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Belgian Grand Prix: Lewis Hamilton dominates to take sixth win of the season
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Lewis Hamilton
Posted By: Alex Kalinauckas  |  23 Aug 2015   |  3:07 pm GMT  |  176 comments

Lewis Hamilton won the 2015 Formula 1 Belgian Grand Prix, beating his Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg with a commanding performance at Spa-Francorchamps.

It was the Englishman’s second Spa win, his sixth of 2015 and the 39th of his career; now he is just two wins off Ayrton Senna’s total of 41. Hamilton equalled Senna’s career podium total with 80.

He extended his championship lead over Rosberg to 28 points, the largest margin it has been so far.

All eyes were on the start of the race after new rules were introduced ahead of the event that meant drivers had to manually set their clutches themselves and when the lights went out, Hamilton maintained his lead from pole position as Rosberg dropped back from second to sixth.

Hamilton held onto the lead for the majority of the race and never looked seriously under threat. Rosberg battled past Valtterri Bottas, who had also made a slow getaway from third on the grid, with a brave move down the inside of the Bus Stop chicane at the end of the first lap. He then jumped Sergio Perez and Daniel Ricciardo with an undercut at the first round of pitstops.

Belgian GP start

Rosberg then closed on Hamilton by making use of his fresher tyres and got the gap between the down to 2.4s seconds by lap 24. But from there until the end of the race, Hamilton re-established his advantage to pull the gap out again to a commanding five seconds and the pair held station to the finish.

Speaking after the race, Hamilton said: “Today was a dream [and] the whole weekend the car was fantastic. Nico had good pace, but I was able to answer most of the time, so I was able to relax at the front.

“The car was feeling great so it was really about looking after the tyres – particularly at the end when I saw one of the tyres had blown on one of the other cars, so I was being very cautious and in the last two laps Nico was allowed to close the gap, but it felt under control the whole way.”

Lewis Hamilton

Rosberg said: “I just completely messed up the start and that was very annoying. Then I fought my way through and gave it absolutely everything.

“We were both on the edge the whole way through, [but] the car has been amazing. Lewis did a great job and deserved to win. I tried to give it everything, but not enough.”

Behind the dominant Mercedes cars, there was action all the way down the field. Romain Grosjean claimed his first podium finish since the 2013 US Grand Prix, a gap of 31 races, thanks in part to a charging performance from ninth on the grid, but also because Sebastian Vettel, who had been running third for much of the race, suffered a spectacular tyre failure as he ran down the Kemmel straight on the penultimate lap.

Vettel had been trying to make a one-stop strategy work after a disappointing performance in qualifying left him eighth on the grid, but his right rear tyre exploded after he had been running on a set of medium Pirellis for 28 laps. The four-time world champion ended up 12th after touring slowly back to the pits for repairs.

Sebastian Vettel

Daniil Kvyat came home fourth after late passing moves on Perez and Felipe Massa, who finished fifth and sixth – the trio forming part of a dramatic six car scrap for the points paying positions late in the race.

Kimi Raikkonen recovered from his Ferrari’s gearbox failing in qualifying to finish seventh, just ahead of Max Verstappen, who had seemingly passed Raikkonen on the Kemmel straight on the final lap before he went too deep into the braking zone at Les Combes and had to settle for eighth.

The Toro Rosso driver had earlier made a spectacular pass on Felipe Nasr by going around the outside of the Sauber driver at the 200mph Blanchimont corner and diving up the inside at the Bus Stop to take the position.

Max Verstappen

Bottas endured a difficult day after his poor start, as Williams mixed up the tyres it fitted to his car at the first pitstop and he left the pitlane with three soft tyres and one medium on the right rear. The Finn was duly handed a drive through penalty that dropped him from seventh on the road to 11th, but he was able to recover to ninth by the finish. Marcus Ericsson beat his teammate Nasr to the final world championship point in tenth for the second race in succession, with ten seconds splitting the Sauber pair.

Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button both came home a lap down in 13th and 14th, well ahead of the Manor cars of Roberto Merhi and Will Stevens. Button suffered ERS deployment issues throughout the race that left him running solely on the petrol internal combustion engine on the Kemmel straight after every passage through Eau Rouge and he finished 18 seconds behind Alonso by the end.

