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Race highlights - Belgium 2017 - A slow burn of a race with a safety car surprise

Published by Christine

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There was talk of rain building up to this weekend's race but the weather stayed dry and the action in Spa was only hindered by one safety car period.

Close racing action didn't quite deliver the fantastic Grand Prix that we might have hoped for, but there were several talking points that will no doubt be referred back to as the season continues to progress. We saw a safety car, more inter-team rivalries, several stop/go penalties and a handful of disappointing retirements.

To catch up with anything you missed, or simply relive what wasn't the best race of the year so far, read on for lap by lap coverage of the Belgian Grand Prix.

As it happened: Belgium 2017 - The race

Event Highlights

  • Hamilton wins, with Vettel close behind but unable to challenge on pace
  • Safety car deployed after Pérez pushes teammate Ocon into the wall
  • Verstappen retires on lap 8 with another engine failure
  • Ricciardo finishes an opportunistic third, with Räikkönen and Bottas behind
  • Alonso has several radio strops and then retires from the race halfway through
  • 12:30

    Hello there FBFB friends, how have you been? Back refreshed and raring to go after the summer break? Me too!

  • 12:30

    It's the Belgian Grand Prix we're gearing up for today, at the ever-popular Spa-Francorchamps. Already we've seen tyre barrier crashes, epic downpours of rain, and pole position records being broken. What do we have in store for us today?

  • 12:32
    Circuit Data
    Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps
    Local timezone+02:00 GMT
    First race1950
    Number of laps44
    Circuit length7.004km
    Race distance308.052km
    Start offset0.124km
  • 12:33

    Lots of penalties being handed out this weekend. Vandoorne has a heck of a lot of engine related grid drops, whilst he, Wehrlein and Ericsson also have gearbox related penalties as well. Felipe Massa was penalised for failing to slow for yellow flags during practice - but he qualified near the rear of the grid anyway. Oh, and Kvyat also has a 20 place drop for engine reasons as well. Not much for the stewards to keep an eye on, really.

  • 12:33
    Starting grid
    1L HamiltonMercedes
    2S VettelFerrari
    3V BottasMercedes
    4K RäikkönenFerrari
    5M VerstappenRed Bull
    6D RicciardoRed Bull
    7N HülkenbergRenault
    8S PérezForce India
    9E OconForce India
    10F AlonsoMcLaren
  • 12:33

    There was disappointment for Palmer yesterday, as he'd been doing a solid job in practice and was up into the top ten of qualifying with plenty of confidence, but then his car failed and he couldn't take part in the rest of the shoot-out session. And then, a gearbox penalty today dropped him out of the top ten altogether to herald another bad weekend for the Brit.

  • 12:33
  • 12:34

    The pit lane opened a couple of minutes ago to allow drivers to fire up the engines and head out for an installation lap or two, or to settle straight on the grid ahead of the race.

  • 12:34

    TweetTweet from @andrewbensonf1: On his way to the grid, Raikkonen says he still has the vibration that troubled him in qualifying

  • 12:36

    It is, of course, Stoffel Vandoorne's home race but the McLaren driver will struggle to do much from the back of the field thanks to a whopping 60 place grid drop.

  • 12:38

    The weather forecasters had suggested there might be rain today, but at the moment it's looking warm and dry over the track. Things can change quite quickly though, as we have seen before!

  • 12:39

    Coming into this weekend after a relaxing summer break, Vettel has the lead of the championship over Lewis Hamilton by a slender 14 points, and after some good performances at the last two races, Valtteri Bottas has joined the battle in third place.

  • 12:42
    Fastest Session Times
    Free Practice 1K Räikkönen1:45.502
    Free Practice 2L Hamilton1:44.753
    Free Practice 3K Räikkönen1:43.916
    QualifyingL Hamilton1:42.553
  • 12:45

    QuoteChristian Horner, Red Bull: "Our best chance is on or after the first turn, and that first lap. Both drivers are pretty pumped up, hopefully they’ll give each other space… The one that’s going to be really interesting is Mercedes, because they’ve boxed themselves in tyre-wise, it’s going to be interesting how they run their race."

