Hamilton storms to Belgian GP triumph
Lewis Hamilton produced a faultless drive to record a commanding lights-to-flag victory at the Belgian Grand Prix.
The reigning world champion was rarely threatened as he led home Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg and Lotus’ Romain Grosjean.
Polesitter Hamilton was however challenged briefly on the opening lap by the fast starting Force India of Sergio Perez, but the race ultimately developed into a fight between the Brit and title rival Rosberg.
Hampered by a poor start, which dropped him to fifth, Rosberg recovered the lost ground, but was unable prevent Hamilton from extending his championship lead to 28 points with his sixth win of 2015.
While Mercedes dominated the race, Grosjean emerged in third after late drama struck Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel.
Running a one-stop strategy, Vettel climbed to third shortly after the halfway mark, but was being rapidly caught by Grosjean, who was a factor throughout after an impressive opening stint.
The Frenchman applied pressure on the German in the closing stages until the Ferrari suffered a tyre blowout on the penultimate lap, handing the Lotus driver a first podium since the 2013 United States Grand Prix.
A late charge from Red Bull’s Daniil Kvyat saw the Russian finish fourth after a pass on Perez in the closing laps left the Force India driver to claim fifth, ahead of Williams’ Felipe Massa.
Perez had been fighting with Daniel Ricciardo, who climbed to third in the early stages, before the Australian came to a halt with a mechanical issue on lap 21, while occupying fifth spot.
The incident saw the introduction of the virtual Safety Car.
After being hit with a gearbox change prior to the race, Kimi Raikkonen managed to haul his Ferrari to seventh just 0.5s adrift of Massa.
Toro Rosso’s Max Verstappen came home in eighth while Valtteri Bottas finished ninth after his early charge was hampered by a drive-through penalty for a bizarre tyre mix up in the pits.
The Finn was circulating with three soft and one medium compound tyre following his first stop, which was in breach of the sporting regulations.
Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson rounded out the top 10 with team-mate Felipe Nasr a spot back in 11th position.
Vettel was classified in 12th despite his tyre failure ahead of McLaren’s Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button.
Carlos Sainz, Pastor Maldonado and Nico Hulkenberg were all victims of early mechanical retirements, with the latter unable to make the race start.
Result: Formula 1 Belgian Grand Prix, Spa-Francorchamps
|1||Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes||43 laps|
|4||Daniil Kvyat||Red Bull/Renault||+45.692s|
|5||Sergio Perez||Force India/Mercedes||+53.997s|
|8||Max Verstappen||Toro Rosso/Renault||+56.076s|
|13||Fernando Alonso||McLaren/Honda||+1 Lap|
|14||Jenson Button||McLaren/Honda||+1 Lap|
|15||Roberto Merhi||Marussia/Ferrari||+1 Lap|
|16||Will Stevens||Marussia/Ferrari||+1 Lap|
|DNF||Carlos Sainz||Toro Rosso/Renault||Retirement|
|DNF||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull/Renault||Retirement|
|–||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India/Mercedes||Not started|