However the race at Spa shall be remembered for the scary and spectacular opening-corner crash which introduced the security automobile out and compelled 5 drivers to retire.
Nico Hülkenberg’s brakes locked up on the method to the primary flip, inflicting him to slam into the again of Fernando Alonso and ship the Spaniard’s automobile flying excessive of Charles Leclerc’s Sauber.
It meant the primary 4 laps of the Belgian Grand Prix have been led by the security automobile and the trio concerned within the crash have been all compelled to retire together with Ferrari’s Kimi Räikkönen, whose automobile was irreparably broken within the smash.
Crimson Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo was additionally concerned and rejoined the race a lap down after intensive repairs have been made to his rear wing.
It was a case of deja vu for Alonso, who was concerned in a near-identical incident at this observe in 2012.
With the carnage on the observe behind them, Vettel and Hamilton saved their cool to vie for first place and a few gorgeous driving from the German noticed him take the lead inside 4 corners and it was one he by no means appeared like relinquishing.
“I had a fantastic begin, I am unsure Lewis noticed me,” Vettel instructed reporters after the race. “He pushed me fairly far to the left, I knew my likelihood could be up the hill and I timed it properly.
“It was higher this 12 months, we had much less wing however timing is essential. With the security automobile it was the opposite method round (Hamilton searching Vettel) however after that it was a really easy race — Lewis pushed very laborious.”
Verstappen wanting to please
Although Hamilton confirmed all of his ability and sophistication in tough circumstances on Saturday to take pole forward of championship rival Vettel, the story in qualifying got here from Drive India.
Drivers Esteban Ocon and Sergio Perez took third and fourth respectively — the crew’s finest place for a number of years — after their gamble to remain on the slicks paid off because the heavy rain subsided.
It was an enormous change in fortunes from the final race weekend in Hungary, throughout which Drive India went into administration and needed to be saved by a consortium fronted by Lawrence Stroll, the daddy of Williams driver Lance.
However Max Verstappen, who’s at all times given a rock star’s at Spa welcome by hundreds of compatriots who make the quick journey from the neighboring Netherlands, was determined to impress the huge swathes of orange shirts within the stands.
Born in Belgium to a Belgian mom, Verstappen additionally enjoys loads of help from the locals in Stavelot.
Because the vehicles set off for the formation lap, orange smoke crammed the sky above the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps and the touring contingent have been quickly despatched wild as Verstappen handed Ocon on lap eight to take fourth place.
Seemingly at all times out of luck on this observe, Verstappen’s finest end on the Belgian Grand Prix was a paltry eighth place however he quickly overtook Perez within the second Drive India to climb into third — a podium end was now nearby.
Valtteri Bottas, Hamilton’s Mercedes teammate, was compelled to start out from the again of the grid after taking an engine penalty in qualifying, however some slick driving noticed him rise to eighth place after simply 22 laps.
On the midway mark, each Vettel and Hamilton had switched onto the smooth tires with the Ferrari driver popping out of the pits 1.9 seconds forward of his rival to arrange a seemingly exhilarating end.
However all credit score should go to Vettel for making the finale considerably anticlimactic, as his easy efficiency by no means actually gave Hamilton a sniff of the pole place he misplaced on the opening lap.
Verstappen held on to 3rd place to finish the rostrum, a lot to the delight of the hundreds of orange-clad followers within the stands, heading off the advances of Bottas who got here from the again of the grid to complete fourth.
And it was the Drive India pair of Perez and Ocon who will proceed to take plaudits for his or her weekends’ work as they backed up the spectacular efficiency in qualifying to complete fifth and sixth, securing the crew’s first factors of the season to maneuver above Williams within the Constructor Standings and only one level behind Sauber.
Vettel’s win takes him to 52 Grand Prix victories, surpassing the nice Alain Prost into third on the all time checklist, a feat even the German may scarcely consider.
“Extra wins than Alain?” an incredulous Vettel responded. “Woah.”