Hamilton beats Vettel to win Belgian GP

28th Aug 2017 5:18 pm

Daniel Ricciardo claims a surprise third place; Force India duo Esteban Ocon and Sergio Perez clash on the run to Eau Rouge.

Lewis Hamilton defeated Formula 1 title rival Sebastian Vettel in the Belgian Grand Prix to close the gap in the championship to seven points. The Mercedes driver 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-second 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 teammate 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 and Vettel switching to ultra-softs. 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. His teammate 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 safety car.

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 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

POS

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/Ferrari

44

31.553s

8

Felipe Massa

Williams/Mercedes

44

36.649s

9

Esteban Ocon

Force India/Mercedes

44

38.154s

10

Carlos Sainz

Toro Rosso/Renault

44

39.447s

11

Lance Stroll

Williams/Mercedes

44

48.999s

12

Daniil Kvyat

Toro Rosso/Renault

44

49.940s

13

Jolyon Palmer

Renault

44

53.239s

14

Stoffel Vandoorne

McLaren/Honda

44

57.078s

15

Kevin Magnussen

Haas/Ferrari

44

1m07.262s

16

Marcus Ericsson

Sauber/Ferrari

44

1m09.711s

17

Sergio Perez

Force India/Mercedes

42

Accident

-

Fernando Alonso

McLaren/Honda

25

Engine

-

Max Verstappen

Red Bull/Renault

7

Engine

-

Pascal Wehrlein

Sauber/Ferrari

2

Suspension

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