Sebastian Vettel dominates Belgian Grand Prix

Sebastian Vettel has won the Belgian Grand Prix, showing that Mercedes’ apparent comeback may not be as smooth sailing as previously anticipated.

The Red Bull driver passed pole sitter Lewis Hamilton on the first lap, and was completely untouchable for the rest of the afternoon. Hamilton clearly struggled with the pace of his car, and gradually slipped away, finishing in 3rd place.

Fernando Alonso made an emphatic start as usual, jumping up from 9th to 5th on the first lap. After disposing of Mark Webber and Nico Rosberg, he later dived down the inside of Hamilton at La Source, but was unable to put any pressure on Sebastian.

Behind the top 3, Hamilton’s and Vettel’s teammates did duel for the entire race. Mark Webber hounded Nico Rosberg since the first set of pit stops, but a lack of straight line speed and outright pace kept the Aussie in 5th place. Rosberg began to catch Lewis in the closing stages, but never got close enough to make a move.

Jenson Button did his usual strategy of using prime tyres to briefly jump up the order, before being forced to revert to a 2-stopper, and took  6th. Felipe Massa passed Romain Grosjean in the later stages of the race, while Adrian Sutil and Daniel Riccardo took the final points-scoring positions.

Sutil previously survived an incident with Pastor Maldonado, which resulted in Paul di Resta being taken out of the way. During a 4-way battle into the Bus Stop chicane, Maldonado broke his front wing off Sutil’s car, then clattered into Di Resta while trying to pit. A stop/go penalty combined with his repair stop ensured the Williams driver finished well out of the points. After a brilliant qualifying session, Di Resta fell down the order at the start, was soon passed by his teammate, and afterwards never even looked like challenging for a good finish.

Kimi Raikkonen was never on the pace of the Red Bulls and Mercedes today, and a brake failure ended his 27-race streak of consecutive points finishes.

Vettel’s victory gives him a commanding 46 point lead over Fernando Alonso, who in turn is 12 points ahead of Hamilton. Raikkonen’s retirement puts him in an extremely difficult situation, so the title fight appears to be narrowing to a 3-horse race.

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