Lewis Hamilton surprised even himself as he clinched a podium finish at the Belgian Grand Prix despite having started the race at the back of the field following a host of grid penalties for multiple engine changes across the weekend at Spa-Francorchamps.
The Mercedes AMG PETRONAS driver was delighted to avoid the carnage at the start and was running fifth after the red flag period to repair the barriers following Kevin Magnussen’s heavy crash, and then passed both Fernando Alonso and Nico Hülkenberg to claim the podium.
“If you’d offered me third coming into this race with all the penalties I would definitely have taken it!” revealed Hamilton. “I really wasn’t expecting that!
“As I said yesterday, I really didn’t know what would be possible today. But I came into the race with a positive mental attitude and it all came together. It was a steep mountain to climb – but we did it together as a team. I’m so happy and so proud of everyone.
“Changing so many parts on the car, it would have been easy to make mistakes. But the guys did an exceptional job and all three Power Units worked flawlessly. I think I now have more engines than most of the others, which is great. Now, the fight is really on for the second half of the season.”
Hamilton felt his W07-Hybrid worked well around the Spa-Francorchamps circuit, and judged the first lap chaos almost to perfection to make up significant ground from his starting position, and also felt that the three-stop strategy was the correct way to attack the race.
“The car worked really well out there today,” said Hamilton. “The most difficult part of the race really was the mental approach from the beginning in terms of whether I risked it all at the start or hung back and tried to pick my way through carefully. I kind of went for somewhere in the middle – but then all this commotion happened along the way and I’m grateful I could capitalize on that.
“Coming from the back and having to make overtaking manoeuvres, I had to push a little bit more than you’d normally plan to, so we went for a three stop strategy. Whether or not I would have made it on a two stop with the medium I’m not sure – but I’m glad we didn’t take that risk. The team made the right call.”