FRANCORCHAMPS, Belgium – Lewis Hamilton outran Sebastian Vettel during the final 10 laps to win Sunday’s Belgian Grand Prix at Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps.
Hamilton earned his fifth victory of the year despite a Safety Car period that allowed Vettel to close the gap on Hamilton. Despite Vettel being on the ultra soft tires and Hamilton on the super soft tires, Hamilton slowly pulled away from Vettel during the final 10 lap run to pick up the victory.
Hamilton got a good start from the pole and built a comfortable lead before pitting for the first time on lap 12. Vettel pitted two laps later and rejoined in second, but he was unable to make up any ground on Hamilton in the laps after the pit stop.
On lap 29 the Force India pair of Esteban Ocon and Sergio Perez clashed exiting La Source, with Perez crossing in front of Ocon and breaking Ocon’s front wing. Perez ended up with a flat tire after the incident. The contact left debris scattered all over the track, leading to a Safety Car period that erased Hamilton’s advantage.
Under the Safety Car Hamilton hit pit road for super soft tires, but Vettel had a trump car in an extra set of ultra soft tires. When the race resumed Vettel was on attack, hanging all over the back of Hamilton and driving alongside him on the run to Les Combes.
Hamilton held serve and despite Vettel having the better tires, Hamilton was able to pull away for the victory to close the gap to Vettel in the Formula One standings.
“It’s amazing to come back into the season and start on the right foot,” said Hamilton. “The Ferrari was very strong today and they put on a fantastic fight. We were both pushing every single lap and there was no room for error or mistake. The Safety Car was driving so slow that keeping tire temperature was very difficult. On the restart, Sebastian got a good tow, it was very close. It is fun to be racing against another team and Sebastian at his best and the car at its best – that’s what racing is all about. I want to thank the team, I would not have been able to win today without them.”
Daniel Ricciardo put Red Bull on the podium in third after a thrilling three-wide move during the restart that allowed him to outrun Kimi Raikkonen and Valtteri Bottas, who finished fourth and fifth.
Nico Hulkenberg was sixth for Renault, followed by the Haas of Romain Grosjean, the Williams of Felipe Massa, the Force India of Ocon and the Toro Rosso of Carlos Sainz Jr.