Lewis Hamilton dominated again in the Belgian Grand Prix, but activity outside a static podium fight enlivened the race.
Here’s how it unfolded, plus the thoughts of Scott Mitchell and Edd Straw.
Pre-race: Sainz’s McLaren develops an issue with its Renault engine that leads to an exhaust failure on the reconnaissance lap. He’s unable to start the race.
Start: Hamilton holds off Bottas through the first corner, while Verstappen and Ricciardo go wheel to wheel through all parts of Les Combes before the Red Bull can be sure of third.
Order: 1 Hamilton; 2 Bottas; 3 Verstappen; 4 Ricciardo; 5 Ocon; 6 Albon; 7 Stroll; 8 Leclerc; 9 Perez; 10 Gasly; 11 Norris; 12 Kvyat; 13 Vettel; 14 Giovinazzi; 15 Magnussen; 16 Raikkonen; 17 Russell; 18 Grosjean; 19 Latifi
Scott Mitchell: “What a first lap from Leclerc to muscle his way up to eighth place – ahead of both AlphaTauris, a Racing Point and a McLaren. Meanwhile Vettel’s still 13th. That opening lap could be the difference between points and nothing today for Ferrari.”
Lap 2: Gasly gets a run on Perez out of La Source and manages to pass him for ninth through Eau Rouge (!), before holding the Racing Point’s retaliation back at Les Combes.
Lap 3: Gasly now sweeps past Leclerc on the Kemmel Straight with DRS to take eighth.
Edd Straw: “Contrasting fortunes for the AlphaTauri drivers. Gasly up to eighth after passing Leclerc but Kvyat, who started ahead of his team-mate, had a moment exiting the first corner on lap one and is stuck in 12th.”
Scott Mitchell: “Leclerc is a sitting duck on the Kemmel Straight when the driver behind (Gasly) has a Monza-spec rear wing and DRS. Leclerc’s fight today is likely to be with Norris for 10th – not much, but something.”
Lap 4: After Hamilton opened an early 1.5s lead, Bottas has pegged him back with a couple of fastest laps.
Lap 4: Perez is next to pass Leclerc, demoting him to 10th.
Edd Straw: “Raikkonen’s up to 15th after passing Magnussen. He carried a significant speed advantage onto the start of the Kemmel Straight and breezed past.”
Lap 5: Hamilton responds with a fastest lap of his own to put 0.6s back onto his lead.
Lap 5 gaps: 1 Hamilton; 2 Bottas +1.7s; 3 Verstappen +4.2s; 4 Ricciardo +8.4s; 5 Ocon +10.7s; 6 Albon +11.7s; 7 Stroll +13.5s; 8 Gasly +14.7s; 9 Perez +15.9s; 10 Leclerc +18.2s.
Scott Mitchell: “Gasly has cracking pace on the hard tyre early on. He’s the only driver on that compound and he’s making it work. He should attack Stroll for seventh pretty soon, setting himself up for a very good race.”
Lap 6: Norris pushes Leclerc outside the points with a straightforward pass to take 10th.
Scott Mitchell: “Well, Leclerc’s not fighting for 10th at all. He’s back down to 12th now, just ahead of Vettel. No speed on the straights but also a curious Ferrari strategy as he’s the only driver who had free tyre choice who’s started on softs…”
Lap 7: Leclerc down to 12th now, just ahead of Vettel, after Kvyat breezes past him after Raidillon.
Lap 8: Hamilton’s lead is staying between 1.5s and 2.0s, with Verstappen steadily falling away.
Scott Mitchell: “Some kind of miscommunication at Mercedes? Bottas, pursuing Hamilton, asked if he had one ‘push’ to use and was told they agreed not to use it on each other. Bottas suggests that’s news to him.”
Lap 10 order: 1 Hamilton; 2 Bottas; 3 Verstappen; 4 Ricciardo; 5 Ocon; 6 Albon; 7 Stroll; 8 Gasly; 9 Perez; 10 Norris; 11 Kvyat; 12 Leclerc; 13 Vettel; 14 Giovinazzi; 15 Raikkonen; 16 Russell; 17 Grosjean; 18 Magnussen; 19 Latifi
Lap 11: A heavy crash for Giovinazzi and Russell brings out the safety car. Both get out out unaided.
