Hamilton wins Belgian Grand Prix from Bottas

Defending world champion Lewis Hamilton achieved his 89th Formula 1 victory at Spa-Francorchamps, finishing ahead of Valtteri Bottas while a scary crash for Antonio Giovinazzi also wiping out George Russell.

The Belgian Grand Prix was processional at the front, with Max Verstappen taking another third for Red Bull Racing, while the drivers trying a double stack pitstop strategy during the safety car providing most of the action in the pack.

At the start, Bottas made a fractionally better getaway compared to the his teammate but was obliged to go to the outside and tuck in closely behind Hamilton as they exited La Source hairpin.

Bottas ran very close to the leader but lost momentum going through Eau Rouge and was suddenly under more pressure from Verstappen in third.

But a helpful tow from Hamilton’s car meant Bottas was able to stay in front by the time they arrived at Les Combes, where Verstappen suddenly found himself under attack by the fast-starting Daniel Ricciardo.

They ran side-by-side through the second part of Les Combes and the next right – with Ricciardo and then Verstappen going right off the track at those two respective points – but the Red Bull was able to stay ahead, while the Mercedes drivers ran clear in the lead.

Hamilton led by 1.4 seconds by the end of the first lap and the gap to Bottas fluctuated slightly across the next few laps.

The Mercedes duo and Verstappen were the only drivers able to run in the one minute, 50 seconds, before the two Black Arrows dipped into the one minute, 49 seconds and the gap to the Red Bull quickly grew to over five seconds behind the leader.

Hamilton’s lead stood at 1.8 seconds on lap 10 of 44 when the race was suddenly paused following a huge accident for Alfa Romeo’s Antonio Giovinazzi, who lost the rear of his car all by himself as he exited Turn 14 and smashed into the barriers on the outside.

The following Kimi Raikkonen was able to get by unscathed but a wheel that had been ripped off the Alfa Romeo bounced back onto the track and left George Russell with nowhere to go.

The Williams driver struck the wheel and his suspension was broken, with his FW43 then going into the barriers on the left of the track, with the safety car deployed as the wreckage was cleared and a large amount of debris was swept clear of the track.

Hamilton, Bottas and Verstappen pitted at the first available opportunity on lap, with Mercedes double-stacking its cars to fit the hards.

This nearly let Verstappen get in front of Bottas as he accelerated away having taken on his own hards, but Valtteri stayed ahead and the order remained as it was before the safety car was called.

On lap 15 the race restarted, with Hamilton already pulling clear of Bottas after jumping away approaching the Bus Stop chicane on the previous lap.

That meant Bottas had no chance to attack for the lead and the race settled down again at the front, with Hamilton quickly re-establishing his lead as again the top three were able to lap at pace the rest could not match in the one minute, 48 seconds.

But the difference was that Verstappen appeared to be much happier on the hards than he had been on the mediums and he was able to stick closer to Bottas as Hamilton consistently edged further away in first.

Verstappen was able to track Bottas at 1.4 seconds adrift for several laps until both Mercedes turned the screw approaching the end of the race’s second third and Bottas ran clear.

Mercedes told Bottas to give it “everything you’ve got” as he and Hamilton set a series of times in the one minute, 47 seconds, but they did not come into the pits.

This meant they ran to the flag on a single stop and while it initially looked like a calm run to the flag for the leaders, they both had minor problems before the finish.

First Bottas reported a numbness in his left leg from the braking force, and then Hamilton became concerned about the state of his right-front tyre – with both Mercedes at separate points in the closing laps locking up at the Bus Stop and cutting the second part of the chicane.

But these issues came to nothing and Hamilton continued to pull away, finishing with a winning margin of 8.4 seconds at the flag, with Verstappen – who struggled with a vibration on his hards as the second stint wore on – seven seconds behind Bottas in third.

Ricciardo took fourth for Red Bull – making a key passes on Pierre Gasly, who did not stop during the safety car to leap up the order – setting a string of rapid laps at the end and clinching the fastest lap on the final tour.

Esteban Ocon stole fifth from Alex Albon on the final lap with a blast of DRS on the outside coming into Les Combes as the Red Bull driver tried to make a soft-medium strategy work.

Albon so nearly held on to fifth but did stay ahead of Lando Norris’s McLaren to finish sixth.

Gasly put in a series of passes – mainly with DRS on the Kemmel Straight – as he rose from the rear of the field following his green flag stop after he had taken the restart in fourth.

He battled back by Sergio Perez, who also did not stop under the safety car and had to make a long stint work on the softs as a result, eventually taking eighth.

Lance Stroll was ninth ahead of Perez, with Daniil Kvyat P11 in the second AlphaTauri.

