Hamilton cruises to Belgian win
Two-time world champion Lewis Hamilton extended his lead in this year’s title race to 28 points when he claimed a near-flawless victory ahead of Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg in the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa-Francorchamps on Sunday.
Starting from his 10th pole position of the season and sixth in succession, the 30-year-old Briton dominated with some ease as he finished a controlled 2.058 seconds clear of the German. Hamilton now has 227 points and Rosberg 199.
It was Hamilton’s second victory at the Belgian race -- his previous for McLaren in 2010 -- his sixth of the season and the 39th of his career. His 80th podium finish equalled the mark of the late great Ayrton Senna.
Four-time champion German Sebastian Vettel looked likely to finish third for Ferrari, in their 900th Grand Prix race, until he suffered a right rear tyre failure on the penultimate lap, as the team risked running him on a one-stop strategy. That spectacular incident ensured that Frenchman Romain Grosjean, who had mounted a thrilling attack for Lotus in the final laps, took third place in an enthralling race. It was Grosjean’s first podium of the season for the troubled Lotus team, that has faced severe financial problems, and his first podium since the 2013 United States Grand Prix.
Russian Daniil Kvyat followed up his podium finish in Hungary with a bold drive to fourth for Red Bull ahead of Mexican Sergio Perez of Force India, Brazilian Felipe Massa of Williams and Finn Kimi Raikkonen in the second Ferrari. Local hero Dutch teenager Max Verstappen thrilled his fans in a big crowd by driving from 16th on the grid to take eighth place for Toro Rosso ahead of Finn Valtteri Bottas of Williams and Swede Marcus Ericsson of Sauber.
Plucky Perez delivers <g data-gr-id="69">season best</g> finish for Force India
Sergio Perez fought till the end of the Formula 1 Belgian Grand Prix to give Force India a season best fifth place finish at the Spa-<g data-gr-id="93">Franchorchamps</g> Circuit here on Sunday.
Perez, who started on the second row for the first time this season, had to do a lot of work to finish a place lower than his grid position in the eventful 43-lap race.
Perez’s teammate Nico Hulkenberg could not start the race from 11th on the grid due to loss of power.
“Great drive by Checo Perez to finish 5th. Disappointed that Nico could not start due to a turbo problem. Was looking forward to double points,” tweeted team principal Vijay Mallya minutes after the race.
The Mexican’s fighting effort earned him 10 points and was a welcome result for Force India after both their cars suffered retirement in the last round in Hungary.
Perez made a great start, moving two places to be second behind poleman Lewis Hamilton on the opening lap.
He had to keep multiple drivers at bay during the course of the race. On the penultimate lap, Perez was overtaken by Daniil Kvyat who was on fresher tyres on the Red Bull to lie in sixth place with Felipe Massa chasing him fast in the Williams.
However, Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel suffered a dramatic tyre blowout while running third, helping Perez gain a place to come home in fifth place.