by Rhian Gibbs
- Hamilton’s 39th Victory Equalling Ayrton Senna
- Honda engines hand McLaren combined 55 grid penalty.
- Pirelli under fire again
With everyone refreshed after the summer break we re-join the racing in Belgium. Little changed with Mercedes locking out the front row but with the new race start it was always going to be an interesting get away.
Hamilton had a decent start and virtually led the race throughout, with Rosberg fumbling beside him and dropping places immediately. A poor start couldn’t keep the German down though and while he did give Hamilton a run for his money, he could not catch the World Champion who took his 39th victory. Rosberg was 2nd again.
Despite the bailiffs knocking on their door, the Lotus team held their nerve and in superb racing and team strategy; Grosjean earned himself 3rd place on the podium. Unfortunately the same could not be said for Maldonado who retired lap three after damaging his car when going off track.
Red Bull also had a mixed race with Ricciardo looking strong after a brilliant start but was forced to retire lap twenty with electrical failure. Kvyat on the other hand worked his way through the pack in some excellent over taking moves once again showing what a driver he is becoming. 4th is his highest finish to date.
Force India’s Perez led the race for a split second heading into Les Combes after a fantastic start but had to concede to Hamilton. Unfortunately for him tyre wear and a lack of pace meant he couldn’t push harder but 5th was well deserved for his efforts. Hulkenberg made it to as far as the grid but suffered power loss forcing a restart of the race and his Force India to be retired.
Williams had a disappointing race with both cars struggling on the softer compound tyres, when they changed to mediums it was too late to make up the ground with Massa calling it a ‘disaster’; he could muster 6th. Bottas had his own problems following his first pit stop – three soft tyres and a medium were fitted in an unusual mix up which cost the Finn a possible fifth place. With the drive through penalty 9th was as far as he could go.
Raikkonen crossed the line 7th for Ferrari but the limelight was on Vettel in a unique single-stop strategy, he ran for 28 laps on the medium tyre and was about to take the last podium place when a rear tyre blowout on the penultimate lap dropped him to 12th. Not only has this hurt his title chances but a furious Vettel has hit out at Pirelli branding their performance as “unacceptable…if this happened earlier then I’m f****d”.
Verstappen finished 8th for Toro Rosso showcasing some stunning passes throughout the race whilst Sainz suffered early on with power issues and they eventually withdrew him (lap 33) to save engine mileage.
Sauber’s cars both experienced problems, Ericsson lost time due to debris hindering his performance and pushed hard to take the final point ion 10th, Nasr’s issue was with brakes and a slow puncture but he followed his teammate home 11th.
Things don’t seem to be letting up for McLaren with the FIA handing them multiple grid penalties for new power units and components – Alonso receives 30 and Button 25. The new units had little effect in the race despite Alonso’s epic start moving up six places by the end of the first lap, the car could only take as far as 13th. Button followed him in 14th after battling with ERS problems.
Marussia ended the race with Merhi 15th and Stevens 16th, another sturdy performance from both drivers.
- Next Race: Italy 6th September