saw me.”

    Perez said he was aware Ocon was attacking him in the second incident but believed he would not try to pass until the Kemmel Straight.

    “I knew he was there but I also knew there was no more space to go, so I just protected my line,” said Perez. “I thought he was obviously going to make the manoeuvre after Eau Rouge.

    “I didn’t do anything different that I wouldn’t have done to any other drivers. No other driver would have done differently.”

    He did accept blame for their first-lap coming together, which he said happened as he tried to regain momentum following a poor getaway caused by picking the wrong start mode.

    “He probably feels I did it on purpose, probably that’s why on the second one he came into contact,” said Perez.

    “The first one was totally my fault, I didn’t see him. I apologise for that one. The second one, he was too optimistic and there was no need to touch there.”

    Perez acknowledged their relationship had been poor since the Baku tangle that cost both a podium shot.

    “We have to look back, remember Baku,” he added. “There he put me in the wall.

    “I’m not saying I did it because of that but tension started back then. It’s the first time I’ve had this in my career and hopefully we can sort it out and start scoring good points for the team.”

  4. This was a frustrating race for Max Verstappen. Yet again the Red Bull driver was forced to retire. Verstappen was left feeling angry to be “competing” with Fernando Alonso on another non-finish. Motorsport.com has the story.

    Red Bull’s Max Verstappen says it’s “unbelievable” that he’s vying with McLaren’s Fernando Alonso for the highest number of retirements during F1 2017.

    Verstappen was forced out of an early fifth place in the Belgian Grand Prix due to a cylinder failure in his Renault internal combustion engine, which ensures he remains bottom of the drivers in the ‘big three’ teams.

    It was his sixth DNF of the season, and also raises the likelihood of a grid penalty for the next race at Monza. Two of Verstappen’s retirements have been for collisions, with all seven of Alonso’s being for mechanical reasons.

    “It’s now 50 per cent of the races [ended] in retirement,” Verstappen told NBC. “It’s unbelievable, like I said on the radio, I just can’t believe that those things happen.

    “Of course, in the beginning, you say maybe it’s just bad luck or whatever, [but] I’m actually competing against Fernando in terms of retirements. It’s unbelievable, I’m not happy at all.

    “I am very disappointed for retiring and [for] the fans who buy an expensive ticket to watch and I retire after eight laps. No words.”

    When asked if this might influence his future plans, and whether he’d consider leaving Red Bull Racing to find a more reliable car, he replied: “To be honest, I’m not even thinking about that, we just need to solve it within the team. Because for a top team those things can’t happen.

    “I’m not too worried about the future, what’s happening next year, I just want to finish races and have good results. We worked very hard all weekend, and then again you just retire.

    “The results are not happening, so you don’t care about next year or the year after at this time.

    “We need to talk. We will always talk about [it]; at the moment I am not a happy person and I look forward to going home.”

  5. Fernando Alonso says his “stock value has never been higher” as he gets closer to making a decision about his future following a disappointing Belgian Grand Prix.

    The Spanish driver was heard screaming on the radio several times during the race after being overtaken on the straight because of his Honda-powered car’s lack of top speed- following a good start in which he’d moved up to seventh.

    “Embarrassing, really embarrassing,” Alonso said on the radio. That was followed by “I really don’t care too much about the gaps. This is just a test.” before he asked for no more radio messages until the end of the race.

    The McLaren driver went on to retire in the pits after reporting an engine problem.

    Alonso, who admitted this weekend that he has offers from rival teams, has insisted often he will make a decision about his future in September, but suggested back in June McLaren needed to be winning races before next month in order for him to stay.

    Despite the tough times, the two-time champion said he is still having fun in F1 despite all the troubles.

    “I am [enjoying it]. I think my stock value has never been as high as now seeing the offers that I have, so it’s good,” he said.

    When asked how much longer he can put up with the situation, he said: “Seven or eight more races. I think we will consider all the options out there, but as you said, we did a fantastic qualifying, a fantastic start, we won a lot of grands prix in our careers.

    “The team is working a lot. I know the guys have been sleeping very little this weekend so thanks for all the effort.”

    Alonso hinted that the only thing McLaren needed to change to be competitive was the Honda engine.

    “There needs to be one change only,” he said. “I think there are many answers out there and we need to find them. They will not come looking at the sky.

    “We need to sit down and work on it and hopefully we find the best solution for next year.”

