Lewis Hamilton took victory ahead of Sebastian Vettel at the 2017 Belgian Grand Prix at the Spa-Francorchamps Circuit.
The race ended in a cat and mouse situation, with Hamilton – on the Soft tyre – managing to hold off the charging Vettel, who was on the Ultrasoft tyres.
The Briton withstood a challenge off the line from Vettel, transforming his pole position into the lead of the race. The remainder of the grid maintained their positions, except Fernando Alonso who made a massive jump from tenth to seventh position.
As the lead group pulled away, Esteban Ocon, Nico Hulkenberg and Alonso all battled for seventh, eventually with the Renault Sport Formula 1 Team driver eventually gaining the advantage. There was a little worry on the Sahara Force India F1 Team pit wall as Ocon was pushed into the wall by team-mate Sergio Perez, but the Frenchman came out ahead, however there would be more to come from this battle later…
Max Verstappen had held his position ahead of Daniel Ricciardo in fifth place, until for the sixth time this year, he was forced into retirement, stopping at the side of the road with what appeared to be an engine problem on his Red Bull Racing RB13.
This proved an issue for more than just the Red Bull driver, as Scuderia Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen was subsequently given a ten-second stop/go penalty for failing to slow under the yellow flags down the Kemmel Straight as Verstappen’s car was removed by marshals.
The battle at the front began to close as Vettel was able to close the gap to Hamilton to within DRS range, although there was no opportunity for him to overtake.
The excitement came when for the second time in the race, the Force India drivers made contact. Ocon tried to make a move up the inside of Sergio Perez, but the Mexican decided to shut the door, giving Ocon the option between making contact with him, or the wall. The Frenchman lost a large part of his front wing, and Perez suffered a puncture and retired later in the race.
The debris from the wing brought out the safety car, bunching the field, and the restart almost went the way of the Ferrari driver, but once again Hamilton remained in front and in control. It was the Mercedes of Valterri Bottas who suffered most, losing two places to Ricciardo and Raikkonen as they ran down to Les Combes.
It was then a battle to the line between the two championship protagonists, and although there was no wheel-to-wheel racing between them, Vettel continually applied the pressure to the Mercedes driver. Ultimately, Hamilton was able to withstand the late charge, and crossed the line first, 2.358 seconds ahead of Vettel, with Ricciardo earning the last spot on the podium, ahead of Raikkonen and a lacklustre Bottas.
Hulkenberg scored an impressive sixth, with Romain Grosjean taking seventh for the Haas F1 Team ahead of Felipe Massa‘s Williams Martini Racing, Ocon and Scuderia Toro Rosso‘s Carlos Sainz Jr, who completed the top ten.
Lance Stroll missed out on points in the second Williams in eleventh ahead of Daniil Kvyat‘s Toro Rosso, while Jolyon Palmer‘s promising free practices and qualifying came to nothing as the Briton could only muster thirteenth, with the Renault driver having started the race on the back-foot following a gearbox change penalty.
Despite Alonso’s promising start, he was forced to retire mid-race having already dropped down the order and out of the points due to his underperforming Honda engine, while his team-mate, Stoffel Vandoorne finishing fourteenth after coming from the back of the field following his sixty-five place grid penalty for numerous engine changes.
The final two finishers were Haas’ Kevin Magnussen, who was forced to pit following the safety car restart after locking up and almost collecting team-mate Grosjean into the Bus Stop Chicane, and Marcus Ericsson, who trailed home at the rear of the field for the beleaguered Sauber F1 Team, who saw Pascal Wehrlein retire early on.
Spa-Francorchamps Race Result
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