For the first time since 2017, Lewis Hamilton took victory again at the Spa-Francorchamps circuit. Valtteri Bottas completed the one-two for the very strong Mercedes, for Max Verstappen who finished third as ‘best of the rest’. “It was a bit boring, a bit lonely.”
Lewis Hamilton was slightly faster than his teammate every lap and considerably faster than the rest of the competition.
A golden foundation for winning, especially if you are able to traverse the Ardennes forests with great concentration at top speed for 44 laps.
Very clever of course, although the Grand Prix of Belgium could have used a little more pepper on a soulless circuit without people at the front of the field.
It did not come in the form of rain. Apart from a crash by Antonio Giovinazzi and George Russell (with the accompanying safety car in lap 11), it was also not a race full of memorable moments.
And so the top 3 remained unchanged from start to finish. Hamilton in the lead when the checkered flag fell.
And Mercedes colleague Valtteri Bottas who finished ahead of Max Verstappen for the first time since the second race in Austria, on his way to a Mercedes one-two.
The Dutchman of Red Bull Racing wanted to compete with Mercedes, but it was not a serious moment. Hoping for a fight with Bottas in the first corners, he still had to shake off Daniel Ricciardo’s Renault. That fight with his old buddy seemed to be a bit tense, but after the opening dance the sting was gone.
Ricciardo did finish fourth, but far from Verstappen. Although the Australian did take an extra point with the fastest race lap.
Just like Mercedes, Verstappen switched from medium to hard under the safety car early on. On that tire he seemed to be within range of Bottas after 25 of the 44 laps.
But after a warning from the pit wall to the Finn, he increased his pace slightly and so he easily stayed ahead of the Dutchman on the Walloon circuit full of long straights.
It fit perfectly into the picture in Wallonia, because Mercedes was not as sovereign as in Spa-Francorchamps this year. There was really nothing that could be done against that check.
“Maybe this is not exactly what people want to see, but it does say something about the mentality of our team that we can perform again this week after week.
“There is also no celebration now, we are already busy with the question of how we can win the next race”, responded Hamilton, who strengthened his position in the world championship with his victory, businesslike.
The six-time world champion has 157 points, 47 more than Verstappen, who in turn is 3 points above Bottas.
It all went as Verstappen announced beforehand: to the podium, spray champagne and go home again.
“It was a bit of a boring afternoon, not very interesting of course”, admitted Verstappen.
“I had little to do. Couldn’t really keep up with Mercedes when they pushed. And my tires weren’t that good in the end either, so I had to save them a bit.”
No, Verstappen did not enjoy the lap on what he often calls his favorite circuit.
“It was a bit lonely. But more than P3 would not have been possible here anyway ”, it sounded realistic. Maybe it wasn’t the most satisfying third place, but I’m happy with it.“
Formula 1 return next week at the Autodromo Nazionale Monza in Italy.