• Belgian Grand Prix

Vettel romps to dominant victory at Spa

ESPN Staff
August 25, 2013
Once Sebastian Vettel had passed Lewis Hamilton the win never looked in doubt © Getty Images
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Sebastian Vettel took a dominant victory at the Belgian Grand Prix, completing the 44-lap race distance 16.8s faster than second-place Fernando Alonso.

After taking pole position in dramatic circumstances on Saturday, Lewis Hamilton couldn't match the pace of the Red Bull and lost the lead after clobbering the kerbs through Eau Rouge on the first lap. He eventually dropped to third ahead behind Alonso, who made a fantastic start from 9th and then worked his way up to second. Nico Rosberg finished where he started in fourth while Mark Webber spent the afternoon recovering from another shocking start to finish fifth.

While Vettel was able to extend his championship lead, the biggest gains were made over Kimi Raikkonen who retired from the race for the first time in 38 grands prix. Raikkonen had been showing clear signs of brake issues with brake dust coming off his front left but having seemed to be managing the problem his brakes failed attempting to pass Felipe Massa in to the final chicane and he retired the car.

The start of the race proved crucial as Hamilton got away well from pole but soon had Vettel breezing past him on the exit of Eau Rouge. The speed differential was startling and Vettel was then able to ease away at the front, setting the fastest lap of the race in the closing laps.

Alonso had made another strong start to edge ahead of Webber in to Eau Rouge and then dispatched Jenson Button using DRS for fourth place. Rosberg was next up the road and Alonso again used DRS to take third place, but the battle with Hamilton had seemed closer until a strategic error allowed Alonso through in to second place.

Hamilton had been surprised by the speed difference using DRS when he passed Romain Grosjean at the chicane only for the Lotus to cruise back past at Les Combes. When Alonso was close behind Hamilton then allowed the Ferrari through at La Source to ensure he got the DRS boost but still didn't have the straight line speed to regain the place and had to settle for a distant third.

Rosberg and Webber ran closely throughout the race with Webber's decision to run the hard tyre in the middle stint - rather than at the end like most drivers - allowing him to close up in the final stages before he dropped away again as his mediums faded.

Jenson Button finished sixth for McLaren but will take some pleasure from being just 6.9s off Webber at the finish. Button had been attempting to complete a one-stop race as he ran third but never looked likely to be able to hold off the Mercedes pair behind and came in to the pits late on. The result was still enough for McLaren to leapfrog Force India in the constructors' championship.

Felipe Massa finished seventh ahead of Romain Grosjean despite struggling with a KERS problem. Grosjean looked to have the measure of Massa on a one-stop strategy but his hard tyres fell away in the closing laps and the Ferrari was able to get ahead in to Les Combes.

Adrian Sutil finished ninth despite a bit of contact with Pastor Maldonado at the chicane in an incident which accounted for his team-mate Paul di Resta. Maldonado ran wide and attempted to cut back in to the pits but Sutil turned across the front of the Williams, taking off part of Maldonado's front wing. Then as Maldonado accelerated again towards the pits he clouted the rear of di Resta's car to take him out of the race and earn himself a 10 second stop/go penalty.

Daniel Ricciardo put a late move on Sergio Perez to take the final point after Perez tried to make a one-stop strategy work having been penalised for a move earlier in the race. Perez was given a drive-through penalty for squeezing Grosjean off track at Les Combes, a punishment which ultimately cost him points.

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