Lewis Hamilton storms to victory in Belgian Grand Prix
Briton trims Sebastian Vettel’s lead in the Formula One championship to just seven points
Lewis Hamilton completed his 200th grand prix in victorious style on Sunday when he claimed a much-needed win for Mercedes to trim Sebastian Vettel’s Formula One championship lead to seven points.
The 32-year-old Briton made the most of his record-equalling 68th pole position to take the lead, but had to survive some concerted attacks from Vettel’s Ferrari before emerging triumphant for the fifth time this season.
It was the three-time world champion’s third Belgian victory and the 58th of his career, lifting him back into serious contention for the title.
“It’s been a strong weekend for the team,” said Hamilton. “The support has been incredible seeing the British fans all weekend. Sebastian put up a great fight but this is what I came here to do and I did it.”
Vetel said: “It was really intense. I was waiting for Lewis to make a mistake, he didn’t. We can look forward to next week, our home race.”
Another victory in next Sunday’s Italian Grand Prix could give Hamilton the lead in the championship for the first time this year.
Four-time champion Vettel came home second ahead of Australian Daniel Ricciardo of Red Bull, Finn Kimi Raikkonen in the second Ferrari and his compatriot Valtteri Bottas in the second Mercedes. Nico Hulkenberg finished sixth for Renault ahead of Romain Grosjean of Haas, Felipe Massa of Williams, Esteban Ocon of Force India and Carlos Sainz of Toro Rosso in 10th place.
Meanwhile, Dutch driver Max Verstappen said he felt frustrated by his early exit from the Belgian Grand Prix and equipment faults such as the one he experienced should not happen to a top team.
Verstappen, who drew a sell-out crowd of orange-clad fans from his nearby home country, departed from fifth on the grid but had to retire on lap eight when his Red Bull car spluttered to a halt at the famous Eau Rouge corner.
Shaking his head, Verstappen yelled “unbelievable” into the team radio before leaving his car and riding back to the pits on a quad bike.
“I lost power and everything was done. It is really frustrating,” Verstappen said after the race.
In 12 races this season, Verstappen has failed to make it to the chequered flag six times, often sidelined by technical issues with his car.
“There are so many fans paying a lot for the tickets and you finish like this. That cannot happen with a top team,” Verstappen said.
Additional reporting by Reuters