Lewis Hamilton wins the Belgian Grand Prix: World champion triumphs at Spa ahead of Nico Rosberg as Romain Grosjean finishes third

Hamilton extends his world championship lead to 28 points after a lights-to-flag victory at Spa-Francorchamps

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It was hard to see what more Lewis Hamilton could have done at the Belgium Grand Prix at Spa-Francorchamps. It was a toss-up which had greater majesty, the world champion’s drive or the fabulous circuit which facilitates real grand prix racing.

He withstood persistent pressure from Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg, who had lagged at the start and fallen to fifth, giving himself a lot of work to do to get back into contention. But such was the dominance of the Silver Arrows that they were able to turn their engines down and still finish more than half a minute ahead of the third placed car in their seventh one-two finish of the season.

Hamilton’s sole concern came when Sergio Perez made a blistering start and actually held the lead for a moment heading up the Kemmel Straight, but he didn’t blink and outbraked the Force India before pulling away.

“I had the inside line and braked later, so I managed to get back into the lead after he’d held it for a second,” Hamilton said. “He was very fair and gave me room, which was good of him.”

Later, Hamilton complained that Rosberg had closed on him – which the watch showed that the German had to the extent of 1.2sec – during a Virtual Safety Car period between laps 20 and 22 when Daniel Ricciardo’s broken Red Bull was cleared away after challenging for a podium place. Otherwise, he was in control all the way to his 39th grand prix success, which in the process equalled his hero Ayrton Senna’s 80 podium finishes.

 

“Today was a dream,” said Hamilton. “The whole weekend the car was fantastic. Nico had good pace but I was able to answer him most of the time, so I was fairly relaxed. It was all about utilising the tyres and not pushing too hard on the out laps after pit stops. I took it easy for the first three or four laps after them, then started to push. I was never in a position where I was nervous and the car’s balance was getting better throughout. There was no need to push any more than I was.

“At the end I saw that Sebastian Vettel’s tyre had blown, so I was being very cautious and let Nico close. But I felt in control all the way. It doesn’t matter if you win by a tenth or by 10 seconds.”

Rosberg blamed himself for his start, which owed something to the new rules regarding clutch settings.

“I just completely messed it up, which was annoying,” he admitted. “It was partly down to the new rules and also the extra start [Nico Hulkenberg’s Force India had stalled on the grid, resulting in an aborted first start], which puts more temperature into the clutch. But it was my job to do it well and I didn’t do that job.

“After that I was doing qualifying laps every lap, trying to hunt Lewis down, but it wasn’t enough. I was giving it absolutely everything and we were both on the edge all the way through. I tried everything but it was not enough.”

In a moment of massive relief for the troubled Lotus team, third place fell to Romain Grosjean, who had been pushing Vettel very hard when the German’s gamble on a 29-lap stint on Pirelli’s medium tyres ended when the Ferrari’s right rear blew two laps from home.

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Lewis Hamilton wins the Belgium Grand Prix

As Vettel fell to an eventual 12th-place finish, Daniil Kvyat scored another strong result for Red Bull with fourth, but behind him the melee as they all struggled to pass Vettel’s stricken car closed the gaps between Perez, Felipe Massa, Kimi Raikkonen and Max Verstappen. They all fell over one another on the penultimate lap – Perez going one side of Vettel, Massa the other – but eventually finished in that order. The race was enlivened by young Toro Rosso driver Verstappen’s brio as he pulled off an extraordinary pass early on round the outside of Marcus Ericsson at the daunting 190mph Blanchimont corner.

Afterwards, Vettel attacked Pirelli. “Things like that are not allowed to happen,” he said. “If it happened 200 metres earlier, I’m not standing here now, I’d be stuck in Eau Rouge. I don’t know what else needs to happen.”

Final positions after Race (43 Laps):

1 Lewis Hamilton (Gbr) Mercedes GP 1hr 23mins 40.387secs,

2 Nico Rosberg(Ger)Mercedes GP 1:23:42.445,

3 Romain Grosjean(Fra)Lotus F1 Team 1:24:18.375,

4 Daniil Kvyat(Rus)Red Bull 1:24:26.079,

5 Sergio Perez(Mex)Force India 1:24:34.384,

6 Felipe Massa(Bra)Williams 1:24:35.670,

7 Kimi Raikkonen(Fin)Ferrari 1:24:36.090,

8 Max Verstappen(Ned)Scuderia Toro Rosso 1:24:36.463,

9 Valtteri Bottas(Fin)Williams 1:24:41.427,

10 Marcus Ericsson(Swe)Sauber-Ferrari 1:25:11.621,

11 Felipe Nasr(Bra)Sauber-Ferrari 1:25:22.698,

12 Sebastian Vettel(Ger)Ferrari at 1 Lap,

13 Fernando Alonso(Spa)McLaren at 1 Lap,

14 Jenson Button(Gbr)McLaren at 1 Lap,

15 Roberto Merhi(Spa)Manor Marussia F1 at 1 Lap,

16 Will Stevens(Gbr)Manor Marussia F1 at 1 Lap

Not Classified:

17 Carlos Sainz(Spa)Scuderia Toro Rosso 32 Laps completed,

18 Daniel Ricciardo(Aus)Red Bull 19 Laps completed,

19 Pastor Maldonado(Ven)Lotus F1 Team 1 Laps completed,

20 Nico Hulkenberg(Ger)Force India 0 Laps completed

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