It has been somewhat of an up and down weekend for Lewis Hamilton. Friday looked like it was going to be a Nico Rosberg weekend, with the German being a couple of tenths clear, before the Brit came back in qualifying to take the advantage by half a second to win the pole trophy for this season.
The new variable this weekend will be the new start procedure which means the drivers will have more control over their starts, it will be interesting to see what happens for the first time.
There was some drama even before the start of the race, with Nico Hulkenberg reporting a loss of power on his out lap, the team brought him back into the pits to check. He got back out on the circuit again quickly and back to the grid.
With the cars getting away on the we know that the top ten will start of the soft tyre, with Nasr and the two McLarens on the medium. Nico Hulkenberg reported that there was still a lock of power in the Force India, he was told to pit at the end of the lap. He was then told to take the start, with them saying the boost was coming back.
Nico Hulkenberg was waiving as soon as he entered his grid slot, with Charlie Whiting aborting the start. Sainz also said over the radio that there was a loss of power in the Toro Rosso. Hulkenberg was wheeled back into the pitlane before the restart. Sainz was told to come into the pitlane, another driver missing the start to go into the garage.
The lights go out with a good start from Hamilton. A great start from Ricciardo and Peres, with Rosberg down behind Vettel. Perez challenged Hamilton along the Kemmel straight although couldn’t make it stick for the lead. The order at the start being Hamilton, Perez, Ricciardo, Bottas and Rosberg. Hamilton had pulled away from Perez by the end of the lap.
Rosberg overtook Bottas into the final chicane, with the Williams locking up into La Source, with Vettel overtaking him too. Bottas got back at him but couldn’t overtake. Maldonado slowed along the Kemmel Straight with him saying that he had lost the engine.
Maldonado got the Lotus back to the pits to retire, while Carlos Sainz made it back out on the circuit, although nearly a lap down on lap 4. Verstappen overtook Ericsson for 10th. Raikkonen was just behind in 12th.
At the front and Lewis Hamilton was pulling away from Perez setting fastest lap after fastest lap. Bottas was being hounded by Grosjean, while Raikkonen overtook Ericsson from 11th. Lap 6 and another fastest lap from Hamilton, a 1:55.7. Kvyat overtook Massa for 8th on the run up to Les Combes, Williams looking slow on the straights. Ricciardo was also closing down on Perez, but the Force India was too fast on the straights.
After overtaking Massa, Kvyat closed in on the Bottas and Grosjean. Rosberg was also on the back of Perez and Ricciardo with two fierce on track battles. Ricciardo pitted on lap 8, the first to pit at the front of the field. He took the medium tyres in a 2.4 second stop at Red Bull.
Grosjean made the move stick on Bottas on the same lap to get 6th place, with Kvyat looking to make a move on the Finn as well. Perez pitted at the end of the lap to cover Red Bull, with a yellow flag out on the circuit briefly. They put the soft tyres on, with Ricciardo getting ahead of the Force India, and succeeding with the undercut. Alonso also pitted at the back. Bottas and Kvyat also went wide at the Bus Stop. Massa in 6th was also holding up Verstappen and Raikkonen, with his stopping at the end of lap 10. Kvyat, Verstappen and Grosjean did the same. They came out with Massa at the end of the train.
Grosjean was right behind Bottas, with him going straight past. Valtteri Bottas was spotted with a mix of compounds on his car with three soft tyres and one medium. Max Verstappen tried to overtake Nasr around the outside of Nasr through Blanchimont and made the move stick at the bus stop.
The order at the end of lap 11 Hamilton, Rosberg, Vettel, Raikkonen, Ricciardo and Perez. Raikkonen pitted at the end of lap with him having the soft compound tyres. Perez had the DRS on Ricciardo and made the move stick for 4th place. Rosberg would pit at the end of lap 12. Rosberg had the medium tyre. Rosberg came out just ahead of Perez, but the Mexican had a run and went alongside the Mercedes, although didnt overtake.
With the wrong tyres on the car, Bottas was officially put under investigation down in 7th. Hamilton put the medium tyres on at the end of lap 13. He came out behind Vettel who had yet to stop, with the German locking up into the first corner.
Bottas would get a drive through penalty, with Vettel pitting a lap later than Hamilton. The German came out ahead of Bottas in 7th. Replays showed that Daniel Ricciardo had a huge oversteer movement going though Eau Rouge.
