Lewis Hamilton held off Sebastian Vettel to win the Belgian Grand Prix and trim his rival’s championship lead.
Belgian Grand Prix: Top three
1. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)
2. Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari)
3. Daniel Ricciardo (Red Bull)
Scroll down for full result and standings
Belgian Grand Prix: Race report
Lewis Hamilton celebrated his 200th Formula One race by reducing Sebastian Vettel’s lead at the summit of the championship following his victory at the Belgian Grand Prix.
Twenty-four hours after Hamilton equalled Michael Schumacher’s all-time pole position record, the Briton led virtually every lap here in the Ardennes to hold off a late challenge from Vettel, who crossed the line 2.3 seconds behind his title rival.
Hamilton’s victory at the Spa-Francorchamps circuit takes him to within seven points of Vettel ahead of next week’s Italian Grand Prix.
Daniel Ricciardo completed the podium for Red Bull, while Fernando Alonso’s miserable season took yet another miserable twist following his seventh retirement of the year.
The race nearly turned on its head on lap 29 when the Force India team-mates of Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon collided for the second time in their last five outings. erez moved across to cover Ocon’s move on the run-up to Eau Rouge, and in doing so provoked a collision which saw him sustain a right-rear puncture, and his team-mate a damaged front wing.
“Guys, what the f***?,” an incandescent Ocon yelled over the radio. “Honestly. Idiot.”
As the Force India duo limped back to the pits, the safety car was deployed to clear the debris.
Hamilton, while being kept honest by Vettel, was in control of the race. But as the safety car was sent out he dived in for a new set of tyres. Vettel followed his rival in, with the former taking on the supposedly quicker ultrasoft compound. Hamilton took on the soft rubber, the more durable but slowest of the three tyres available this weekend.
A flustered Hamilton clearly sensed danger from Vettel, and queried why the safety car had been deployed.
“Why have they got the safety car out?,” he asked. “There is literally no debris anywhere. That’s a BS (bulls***) call from the stewards.”
Four laps later, the safety car peeled in, and Hamilton, as he did in Azerbaijan earlier this summer, began to bunch the pack.
On that occasion in Baku, Vettel hit Hamilton in the rear, and then drove alongside his rival before banging wheels. There was no such repeat here today, but Vettel knew passing Hamilton at the restart was his best chance of winning the race.
Vettel was within centimetres of Hamilton’s Mercedes as they sped up Eau Rouge and on to the Kemmel Straight at 200 miles per hour.
Vettel pulled to Hamilton’s left, but the British driver placed his car in the middle of the track and the Ferrari man was unable to find a way past at Les Combes.
It was an expert piece of defensive driving from Hamilto, which would – despite Vettel’s best efforts in the closing stages – enable him to win the race and claim his fifth win of the campaign.
Behind him, Ricciardo claimed the final spot on the podium after he passed Hamilton’s Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas at the restart. Bottas fell off the road, and finished fifth, one spot behind Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen.
For Alonso, it marked yet another failure to reach the chequered flag. The Spaniard had been as high as seventh following a scintillating opening lap in which he moved up three places.
But his under-powered Honda engine was exploited lap after lap, and he began to fall down the order.
“Embarrassing,” the Spaniard, out of contract with McLaren at the end of the season, shouted on the team radio.
He then asked for radio silence before parking his car on lap 27 with an apparent engine problem. His retirement came moments after he had asked whether rain was forecast to hit the race. When Alonso was informed it was not, he called it a day.
Max Verstappen also endured another difficult day after his Red Bull suffered a mechanical failure
Belgian Grand Prix: Result
1 Lewis Hamilton (Gbr) Mercedes GP 1hr 24mins 42.820secs
2 Sebastian Vettel (Ger) Ferrari 1:24:45.178
3 Daniel Ricciardo (Aus) Red Bull 1:24:53.611
4 Kimi Raikkonen (Fin) Ferrari 1:24:57.291
5 Valtteri Bottas (Fin) Mercedes GP 1:24:59.276
6 Nico Hulkenberg (Ger) Renault 1:25:10.907
7 Romain Grosjean (Fra) Haas F1 1:25:14.373
8 Felipe Massa (Bra) Williams 1:25:19.469
9 Esteban Ocon (Fra) Force India 1:25:20.974
10 Carlos Sainz (Spa) Scuderia Toro Rosso 1:25:22.267
11 Lance Stroll (Can) Williams 1:25:31.819
12 Daniil Kvyat (Rus) Scuderia Toro Rosso 1:25:32.760
13 Jolyon Palmer (Gbr) Renault 1:25:36.059
14 Stoffel Vandoorne (Bel) McLaren 1:25:39.898
15 Kevin Magnussen (Den) Haas F1 1:25:50.082
16 Marcus Ericsson (Swe) Sauber-Ferrari 1:25:52.531
17 Sergio Perez (Mex) Force India at 2 Laps
18 Fernando Alonso (Spa) McLaren 25 Laps completed
19 Max Verstappen (Ned) Red Bull 7 Laps completed
20 Pascal Wehrlein (Ger) Sauber-Ferrari 2 Laps completed
Fastest Lap: Sebastian Vettel 1min 46.577secs on Lap 41
World Championship Standings
1 Sebastian Vettel (Ger) Ferrari 220pts
2 Lewis Hamilton (Gbr) Mercedes GP 213
3 Valtteri Bottas (Fin) Mercedes GP 179
4 Daniel Ricciardo (Aus) Red Bull 132
5 Kimi Raikkonen (Fin) Ferrari 128
6 Max Verstappen (Ned) Red Bull 67
7 Sergio Perez (Mex) Force India 56
8 Esteban Ocon (Fra) Force India 47
9 Carlos Sainz (Spa) Scuderia Toro Rosso 36
10 Nico Hulkenberg (Ger) Renault 34
11 Felipe Massa (Bra) Williams 27
12 Romain Grosjean (Fra) Haas F1 24
13 Lance Stroll (Can) Williams 18
14 Kevin Magnussen (Den) Haas F1 11
15 Fernando Alonso (Spa) McLaren 10
16 Pascal Wehrlein (Ger) Sauber-Ferrari 5
17 Daniil Kvyat (Rus) Scuderia Toro Rosso 4
18 Stoffel Vandoorne (Bel) McLaren 1
19 Jolyon Palmer (Gbr) Renault 0
20 Marcus Ericsson (Swe) Sauber-Ferrari 0
21 Antonio Giovinazzi (Ita) Haas F1 0
22 Paul di Resta (Gbr) Williams 0
23 Jenson Button (Gbr) McLaren 0
1 Mercedes GP 392pts
2 Ferrari 348
3 Red Bull 199
4 Force India 103
5 Williams 45
6 Scuderia Toro Rosso 40
7 Haas F1 35
8 Renault 34
9 McLaren 11
10 Sauber-Ferrari 5