The Ferrari drivers finished in a disappointing P13 and P14 – beaten by Kimi Raikkonen who had started in P16 – as both were exposed by the car’s lack of straight line speed.

Vettel finished ahead after another set of radio exchanges with his engineer, while Leclerc made two stops – with the second featuring a precautionary top up of pneumatic pressure – on his way to P14 after he had gained several positions at the start.

Carlos Sainz did not start after his McLaren developed a power unit problem that led to a broken exhaust on the laps to the grid.

So congratulations to Lewis Hamilton in winning the Belgian Grand Prix. His 89th Formula 1 victory and just two away in equalling Michael Schumacher’s achievement. This win also extend his championship lead. Monza is next. Mercedes looking strong thanks to a superior car and engine. Rival Ferrari are going to struggle at home.

Belgian Grand Prix, race results:
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:24:08.761
2 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 8.448
3 Max Verstappen Red Bull-Honda 15.455
4 Daniel Ricciardo Renault 18.877
5 Esteban Ocon Renault 40.650
6 Alex Albon Red Bull-Honda 42.712
7 Lando Norris McLaren-Renault 43.774
8 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri-Honda 47.371
9 Lance Stroll Racing Point-Mercedes 52.603
10 Sergio Perez Racing Point-Mercedes 53.179
11 Daniil Kvyat AlphaTauri-Honda 1:10.200
12 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1:11.504
13 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:12.894
14 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1:14.920
15 Romain Grosjean Haas-Ferrari 1:16.793
16 Nicholas Latifi Williams-Mercedes 1:17.795
17 Kevin Magnussen Haas-Ferrari 1:25.540
– Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo-Ferrari DNF
– George Russell Williams-Mercedes DNF
– Carlos Sainz Jr. McLaren-Renault DNS

3 thoughts to “Hamilton wins Belgian Grand Prix from Bottas”

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

    Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton swept to his fourth victory at the Belgian Grand Prix, leading home his team mate Valtteri Bottas as Red Bull’s Max Verstappen took third to maintain his record of finishing on the podium at every race he’s been classified in this year.

    Following his dominant pole on Saturday, Hamilton resisted the first lap slipstreaming contest down to Les Combes to hold onto the lead, before retaining it for all 44 laps to close out his fifth victory out of seven races this year. Bottas came home around eight seconds behind his team mate, with Verstappen a further seven seconds down the road.

    Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo led home the team’s best finish of the year in fourth, crossing the line under four seconds behind Verstappen after some rapid final laps, with Esteban Ocon overtaking the Red Bull of Alex Albon on the final tour to take fifth, Albon just holding onto sixth from the McLaren of Lando Norris.

    An impressive drive from Pierre Gasly saw him take eighth for AlphaTauri, while the final points were taken by the Racing Point pair of Lance Stroll and Sergio Perez in P9 and P10 – with the Ferrari drivers Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc finishing out of the points in P13 and P14 respectively.

    McLaren’s Carlos Sainz was unable to take the race start after a power unit led to an exhaust issue, while there was a Safety Car after 11 laps of 44, after a big crash for Alfa Romeo’s Antonio Giovinazzi, with Williams’ George Russell arriving on the scene and hitting Giovinazzi’s wheel, which forced his own retirement – although both drivers were okay.

    Meanwhile, Hamilton’s fourth Belgian Grand Prix win sees him draw equal with Jim Clark and Kimi Raikkonen on third in the all-time list for Spa victories, behind Michael Schumacher and Ayrton Senna.

    It was Bottas who was marginally the faster of the two Mercedes at the decidedly rain-less race start, but Hamilton angled his W11 towards his team mate and swept over to cover him off and led into Turn 1 from Bottas, Verstappen, Ricciardo and Ocon, who’d jumped Alex Albon off the line.

    As they slipstreamed down to Les Combes – Hamilton recovering from a small wobble on the exit of La Source – the top four jostled for position, but ultimately, the order remained unchanged.

    Hamilton led Bottas through the corner, while Ricciardo got down the inside of Verstappen and tried to tough it out around the outside of the left-hand part of the chicane, before Verstappen ran him out of road – Ricciardo then nearly managing to sneak through when Verstappen subsequently ran wide at Malmedy, before eventually accepting his fourth place.

    Behind, Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc had elected to start on the softs, and used them well to jump four places on the first lap up to P9, while Antonio Giovinazzi and Kevin Magnussen were on the move too, making up four and five places respectively on the first tour.

    McLaren’s Carlos Sainz missed all the fun, however, after a power unit issue on his MCL35 led to an exhaust failure on his laps to the grid which meant he couldn’t take the start.