  • 12:46

    A quick fly past precedes the national anthem, with all drivers at the front of the grid. The anticipation builds.

  • 12:52

    Felipe Massa said yesterday that he was aching a little from his Friday practice crash, but ahead of the race today he's said he's feeling a lot better. Lest we forget, he had to sit out the last race in Hungary due to illness, so he could do with a straightforward weekend, really.

  • 12:54

    TweetTweet from @McLarenF1: Commemorating the 80th birthday of our founder Bruce McLaren with team t-shirts in our iconic orange colour.

  • 12:55

    Weather icon

    Wind speed0.9mps
  • 12:57

    Race controlRisk of rain for this session is 10%.

  • 12:57

    The top 14 drivers are all on the purple ultrasofts, with Stroll, Massa and Ericsson on red supersofts. Then Pascal Wehrlein is the only driver starting on the yellow striped softs, with Kvyat and Vandoorne rounding out the order on the supersofts.

  • 12:59

    Hamilton has reported that his seat was a little warm when he climbed in the car, but they don't sound particularly worried about that.

  • 12:59

    TweetTweet from @F1: It’s @LewisHamilton's 200th consecutive race start today. Can he convert his pole into a win?

  • 13:00

    The grid pulls away for the formation lap, Hamilton leading the field down to the first corner and then round to the sweeping and imposing Eau Rouge.

  • 13:01

    TweetTweet from @pirellisport: As a reminder, a one-stopper is theoretically fastest: ultrasoft for 14 laps then soft to the finish. Depending on weather of course…

  • 13:02

    The crowds are huge, every single bit of space available is filled, and many of the fans are sporting lovely orange for their favourite Max Verstappen.

  • 13:03

    It's a long out-lap given the 7km track, but Hamilton has rounded the final corner and slows right up to crawl to his front row grid slot.

  • 13:03

    Green flagRace started.

  • 13:04 Lap 1

    Hamilton keeps ahead into the first corner, and it's relatively clean up to the top of Eau Rouge.

  • 13:04 Lap 1

    Vettel had a good run up the hill, and pulls alongside the race leader, but Hamilton has the edge at the moment.

  • 13:04 Lap 1

    Ricciardo dropped behind Verstappen off the start, which won't have pleased him.

  • 13:04 Lap 1

    Brief yellow flags there, but they've cleared already.

  • 13:05 Lap 1

    Jolyon Palmer has dropped to the rear of the field so the yellow car may have been the cause of the yellow flags.

  • 13:05 Lap 1

    Fernando Alonso made a good start, up three places to sit seventh now.

  • 13:05 Lap 1

    That lasted only moments, however, as Nico Hülkenberg winds his way past the McLaren to snatch seventh.

  • 13:06 Lap 2

    Palmer has jumped up to 13th place actually, so perhaps that was a timing glitch rather than an incident.

  • 13:06 Lap 2

    Three wide as Alonso, Hülkenberg and Ocon battle for seventh place. Alonso has moved back ahead of the Renault.

  • 13:07 Lap 3

    Vettel is clinging to the tails of Hamilton, as they cross the line for the third lap. He's keeping within a second of the leader, but the pair are pulling a gap on Bottas in third.

  • 13:08 Lap 3

    Hülkenberg ahead of Alonso again, it's topsy turvy between these two.

  • 13:08 Lap 3

    Wehrlein is being pushed back into the Sauber garage, and that's an early retirement for him.

  • 13:10 Lap 4

    Romain Grosjean passed his Haas teammate Magnussen, whilst Alonso has lost another place with Esteban Ocon moving ahead.

  • 13:11 Lap 4

    Replays of the start show the two Force India drivers coming together on the first lap. Ocon was moving up the inside, whilst Pérez was distracted by a Renault on the outside and drifted his teammate into the wall.

  • 13:12 Lap 5

    Fernando Alonso is getting multiple warnings for missing the apex of turn 4, he better be careful.

  • 13:13 Lap 5

    Team radioTeam radio from Kevin Magnussen: "We need to do something different. I've got no pace. Guys, we need to get off this tyre."

  • 13:14 Lap 6

    Team radioTeam radio from Alonso: "I really don't care too much about the gaps."

