Race Notes

MERCEDES-AMG PETRONAS MOTORSPORT SCORE 30 POINTS AT SPA-FRANCORCHAMPS

Lewis Hamilton secured his 10th podium of the 2018 Formula 1™️ season at the Belgian Grand Prix as teammate Valtteri Bottas surged through the field from 17th on the grid, placing 4th overall to extend Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport’s lead in the FIA Formula OneTM World Constructors’ Championship over Ferrari by 5 points.

Following a Qualifying masterclass on Saturday in tricky conditions, Lewis led the pack away from pole position into La Source with Vettel close behind. Car #44 started the race on the red Super Soft compound whereas Valtteri opted to use the yellow Softs to go long in the first stint.

Strategic plans soon unravelled for the majority of the grid  as a huge incident at Turn 1 took out three cars and damaged several others, Valtteri included. Luckily this damage was limited to his front wing and, soon after, the Safety Car was deployed to neutralise the race. Unfortunately for Lewis, this call came too late to halt the action at the front of the grid.

Vettel slipstreamed past as the leading train of cars charged up the Kemmel Straight, and for a moment the leaders were four-abreast – the two Racing Point Force Indias either side of Vettel and Lewis – before settling into single-file for the right-left-right complex of Les Combes.

With the Mercedes-AMG GT-R safety car now on track and slowing the field, the team pitted Valtteri for a wing change and a switch to the Super Soft compound – a much-needed ‘race reset’ from 17th with car #77 primed for attack.

As the race resumed, wheelspin through Blanchimont compromised leader Vettel but Lewis’s challenge for the lead was defused as he went deep into the ‘bus stop’ chicane, allowing the Ferrari to open up a safe gap between the two from La Source onward.

This order remained unchanged as Lewis attempted to undercut the Ferrari on Lap 22, with the team’s only planned stop for the afternoon switching car #44 to the Soft tyre compound. Unfortunately, Vettel’s in-lap pace was too great to overcome and, as he re-joined the track on Lap 24 following his own stop for Softs, the Ferrari remained first overall.

Valtteri made the most of fresh rubber to enter points-paying positions by Lap 13, eventually rising as high as P4 before pitting on Lap 29 for the Soft compound tyre himself. There were several stand-out moves for position in this opening stint, most notably a daring dive around the outside of Brendon Hartley entering the famed Eau Rouge corner. Now placed sixth with 15 laps to go, the chase for fourth was on.

As Vettel and Lewis traded fastest laps at the front of the field, Valtteri passed Ocon for fifth on Lap 32 and placed his Mercedes-AMG EQ Power+ within DRS range of fourth-placed Perez by Lap 40. In a move that almost mirrored the pass of 8 laps earlier, Valtteri coursed around the outside of Perez into the braking area at Les Combes to secure his fourth-place finish.

The chequered flag fell 4 laps later with Lewis P2, crossing the line 10 seconds adrift of Vettel, but maintaining a 17-point lead (231 points) in the Drivers’ Championship over his Ferrari rival (214 points). Following his resurgent drive through the field, Valtteri now lies only 2 points behind third-placed Raikkonen (146 points). Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport (375 points) leads Ferrari (360 points) by 15 points in the Constructors’ Championship.

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