Four cars failed to finish the race; Carlos Sainz did not take the start after suffering engine problems on the second formation lap – although he did get out two laps after the race started for most of the event, before the Toro Rosso team finally brought him in to retire on lap 35.

Daniel Ricciardo

Ricciardo dropped out of the fight for third place when he stopped at the exit of the final corner when his car suddenly ground to a halt on lap 20, bringing out the virtual safety car for several laps.

Pastor Maldonado suffered a rare Mercedes engine failure in the second Lotus on lap two, while Nico Hulkenberg did not start the race as his power unit failed on the grid, causing an aborted start and the extra formation lap.

Result – 43 laps

Pos
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1h23m40.387s
2 Nico Rosberg Mercedes +2.058s
3 Romain Grosjean Lotus +37.988s
4 Daniil Kvyat Red Bull +45.692s
5 Sergio Perez Force India +53.997s
6 Felipe Massa Williams +55.283s
7 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari +55.703s
8 Max Verstappen Toro Rosso +56.076s
9 Valtteri Bottas Williams +1m01.040s
10 Marcus Ericsson Sauber +1m31.234s
11 Felipe Nasr Sauber +1m42.311s
12 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari
13 Fernando Alonso McLaren 1 Lap
14 Jenson Button McLaren 1 Lap
15 Roberto Merhi Marussia 1 Lap
16 Will Stevens Marussia 1 Lap
– Carlos Sainz Toro Rosso Retired
– Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull Retired
– Pastor Maldonado Lotus Retired
– Nico Hulkenberg Force India DNS

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1

What did we learn after the summer break?

1. Hamilton still has the best car (by some margin).

2. Hamilton is still better than his team mate.

Thrilling.

2

ROS – I have the edge over Lewis ( hahahahaha)

now that we have that out the way, do you think HAM sandbags in the sessions on Friday so ROS does not get ideas from hes data overnight?

3

Another boring race. 2014 and 2015 feels like no change for 2 years

4

Then why do you watch? 2 years of boring Sunday’s! I would start to reassess my life

5

What makes an exciting race for you? Can you list some in the past?

6

Hmmm, I’m not sure I would want to be an f1 driver currently with these death-trap tyres… And then there were idiots like DC (sorry, I do usually like you man!) and E Jordan on the BBC after the race defending Pirelli! Madness…

7

I didn’t get a great look from the world feed, but it sure looked like Nico put all 4 off when overtaking Bottas early in the race. Couple that with sneaking up on Lewis during the VSC and it makes me wonder if the powers that be are being lenient on him just to keep somebody in contention with Lewis.

I mean, this is the same track where Lewis cut the corner, gave back the position, and still got docked. Am I the only one who thought Nico pulled fast one here? Was there a better camera angle that shows his innocence???

8

Dave, it does seem as though Rosberg is immune to penalties sometimes, we have seen penalties for much less slam dunk collisions than Nico’s clumsy move at Spa last year, I also fail to understand why Lewis got a penalty in Hungary and Nico didn’t. Before the VSC the gap from Nico to Lewis was 3.5 seconds, when it was cancelled the gap was 1.8 seconds. Was Lewis too slow, or Nico too quick? It would be nice to find out.

9

Fair comment on the VSC – Lewis could have been slowing up to try to draw a penalty – I could see that. But I’m pretty sure RS went all 4 off overtaking Bottas.

10

Hi JAonF1 team.

Hope your working on a special “both compounds tyre” graphic for the Bottas Williams in the next race strategy report.

Ad

11

Love the new starts, Rosburg looked like a rookie at the start.

Feel sorry for Ricciado and Vettel, both had good races until each incident, however I do think Vettel’s was self inflicted.

Cograts to Grosjean, did not see that result coming.

12

Fernando Alonso: “I finished the race 40 seconds ahead of my teammate (Button), almost a second faster per lap with the same equipment, when he won here a few years ago. The car performed well.”

I couldn’t believe what I’ve read. 😀 Does he think we don’t know there was problem with Button’s car?

13

I think that Fernando must have picked up a knock on the head somewhere!

14

Yep Hes the Worlds biggest drop kick thats for sure. Even if Jensons post quali comments were not all that much better… 🙂

15

Brilliant Lewis.

Hakuna Matata.