  • 13:15 Lap 7
    Gap Analysis
  • 13:16 Lap 7

    Felipe Massa is making progress after starting in 16th place, he's moved up three places and is chasing after Magnussen for 12th position.

  • 13:17 Lap 8

    Max Verstappen has slowed right down, complaining of a loss of power. The pit wall tries to give him some instructions but it's not working.

  • 13:18 Lap 8

    Yellow flagYellow flags and DRS disabled as the Red Bull stops just off track.

  • 13:18 Lap 9

    Another retirement for Verstappen, and bitterly disappointing in front of the many, many fans that have turned out for him.

    "Unbelievable, I can't believe this," he says.

  • 13:19 Lap 9

    TweetTweet from @MercedesAMGF1: LAP 8: No way... VER's Bull pulls up sick on the run to Les Combes! Gutted for all the fans who've packed Spa to see him!

  • 13:20 Lap 9

    Jolyon Palmer and Marcus Ericsson have both taken the opportunity to make a pit stop, and it's yellow soft tyres going on both cars.

  • 13:21 Lap 10

    Team radioTeam radio from Kevin Magnussen: "Guys, listen to me now, we need to get off this tyre. We can get both cars in the points if we get off this tyre."

    Still trying.

  • 13:21 Lap 10

    Green flagTrack is clear and DRS enabled.

  • 13:22 Lap 11

    Bottas is reporting blistering on the front left, and we are starting to see that on several of the cars. The pit stop window must be very close.

  • 13:23 Lap 11

    Ocon, Grosjean and Alonso all come into the pit lane. Ocon takes on the red supersofts, as compared to Grosjean and Alonso on the yellow softs.

  • 13:24 Lap 12

    TweetTweet from @alanbaldwinf1: The traffic gridlock leaving Spa has probably been brought forward by about an hour...

  • 13:25 Lap 12

    Felipe Massa and Nico Hülkenberg are next in line for the pits.

  • 13:25 Lap 12

    Guy Martin was part of the crew changing the tyres on Massa's car. Random.

  • 13:26 Lap 13

    And in comes Lewis Hamilton from the lead of the race, soft tyres going on the Mercedes.

  • 13:26 Lap 13
    Pit Stop Analysis
    DriverL Hamilton
    Pit lane22.037s
  • 13:27 Lap 13

    Race controlIncident involving Kimi Räikkönen under investigation - failing to slow under yellow flags.

  • 13:27 Lap 14

    Ricciardo gets the message that his degradation is looking pretty good so far, so maybe not a pit stop yet for him.

  • 13:28 Lap 14

    Vettel stays out as Bottas comes in for his stop.

  • 13:28 Lap 14
    Pit Stop Analysis
    DriverV Bottas
    Pit lane22.963s
  • 13:29 Lap 14

    Pérez looks for a line around the Haas of Romain Grosjean in front of him. They're squabbling for the final points position at the moment.

  • 13:30 Lap 15

    Both of them manage to sweep past Kvyat in the Toro Rosso after Eau Rouge, but Grosjean does lose out to Pérez.

  • 13:30 Lap 15

    Vettel takes his stop and rejoins behind the battle between Räikkönen and Hamilton, the Mercedes closing right up behind the Ferrari to retake the lead of his race.

  • 13:30 Lap 15
    Pit Stop Analysis
    DriverS Vettel
    Pit lane22.443s
  • 13:31 Lap 15

    Räikkönen still has to stop, running in second place at the moment. Sainz also has yet to stop in seventh, with Kvyat and Vandoorne also yet to come in.

  • 13:31 Lap 16

    Just as Vettel was closing up on his teammate, Räikkönen peels off to take his own pit stop.

  • 13:32 Lap 16

    Race controlTurn 5 incident involving Sergio Pérez under investigation - leaving the track and gaining an advantage.

    That was during the overtake with Grosjean.

  • 13:33 Lap 17

    Race control10 second stop/go penalty for Kimi Räikkönen - failing to slow for double yellow flags.

  • 13:33 Lap 17

    Team radioTeam radio from Fernando Alonso: "No more radio, the rest of the race!"

