Lewis Hamilton ended his 200th GP race the way he started it – on P1, chiselling Sebastian Vettel’s championship lead down to seven points. It was a hard fought battle despite the end result, with the British driver having to work hard to keep his lead over the charging Ferrari in an incident-marked race.
Lewis Hamilton is looking forward to the following race in Italy to bring him back on top of the leader board. “It’s been a strong weekend for myself and the team,” said Hamilton. “Sebastian put up a great fight, but this is what I said I came to do here and so I did it.”
The third place on the podium was taken by Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo, although for a time it looked like his team mate Max Verstappen was challenging for the position till he had another power failure, making it his sixth early retirement in the 12 races. It certainly put paid to the hopes of his Dutch fans who has come down to Spa-Francorchamps.
But it was a collision between the two Force India’s that caused the safety car to be deployed on lap 30. The rivalry between Ocon and Perez took an ugly turn as Perez tried to shut out Ocon, in the process getting a serious right rear puncture and damaging Ocon’s front wing.
The safety car saw the leaders bunch up, giving Sebastian Vettel his best chance yet of initiating an overtake manoeuvre on Hamilton, although the Briton managed to hold him off with the sheer straight line speed of the Mercedes.
The closing stages were tense with both leaders bringing in fastest lap times, while Valterri Bottas fell back to fifth behind Ricciardo and Raikkonen.
Lewis Hamilton brought the race to an end a clear 2.3 seconds ahead of Vettel who said after the race, “It was good fun, but it was intense. I was waiting for Lewis to make a mistake – and he didn’t – and he was waiting for me – and I didn’t.
“We did a lot better than at Silverstone. And next week
is our home race… A good day overall.”