Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes AMG Petronas won the Belgian Grand Prix at the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps today ahead of his teammate Nico Rosberg. He last won the race in 2010, driving for the team then known as McLaren-Mercedes.
Mercedes dominated proceedings at Spa from the get-go, with Rosberg flying through practice sessions before his tyre blowout prior to qualifying. Hamilton ended the qualifying session yesterday in pole, ‘satisfied’ with his performance, but admitted the gap between him and 2nd-placed teammate Nico had been ‘very, very small.’
The duo held the lead through the race, with only an initial hiccup in the form of Force India driver Sergio Perez giving them some cause for worry. Battles ensued behind the dominant 1-2 however, most notably for third between Sebastian Vettel of Scuderia Ferrari and Romain Grosjean of Lotus. Vettel looked set to take P3, but with one lap to go, Vettel’s right rear tyre blew, ending the 4-time champion’s run. His teammate Kimi Raikkonen had a slow start, but finished in the points at 7th.
This was Romain Grosjean’s 10th podium of his career and his first since 2013, when he finished 3rd at the now-defunct Indian Grand Prix. Second-placed Nico Rosberg had his 36th podium, while this race marks winner Hamilton’s 39th F1 victory. The Briton was on the podium at Spa last in 2013, when he finished in 3rd.
Several retirements happened this race. The earliest was Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg, who was wheeled back into the pit at the very outset of the race due to a turbo problem. Others included last year’s Spa champion, Daniel Ricciardo of Red Bull, whose car came to a halt at a precarious part of the track, prompting the deployment of the Virtual Safety Car – the only one of the race. Lotus’ Pastor Maldonado also retired with engine issues, as did Marcus Ericsson of Sauber.
Williams’ Valtteri Bottas, who began the race in P3 after a good qualifying session, was let down by his team as they put on 3 soft compound tyres and one medium in a botched pit. This is illegal in Formula One, and meant the driver took on penalties.
The victory means that Hamilton consolidates his lead in the drivers’ championships after several close shaves from teammate Rosberg. Ferrari’s Vettel remains in third, with the gap between him and Rosberg continuing to widen.
Hamilton’s victory at Spa has resulted in the driver equalling the record of the greatest racer of all time, Ayrton Senna, for 39 race wins in Formula One.
The Briton was pleased with his victory, saying he “managed to lead” over Rosberg’s “very very quick pace”. Rosberg left the venue rather quickly – the German driver’s wife, Vivian, is due to give birth in the next few days.
Speaking to David Coulthard after the race, Grosjean continued to express the happiness team Lotus had immediately following his win, saying it had been an “incredible, incredible weekend.”
The next race is the Italian Grand Prix, to be held at Monza on the 5th of September, and it is thought this may be the last race at that venue.