Lewis Hamilton was rarely troubled as he cruised to victory in today’s Belgian Grand Prix. Hamilton returned from the summer break in the F1 schedule to extend his championship lead over his Mercedes teammate, Nico Rosberg, who finished second. Hamilton’s only other serious rival, Sebastian Vettel, dropped out of the points, due to a tire failure, in the final laps of the race after attempting a long second stint, as part of a one-stop strategy, whilst running in third place.
The previous two Grand Prix have seen exciting starts, and today was no exception. Hamilton made a solid start, but teammate Nico dropped back quickly, allowing Pérez and Ricciardo to find their way past. By lap seven, Hamilton had already extended a clear five-second lead over Pérez. Meanwhile, Hamilton’s main championship rival, Rosberg, was still bottled up in fourth place.
Mercedes, however, had a plan to take advantage of Hamilton and Rosberg’s superior pace to bring them out in first and second after the first pit stops. They ran a few laps longer than the other front-runners, with Rosberg eventually emerging in second place, ahead of Pérez, after his first stop.
It appeared as if Hamilton may come under some pressure from Rosberg as the gap quickly came down from over eight and a half seconds to just under two following a “virtual” safety car period at lap 21. After some initial concerns from Hamilton about how the gap had been eroded, which the Guardian noted Hamilton voiced to the team, he quickly started to build up a comfortable cushion again.
Mercedes brought Hamilton and Rosberg in to pit for their final stops on laps 30 and 31. Hamilton appeared to question the decision, but the team assured him over the radio that it was the “fastest race” and that his teammate would take the slot if he didn’t. They were proved correct, as the dust settled from the stops and Hamilton had extended his lead further.
Vettel had been having a solid, but fairly quiet, race up to this point, but with the others making their second stop, it became clear that he planned to attempt to run his Ferrari to the end. It looked for a while that he would be able to secure third place with that strategy, as he was holding off Romain Grosjean and his Lotus, but was a full 30 seconds behind the Mercedes runners. Unfortunately for Ferrari, and for Vettel’s already slim hopes of catching Hamilton in the championship (the Ferrari has only occasionally been a match for Hamilton and his Mercedes), his right-rear tire gave up with just over two laps to go.
Hamilton eased off into the final laps, making sure of a comfortable 1-2 for the Mercedes team, and was duly followed home by his teammate.
The final podium was as follows.
- Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)
- Nico Rosberg (Mercedes)
- Romain Grosjean (Lotus-Mercedes)
Hamilton now leads by 28 points, although at the post-race press conference, it was noted that it was “too early” to start thinking about yet another World Title.
[Photo by Mark Thompson / Getty Images]