F1 2018 was re-ignited at the legendary Spa-Francorchamps circuit, with this year’s edition of the Belgian Grand Prix the 51st to be held there.
… and Ferrari was on the rise with Sebastian Vettel storming to his third win in Belgium, his first there for the Prancing Horse – again demonstrating that he’s the master of clean air, in building and managing a gap out front.
At lights out, polesitter Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton got a good start, and he defended hard against Vettel to take the lead into Turn 1, but the German had the better run down to Eau Rouge… and slipstreamed past along the Kemmel straight as the Force Indias made it four-wide briefly…
… with Sergio Perez taking Esteban Ocon for third place.
Behind, it was carnage with Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg locking his brakes and smashing into the McLaren of Fernando Alonso, launching the 2-time F1 World Champion over the Sauber of Charles Leclerc, in a replay of 2012’s aerial smash. Forcing all three to retire…and the safety car to be deployed.
The race was restarted on Lap 5, with Hamilton attempting to pass Vettel at the final corner, but he went wide and lost momentum.
Out front, Vettel set a string of fastest laps for a 3-second gap on Hamilton by Lap 10, just after Kimi Raikkonen retired with damage. While Red Bull’s Max Verstappen passed Perez for third. Valtteri Bottas was up to 10th from 17th.
Hamilton attempted the undercut on Lap 21 – stopping for the softs – but exited behind Verstappen, which cost him precious time. Ferrari covered him off the next lap, with Vettel staying ahead on exit.
And while the gap was initially 1.7 seconds, Vettel was able to stretch his legs – making it 5-seconds by Lap 29, when Bottas pitted from fourth. The next tour, Red Bull Racing’s Daniel Ricciardo retired.
Hamilton began to respond to Vettel’s pace up front, but the German had him covered – and the lead began to balloon in the closing laps, up to 11 seconds at the chequered flag. Ferrari again proving to the world that it’s overtaken the Silver Arrows as F1’s power benchmark.