Lewis Hamilton moves closer to Schumacher's record with strong win at Belgian GP
Mercedes finally ended their barren run at Spa-Francorchamps, as Ferrari finished with zero points at the Formula One Belgian Grand Prix
It was another lights-to-flag finish for Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton as he won the Formula One Belgian Grand Prix on Sunday to grab an 89th career win. This takes him closer to seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher’s all-time record of 91 career wins in F1.
The beginning of the race saw a blistering start for the Silver Arrows from the word go. McLaren’s Carlos Sainz did not start the race with an exhaust failure, leaving just Lando Norris on the starting grid for the team. If anyone were to catch Hamilton, it would have to be in the first five corners of the Spa-Francorchamps circuit. But the 35-year-old survived that early drag race to create and then maintain a commanding lead throughout the 44 laps.
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His team-mate Valtteri Bottas finished second, with Red Bull’s Max Verstappen coming in at P3. It was, however, an impressive result for Renault as their drivers Daniel Ricciardo and Esteban Ocon finished 4th and 5th. Last year’s winner Charles Leclerc, of Ferrari, started 13th and made up 5-6 places to get into P8 at the beginning of the race. While he was excellent in the first three to four laps, he eventually started falling behind and finished the race at a disappointing 14th, one place behind his teammate Sebastian Vettel.
An interesting battle brewed between Racing Point’s Lance Stroll, Ricciardo, Ocon and Red Bull’s Alex Albon to get into the top 5. AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly and Ferrari’s Leclerc were also in contention to get into those positions but couldn’t do so as the race progressed. The Ferraris were particularly struggling to get enough speed on the straights, which was evident when Norris and then AlphaTauri’s Daniil Kvyat breezed past Leclerc during lap 7. Overall, it was a disappointing weekend for Ferrari, with both their drivers finishing outside the top 10, with zero points.
The safety car had to be deployed in lap 11 when Alfa Romeo’s Antonio Giovinazzi and George Russell of Williams crashed, leaving a lot of debris on the race track. Fortunately, both drivers walked away from the mishap safely. The incident, however, gave the other drivers a chance to pit and get on a fresh set of tyres. Once the safety car was off at the end of lap 14, the race restarted and Hamilton continued to stretch his advantage over Bottas and Verstappen.
Further drama unfolded as the race neared its conclusion. With 5 laps to go, both Red Bull and Mercedes started having concerns about tyre management; the latter even advising their drivers to stay off the kerbs. But there was, thankfully, no repeat of the incident from Silverstone where Hamilton had finished the race on just three tyres. Before the weekend, team principal Toto Wolff had mentioned how Mercedes had ‘unfinished business’ at the circuit where they hadn’t won since 2017. That barren run is now well and truly over. This was Hamilton’s fourth win at Spa, which means he is now third in the all-time list for victories at the famed circuit, with Jim Clark and Kimi Raikkonen. Only Schumacher and Ayrton Senna are ahead of him in that list now.
The British driver also stretched his lead over Verstappen by 47 points in the drivers championship standings for this year. It might have been a nervy end to the race for Hamilton, but somehow everything seems to be going right so far for him and Mercedes this season.
FIRST PUBLISHED31.08.2020 | 09:00 AM IST