Hamilton celebrates easy win in Belgium
Championship leader Lewis Hamilton produced yet another dominating performance to take victory ahead of Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg and Lotus’ Romain Grosjean during yesterday’s Belgian Grand Prix at Spa-Francorchamps
In what turned out to be the eighth one-two finish for the Silver Arrows this season, Hamilton seemingly never looked troubled on-route to securing his 39th career victory and 80th podium appearance, the latter equalling the number of his childhood idol and former three times champion, Ayrton Senna.
“It was an amazing weekend, an incredible job done by the team throughout all the pitstops and the whole weekend. Today was a dream and the whole weekend the car was fantastic. Nico had good pace, but I was able to answer most of the time so I was fairly relaxed at the front,” Hamilton told Sky F1 after the race.
Having started second on the gird behind his teammate, Rosberg appeared to have no answer after a slow getaway saw him dropping behind the Force India of Sergio Perez going into the turn one La Source hairpin.
“I messed up the start. Lewis did a great job and deserved the win. I tried to challenge him but not enough,” Rosberg told former driver and current BBC commentator David Couthard on the podium afterwards.
In stark contrast to the victories Mercedes duo and an elated Grosjean, former four times world champion Sebastian Vettel was left seething after a last lap tyre blow-out saw the Ferrari driver record his first did not finish of the season despite being classified twelfth.
Starting from eighth after a poor qualifying, Vettel’s decision to opt for a one stop strategy dramatically failed when the left rear medium compound tyre, which had already done 29 laps, exploded on the Kimmel straight as he was being pushed by Grosjean for the final podium position.
In an explicit laden post-race interview with the BBC, Vettel, who scored the Scuderia’s second win before the summer break in Hungary last month, accused tyre manufacturer Pirelli of being responsible after a similar blowout saw Rosberg avoiding contact with the barriers at over 300 km/h during Friday’s free practice session.
“If that happened 200 metres earlier [at Eau Rouge] I, wouldn't be standing here now. I think my concerns were taken seriously, but what's the answer? 'Yeah, well there was a cut, debris, maybe something wrong with the body work, the driver went wide. It’s bulls***,” Vettel said.
“If Nico tells us he didn't go off the track, he didn't go off the track. Why would he lie to us? Same with me, I didn't go off the track, it's just out of the blue the tyre explodes. As I said, [if] it that happens earlier, I'm f*****”. It might not be as bad as it was a few years ago but it's not acceptable”.
Pirelli motorsport boss Paul Hembrey has however stated that Vettel’s decision was surprising as no other team had opted to go the one stop route.
“We felt it was a two-stop race and some tried for a three-stop. Sometimes you try something different and if it delivers exceptional results, you are a genius,” he told the BBC, before stopping short of commenting further.
Vettel’s frustration is likely to heighten more after he failed to report for the post-race weigh-in, although it remains unconfirmed if he is to receive a penalty for the next race.
Behind the first three, Red Bull rookie Danill Kvyat continued his resurgence from the previous round in Hungary by finishing fourth ahead of Perez, who dropped back following the deployment of the virtual safety car on lap 21, to retrieve the second Red Bull of last year’s winner Daniel Ricciardo.
Laying down in fourth, the Australian slowed coming out of the final bus stop chicane with an apparent power unit failure. In similar contrast, Perez’s teammate Nico Hulkenberg failed to make the start after his car broke down on the formation lap, resulting in an extra lap having to be done.
Williams’ Felipe Massa eventually ended sixth ahead of the second Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen, while rookie Max Verstappen came home eighth after yet another impressive drive which saw him overtake the Sauber of Felipe Nasr around the outside at same area where Rosberg had his blowout.
Nasr’s teammate Marcus Ericsson took the final point in tenth behind the second Williams of Valtteri Bottas, who picked-up a drive through penalty after his team bizarrely fitted three softs and one medium tyre during his first stop.
After getting both their cars into the top ten at the previous round, frustrations continued for the reunited McLaren Honda outfit with Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button finishing 13th and 14th after starting from the back due to a record 105 place grid penalty for exceeding the number of engines used.
Button, who also suffered from battery problems, later described the race as embarrassing with both cars, believed to be 118 kW (160 hp) down on the rest of the field, being classified behind Vettel.
The next round sees the F1 circus making its way to Monza for the Italian Grand Prix on September 6th.
BELGAIN GRAND PRIX RESULTS
|4.||Danill Kvyat||Red Bull||+45.692|
|5.||Sergio Perez||Force India||+53.997|
|8.||Max Verstappen||Toro Rosso||+56.076|
|12.||Sebastian Vettel||Ferrari||+1 Lap|
|13.||Fernando Alonso||McLaren||+1 Lap|
|14.||Jenson Button||McLaren||+1 Lap|
|15.||Roberto Mehri||Manor||+1 Lap|
|16.||Will Stevens||Manor||+1 Lap|
|DNF||Carlos Sainz Jr||Toro Rosso||32 laps, mechanical|
|DNF||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull||21 laps, powerunit|
|DNF||Pastor Maldonado||Lotus||2 laps, powerunit|
|DNS||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India||powerunit|
|7.||Danill Kvyat||Red Bull||57|
|8.||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull||51|
|10.||Max Verstappen||Toro Rosso||26|
|11.||Sergio Perez||Force India||25|
|12.||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India||24|
|16.||Carlos Sainz Jr||Toro Rosso||9|
IMAGE sourced from www.whtimes.co.uk
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