Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton managed to hold off his Ferrari rival Sebastian Vettel to win on the occasion of his 200th Grand Prix in Belgium, with Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo finishing in third.

However, the battle remained close, with Vettel staying within 2 seconds behind the Mercedes for much of the race.

Following the race, Hamilton was very complimentary of his rival, stating that Ferrari “have put in a fantastic fight” and that the team were “very strong” all weekend.

Similarly, Vettel spoke kindly about the Briton, commenting that he “never really had a chance” all race but he still felt happy with the Ferrari’s “good race pace”.

“There was no point at which I was comfortable. Both of us [Hamilton and Vettel] were pushing for every single lap. It was like a sprint race; no room for error or the smallest mistake.” – Lewis Hamilton

A late safety car, caused by a collision between both Force India’s, put added pressure on the British champion. After voicing his frustration that the safety car was out on track, Hamilton expertly dealt with the restart to hold-off the hungry German, who lined up behind the Mercedes, ready to make a pass for the lead. Two laps later, Hamilton had pulled out a 1.4 second lead once again.

In comparison to his team mate, Valterri Bottas faired less well in the restart, as he was overtaken by Red Bull’s Ricciardo, and then Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen.

With his future with the team still left uncertain, Bottas crucially needed a good result this weekend but appeared uncomfortable and unhappy in the car all weekend.

The collision that caused the safety car, it could be argued, had been brewing before the summer break.

The two Force India drivers of experienced Mexican Sergio Perez, and the hungry new-boy, Esteban Ocon have shown rising tension since they first clashed in Baku, four races ago. As well as causing the safety car on lap 28 with Ocon’s front wing puncturing Perez’s rear wheel, the pair clashed wheels on the opening lap, and several other times.

Despite this drama, Ocon managed to salvage a points finish for his team, crossing the line in 9th place, while Perez was forced to retire a few laps before the race ended.

“The second contact with Sergio [Perez] was too much. He squeezed me towards the wall again, made contact with my front wing, and risked both our races for no reason.” -Esteban Ocon

While the Aussie Daniel Ricciardo celebrated his 6th podium of the season, his teammate, Max Verstappen instead suffered his 6th retirement this year. The home favourite was hit by an engine failure on only lap 8, in front of an estimated 80,000 fans who had travelled to see him at his home race.

When speaking to media after the race, Verstappen expressed his utter disappointment.

Formula 1 will be back in action on the 1st – 3rd of September at the Monza circuit in Italy.

Charlotte Andrews, Correspondent (Sport)

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