The Belgian Grand Prix saw the Formula 1 season restart with a bang after the summer break as Lewis Hamilton got the win holding off his main title rival, there was disappointment too as Max Verstappen retired again for Red Bull and the Force India duo made the news for the wrong reasons again as they tangled one more time.
So who were the winners and losers around the iconic Spa-Francorchamps?
The Briton had pretty much the perfect weekend not only setting a new track record to claim pole in qualifying, equaling Michael Schumacher’s record for the most poles in history in the process but then the triple world champion would manage a controlled, error free race to grab the win.
Hamilton would keep his main title rival, Sebastian Vettel at bay, despite the German trying to put the Mercedes under constant pressure, keeping composure to grab the win and most importantly close the championship gap to the top for just seven points.
Once again this season, the Australian kept his head down as Red Bull didn't have the pace to stay with the top two teams early on, but when he found an opportunity to move up, following the Safety Car after the Force India collision, he made the best of it, grabbing third with an excellent move on Valtteri Bottas' Mercedes at the restart and earned himself to a sixth podium finish this season.
The Renault driver had a bad start to his weekend, unable to match his teammate's pace in practice and qualifying, but when it mattered Hulkenberg was there to score an excellent sixth place as it all kicked off around him.
He came out on top in an interesting battle with Fernando Alonso early, passing him initially into the Bus Stop before being re-passed but eventually getting the job done on Lap 3. From that moment on, it was about control and when Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon decided to clash, he was assured of finishing ‘best of the rest’ once again.
The Brazilian veteran returned to the cockpit after missing the Hungarian Grand Prix and with the late dip in form for the Williams team, Massa was only able to qualify sixteenth. He would use his experience, however, and brought his car into the points crossing the finish line a well-deserved eighth.
The Belgian Grand Prix was basically a home race for the young Dutchman, with an estimated 80,000 of his countryman making the trip to Spa. For the second straight year, however, things did not go the way he wished.
Verstappen was forced to retire for the sixth this season, a finishing rate of just 50 percent and once again it was an engine failure that saw his demise. To see his teammate score the same number of podiums as he has finishes only added insult to injury.
Particularly as, the way the race developed, he might have well been the driver with the chance for that third place finish.
On the weekend the championship seemingly became a two-horse race, it was a disappointing weekend for Bottas. The Finn looked to have secured third position following Raikkonen's penalty, a result that might have still kept him in touch if trouble struck in front.
However, his race was flipped following the Safety Car restart as Bottas could not keep Ricciardo and then Raikkonen from overtaking him into Les Combes and forcing him back to fifth, costing him major championship points. Now 41 points behind Vettel and 34 off his teammate, it would be justifiable for Mercedes to put their eggs in the Hamilton basket.
One of the major subplots of the race, the Force India garage could only watch as their drivers made contact not once but twice at Spa, the second costing them major points as Perez was forced to retire with Ocon demoted to ninth.
The team had been clear about letting their drivers’ race despite previous incidents but after this one, it seems team orders will start interfering from now on to ensure the team does not drop valuable point once again and to ensure the safety of both drivers.
The team is in fourth position in the Constructors’ Championship and only lost two of the 60 points they held over Williams, but with yet another failure for Max Verstappen, you have to wonder just how close they would be to Red Bull in third without these silly moments.
Another race and another disappointment for the double world champion as his McLaren failed to reach the finish line but this time in controversial circumstances. Alonso just missed a spot in Q3 being dropped out by Hulkenberg in the final seconds but started 10th benefiting of the penalty drop for Jolyon Palmer.
The Spaniard then made the perfect start making up positions and getting involved in a nice duel with Hulkenberg for seventh position, keeping the fans entertained. From that point on it was only bad as he fell down the order due to the lack of power from his Honda engine. It was a matter of just a few laps before he was back outside of the top 10.
It was a matter of just a few laps before he was back outside of the top 10 and just after the halfway mark, Alonso was called to the pits to retire his car to add to his list of DNFs and disappointments, only Honda has subsequently claimed nothing was actually wrong...
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