16

I actually thought it was a good drive by Rosberg to recover from his disaster at the start and to ultimately end up pressuring Hamilton all the way. Would have been very interesting if he had got away cleanly, although of course we don’t know how much Hamilton was keeping in reserve.

Vettel’s tyre incident was a gamble that didn’t pay off. He does have a point though – previously the tyre performance would fall off a cliff rather than just explode. It’s a difficult one. Pirelli have done a good job, but this is motor racing and when you push the limits such things can and do happen.

17

Seriously – anyone read me the other day in the ‘New start procedure’ thread…..no?

Well what I said was just when Williams and Ferarri suss out an advantage with their starts over the Mercs….. Or something like that…

Well today…..

Bottas in third would have blasted past the Mercs the Ferarri’s would have also gained.

Ok Bottas did not have the pace, neither did the Ferarri’s but….. mid season rule changes just gave the Mercs back an advantage.

Good work by Grosjean.

18

Yeah cos Rosberg got a blinding start!

19

Yeah I feared this would happen too. Not a fan of Grosjean (quite the opppsite) but he did a great job no doubt.

20

James,

Kimi has experienced many glorious moments in the past but today he seemed to be struggling for pace ( even against Verstappen in the STR) . Even before Verstappen’s third stop Kimi wasn’t really pulling away from him that quickly (or so it seemed to me from what I was watching anyway) . He wasn’t really able to make an impression on the Massa-Perez battle either . Can you explain the Iceman’s lack of pace in comparison to his team mate and some of those he was battling? Kimi’s start was also atrocious.

21

16th to 7th is not good enough for you & it was with s Cananda PU. An old PU is about 3 to 4/10 a lap slower – So he actually did an incredible job as Arrivabene said.

Also on the second stint on softs he was a little held up by Massa but couldnt pass the Williams down the straight ( Massa had the DRS also on Sainz /Perez too).

22

kimi beat vettel ha ha you not heard the story of the tortoise and the hare? ha

23

Apparently he was running an old spec engine after the problem in qualifying

24

Congratulations Lewis.

Qualifying lap fastest since Mark Webber in Red Bull Renault in 2010, 5 years ago – AND THEY NOW USE 30% LESS FUEL. – Am I supposed to be impressed? I wish we had a real engine formula that would not make us qualify everything nowadays.

25

Outrageous tyre failure!

Great drivers from lots of drivers: Perez, Grosjean, Vettel, Kvyat etc.

26
alexander supertramp

Well Toto didn’t seem to euphoric about it. Guess even Mercedes are getting used to win.

Normal race today, but i’m seeing great RB potential.

27

every timei hear the name Toto.. i just think why name your kid after a dog…

28

A great race from Lewis its surprising that he hasn’t wrapped up the title already. As usual I have been watching closely the progress of Mac Honda and there new improved engine, well sad to say there has been no improvement all season 40 seconds behind after 10 laps a sorry performance at any level. I cant see any sign of hope this season or the next how much longer will the team stay in one peace at this level no sponsor no chance of winning how long is Alonso going to throw his talent down the toilet.

29

Does it make sense that Vettel’s done a quali lap + 14 laps on soft tyres with a heavier car, but later on he couldn’t do 26 on mediums on a cooler track?

30

14 is not 26 is it…it was 27 laps.. that works out another 91 miles.. people forget they are really long laps.. nearly 2 minutes a lap.. call it another 25 minutes of racing ,massive difference . we are not talking Monaco here ..speeds over 200 mph…lap after lap… why was it the right rears that failed?

31

I love Sebastian Vettel. [Mod]

32

Awful awful job by Pirelli. No excuses for what happened. It’s unbelievable.

33

Perhaps Vettel should not have driven across the kerns to save his tyres. I understand that Pirelli’s guidelines of 50 laps is based on driving on tarmac which means not driving over kerbs.

34

Well done Grosjean and Lotus! I hope you can keep it up.

35

Ah, the Pirelli condoms strike again.. There IS a difference between a puncture and a blow out. What NR and SV experienced were blow outs, a sudden catastrophic loss of air. Both NR and SV have every right to be furious.

Just because Hembrey indicated a 2 stop strategy was optimal for the race, doesn’t mean the tires shouldn’t hold longer. In fact he also said they should last 40 laps which is 93% of the race. The fact they didn’t even last 72% of the race, including a lap behind the Virtual Safety car indicates Pirelli has a real issue.