Giovinazzi had spun into the barriers on the exit of Fagnes and a wheel from his car went into Russell’s path. The Williams hit it then ploughed into the wall.
Scott Mitchell: “That was a frightening shunt. Anything with an errant wheel is scary. Fortunate it only hit/broke Russell’s right-front wheel. The halo was obviously not needed this time, but I’m glad it exists – this shows how fine the margins can be.”
Lap 11: Raikkonen, Leclerc, Magnussen, Grosjean and Latifi come in for immediate pitstops.
Edd Straw: “Magnussen really struggled in that first stint with the tyres. He was running behind Giovinazzi on lap one but then was passed by Raikkonen, Russell and Grosjean. The Alfa team has said it can’t advise him on how to manage the tyres better as it doesn’t understand what the problem is.”
Lap 12: Everyone else comes in for pitstops at the end of the following lap except Gasly and Perez. All those who stopped went to hards except Albon, who is on mediums. Leclerc has a very slow stop.
Lap 12 order: 1 Hamilton; 2 Bottas; 3 Verstappen; 4 Gasly (hasn’t pitted); 5 Perez (hasn’t pitted); 6 Ricciardo; 7 Albon; 8 Ocon; 9 Stroll; 10 Norris; 11 Kvyat; 12 Vettel; 13 Raikkonen; 14 Leclerc; 15 Grosjean; 16 Magnussen; 17 Latifi
Gary Anderson: “In that first part of the race, it only took until lap six for Hamilton to build a big enough lead to pit and come out in front of the Ferraris!”
Scott Mitchell: “Leclerc’s race started so encouragingly but now it’s not so good. He’s slipped to 14th as we resume racing and Ferrari’s assessing two back-up plans now. Leclerc wants something ‘very different’.”
Lap 15: Racing resumes, with Verstappen doing his best to jump Bottas but no changes in the order.
Lap 16: Hamilton reports a “loss of power” on team radio, though he has just set the fastest lap. Mercedes tells him it’s “just energy management and it should be back to normal now”.
Lap 16: Raikkonen overtakes Vettel for 12th into Les Combes.
Scott Mitchell: “Ex-Ferrari driver Raikkonen passes soon-to-be-ex-Ferrari driver Vettel. For 12th place. How the mighty world champions have fallen. At least Kimi’s in a team that’s meant to be in the midfield…”
Lap 17: Hamilton sets another new fastest lap, though Bottas immediately beats it.
Lap 17: Ricciardo slipstreams Perez down the Kemmel Straight and passes the yet-to-pit Racing Point for fifth. Albon also passes Perez down the outside into the Bus Stop.
Scott Mitchell: “Pretty impressive 12-car train for sixth in shot there as the camera looked back at the final corner – somewhere near the end of that train was the team that locked out the front row last year and won the race.”
Lap 19: Perez makes his pitstop for hards and falls to last, 6s behind Latifi.
Lap 19: The Ferraris might minor contact through Les Combes as Leclerc tries to pass Vettel for 12th but is resisted.
Scott Mitchell: “Yeah, because what you want when you’re a big team underperforming and already heading to back-to-back home races under intense scrutiny is your drivers to risk colliding over 12th place. Just Ferrari things I suppose.”
Lap 20 gaps: 1 Hamilton; 2 Bottas +2.8s; 3 Verstappen +4.1s; 4 Gasly +15.7s; 5 Ricciardo +16.0s; 6 Albon +17.0s; 7 Ocon +18.8s; 8 Stroll +20.4s; 9 Norris +22.4s; 10 Kvyat +23.4s
Lap 21: Ricciardo gets past Gasly approaching Les Combes and moves back into fourth place.
Lap 21: Perez, lapping at the same pace as the Mercedes, has already caught Latifi for 16th. He soon overtakes the Williams.
Edd Straw: “Perez is within eight seconds of the points but needs to pass six cars to get there.”
Lap 23: Hamilton’s lead reaches 3s. Verstappen is hovering 1.5s behind Bottas.
Lap 24: Albon overtakes the yet-to-stop Gasly on the Kemmel Straight to take fifth.
