FIFA WORLD CUP 2018 Kata Rocks
Login | Create Account Poll Currency Weather Facebook Youtube Search

Hamilton halves title gap but Ferrari the real winner in Spa

FORMULA ONE: Lewis Hamilton may have won the Belgian Grand Prix on Sunday (Aug 27) as predicted, but Ferrari and Sebastian Vettel made him work for victory in his 200th race start.

transporttechnology
By Michael Lamonato

Tuesday 29 August 2017, 04:35PM


Winner Lewis Hamilton celebrates on the podium after the Belgian Formula One Grand Prix at the Spa-Francorchamps circuit in Spa. Photo: Loic Venance / AFP

Winner Lewis Hamilton celebrates on the podium after the Belgian Formula One Grand Prix at the Spa-Francorchamps circuit in Spa. Photo: Loic Venance / AFP

Formula One’s 2017 season of twists and turns resumed at the historic Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps, which served up a predictably unpredictable race that promised the last eight rounds of the year would go down to the wire.

Mercedes was expected to dominate the weekend after blitzing the British Grand Prix at the similarly profiled Silverstone Circuit, and there was little sign of trouble for the Silver Arrows after qualifying.

Hamilton stole the show on Saturday (Aug 26), and not just because Vettel was unable to match him – the Briton took his 68th career pole position, equalling the all-time Formula One record set by Michael Schumacher.

The record-matching performance was poignant in its timing, coming 25 years since seven-time champion Schumacher made his Formula One debut, as chance would have it at the very same Spa-Francorchamps circuit.

But the emotional pause was short-lived, because on Sunday it quickly became obvious that Ferrari was out to trash Hamilton’s perfect weekend.

Hamilton pulled away from the lights, but when he would ordinarily sprint away into the distance Vettel stubbornly clung to his gearbox, never drifting by more than two seconds.

Mercedes rolled the dice with an early pit stop in an attempt to build a gap, but even this failed to shake the German who, if anything, moved only closer in spite of the strategic gamble.

A lap-30 safety car – deployed to clean debris from a crash between Force India teammates Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon – intensified the pressure. Hamilton had only a set of the slow soft tyres left to use, whereas Ferrari shod Vettel’s car with a set of the fastest ultrasoft compound.

The safety car restart was fierce. Vettel’s grippier tyres put him within striking distance at turn one, but some cunning defensive driving by Hamilton, who slowed subtly into Eau Rouge to deprive his rival of enough road to execute a pass, saved him his unlikely lead.

The defensive masterstroke won him the race, but Hamilton was painfully aware how close Vettel had come to usurping him.

“While we’ve had a very, very solid well put together weekend, it was only just enough to stay ahead,” Hamilton said. “Ferrari were quicker, so I’m a little bit cautious mentally knowing that we might not be the quickest everywhere up ahead.”

Meanwhile Vettel’s happiness, though mingled with disappointment he was unable to extend his championship lead, spoke volumes of the team’s relief to perform strongly at what had been earmarked as a weak circuit for Ferrari.

“Overall the car was very good,” he said. “We are on the right track, and I don’t think we have a circuit we should fear going [to] from now. I’m very, very happy.”

Before Spa-Francorchamps the circuits remaining were thought to favour the Mercedes car on balance, but a reassessment of the calendar now suggests Ferrari will be either equally quick or quicker at all bar perhaps one: the team’s upcoming home race in Monza, Italy.

The Italian Grand Prix on Sunday (Sept 3) is the calendar’s most stringent test of engine performance, a field in which Mercedes still holds an advantage. Ferrari, however, has its final power unit upgrade timed for introduction at the so-called Temple of Speed and will hope even this weakness could be neutralised by the end of the weekend.

The 2017 title is going down to the wire in November, and despite losing the Belgian Grand Prix, Ferrari has emerged as the in-form team carrying the momentum.

Don’t forget to tune in to Live89.5 each and every Saturday from 9am for the Box of Neutrals radio show.

 

 

Comment on this story

* Please login to comment. If you do not have an account please register below by simply entering a username, password and email address. You can still leave your comment below at the same time.

Comments Here:
Comments Left:
# Characters
Username:
Password:
E-mail:
Security:

Be the first to comment.

Have a news tip-off? Click here

 

Phuket community
GrabTaxi hikes ‘booking fee’ surcharge

To be a Governor on Phuket is a easy job. You just join ceremonies, religious or not, you lie to Am...(Read More)


Ugandan females arrested on Bangla Rd for Phuket overstays

If Patong Col Jessada is so worried, as he said, why are the black women (I mention colour as it is ...(Read More)


GrabTaxi hikes ‘booking fee’ surcharge

Meter taxis in phuket?? What a joke, they don’t exist, the drivers NEVER turn them on and just hav...(Read More)


Phuket Opinion: It’s what they call karma

That's why I call it Lie-Land. Honesty is simply not considered when lying is so much easier. ...(Read More)


Phuket Opinion: It’s what they call karma

Glad to see another PN article pulling the covers off dishonest Thai officials. In their efforts to...(Read More)


Phuket Opinion: It’s what they call karma

Karma is for those who actually have a conscience, Thai officials have repeatedly demonstrated they ...(Read More)


Ugandan females arrested on Bangla Rd for Phuket overstays

2 day crack down in reaction to local Thai reporter doing 4am Facebook live report from Bangla showi...(Read More)


Phuket hotels deny worker crackdown brings pressure

"Thai staff may not be as competent"... bulls-eye!...(Read More)


Phuket croc search moves to Kata Noi, beach closed to swimmers

Hehehe, where in the world are vice admirals, Mayors and Governor going to a beach for a croc? Where...(Read More)