The second half of the Formula One season commenced at Spa Francorchamps for the Belgian Grand Prix this Sunday.
The race saw Lewis Hamilton eased his way to victory ahead Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg and secured his 80th podium to equal the legendary Ayrton Senna in the all-time podium finishers list.
Pirelli made headlines as Vettel's tyre exploded dramatically in the penultimate lap, in a similar fashion to Rosberg's tyre failure at second practice. The issue handed third place to Lotus' Romain Grosjean. Meanwhile, McLaren's newly updated engines proved to be unsuccessful in bringing the performance needed to close the gap to the midfield runners.
Here are five interesting talking points from the race in Belgium that could set the tone for the rest of the season.
Lewis Hamilton demonstrated what he can do once again in a mighty fast Mercedes W06 car at the Belgian GP, with a commanding win over teammate Nico Rosberg. It did seem as if he had something more to offer whenever Rosberg tried to reel in a persistent gap.
With a slow start to the weekend by setting pace only in the final practice before an astounding late lap that reassured him 10th pole position in the final part of qualifying, the reigning world champion’s nearly half second advantage over Rosberg was a glimpse of what could he accomplish on Sunday.
Though the uncertainty over the effect of clampdown on race start procedures loomed large ahead of the race, there was no stopping the flying Briton. His start was not spectacular but he did hold on to the racing line at Les Combes to defend from a charging Sergio Perez, who had a lightning getaway off the line.
Rosberg’s dismal start at lights continued, and that was where he lost the Grand Prix to his Mercedes teammate as well. Hamilton knew the only driver who could take the fight to him was none other than Rosberg.
With the clear air in front and Perez bunching the pack up behind him, the championship leader hustled on despite Rosberg managing to come closer towards him but, in the end, not close enough. It was a dominant victory of all sorts that put him in a firm contention to retain the championship.
Only 28 points separate the Mercedes pair, with eight races remaining. Rosberg admitted after the heavy shunt caused by the tyre blowout that “his confident had been dented,” as Pirelli’s exhaustive probe on the case yield nothing but a speculated influence from an “external source”. This may have had an impact on his race outcome, but in order to claw back the points deficit he must reflect on his qualifying performances, which were instrumental in his success last season.