The deciding factor of pitting for tires should be significant performance drop off, not catastrophic failure as in the case of SV. In fact his tires were no where near the performance cliff.

Justifying the failure through riding curbs, is just ridiculous, all race drivers do it. If your tire is not robust enough to withstand bouncing over curbs, you shouldn’t be in the business of providing tires.

This is a serious safety issue, and the drivers getting “excited” about this is quite understandable. If either of the NR or SV incidents had happened a few meters earlier, there could easily have been a couple more funerals in the coming week of F1 drivers.

Get your act together Pirelli. This has nothing to do with soft or hard compounds, but everything to do about construction…

36

Ferrari took the risk of driving a set tyres for an extended number of laps and in so doing, were taking a risk and that gamble failed. Simple. I don’t understand why Vettel or Ferrari fans are getting so upset. If you want durable tyres so that drivers go much longer distances on a single set of tyres then I would agree because I don’t like the idea of fragile tyres featuring so heavily as a reason for driver coasting.

37

40 laps on the tarmac not across the kerbs!

38

@ Luqa

I hear what you say but drivers are passing over the kerbs at top speed that may have been the trigger for Vettel’s tyre failure. The circuit layout and using the full width of the kerbs is a feature of racing at Spa. There were plenty of slow motion shots of driving fully over over kerbs at top speed.

If there was something fundamentally dangerous with the tyres, we would have seen more tyre blow ups, but we didn’t. BBC race commentators (Coulthard and Jordan) and Niki Lauda did not share Vettel’s view.

39

From your response it seems you do not understand the difference between performance degradation of the surface compound and the underlying carcass that failed catastrophically long before the surface compound was worn down..

One should be able to drive the tires down to the carcass, albeit with a huge degradation in performance, long before the tire explodes. Getting 70% of the expected life before degradation was expected to occur through failure, is simple dangerous and unacceptable, and has NOTHING to do with the fact Ferrari chose a 1 stop strategy.

40

Yes, the problem with Pirelli has always seemed to be that the tire components are not bonded together well enough. On NR’s tire a small break in the tread and a few strands on Kevlar allowed the tire to split. On SV’s the tread simply came away from the Kevlar. Contrast that to LW’s McLaren in China when it wore down the canvas and still didn’t deflate, let alone explode. He just had a total loss of grip and went off in the pit lane.

Obviously if your run a tire for long enough it will eventually deflate but it should lose grip long before and certainly not explode without warning.

41

Did Pirelli ever get the time from the sport to properly test the tires and discover what it’s limits really are instead of having to extrapolate that limit from a couple of tests that are far from representative for the conditions the tires have to work in? Shouldn’t the sport, read FIA and FOM, be blamed for this more than Pirelli?

42

Yep. Very good comment. His performance didn’t even drop significantly. Tyres didn’t even hit the cliff. I mean, I’m sure Vettel’s good, but not that good…. 😀

43

Very well said!

44

Great job Lewis and puts the naysayers Especially those of 2014 well and truly to rest..

As for what happened to Nico and Seb- very scary and totally unacceptable!.

Pirelli-for years now Ive been saying they dont belong in F1 and the reasons I have highlighted many times- I dont even want to talk about them ever again- they dont deserve it. They gotta go- plain and simple..

45

Well may we say fair well to Pirelli and their F1 Adventure, because as the sun will rise for some tomorrow, nothing surer of the exit of Pirelli from F1 grid at the end of their contract with FIA Arrivabene will see to that and in fair dinkum department they haven’t been a shining light in tyre excellence .The shady way with Mercedes four day test ,.The fiasco at Silverstone and the very concerning event at the Spa and unfortunately for Pirelli it happen to two teams who rule the roost .

46

Horrible horrible what happened to Vettel. Totally unacceptable.

47

Raikkonen used an old spec engine which had half a second a lap pace deficit

48

Many on twitter were saying it was Canada PU.

49

Where did you see/read this?

He did seem very slow on the straights compared to the cars around him, even Toro Rosso was faster and he couldn’t gain on Massa’s Williams which was actually one of the slowest cars in a straight line

50

could you post a link for that Rohind? gracias

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