    Pierre Gasly had jumped his AlphaTauri team mate Daniil Kvyat for P10 at the start despite being shod with hard tyres to Kvyat’s mediums. And the Frenchman was racing beautifully in the early laps, resisting Sergio Perez’s squeeze on the run down from La Source to take the Mexican at the inside of Eau Rouge for ninth, before nicking P8 from Leclerc a lap later.

    By Lap 10 Hamilton was around 2 seconds clear of Bottas, who’d asked to use his push button to try and close up to and attack his team mate. “We agreed not to use it against each other,” came his race engineer’s response. “I never heard that,” retorted Bottas.

    Any worries Mercedes might have had about an intra-team battle were neutralised however, as Giovinazzi lost his Alfa Romeo on the exit of the Fagnes chicane, smearing his C39 down the outside wall and losing a tyre which then bounced scarily into the path of the following George Russell.

    Fortunately, it only took off Russell’s own right-front wheel, with both drivers ending up parked next to each other before emerging from their cars shaken but healthy, and very much out of the race.

    The Safety Car was duly brought out as the two cars were recovered, and the debris swept up, with all bar Gasly and Perez pitting, meaning that at the Lap 15 restart it was Hamilton from Bottas, Verstappen, Gasly, Perez, Ricciardo and Albon – who’d managed to jump Ocon in the pits, with the Thai driver the only one to take on mediums in the stop, as everyone else opted for hards.

    Hamilton nailed the restart and the order was unchanged bar Stroll taking Norris for ninth, while on Lap 16, Raikkonen demoted the works Ferrari of Vettel to P13 – Vettel having jumped Leclerc in the pits, after Ferrari weren’t ready for the Monegasque, leaving him stationary for 10.4s. Perez had been left out on the soft tyres – and after losing places in quick succession to Ricciardo and Albon, Racing Point brought him in on Lap 19 for hards, dropping him down to 17th and last.

    By Lap 22 of 44, it was Hamilton was a 3s lead from Bottas, who had Verstappen in close company, while over 10s behind the top three came Ricciardo in fourth – who’d breezed past Gasly down the Kemmel Straight on Lap 21 – with Gasly in fifth heading Albon, with Ocon, Stroll, Norris and Kvyat rounding out the top 10. Ultimately, Gasly was then unable to resist the superior speed of either Albon or Ocon, who passed on Lap 24 and Lap 26 respectively.

    Having done some wheel-banging with his team mate on Lap 19, Leclerc was brought in on Lap 25 after just 14 laps on the hard tyres, Ferrari swapping him to mediums and keeping him in the box for five seconds, the team seen topping up the pneumatic pressure in the stop.

    With the race settling down metronomically in the middle laps, it was only the alternative-strategied Perez and Gasly who were making serious waves, as they climbed their way into the points after their offset stops, with Gasly then nipping past Perez on the Kemmel Straight for P9 on Lap 40, before getting the second Racing Point of Stroll three laps later.

    With three laps to go, Hamilton was seven seconds clear of Bottas, who was a further 7s up the road from Verstappen – although both Mercedes drivers were worried about the condition of their tyres, with some nervy radio calls to the team as fears of a 70th Anniversary GP-style repeat ending appeared to bubble up in the Silver Arrows camps.

    Those fears ultimately proved unfounded, though, as Hamilton eased across the line to take his 89th victory, and fourth at Spa in a race where the threatened rain failed to materialise, with Bottas coming home second, seven seconds to the good over Verstappen, who’d once again somehow managed to summon up Mercedes-esque pace from his Red Bull RB16 in what was otherwise a “pretty boring” race, according to the Dutchman.

    The real drama in the last act was just behind, however. With Verstappen’s tyres also fading in the final laps, Ricciardo was flying in fourth place. He gave it all on the final lap, taking the fastest race lap to finish just 3.422s behind his old Red Bull team mate, and bringing about a spontaneous burst of applause from the Renault pit wall – although that may have just been Cyril Abiteboul celebrating the fact that he didn’t have to get a tattoo, which he would have done if Ricciardo had passed the Red Bull.

    Speaking of passing a Red Bull, Ocon did just that on the final lap, getting past Albon – who’d dropped dramatically off the back of Ricciardo in the middle part of the race – to claim fifth, as Renault matched their best result since returning to F1 in 2016.

    Lando Norris was also flying in the final laps, closing up to the back of the Ocon/Albon squabble before settling for seventh, just 1.062s behind Albon. Meanwhile, Gasly had once again demonstrated his excellent 2020 form – in what will certainly ramp up the pressure on Albon after a slightly underwhelming day for the Thai driver – as the AlphaTauri driver came home eighth, less than five seconds behind Albon.

