Sebastian Vettel edged closer to a fourth-consecutive drivers’ championship by taking a dominant victory at the Belgian Grand Prix.
The rain that added so much spice to yesterday’s qualifying session stayed away from Spa-Francorchamps today and, once Vettel had passed pole-sitter Lewis Hamilton on the first lap of the race, nothing could stop the German from claiming an easy win and increasing his championship lead to 46 points.
Fernando Alonso finished second ahead of Hamilton, who could only manage third.
Nico Rosberg finished fourth, ahead of Mark Webber, while Jenson Button finished the race in sixth, exactly where he qualified.
Kimi Räikkönen retired with brake failure 19 laps from the end – his first retirement since the 2009 German Grand Prix.
The only thing falling from the sky in the build-up to the race were some Greenpeace protestors, who had some beef with sponsor Shell. The trespassers busied themselves by unfurling a banner on the roof of the main grandstand, while everybody else focused on the start of the race.
Lewis Hamilton got an excellent start to maintain his lead from pole position but led only as far as his first trip down the Kemmel Straight, when Vettel breezed past him.
Unlike last year, everybody managed to get around the first corner without crashing. Button got a good start to get up to fourth place, behind Nico Rosberg, and Alonso jumped from his starting position of ninth, up to fifth place. The big loser off the line was Mark Webber.
Vettel soon went about building up a commanding lead. At the end of Lap 3, he was already 3.5 seconds ahead of Hamilton.
Alonso was also on the move. On Lap 4 he was past Button, and then a couple of laps later he had overtaken Rosberg down the Kemmel Straight with the help of DRS. The Spaniard had gone from ninth to third in less than 6 laps.
Hamilton was the first to pit, coming in from second place at the end of Lap 11. He came back out onto the track just behind Romain Grosjean, who was running eighth. Hamilton got past the Frenchman into the bus-stop chicane, but was re-overtaken on the next lap out of Les Combes.
Alonso came in to the pits for his first stop at the end of Lap 13, and came out just behind Hamilton, who was busy re-passing Grosjean.
Vettel made his first stop a lap later, and comfortably retained track position over his rivals. Meanwhile, Hamilton made a mistake at La Source, and Alonso snuck past into Eau Rouge. This gave Alonso a net-second place.
Hamilton made his second stop at the end of Lap 26, just as Kimi Räikkönen’s race came to an end. The Finn suffered a brake failure, and with it his streak of 38 finishes, the last 27 of which were in the points, came to an end.
There was further retirement on Lap 28, when Paul di Resta had Pastor Maldonado crash into the rear of his Force India. Maldonado also tapped Adrian Sutil prior to this contact, which seemed to send the Williams driver slightly off course. Maldonado later got a ten-second stop/go penalty for causing the collision.
Alonso came in to the pits shortly after this accident had occurred, emerging comfortably ahead of Hamilton. Vettel pitted at the end of Lap 30, and easily retained his race lead.
When Jenson Button finally made his second stop of the afternoon on Lap 34, third place was restored to Hamilton although, by this point, the Mercedes driver was over twenty seconds off leader Vettel, and nearly ten behind Alonso.
|2013 FORMULA 1 SHELL BELGIAN GRAND PRIX|
|1||1||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull||44||1:23:42.196||2||25|
|2||3||Fernando Alonso||Ferrari||44||+16.8 secs||9||18|
|3||10||Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes||44||+27.7 secs||1||15|
|4||9||Nico Rosberg||Mercedes||44||+29.8 secs||4||12|
|5||2||Mark Webber||Red Bull||44||+33.8 secs||3||10|
|6||5||Jenson Button||McLaren||44||+40.7 secs||6||8|
|7||4||Felipe Massa||Ferrari||44||+53.9 secs||10||6|
|8||8||Romain Grosjean||Lotus||44||+55.8 secs||7||4|
|9||15||Adrian Sutil||Force India||44||+69.5 secs||12||2|
|10||19||Daniel Ricciardo||Toro Rosso||44||+73.4 secs||19||1|
|11||6||Sergio Perez||McLaren||44||+81.9 secs||13|
|12||18||Jean-Eric Vergne||Toro Rosso||44||+86.7 secs||18|
|13||11||Nico Hulkenberg||Sauber||44||+88.2 secs||11|
|14||12||Esteban Gutierrez||Sauber||44||+100.4 secs||21|
|15||17||Valtteri Bottas||Williams||44||+107.4 secs||20|
|16||21||Giedo van der Garde||Caterham||43||+1 Lap||14|
|17||16||Pastor Maldonado||Williams||43||+1 Lap||17|
|18||22||Jules Bianchi||Marussia||43||+1 Lap||15|
|19||23||Max Chilton||Marussia||42||+2 Laps||16|
|Ret||14||Paul di Resta||Force India||26||Accident||5|
|Ret||20||Charles Pic||Caterham||8||Oil leak||22|
|Drivers’ Championship Standings|
|After Belgium, Round 11 of 19|
|1||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull||197|
|5||Mark Webber||Red Bull||115|
|10||Paul di Resta||Force India||36|
|11||Adrian Sutil||Force India||25|
|13||Jean-Eric Vergne||Toro Rosso||13|
|14||Daniel Ricciardo||Toro Rosso||12|
|21||Giedo van der Garde||Caterham||0|
|Constructors’ Championship Standings|
|After Belgium, Round 11 of 19|