The revered Spa-Francorchamps circuit always brings history to life, and this year was no different as the 50th Belgian Grand Prix to be held there – with a stunning world championship battle in full-swing.
But, Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton returned from the summer break all guns- a-blazing, the three-time World Champion securing his 68th pole position, equalling Michael Schumacher’s all-time record…
… following it up with a dominant lights-to-flag victory, his third in Belgium, on his 200th race start, despite Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel on his tail all the way.
At lights out, Hamilton got away well, but Vettel had the better start and looked set to pass him into Les Combes, but couldn’t make it stick.
Behind them, Renault’s Nico Hülkenberg bottled up the pack at La Source – forcing three-wide with the Force Indias down the hill - Sergio Pérez pushing Esteban Ocon into the wall.
Out front, Hamilton and Vettel traded fastest laps as the World Champion pair remained within 2-seconds, both evenly matched on pace.
On Lap 8, Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen suffered an engine failure – he stopped on the Kemmel straight, disappointing the 80 thousand Dutch fans that had travelled to the Ardennes to see him race.
Hamilton pitted on Lap 12, a quick 2.3 second stop to switch to the more durable softs – followed by Vettel two laps later.
On Lap 16, Ferrari’s Kimi Räikkönen got a 10-second stop-go penalty for not lifting while Verstappen’s car was recovered, dropping him to seventh.
On Lap 29, the Force Indias again made contact - Pérez squeezing Ocon into the wall on the run to Eau Rouge – the Mexican sustaining a puncture, after contact with Ocon’s front wing - bringing out the safety car.
Most of the field used the opportunity to pit, with Hamilton taking another set of softs, Vettel switching to the ultrasofts, but couldn’t find a way past at the restart – the Brit staying cool under pressure to the flag.
“It’s been a strong weekend for myself and the team,” Hamilton said. “Sebastian put a great fight on, but this is what I said I was coming to do, so I did it.”
As broadcast on 29/08/2017.