Hamilton extends title lead with Belgium win

By on Sunday, August 23, 2015
Mercedes AMG Petronas

Mercedes AMG Petronas

Lewis Hamilton cruised to victory at the Belgian Grand Prix, leading home Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg for a 1-2 finish.

Hamilton headed Rosberg throughout to take a victory which extends his lead in the championship to 28 points.

Romain Grosjean claimed third place for Lotus - its first podium since 2013 - as Sebastian Vettel suffered a tyre failure on the penultimate lap, while trying to run a one stop strategy.

Hamilton maintained the lead at the start but ran across the kerb at Raidillon and had to defend against the fast-starting Sergio Pérez, as Daniel Ricciardo jumped up to third to demote Valtteri Bottas and Rosberg, who swapped places at the end of the lap.

Hamilton quickly built up an advantage of around a second per lap, with the bulk of his time gain coming in the middle sector, while Pérez slipped back into the clutches of Ricciardo.

Ricciardo subsequently dived into the pits for a set of Prime tyres, with Pérez following suit a lap later, remaining on the Option compound, emerging behind his Australian rival.

As Mercedes ran 1-2 up front, Pérez got by on Ricciardo at Les Combes; Rosberg stopped at the end of the lap for Prime tyres and came out ahead of the pair. Pérez tried to retaliate but Rosberg defended on the run to Les Combes and remained in front.

Hamilton stopped the next time around for Prime tyres and emerged a couple of seconds behind Vettel, who duly ducked into the pits.

Hamilton thus held a four second advantage over Rosberg, with Pérez 10 seconds behind, as Ricciardo went wide at Raidillon before being passed by Grosjean.

Grosjean’s charge continued as he breezed past Pérez a couple of laps later into third position.

Ricciardo’s race came to an end when he lost drive at the final corner and stopped, causing the deployment of the Virtual Safety Car.

Pérez pitted shortly before the Virtual Safety Car was implemented while several others – including Grosjean – stopped during the neutralisation, gaining them a significant amount of time.

When racing resumed Rosberg closed to within 2.2 seconds of Hamilton but the Briton soon opened up his advantage, with the bulk of his time being gained in the middle sector.

Hamilton stopped at the end of lap 30 for fresh Options with his lead up to five seconds while Rosberg made his pit stop the next time around.

Vettel stayed out on track in a bold bid to make a one stop strategy and was gradually reined in by Grosjean across the final part of the race.

Vettel held on until the penultimate lap when his right rear tyre let go at Kemmel, sending the German sliding down the order.

That promoted Daniil Kvyat up to fourth place, the Russian having run the final stint on Option tyres to pass Felipe Massa and Pérez on successive laps.

Pérez took a season-best fifth ahead of Massa, who held on for sixth, despite late race pressure from Kimi Räikkönen and Max Verstappen.

The Dutch driver tried to pass Räikkönen on the final lap but went wide at Les Combes and held eighth.

Bottas slipped down the order when Williams erroneously fitted a Prime tyre among his seat of Options; he was handed a drive through penalty and came home ninth.

Marcus Ericsson beat Felipe Nasr to the final point for the second successive race.

Vettel was classified in 12th, ahead of McLaren pair Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button, while Roberto Merhi beat Will Stevens in the Manor Marussia battle.

Nico Hülkenberg had power problems on his way to the grid and forced an aborted start when he was unable to move.

Carlos Sainz Jr. lost power on the second formation lap but returned to the track a couple of laps down, while Pastor Maldonado lasted only a lap before his engine failed.

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