Sebastian Vettel takes 52nd career win ahead of Lewis Hamilton in Belgium
By: S. Harding, Xiro Xone News August 26, 2018 Updated: 2:32 PM PT
SPA-FRANCORCHAMPS, Belgium — Sebastian Vettel took the first win of the second half of the season after beating title rival Lewis Hamilton at Sunday’s Belgian Grand Prix.
Vettel scored his 52nd career win surpassing Alain Prost on the all-time wins list. Dry weather played into the hands of Vettel’s Ferrari. This allowed him to take full advantage of the power hungry Spa-Francorchamps circuit. He managed to hold the gap until the checkered flag.
“I’m very happy because we had a great race, the car now has proved to be robust on all tracks and this weekend we got a little more power from the new engine, which I think also helped us down the straights,” said Vettel. “At the start I tried to stay close to Lewis, getting a good exit out of Turn 1 and then taking advantage of the slipstream to get past.
After the Safety car pulled out, it was just the other way round, so I looked after the exit of Turn 1 to stay ahead. The first stint was very close, only a couple of seconds between us; but then the guys did a fantastic pit-stop, I could not believe the light had turned green so fast, and that gave our rivals no chance. The second stint was ore about managing the car and the tires for both of us. This is a great win for the whole team and hope in Monza it will be the same, but we need to keep fighting to be always up there.”
Their was chaos at the start of the race when a number of cars were involved in a massive pileup at Turn 1. The huge domino effect of the collision left Nico Hulkenberg, Fernando Alonso, and Charles Leclerc out of the race.
Vettel’s teammate Kimi Raikkonen, who suffered a tire puncture during the incident, managed to continue after making it back to the pits but would later be forced to retire after he encountered a DRS issue.
Despite finishing second, Hamilton took his 127th career podium and still holds a seventeen point lead in the driver’s championship.
Max Verstappen put the thousands of Dutch fans who came out to see him on the their feet as he took his fifth podium after making a monster charge up the field from seventh to claim the final spot on the podium in third.
Verstappen’s teammate Daniel Ricciardo suffered damage to his front and rear wing during the opening lap incident and was able to get it repaired during the safety car period. But with too many places to make up, the team made the decision to retire his car.
“It looks like Hulkenberg misjudged his braking to cause the chain of events and the damage to the front and rear of Daniel’s car was significant,” said Red Bull Racing Team Principle Horner. “The mechanics did a wonderful job in getting the car turned around but unfortunately having lost two laps to the lead car, and with engine mileage at a premium, we had to make the decision to retire the car from what was only ever going to be a 16th place finish for Daniel today,” he said.
Valtteri Bottas also made a mighty charge up the field after starting from the back of the grid to finish fourth.
Things got off to a great start for the the newly renamed Racing Point Force India as Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon finished fifth and sixth putting points on the board the for the team who start the second half of the season with zero points in the constructors’ championship.
The Haas pair of Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen finished seventh and eighth followed by Toro Rosso’s Pierre Gasly in ninth who set to join Red Bull Racing next season. Marcus Ericsson took the final points paying position in tenth after losing teammate Charles Leclerc in the opening lap.
The McLaren bound Carlos Sainz finished 11th with Williams drivers Sergey Sirotkin and Lance Stroll in 12th and 13th. Gasly’s Toro Rosso teammate Brendon Hartley took 14th followed by Stoffel Vandoorne making the final car on the grid in 15th.