Lewis Hamilton continued his dominance of the Formula One season by taking victory in the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa.
The Mercedes driver finished ahead of team-mate Valtteri Bottas and Red Bull’s Max Verstappen on Sunday to make it five wins from seven races in 2020.
Daniel Ricciardo impressed to take fourth place and the fastest lap for Renault, who also saw Esteban Ocon overtake Alex Albon to claim fifth on the final lap.
Hamilton led from pole position and despite never building an enormous lead, his victory rarely looked in doubt as Mercedes took their first win in Belgium for three years.
Ferrari suffered more woe and failed to score a point, with Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc finishing 13th and 14th respectively.
As Hamilton led Bottas off the line, Verstappen narrowly held off Ricciardo as Albon lost a place to Ocon, one he later got back at the pit stops.
A safety car was required on lap 11 due to a significant crash involving Antonio Giovinazzi and George Russell, the Alfa Romeo spinning and his loose wheel colliding with the Williams.
That delayed proceedings for four laps and meant the majority of the field pitted earlier than anticipated.
Rumoured rain did not arrive, as all top three drivers limped home on aging tyres, although there was to be no repeat of the blistering and puncture drama seen earlier this season at Silverstone.
The main focus at the finish was Albon ultimately being unable to keep Ocon behind, with Ricciardo taking the extra point from Hamilton as he sprinted home without the tyre issues of those in front of him.
After a difficult first race of the season, Hamilton has moved further in control of the title race with every passing week.
His fourth win at Spa means he now comfortably leads Verstappen by 47 points and his team-mate Bottas by an astonishing 50 before the halfway stage of the campaign.
There is a huge gap below them, with Alex Albon – one year on from making his Red Bull debut at this circuit – still waiting for his first podium having been out-qualified by Verstappen in 15 of 16 races.
Ferrari won at Spa in 2018 and 2019 but were nowhere near the front this time on another miserable afternoon.
Leclerc surged up to eighth early on but had fallen back down to 12th by the seventh lap. He was hindered when Ferrari were not ready for him with tyres at a quick pit stop when the safety car arrived, and later had a slow second stop as the team worked on his car.
Meanwhile, Vettel was passed by the Alfa Romeo – powered by a Ferrari engine – of Kimi Raikkonen as well as locking up when Pierre Gasly cruised by him, with the German and Leclerc at one stage midway through the race battling each other hard for 12th spot, an incredible contrast to their scraps for victories and podium places last season.
A frustrated Carlos Sainz was unable to start from seventh due to an exhaust issue, the second straight year he could not begin the race at Spa.
The team had four top-five finishes in the first four races but have had none since at a time where Renault, from whom they will take Ricciardo in 2021, are finding some impressive form.
1. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) 2. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) +8.448s 3. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) +15.455s 4. Daniel Ricciardo (Renault) +18.877s 5. Esteban Ocon (Renault) +40.650s 6. Alex Albon (Red Bull) +42.712s 7. Lando Norris (McLaren) + 43.774s 8. Pierre Gasly (Alpha Tauri) + 47.371s 9. Lance Stroll (Racing Point) + 52.603s 10. Sergio Perez (Racing Point) + 53.179s
1. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) – 157 2. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) – 110 3. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) – 107 4. Alex Albon (Red Bull) – 48 5. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) – 45
1. Mercedes – 264 2. Red Bull – 158 3. McLaren – 68 4. Racing Point – 66 (after 15-point deduction) 5. Ferrari – 61
The drivers are straight back in action next week with the Italian Grand Prix at Monza, an event Ferrari won last year to end a run of five straight Mercedes successes.
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