Vettel storms to victory in Belgium GP, extends lead in title race
Spa (Belgium): Sebastian Vettel delivered a crushing blow to his title rivals on Sunday when he increased his lead in the drivers’ championship with a consummate triumph for Red Bull in the Belgian GP.
On a welcome dry afternoon at Spa Francorchamps in the Belgian Ardennes, the 26-year-old German took the lead from pole-man Lewis Hamilton on the opening lap and then pulled clear to claim his fifth win of the year and the 31st of his career, pulling him level with Briton Nigel Mansell.
The defending triple world champion came home a comfortable 16.869 seconds ahead of second-placed Spaniard Fernando Alonso of Ferrari with Hamilton third for Mercedes.
It was his fourth third-place of the year and the 54th podium finish of his career, drawing Hamilton alongside three-time champion Austrian Niki Lauda. Vettel was delighted. “It was a fantastic race for us from start to finish. It was very good tactics and it helped to get past Lewis on the first lap. We were a bit afraid of the rain coming but it was a great race.
“I feel good, winning helps, the car was much better going into the race so we had the pace to control it. The guys on the pit wall were not as stressed and in terms of rain there was nothing critical,” he said.
Alonso admitted to being bored by the race. “We had to recover some places — we were not OK on Saturday. But today it was a little bit boring, we get second place, but no threat to Sebastian and had no threat from behind. “This has been an important weekend for us and the team and we arrived full motivated — and in Monza (the next race in a fortnight) we would like to give some smiles to our fans.” Hamilton praised his team. “We had a tough race, but the team did a great job.”
Hamilton’s team-mate German Nico Rosberg finished fourth ahead of Australian Mark Webber in the second Red Bull and sixth-placed Briton Jenson Button for McLaren.
Vettel’s win, his second in Belgium, lifted him to a total of 197 points while Alonso climbed back to second on 151 with Hamilton third on 139. In the constructors championship Red Bull lead with 312 points ahead of Mercedes on 235. With eight races remaining, Vettel’s win was an emphatic riposte to Hamilton’s speed and recent form, and his maiden victory for Mercedes in Hungary.
Kimi Raikikonen failed to finish for the first time in 39 races due to a brake problem with his Lotus and saw him drop from second in the title race to fourth.