Lewis Hamilton reduced Sebastian Vettel’s world championship lead down to a bare minimum of 7 points going into Ferrari’s home race next weekend at Monza. The Englishman put on a stellar performance after taking an iconic pole position on Saturday ahead of his closest rival this season so far, in the form of Vettel.
From the lights going out it was close at the front between Hamilton and Vettel as the German challenged the Mercedes maverick down into the Les Combes chicane at the end of the Kemmel straight. The Brit was able to hang onto his lead but only just. There were some heated battles happening further down the field as well. Fernando Alonso made a good start and was running 7th by the end of lap one. Pascal Wehrlein in the Sauber was the first car to retire on lap 3 with mechanical issues. Max Verstappen was the next to withdraw from the race when he had a loss of power coming out of the La Source hairpin and up Eau Rouge. This was much to the disappointment of the Dutch fans that had come out to see their man perform and get a good result at his closest race to home.
Vettel started to catch Hamilton on the Pirelli Soft tires on lap 17 and began to apply the pressure to the leading Mercedes. Kimi Raikkonen then received a 10 second stop-go penalty for failing to slow down under double yellow flags which didn’t please the Finn one bit. Sergio Perez was the next to receive a penalty from the stewards for gaining an advantage by cutting the track during his overtake on Romain Grosjean. McLaren-Honda had yet more mechanical issues when Fernando Alonso retired on lap 27. Prior to that, Jolyon Palmer and Alonso were having a heated battle which wasn’t to the liking of the Brit when he felt that the Spaniard had forced him off the track. The two Force India cars came together once more during the race which added to the disapproval of the team as it cost them some valuable points.
The safety car came out on lap 30 due to the debris spread across the track by the Force India cars going through Eau Rouge. The safety car then returned to the pits on lap 33 to allow the race to continue. Hamilton got a decent restart but Vettel was on his case and was almost able to pass the Brit into the Les Combes chicane once more. Almost identical to the first lap scrap they had earlier in the race.
Hamilton was able to hang on and take a very important victory to apply yet more pressure onto the championship leader, Sebastian Vettel. Daniel Ricciardo rounded off the podium after making a brave move on Valterri Bottas at the restart. An exciting race at the front with plenty of battles throughout. How will the Scuderia perform on their home turf? See you at Monza!