  • 13:34 Lap 17

    Vettel has closed the gap to race leader Lewis Hamilton, now sitting just about seven tenths behind him.

  • 13:35 Lap 18

    "What do you mean? He was on the side of the road!" Kimi responds to the news of his hefty penalty.

  • 13:37 Lap 18

    Räikkönen takes the penalty, and that's dropped him down to seventh place.

  • 13:38 Lap 19
    Driver Positions
    10L Hamilton1
    20S Vettel1
    30V Bottas1
    42D Ricciardo1
    52N Hülkenberg1
    63E Ocon1
    7-3K Räikkönen2
    80S Pérez1
    94C Sainz0
    101R Grosjean1
  • 13:38 Lap 19

    Race control5 second time penalty for Sergio Pérez - leaving the track and gaining an advantage.

  • 13:42 Lap 21

    Team radioTeam radio to Fernando Alonso: "Stoffel is pitting."

    "Why?? He's the only ****ing car I will overtake."

  • 13:43 Lap 22

    The gap at the front between Hamilton and Vettel is remaining stable now at about 1.2 seconds, ebbing and flowing but not really changing as each lap goes by.

  • 13:43 Lap 22

    TweetTweet from @RenaultSportF1: Lap 21, Jolyon is up to P13 and getting ready to play with Fernando. Jo won't radio him though, we promise. He might wave nicely?

  • 13:44 Lap 22
    One to Watch
    K Magnussenvs.F Massa
  • 13:46 Lap 24

    TweetTweet from @Jamesallenonf1: If the leaders need to stop again before the end due to blistering etc, VET has a new set of U/Softs and HAM does not

  • 13:47 Lap 24

    StopwatchValtteri Bottas sets the fastest lap of the race so far with a 1:48.616.

  • 13:48 Lap 25

    Marcus Ericsson has taken another pit stop, he's currently running last.

  • 13:50 Lap 26

    Kimi Räikkönen overtakes Nico Hülkenberg to move into fifth place. Still some work to do to limit the damage of that penalty, but it's Ricciardo next in line - and that's a 28 second gap to overhaul.

  • 13:51 Lap 26

    Sergio Pérez takes his second stop of the day - five seconds to go on his time there as well.

  • 13:52 Lap 27

    And Fernando Alonso starts to cruise, pulling into the pitlane and retiring from the race.

  • 13:53 Lap 28

    Alonso reported an engine problem before he came in, and Vandoorne has been instructed that the problem won't affect.

  • 13:54 Lap 28

    It's a long lap so it's taken a while for us to get our first lapped car - Marcus Ericsson drops one lap down of the race leaders.

  • 13:55 Lap 28

    Esteban Ocon has comes in for his second pit stop of the afternoon.

  • 13:55 Lap 29

    The pit stops have put the two Force India drivers back on track together again. Pérez has just set the fastest lap of the race so far, but Ocon is looking feisty behind him.

  • 13:57 Lap 30

    Another really dodgy teammate move there, Ocon looking for a way past, Pérez actively defended against him and pushed Esteban into the wall. Ocon damaged the front wing and Pérez picked up a puncture.

  • 13:58 Lap 30

    Race controlSafety car deployed.

  • 13:58 Lap 30

    There's a big chunk of Force India front wing lying on track.

  • 13:58 Lap 30

    Räikkönen has taken a free pit stop, Hülkenberg and Grosjean also taking the opportunity for a stop.

  • 13:59 Lap 30

    Esteban Ocon has made it back to the pit lane, some damage to be patched up on that car. New front wing goes on, tyre change, and he's off again.

  • 14:00 Lap 31

    Pérez has also come in, ditched the puncture tyre and taken on fresh rubber.

  • 14:01 Lap 31

    A handful more drivers have taken the opportunity for a pit stop here, we've got plenty running on the ultrasoft rubber again, with just 13 laps to go - and some of those behind the safety car.

  • 14:02 Lap 32

    Crucially, Hamilton is in the lead on the yellow softs, and Vettel is directly behind him on the ultrasofts. Both fresh rubber but totally different compound strengths.

  • 14:03 Lap 32

    Race controlLapped cars may not overtake.

