Lewis Hamilton dominated the Belgian Grand Prix to take his sixth victory of the season to extend his championship lead over team-mate Nico Rosberg to twenty-eight points.
Hamilton led from start-to-finish at Spa-Francorchamps to lead a Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS 1-2 finish from Rosberg, with 2.058s separating the two drivers at the chequered flag.
Rosberg’s race was less straight-forward than his team-mates afternoon, after falling down to sixth heading into the first corner, with Sergio Perez jumping into second from fourth on the grid, and making an unsuccessful attempt to take the lead at the end of the Kemmel Straight.
Rosberg climbed back through the order back into second place around the pit stop, passing Sebastian Vettel and Valtteri Bottas on track and Daniel Ricciardo and Perez in the pit lane. He then closed the gap down to Hamilton from over eight seconds to just under three before a virtual safety car nullified the race.
The VSC was utilised because Ricciardo’s Infiniti Red Bull Racing machine ground to a halt at the final corner and needed to be retrieved, but despite this intervention, Rosberg could not close the gap any further, with Hamilton always able to counter anything Rosberg could throw at him.
The podium was completed by Lotus F1 Team driver Romain Grosjean, who drove a strong race for his first podium finish since the 2013 United States Grand Prix, although he was helped by a tyre failure for Sebastian Vettel on the penultimate lap as Ferrari gambled on running a one-stop strategy that ultimately ended in a pointless afternoon for the driver running third in the championship standings.
Daniil Kvyat was a strong fourth for Red Bull, passing Perez, Felipe Massa and Kimi Raikkonen in the closing stages of the race after making a later stop for fresher tyres than his rivals, and using the low-drag set-up of his car and DRS to make the passes.
Despite running second early in the race Perez could only finish fifth, ahead of Massa in the leading Williams Martini Racing entry, while Raikkonen held off the late challenge of Scuderia Toro Rosso’s Max Verstappen to take seventh.
Verstappen had earlier made an excellent overtaking manoeuvre on one of the Sauber drivers around the outside of Blanchimont, completing the move heading into the Bus Stop Chicane.
Valtteri Bottas could only finish ninth for Williams after suffering a drive-through penalty after his team fitted three of Pirelli’s soft tyre and one of the Medium tyre other during his first pit stop, which is against FIA regulations.
The final point went to the Sauber of Marcus Ericsson, who finished just over eleven seconds ahead of team-mate Felipe Nasr. Vettel was classified a lapped twelfth, ahead of McLaren-Honda duo Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button, with the two Manor F1 Team drivers Roberto Merhi and Will Stevens the final finishers.
As well as Ricciardo, Toro Rosso’s Carlos Sainz Jr retired with a mechanical issue while two laps down after starting the race from the pit lane after a loss of power on the second formation lap, caused when Nico Hulkenberg lost power on his Force India during the first lap. Pastor Maldonado was also an early casualty when he lost power on his Lotus while running ahead of team-mate Grosjean.
But no-one was able to match the pace of the Mercedes team, and not even Rosberg could match the pace of Lewis Hamilton.
Spa-Francorchamps Race Result
|4||26||Daniil Kvyat||RUS||Red Bull-Renault||+45.692s|
|5||11||Sergio Perez||MEX||Force India-Mercedes||+53.997s|
|8||33||Max Verstappen||NED||Toro Rosso-Renault||+56.076s|
|12||5||Sebastian Vettel||GER||Ferrari||+1 Lap|
|13||14||Fernando Alonso||ESP||McLaren-Honda||+1 Lap|
|14||22||Jenson Button||GBR||McLaren-Honda||+1 Lap|
|15||98||Roberto Merhi||ESP||Manor-Ferrari||+1 Lap|
|16||28||Will Stevens||GBR||Manor-Ferrari||+1 Lap|
|RET||55||Carlos Sainz Jr||ESP||Toro Rosso-Renault||Retired|
|RET||3||Daniel Ricciardo||AUS||Red Bull-Renault||Retired|
|RET||27||Nico Hulkenberg||GER||Force India-Mercedes||Retired|