Lap 24: A new fastest lap of 1m48.123s from Hamilton takes his lead up to 3.7s.
Lap 24: Leclerc makes another pitstop and goes to mediums. He rejoins last, 12s behind Latifi, and it’s a slow stop as Ferrari attaches to hose to top up pneumatic pressure.
Lap 26: Gasly is now down to seventh as Ocon passes him approaching Les Combes.
Lap 26: Gasly makes his pitstop. He goes onto mediums and rejoins 16th between Latifi and Leclerc.
Lap 26: On his new medium tyres, Leclerc does a new fastest race lap of 1m47.840s, half a second quicker than the Mercedes’ current pace.
Lap 27: Mercedes is urging its drivers to push. Hamilton does a fastest lap of 1m47.758s and leads Bottas by 4.4s with Verstappen 6.7s off the lead.
Lap 28: Perez has now overtaken both Haas drivers and is on Vettel’s tail for 11th. Gasly has passed both Latifi and Magnussen and is up to 14th.
Lap 29: Perez takes 11th from Vettel, who’ll soon have Gasly behind him as the AlphaTauri passes Grosjean for 13th.
Lap 32: Gasly overtakes Vettel for 12th, with the Ferrari locking up into Les Combes in his wake.
Scott Mitchell: “Gasly got that overtake done on Vettel so early and so easily. Vettel’s now complaining he has ‘nothing on these tyres’ left – 13th and 16th for Ferrari as it stands. Raikkonen is fighting for a point at Alfa Romeo.”
Lap 33: Perez is back into the points with a pass on Raikkonen for 10th.
Lap 33 gaps: 1 Hamilton; 2 Bottas +4.9s; 3 Verstappen +9.4s; 4 Ricciardo +26.2s; 5 Albon +33.0s; 6 Ocon +35.9s; 7 Stroll +41.3s; 8 Norris +42.6s; 9 Kvyat +49.3s; 10 Perez +50.2s
Lap 34: Gasly takes 11th from Raikkonen.
Lap 35: Bottas reports “numbness in my left leg from the brakes” over team radio.
Lap 35: Leclerc passes Magnussen to take 15th. Magnussen then pits and falls to last behind Latifi.
Lap 36: Perez, who has been caught by Gasly, takes Kvyat for ninth but now has an 8s gap to close to catch Stroll and Norris’s battle for seventh. Kvyat lets Gasly past too and drops to 11th.
Lap 37: Norris passes Stroll for seventh into Les Combes.
Lap 39: Mercedes tells Bottas to avoid kerbs to protect the front right. Both Mercedes have had trips over the run-off at the Bus Stop in recent laps.
Lap 40: 1 Hamilton; 2 Bottas +7.4s; 3 Vertappen +13.8s; 4 Ricciardo +27.0s; 5 Albon +41.6s; 6 Ocon +42.5s
Lap 40: Gasly overtakes Perez for ninth.
Lap 42: Albon now has Ocon and Norris on his tail for fifth, while Gasly is right with Stroll for eighth. Ocon is trying hard to pass the Red Bull but being rebuffed.
Lap 43: Gasly takes eighth place from Stroll.
Lap 44: Ocon finally makes it past Albon into Les Combes to take fifth.
Lap 44: As Hamilton wins, Ricciardo sets the fastest lap of the race on the final lap for Renault.
Lap 44: Leclerc at least makes it past Grosjean to take 14th.
|Pos||Name||Car||Laps||Laps Led||Total Time||Fastest Lap||Pitstops||Pts|
|3||Max Verstappen||Red Bull-Honda||44||0||+15.455s||1m48.305s||1||15|
|6||Alex Albon||Red Bull-Honda||44||0||+42.712s||1m48.736s||1||8|
|9||Lance Stroll||Racing Point-Mercedes||44||0||+52.603s||1m49.136s||1||2|
|10||Sergio Pérez||Racing Point-Mercedes||44||0||+53.179s||1m48.389s||1||1|
|12||Kimi Räikkönen||Alfa Romeo-Ferrari||44||0||+1m11.504s||1m49.822s||1||0|
|Antonio Giovinazzi||Alfa Romeo-Ferrari||9||0||DNF||1m51.793s||0||0|