It was back to business for Mercedes at the Belgian Grand Prix as Lewis Hamilton won a controlled race ahead of team mate Nico Rosberg. Hamilton was as untroubled throughout the 43 lap race as he had been marred by trouble and incidents at the last race in Hungary, a return to form and it seems business is carrying on as expected.
But it was at the start where the fireworks were expected to happen, new procedures have eliminated any assistance from the pitwall telling the driver what settings to use to get the best possible start.
Pole sitter Hamilton got off the line clean heading into the tight first corner unchallenged, his team mate, Rosberg, didn’t fare so well dropping from second on the grid to fifth in a flash. Sergio Perez (4th) muscled his Force India into second followed by another firestarter Daniel Ricciardo (5th).
The Williams of Bottas was third but had to settle for 4th with Rosberg now way out of position. Perez managed to get a better drive out of the fearsome Eau Rouge corner, slipped streamed Hamilton on the following Kemmel straight and was momentarily ahead as the two approached the Les Combes section.
Hamilton had the inside line and the entry into Les Combes is realistically only wide enough for one car at a time and so Hamilton retained first place and an iron grip on the race from there on. Rosberg managed to climb back up to second as the first round of pitstops were completed, the superior pace of the Mercedes was all the more evident at the high speed nature of the Spa Francorchamps circuit.
However on lap 21 a virtual safety car was deployed to remove Daniel Ricciardo’s stricken Red Bull, this brought the gap between Hamilton and Rosberg down to around 2 seconds. When the virtual safety car period was over Rosberg never looked like mounting a serious challenge to Hamilton who seemed un-flustered by Rosberg’s presence and was able to build up a small buffer zone.
Behind the Mercedes duo is where the real action was. The Lotus of Romain Grosjean looked competitive throughout the race and in the closing stages of the race the French man had the Ferrari of Sebastian Vettel in his sights and therefore the last remaining podium.
Grosjean was quick through the corners but the Ferrari had better traction out of the the corners and better straightline speed, it seemed it was close but not close enough for Grosjean. Both the Ferrari and Lotus were on different tyre strategies. Ferrari opted for one while the rest of the grid opted for the safer two stops.
It seemed as though Vettel had done enough and he was able to manage his pace despite the deteriorating lack of grip, however as Vettel exited Eau Rouge and headed down the Kemmel straight his right rear tyre blew. With one lap remaining it was all over for Vettel who tried to limp around in his Ferrari in a desperate attempt to stay in the points.
Ferrari’s 1-stop tyre strategy gamble failed to pay off but Grosjean was rewarded with a podium, much needed for himself and the Lotus team.
Meanwhile Lewis Hamilton dominated the race while not quite stretching himself or the car to the absolute limits. Victory at the 2015 Belgian Grand Prix marked Hamilton’s 39th career win and an 80th podium finish the latter equals Ayrton Senna’s tally of podium’s.
Hamilton also extended his points tally to 28 points over Rosberg in the drivers championship and if the Englishman continues this form it seems likely a third championship will arrive sooner rather than at the last race of the season.