After the pitstops the gap between the leaders was reduced to three and a half seconds. Perez remained in third from Ricciardo. Bottas served his drive through on lap 16 and slipped to 11th, but the team told him that they were going to keep the tyres on the car.
Further back, Felipe Nasr overtook Fernando Alonso, with both of them outside the top ten with the use of the DRS.
In the battle for third, Grosjean overtook Ricciardo for forth, with Perez just up the road. The other three car battle was Kvyat, Massa and Raikkonen for 7th. Grosjean the driver on the move, nearly as fast as the Mercedes drivers and could be a problem for Perez.
Lap 20 and Grosjean was told to attack Perez, the Lotus closing in quickly. He got a great tow and overtook on the Kemmel Straight using the DRS. As he overtook it looked like dark clouds were approaching. The Lotus driver now up to the podium position.
Ricciardo locked up into the last corner, with the Australian retiring at the exit of the final corner. Perez pitted as well in front of him. A virtual safety car was deployed. Alonso and Button also pitted. Perez came back out on the circuit in 10th. Grosjean from 4th and Massa also pitted under the virtual safety car.
Under the virtual safety car, Hamilton said over the radio that Rosberg was closing the gap. It was taken in on lap 22, with Raikkonen attacking Massa on the Kemmel Straight, Verstappen right on the back of the two of them. After pitting, Perez was told that he needed to make it last to the end of the race. Bottas overtook Ericsson to get himself back into the top ten.
Felipe Massa set the fastest lap of the race so far on lap 24, while the gap between Hamilton and Rosberg had closed, before him being held up behind the Manor who was being lapped. Hamilton started putting his foot down, seven tenths faster the next lap.
On lap 27 Perez was closing in on Kvyat in 5th, the Russian was on old tyres having stopped on lap 9. Kvyat pitted a lap later, but was in terrible shape coming into the pitlane. Perez now in clear air, with the Russian coming out in 10th place. Kvyat quickly overtook Bottas for 9th place on lap 29, the Russian went on to set the fastest lap.
Hamilton would pit at the end of lap 30. It was a set of the soft tyres for Hamilton, despite the Briton saying that he was happy with the previous set. The team said that the stop would have gone to Nico otherwise. Rosberg pitted a lap later in the other Mercedes, he would also take a set of the soft tyres. Vettel stayed behind in third. The gap between Hamilton and Rosberg had gone up to seven seconds. Vettel was told that the team thought that the tyres would be able to go to the end.
Slightly further down the order Massa had got on the back of Perez in the battle for 5th. Kimi Raikkonen only just behind the pair in the Ferrari. Verstappen pitted and came out in 10th. His team mate Sainz pitted on lap 35 to retire the car being two laps down in the Toro Rosso.
In the battle for the podium, Grosjean was closing in on the Ferrari with large a large amount of time being found by the Lotus. Kvyat was told that he needed to make a move quick on Kimi. He did on the Kemmel Straight for 7th place. Kvyat caught the train behind Perez in fifth, Massa in sixth and Raikkoken behind him in 9th.
Up the road, the gap between Vettel and Grosjean was down to a second. The Lotus driver was given full power by the team. In the Perez train, Kvyat was lining up the Williams although the DRS didn’t work on the Kemmel Straight. He was also given a warning for leaving the track at Eau Rouge. Max Verstappen overtook Massa for 9th at Les Combes as well. Kvyat was in the right place the next lap and made the move stick for 6th place.
With only a couple of laps remaining Grosjean was still eyeing up the Ferrari, but was not closing enough on the Ferrari. Kvyat made the same move stick into Les Combe to get into the top 5 in the Red Bull.
Vettel had a tyre failure on the Ferrari on the exit of Eau Rouge, with the Lotus of Grosjean instantly overtaking him along the Kemmel Straight. He was in the way of the lower battle between Perez, Massa and his team mate Raikkonen. Max Verstappen was right on the back of Raikkonen, the Toro Rosso going around the outside of the Ferrari but could hold it into Les Combes as he nearly hit the Williams. Raikkonen kept the position.
Lewis Hamilton won the Belgian Grand Prix though from Nico Rosberg and Romain Grosjean in third in the Lotus Mercedes. Kvyat 4th from Perez in 5th.