Race - Advantage Hamilton after Spa thriller 29 Aug 2010
McLaren's Lewis Hamilton won a dramatic Belgian Grand Prix on Sunday, leading throughout and beating Red Bull's Mark Webber by 1.5s despite one agonising moment, as the rains came on lap 35 and he slid momentarily into the gravel at Rivage. In the process, on a day when title rivals Jenson Button, Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso all failed to score, Hamilton moved back into the lead of the world championship with 182 points to Webbers 179. Vettel remains third on 151 ahead of Button on 147 and Alonso on 141.
In the constructors stakes, Red Bull still lead McLaren with 330 points to 329, with Ferrari third on 250.
Hamilton really wanted this race, to add Spa to the list of places he has conquered, and stormed into the lead as Webber made a slow start due to a clutch problem and was quickly engulfed by Renault's Robert Kubica, Button, Vettel, Ferrari's Felipe Massa and Force India's Adrian Sutil.
Button soon fought up to second and for a while a McLaren one-two was a clear possibility. But his left front wing endplate had been damaged slightly in traffic, and Vettel moved in, taking Kubica and Webber with him after the Australian had moved ahead of Massa. Button had things under control, but then it began to rain lightly from Blanchimont onwards and on the 16th lap Vettel simply got too close to Button, lost control under braking for the chicane, and then speared into the side of the McLaren.
Button was out on the spot, but Vettel crossed over into the pits for a new nose and resumed in 12th place. But then he was given a drive-through penalty for causing the accident, and was well out of the picture thereafter. Later still he touched Tonio Liuzzis front wing after passing him in the chicane after the Italian had given him something of a driving lesson, and finished a very unhappy, and lapped, 15th.
Kubica clung to second place ahead of Webber during the first tyre stops, by which time the track was completely dry again, but when the rain came back with a vengeance in the final quarter he was so busy adjusting his steering wheel buttons ready for his wet tyres that he slightly overshot his stopping place in the pits and lightly damaged the right front wing endplate. That was enough to lose second place to Webber, but third was still a great result for Renault on a weekend when the F-duct made the R30 very competitive.
Massa could not get any closer than fourth place, running just off the pace of the frontrunners, but his was a much more successful race than Fernando Alonsos. His Ferrari was hit at the chicane on the first lap by Rubens Barrichello, sending the Spaniard into the pits for repairs and the Brazilian into an ignominious exit from his 300th Grand Prix. Later Alonso, like Vettel, got a driving lesson from Liuzzi, but was on course for some more points when he spun exiting Les Combes and had to abandon a damaged car. That was the incident which triggered the second deployment of the safety car, after the first-lap dramas.
Sutil drove a great race for Force India to take a fifth place that protects the teams points advantage on a day when Williams failed to score, while Mercedes salvaged something from a tough weekend with sixth and seventh places for Nico Rosberg and Michael Schumacher. Things might have been a little tense in the garage afterwards, however; on lap 10 Renault's Vitaly Petrov squeezed by Rosberg at Les Combes, running him wide and enabling Schumacher also to pass his team mate, but Michael swiped Nicos front wing as he did so. Later Nico forced his way by Michael there on lap 41, then left him behind.
Kamui Kobayashi made some amends for his qualifying gaffe by driving his usual feisty race through to eighth for BMW Sauber, ahead of Petrov, who also did well to claw his way from the back of the grid. The final point fell to Toro Rosso's Jaime Alguersuari, who resisted a strong challenge from Liuzzi when the safety car pitted at the end of lap 40.
Behind the Italians Force India, BMW Sauber's Pedro de la Rosa survived a late off at Rivage to take 12th ahead of Sebastien Buemis Toro Rosso and Nico Hulkenbergs Williams, with Vettel a lap down in 15th. In the new team stakes, Heikki Kovalainen brought his Lotus home 16th ahead of the duelling Virgins of Lucas di Grassi and Timo Glock, with late-spinning Jarno Trulli 18th from final finisher Sakon Yamamoto. Besides Barrichello, Button and Alonso, Bruno Senna failed to finish after something broke on his HRT.
It was a great race, with fine performances from the top three. Hamilton was cock-a-hoop with what might turn out to be a crucial success, and looking back to the 2008 race which he won before the FIA applied a time penalty, he smiled and said: I get to keep this one.