Sebastian Vettel cut Lewis Hamilton’s lead in the Formula 1 Drivers’ Championship to 17 points after easing to victory in the Belgian GP. The Ferrari driver started behind Hamilton on the grid after rainfall during Saturday’s qualifying gave the Mercedes’ man and reigning world champion a helping hand to snatch pole position for the race.
However, with a dry track at Spa-Francorchamps on Sunday, the pace of the Ferrari car was evident as Vettel breezed past Hamilton on the first lap just before a safety car was deployed following a multi-car crash which ended Fernando Alonso, Nico Hulkenberg and Charles Leclerc’s involvement at the first corner.
Vettel never looked like relinquishing his advantage and took the chequered flag for his fifth win of the season to start eating away at his rival’s healthy lead in the race for the title.
Afterwards, the German said: “I had a great start, I’m not sure Lewis saw me as he pushed me to the left in the first lap, but after last year I ended up short, and this year it was the other way around – this year was better.
“As soon as I was ahead I relaxed. I had a good restart after the safety car, and after that it was a very smooth race. We turned everything around and then controlled the race.”
A positive for Mercedes was Hamilton’s second place and team-mate Valtteri Bottas working his way up to fourth after starting at the back of the grid because of engine penalties, stretched their lead in the Constructors’ Championship to 15 points.
That was because Ferrari’s other driver Kimi Raikkonen was forced to retire, along with Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo, after they also had a collision on the first lap.
Meanwhile, Ricciardo’s team-mate Max Verstappen took the final podium place, while Force India duo Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon were fifth and sixth respectively.
Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen of Haas were seventh and eighth with Pierre Gasly of Toro Rosso and Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson also picking up points in the top ten.