    Lance Stroll was classified ahead of Sergio Perez for the second race in a row, coming home ninth to Perez’s 10th – the Racing Points’ race pace having once again failed to shine as brightly as their midfield rivals, on a day when there’d been whispers of podium potential for the Pink Panthers.

    Meanwhile Ferrari leave Belgium with work to do ahead of their home race at Monza in a week’s time, as Vettel led Leclerc home in P13 and P14, Vettel having embarrassingly been passed by the Ferrari customer Alfa Romeo of Kimi Raikkonen on Lap 33 – for the second time that day.

    So, that’s now two victories on the bounce for Hamilton and his fifth of the season, as the Mercedes driver now extends his championship lead over Max Verstappen to 47 points – with 10 races left to go in this unusual year.

  2. Williams driver George Russell thankful for halo after “scary” Antonio Giovinazzi crash. Motorsport.com has the full details.

    George Russell felt “very thankful” to have the halo on his Williams Formula 1 car after a “massive impact” with Antonio Giovinazzi’s loose wheel in Sunday’s Belgian Grand Prix.

    Giovinazzi crashed at the exit of Les Fagnes on Lap 10 of the race, spinning into the barrier on the right-hand side of the track.

    The Alfa Romeo car bounced back towards the racing line, forcing Russell to take evasive action and crash his Williams into the wall on the left-hand side of the track.

    A loose wheel from Giovinazzi’s car hit the front-left wheel on Russell’s car during the collision, but both were able to get out of their cars unharmed.

    The crash resulted in the safety car being deployed while the cars were removed and the debris strewn across the track was cleared, but there was no need for a red flag.

    Speaking after returning to the paddock, Russell called the crash “very unlucky” and said there was “nowhere I could have gone” to avoid the collision.

    The Williams driver also paid tribute to the halo cockpit protection on his car, saying it was quite scary to see an errant tyre coming towards him.

    “If I went to the right, that’s where Antonio’s car was, and at the left side of the track, I had a massive impact with the tyre,” Russell said.

    “But I have to say you feel much safer in the car now with the halo. When I saw this massive tyre coming towards me, it was quite scary to be honest.

    “So I’m very thankful that we have this halo on the car right now.

    “I’m all fine. Just a little bit frustrated obviously. But that’s racing sometimes.”

    Giovinazzi explained that he suffered with a snap of oversteer as he was exiting the corner, causing him to crash out.

    “Unfortunately I had a snap of oversteer on the exit, nothing I could do,” Giovinazzi said.

    “I’m just sorry for my team after what happened today. But I have to reset my mind right now for Italy.

    “I feel really sorry for [Russell], as I destroyed his race as well. Really unfortunate what happened to him. I’m just sorry.”

  3. Belgian Grand Prix race winner Lewis Hamilton was “nervous” about repeat of tyre failure. Motorsport.com has the details.

    Lewis Hamilton felt “a little bit nervous” he would suffer a repeat of his Silverstone tyre failure in the closing stages of his Belgian Grand Prix victory.

    Hamilton dominated proceedings at the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps on Sunday to record his fifth victory of the 2020 season, extending his lead in the Formula 1 drivers’ championship to 47 points.

    The Mercedes driver made his sole pitstop of the race after just 11 laps following an early safety car period, requiring him to make his hard tyres last 33 laps to the end of the race.

    Hamilton suffered a couple of late lock-ups and reported concerns that his tyres would make it to the end of the race, suffering from a vibration.

    It left the six-time world champion fearing a repeat of his last-lap tyre failure at the British Grand Prix that left him crossing the line on three wheels.

    “It wasn’t the easiest of races, there were a couple of moments,” Hamilton said.

    “I locked up into Turn 5 and started to get a bit of a vibration, and then once into the last corner. The tyre temps were just slowly dropping. No matter how much you were pushing, I guess as you lose rubber you start to lose temperature in the tyres.

    “It was a bit of a struggle, but it was okay. I was a little bit nervous that we might have a scenario like Silverstone with that right front towards the end, so I was nursing it.

    “It looks like the tyre had plenty of rubber on it, so maybe it was fine.”

    Hamilton was able to keep Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas at bay on the opening lap, ensuring the Finn did not get enough of a slipstream on the long run down the Kemmel Straight.

    Hamilton explained after the race that he had “a big snap” at the first corner that worked in his favour as it forced Bottas to lift and lose momentum.

    “It worked to my benefit, to be honest, that snap, because it meant he was right up my tail,” Hamilton said.

    “I am sure he had to lift and it meant when we got the top of the hill, I don’t know if he had to lift or not, but he didn’t have enough time to slingshot today.”

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