Vettel wins the BelgianGP after a dominant performance at the Spa-Francorchamps. This is his 52nd win and his podium number 107, which makes him third in the world ranking behind Hamilton and Schumacher. The German driver is now at just 17 points from the standings’ leader Hamilton.
First bent drama
A dramatic multiple crash marked the start of Sunday’s race. It all began when Nico Hulkenberg missed his breaking point and crashed at speed against the back of Fernando Alonso’s McLaren. The Spaniard was sent flying above Charles Leclerc crashing into his halo. Both drivers would later say to feel grateful for the controversial safety device, which was first introduced at the beginning of the season. Luckily all three drivers were unharmed and Hulkenberg was given a 10-place penalty for the next GP.
But there was more drama at this fateful bend. Alonso also touched Ricciardo’s back wing, who in turn impacted against Raikkonen, causing him a puncture. Both drivers continued racing after a garage stop but they had to retire later on as a result of the damage. Hamilton’s team-mate Valtteri Bottas also suffered some damage to his front wing after crashing against the Williams of Sergey Sirotkin.
After the first lap crashed, and with the ensuing debris on the track, a safety car was deployed, but not before drivers have had a few crucial seconds to consolidate their positions. It was then that Vettel passed Hamilton at the Kemmel straight, in a manoeuvre that would determine the rest of the race. After four laps of safety car it was clear that pole-sitter Hamilton was not going to keep up with his rival, who was steadily opening ground between them:
“My timing was crucial and I managed it perfectly. As soon as I was ahead I was quite relieved. After the safety car, I had a good re-start and a very good exit so after that, it was a very smooth race. A great weekend.”
Vettel’s superiority and rhythm was consistent right until the checkered flag, which he crossed 11 seconds ahead of Hamilton. Local idol Verstappen from Red Bull also passed both Ocón and Pérez to take the third position before a delighted crowd. Bottas climbed 13 places to finish fourth, and both from Force India arrived in fifth and sixth positions.
After Mercedes’ winning streak before the summer break, Ferrari fights back, reigniting the flame of the title fight ahead of the ItalianGP in Monza next weekend.
By T.C. | Photo: Formula1