Sebastian Vettel With Dominant Win Closes Gap To Lewis Hamilton

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Sebastian Vettel clinched a dominant win at the Belgian GP and cut Lewis Hamilton’s lead in the drivers’ championship to 17 points. Vettel recorded his 52nd win to surpass Alain Prost and take third spot on the all-time Formula 1 winners list. Hamilton claimed second spot after he was overtaken by Vettel on lap 1. Max Verstappen completed the podium places in front of a large sea of Dutch fans in orange.

Valtteri Bottas finished fourth as he cut through the field from 17th place on the grid. Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon finished fifth and sixth to open the account of the new Racing Points Force India outfit. Romain Grosjean, Kevin Magnussen, Pierre Gasly, and Marcus Ericsson rounded off the top 10 positions.

Sebastian Vettel With Dominant Win Closes Gap To Lewis Hamilton

The race started under clear skies with air temperature at 17 degrees C and track temperatures at 25 degrees C at the Spa-Francorchamps circuit. Lewis Hamilton started from pole position. Title-rival Vettel joined him on the first row.

Force India drivers, Esteban Ocon and Sergio Perez, were on the second row. Romain Grosjean and Kimi Raikkonen lined up on the third row. Max Verstappen, Daniel Ricciardo, Kevin Magnussen, and Pierre Gasly lined up at the front of the grid.

Carlos Sainz and Stoffel Vandoorne took engine penalties and started on the last row of the grid. Bottas and Nico Hulkenberg started on the second last row after PU penalties also. All the drivers in the top 10 started on the red-striped supersoft tyres.

The Chaotic Start

Hamilton made a good getaway initially. But Vettel, as expected, used the slipstream and the Ferrari’s superior straight-line speed to overtake the Briton on the Kemmel Straight. The two Force India drivers and Verstappen slotted behind the lead drivers.

But chaos reigned behind them. Hulkenberg ran into the back of Fernando Alonso which launched his McLaren into the air. Alonso hit Ricciardo and damaged his car. The Australian in the concertino effect hit Raikkonen in front of him and damaged his rear wing.

Alonso’s car flew over Charles Leclerc’s Sauber and ended his race. Leclerc was clearly saved from injury by the Halo on his car which was damaged. Bottas at the start ran into the back of the Williams and suffered front-wing damage himself.

The Safety Car (SC) came out and Raikkonen and Ricciardo pitted for fresh tyres and front wing respectively. But both drivers eventually retired from the race. Bottas, however, rejoined the race on supersoft tyres and made his way through the field.

Hulkenberg’s mistake has resulted in a 10-place grid penalty for the German at the next race at Monza. Alonso, Leclerc, Ricciardo and Raikkonen’s race was effectively ended by the first lap incident.

On lap 4 the SC period ended and Vettel survived a Hamilton attack on the restart. The order was Vettel, Hamilton, Perez, Ocon, Verstappen, Grosjean, Magnussen, Gasly, Ericsson, and Sirotkin after the restart.

Verstappen and Bottas Move Up

On lap 7, Verstappen overtook Ocon to take fourth position. A few laps later the Dutchman overtook the other Force India driver Perez to take P3. Bottas in the meantime made steady progress through the field. After the SC restart, on lap 5 Bottas first overtook Brendon Hartley for P13.

Then the Finn made short work of car after car to take eighth position by lap 18. On lap 20, Vettel was in total control with a 3.4s lead over Hamilton. The order was Vettel, Hamilton, Verstappen, Perez, Ocon, Grosjean, Magnussen, Bottas, Gasly, and Ericsson in the points.

First Pitstops

Hamilton was the first of the frontrunners to pit. The championship leader pitted on lap 22 for the soft tyres and rejoined third behind Verstappen. On the next lap, Vettel pitted and fitted on the soft tyres and rejoined in the lead again. Hamilton overtook Verstappen but could not close in on Vettel who slowly pulled away from Hamilton.

The drivers in the top 10 all pitted one after the other to fit on the soft tyres. Finally, on lap 31, Bottas pitted and rejoined P6. On the fresh tyres, Bottas set about overtaking the Force India drivers in front of him.

At the end of the first set of pitstops for the frontrunners, the order was Vettel, Hamilton, Verstappen, Perez, Ocon, Bottas, Grosjean, Magnussen, Gasly and Ericsson.

Vettel Cruises to a Dominant Win

It was clear that Vettel was faster and Hamilton could not close the gap to less than 3.5 seconds at any point. The Briton knew he was fighting a losing battle and settled for second place. Vettel finished more than 11 seconds in front and took an easy win. It was the German’s fifth win of the season. The win helped him cut the gap to Hamilton to 17 points.

Verstappen finished a comfortable third for his first podium at the Belgian GP. Bottas had made his way from 17th to fourth position for a decent haul of points. The two Racing Points Force India drivers, Perez and Ocon, finished fifth and sixth respectively to score an impressive 18-points for the rebranded outfit.

Haas F1 had a double-points finish, as Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen finished seventh and eighth respectively. Pierre Gasly had another strong finish with ninth position for Toro Rosso. Marcus Ericsson finished tenth at a time when there are question marks about his race seat.

Vettel with this dominant win has made a great start to the second-half of the season. Hamilton seemed disheartened by the performance of his rival who clearly had the faster car. Now the F1 circus heads to Monza for the Italian GP next weekend. The performance of Vettel here will give the Tifosi hope that they will see a home win for the Italian outfit. Hamilton and Mercedes have their work cut out for them for the rest of the season.

BELGIAN GP RACE RESULT:

Pos No Driver Car Laps Time/Retired Pts
1 5 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 44 1:23:34.476 25
2 44 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 44 +11.061s 18
3 33 Max Verstappen Red Bull Racing TAG Heuer 44 +31.372s 15
4 77 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 44 +68.605s 12
5 11 Sergio Perez Force India Mercedes 44 +71.023s 10
6 31 Esteban Ocon Force India Mercedes 44 +79.520s 8
7 8 Romain Grosjean Haas Ferrari 44 +85.953s 6
8 20 Kevin Magnussen Haas Ferrari 44 +87.639s 4
9 10 Pierre Gasly Scuderia Toro Rosso Honda 44 +105.892s 2
10 9 Marcus Ericsson Sauber Ferrari 43 +1 lap 1
11 55 Carlos Sainz Renault 43 +1 lap 0
12 35 Sergey Sirotkin Williams Mercedes 43 +1 lap 0
13 18 Lance Stroll Williams Mercedes 43 +1 lap 0
14 28 Brendon Hartley Scuderia Toro Rosso Honda 43 +1 lap 0
15 2 Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren Renault 43 +1 lap 0
NC 3 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull Racing TAG Heuer 28 DNF 0
NC 7 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 8 DNF 0
NC 16 Charles Leclerc Sauber Ferrari 0 DNF 0
NC 14 Fernando Alonso McLaren Renault 0 DNF 0
NC 27 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 0 DNF 0

Note – Bottas received a 5-second time penalty for causing a collision with Sirotkin

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