  • 14:04 Lap 32

    Toro Rosso report that Carlos Sainz had picked up a puncture so came in for a pit stop under the safety car - he's running in 11th now.

  • 14:05 Lap 32

    TweetTweet from @ChrisMedlandF1: Hamilton unhappy about Safety Car deployment. "That's a BS call from the stewards". Was a big bit of wing out of La Source

  • 14:07 Lap 33

    Hamilton complaining there was no debris anywhere, but the marshals had quite the job to collect it all so there was definitely something to be picked up.

  • 14:07 Lap 33

    Race controlSafety car in this lap.

  • 14:07 Lap 33

    Race controlIncident involving Sergio Pérez and Esteban Ocon noted - causing a collision.

  • 14:08 Lap 33

    Small palpitations as we have a situation where Hamilton is prepping for a re-start and Vettel is cloooose behind him. We have been here before.

  • 14:09 Lap 34

    Green flagTrack is clear.

  • 14:09 Lap 34

    Hamilton went but Vettel stuck with him, so no major issue there. One car ran massively wide before they'd even got going again.

  • 14:09 Lap 34

    Vettel is tucked up behind the Mercedes as they fly up Eau Rouge, side by side down the following straight, but the Ferrari doesn't have the grunt to take the lead.

  • 14:10 Lap 34

    Bottas got swamped by two cars, Ricciardo and Räikkönen both went around him and he's dropped down to fifth.

  • 14:10 Lap 35

    Race controlIncident involving Sergio Pérez and Esteban Ocon - no further action.

  • 14:12 Lap 36

    Race controlDRS enabled.

  • 14:13 Lap 36

    StopwatchHamilton sets the fastest lap so far - 1:46.603. Vettel dropping back a little now.

  • 14:13 Lap 36

    Replays show it was Kevin Magnussen who zipped off track at the restart, he was just running out of space and chose the run off rather than a collision.

  • 14:14 Lap 37

    TweetTweet from @HaasF1Team: .@KevinMagnussen ran off at the chicane on the restart. Did well not to ram the rear of @RGrosjean. Can you say 'close'?

  • 14:15 Lap 37

    In amongst all the chaos, a couple of drivers have benefitted. Grosjean is running seventh, whilst Massa is up eight positions to sit in eighth place.

  • 14:17 Lap 38

    Hamilton reports his rear tyre temperatures are starting to climb. Vettel closes the gap a little but no major threat yet. Ricciardo running well in third.

  • 14:19 Lap 40

    Five laps to go now. Everything holding station.

  • 14:23 Lap 42

    Hamilton gets some information from the pit wall, but asks "leave me to it," so he can concentrate on being flat out to the end.

  • 14:23 Lap 42

    Three laps to go. Can't see much changing now.

  • 14:24 Lap 42

    TweetTweet from @thebuxtonblog: 10 second stop go for ignoring yellows but no further action for repeated contact and debris almost going into the crowd

  • 14:25 Lap 42

    Pérez gets the call to box, they're retiring the car with just a couple of laps to go.

  • 14:27 Lap 44

    Hamilton rounds the last corner and begins the final lap of the race.

  • 14:28

    Chequered flagLewis Hamilton wins the Belgian Grand Prix!

  • 14:29

    Vettel second and Ricciardo clings on to third place, another great and probably unexpected result for Red Bull there.

  • 14:29
    Race Winner
    DriverL Hamilton
    Race time1:24:42.820
    Race distance308.052km
    Average speed218.183km/h
  • 14:30
    Gap Analysis
  • 14:30

    Hülkenberg, Grosjean, Massa, Ocon and Sainz round out the top ten, all of them picking up very handy points.

  • 14:31

    Hamilton has closed the gap once again then, although Ferrari and Vettel still keep hold of their championship leads at the moment. It's a great title fight, but unfortunately the race today wasn't one of the best.

  • 14:31

    Apart from some individual talking points that are going to take some unravelling (Force India crashing into each other, Alonso's continuing meltdown, and just what is going on with Verstappen's engines), it really wasn't a weekend to remember.

  • 14:32

    We've got back to back racing, though, with the super speedy, fast and furious Monza hosting Formula One in just seven days time. Join me then!

All content in the series Belgium 2017