Hamilton takes Belgian GP victory in controlled race

Last updated: 09-01-2020

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Hamilton takes Belgian GP victory in controlled race

Lewis Hamilton started from pole, and didn't leave any doubt that he was out to win the race. The Brit didn't give first place away and led Valtteri Bottas to a Mercedes 1-2 finish. Max Verstappen completed the podium by finishing in third place.

The top three for the Belgian Grand Prix started on medium tyres, with the rest of the top 10 on softs. Carlos Sainz, who qualified in 7th, wasn't in though as an exhaust issue prevented him from participating the race. The Spaniard and his McLaren were seen sitting at the sidelines when all others got off the line.

Hamilton got away nicely and kept first place from pole, followed by Bottas. The Finn got under attack from Verstappen, but when the latter was challenged by Ricciardo through Les Combes, Bottas was safe to maintain second place.

Behind Ricciardo followed Ocon who managed to get past Albon at the start. Next up was Stroll, followed by Leclerc who had a great start and first lap to move up from 13th to 8th. Completing the top 10 after the first lap were Perez and Gasly with Norris dropping out of the top 10, into 11th after going off track at Les Combes.

The next few laps saw Gasly process to 8th on hard tyres while Charles Leclerc lacked top speed and gradually dropped down the pecking order. On lap 6, he fell back behind Kvyat, just ahead of team mate Sebastian Vettel.

On lap 9, the race got neutralised with a safety car as a serious crash from Giovinazzi left a lot of debris on the track. He lost control of his Alfa Romeo Ferrari on the exit of the Pif-Paf chicane and spun into the tyre barriers. While doing so, a wheel got loose and was hit by George Russell. The Williams driver did his best to avoid it, but he was basically a passenger, and also ended up into the tyre barrier.

Both drivers, fortunately, left their cars immediately and without harm.

When the safety car left the circuit after lap 14, most drivers had pitted and changed to hards. Gasly and Perez didn't pit while Albon changed to new medium compound Pirellis.

The restart brought zero position changes, although Perez's ongoing first stint on softs started to prove problematic a few laps later, as Ricciardo and Albon soon breezed past. The Mexican then pitted on lap 19, returning on track at the very back.

At the back, Raikkonen overtook Vettel on the straight, leaving Ferrari 13th and 14th with only both Haas and the remaining Williams behind them - joined by Perez of course after he stopped. To make things exciting, both Ferrari drivers then got involved in a team battle at Les Combes. Leclerc attempted a pass, but Vettel had none of it, and after some mild touching between the two, Leclerc backed out of it.

As the race progressed, more and more drivers started to complain about their hard tyres being dead. Vettel wondered if a pitstop would make sense, given he was only losing ground to the cars ahead. Verstappen reported some vibrations while both Mercedes were seen locking up their front tyres and missing the chicane ahead of the finish line.

No driver however came in real trouble, but differing wear meant some were enjoying a pace advantage towards the end of the race compared to others. Albon for instance got challenged by Ocon and Norris, with Ocon taking 5th in the very last lap.

The other Renault with Ricciardo behind the wheel also went strong in the end, with the Australian setting fastest lap, snatching a hattrick away from Lewis Hamilton as he ominously won.

The Driver of the Day award went to Pierre Gasly for finishing a strong 8th, even with the safety car not coming at the best time for him.


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