    The Spaniard also heaped praise on his McLaren team for its efforts during this difficult period.

    “I think we will see what happens in the next couple of weeks. I’m happy with the team.

    “We’ve had three tough seasons so far but McLaren is one of the best teams in the world and I would be happy to keep working with them, but we need to see how things evolve in the next couple of weeks.”

    Source: Motorsport.com

  6. Kimi Raikkonen commented that his stop/go penalty for ignoring a yellow flag was “pointless”. Motorsport.com has the news story.

    Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen believes his 10-second stop/go penalty for failing to slow under double waved yellow flags in the Belgian Grand Prix was “pointless”.

    The stewards deemed Raikkonen “made no attempt to significantly reduce his speed” when he passed Max Verstappen’s stricken Red Bull on the Kemmel Straight.

    Raikkonen said he didn’t lift but he didn’t think it was necessary as the car was behind the barrier.

    “I knew there was a yellow flag but the car was at least halfway behind the barrier on the straight,” he said.

    “I didn’t go faster but I didn’t lift on the straight. In my view it was pointless to get penalised for that.

    “I completely understand if he was by the side of the circuit, on the proper side and there is people working on it. But this is what happened and I would be surprised if everybody else lifted…

    “Luckily there was a safety car and we could recover something, but it was not the easiest end of the weekend but it’s what happened.”

    Raikkonen dropped from fourth to seventh after taking the penalty but was able to easily pass Esteban Ocon and then Nico Hulkenberg.

    He then went three-wide on the Kemmel Straight with Daniel Ricciardo and Valtteri Bottas after the safety car restart, with Ricciardo and Raikkonen passing Bottas for third and fourth respectively.

    “On the restart I got a really good tow from two cars and then Ricciardo was on one side, Bottas was in the middle and I just had just enough speed to get next to Bottas, I managed to go on the inside,” he said.

    “I got one car. After that I never really had the speed advantage over the Red Bull. They were surprisingly strong in race conditions compared to what they have been the whole weekend.

    “They had good speed in the right places always and good laptimes but at least I got one place back.”

  7. Belgian Grand Prix race winner Lewis Hamilton says engine mode error helped him fend off Sebastian Vettel. Motorsport.com has the details.

    Lewis Hamilton says selecting the wrong power mode actually helped him stay ahead of Sebastian Vettel in the restart in the Belgian GP, because it allowed the German to get closer than he had expected to be.

    Hamilton explained that losing speed by being in the wrong mode meant that Vettel was right with him at the La Source hairpin, and the Ferrari driver was thus not able to get a good run on him down the hill.

    Vettel’s failure to pass Hamilton immediately after the restart was crucial to the outcome of the race, as it was his best chance to deprive the Mercedes driver of the lead, especially as he had the advantage of ultrasoft tyres against Hamilton’s softs.

    “Initially I got a very good start when we were on the back straight, I got a real good pull away,” said Hamilton.

    “I was able to catch him out, as I did in Baku on the three or four starts with the safety car. I broke away, but didn’t have the right power mode.

    “I pulled away initially, and then he started catching me up, so he went into the last corner.

    “Initially it felt like that’s a mistake, but in actual fact it was actually a really good thing, because if I came out of the last corner with that gap, he would have had the momentum, being three or four car lengths behind, to really propel and really get a good tow, and come and slip past me.

    “It worked out perfectly.”

    In addition Lewis opted not to use full throttle in an attempt to keep Vettel stuck behind his rear wing.

    He was also convinced that Vettel would not try to pass too early on the straight, because he would fear being re-passed before the end of it.

    “We got into Turn 1, I had very cold tyres, so I had a small lock-up. He was on the gas before me, I could hear him, and then as we were going down that straight I didn’t keep it full lit the whole way, I was at 90 percent throttle, just to keep him as close as possible.

    “I knew he wasn’t going to come by, because he knows I would overtake him then at the top part with the tow.

    “As we were going up Eau Rouge, that’s where I really gave it maximum power. We got to the top and he had no space to really propel himself, so he just pulled out alongside. It was a cool battle, but it was really great to go into Turn 5 having done just enough to stay ahead. I was really happy with that.”

    Hamilton said he had to work hard to stay in front.

    “After that it was like nine or 10 laps or whatever it was of qualifying, heavy, fast laps, to try and continue with that gap.

    “He was very quick, he had the better tyre, so I had to pull out some really good laps in order to stay ahead of him, because he was very, very quick in that second phase.”

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