Hamilton takes dominant win in Belgium to stretch title lead
Bottas 2nd, Verstappen 3rd
Lewis Hamilton further extended his Formula 1 Driver’s Championship with a dominant Belgian Grand Prix at Spa-Francorchamps as Valtteri Bottas took second place to wrap up Mercedes third 1-2 finish of the season. Max Verstappen took third place to score his sixth podium finish in a row.
When the light went out at the start of the race Bottas made a good start from P2 on the grid and he seemed poised to challenge pole sitter Hamilton as they went through La Source, but Hamilton had a small lock-up and that forced Bottas to slow. Lacking momentum he was unable to get a run on Hamilton as they went through Eau Rouge and down the long Kemmel straight.
There was a tougher battle happening directly behind the lead pair, however. Verstappen made a good getaway to hold his grid position of third place but on the long straight fourth-placed Daniel Ricciardo was able to pull alongside and the pair went into Les Combe side by side. Verstappen ran wide on the exit but he was able to fight back as they went through Pouhon and he closed the door on his former team-mate to retain third place.
Behind them Versatppen’s team-mate Alex Albon also came under pressure from a Renault’s Esteban Ocon on the run down the hill to Eau Rouge and on the long straight he lost the position to the Frenchman.
The race then settled in the opening 10 laps, with the Mercedes pair eking out a slim gap back to Verstappen as the Dutchman pulled away from Ricciardo. On lap 10 Hamilton held a 1.8s advantage over Bottas, but the complexion of the race then changed when Alfa Romeo’s Antonio Giovinazzi lost control on the exit of Fagnes and crashed into the barriers on the right side of the track. His car bounced back on track and a detached wheel then hit the Williams of George Russell, who then arrowed off track into the barriers on the left side. Fortunately, both drivers emerged unscathed but the Safety Car was immediately deployed.
With the race neutralised, the bulk of the field pitted and during the stops Albon managed to jump ahead of Ocon. Racing Point’s Sergio Pérez and AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly opted to stay out on track, however, and they rose to fourth and fifth respectively.
Following the restart on lap 15 Hamilton held his lead ahead of Bottas and Verstappen while Ricciardo and Albon soon Pérez and Gasly who were beginning to feel their starting tyres go off.
At the front, Hamilton began to stretch away from Botta. Verstappen doggedly hung onto the Finn for a while, but as the laps ground down the gaps at the front slowly began to spread and in the final third of the race Verstappen began to complain that his tyres were causing vibrations. With eight laps remaining and a healthy gap back to fourth-placed Ricciardo, The Red Bull driver opted to throttle back and cruised to his sixth podium in a row 15 seconds behind race winner Hamilton and with three seconds in hand over Ricciardo, who took the point for fastest lap on the final tour of the circuit.
Behind them Albon and Ocon provided the entertainment in the last 10 laps Albon was beginning to struggle on the mediums he had taken during his sole stop and Ocon closed in. In the last five laps the Thai driver was forced to fend off a series of late attacks by the Renault driver and though he managed to defend well, on the final lap he ran out of pace and on the long run to Les Combes Ocon powered past and Albon was forced to settle for sixth place ahead of the McLaren of Lando Norris and Gasly who powered through the order in the late stages to claim eighth. Ninth place went to Racing Point’s Lance Stroll and the final point went to Pérez.
Hamilton now has 157 points to Verstappen’s 110, with Bottas in thrid place in the Driver’s Championship with 107. In the Constructors’ battle Mercedes have 264 points, with Red Bull on 158. McLaren are third with 68 points.
|01||Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes W11||44 laps - 1h24m08.761s||1|
|02||Valtteri Bottas||Mercedes W11||+8.448||1|
|03||Max Verstappen||Red Bull Honda RB16||+15.455||1|
|04||Daniel Ricciardo||Renault RS20||+18.877||1|
|05||Esteban Ocon||Renault RS20||+40.650||1|
|06||Alex Albon||Red Bull Honda RB16||+42.712||1|
|07||Lando Norris||McLaren Renault MCL35||+43.774||1|
|08||Pierre Gasly||AlphaTauri Honda AT01||+47.371||1|
|09||Lance Stroll||Racing Point Mercedes RP20||+52.603||1|
|10||Sergio Perez||Racing Point Mercedes RP20||+63.179||1|
|11||Daniil Kvyat||AlphaTauri Honda AT01||+70.200||1|
|12||Kimi Raikkonen||Alfa Romeo Ferrari C39||+71.504||1|
|13||Sebastian Vettel||Ferrari SF1000||+72.894||1|
|14||Charles Leclerc||Ferrari SF1000||+74.920||2|
|15||Romain Grosjean||Haas Ferrari VF-20||+76.793||1|
|16||Nicholas Latifi||Williams Mercedes FW43||+77.795||2|
|17||Kevin Magnussen||Haas Ferrari VF-20||+85.540||2|
|18||Antonio Giovinazzi||Alfa Romeo Ferrari C39||DNF||0|
|19||George Russell||Williams Mercedes FW43||DNF||0|
|20||Carlos Sainz||McLaren Renault MCL35||DNS||0|