Lewis Hamilton admitted he was surprised that he managed to come out of the Belgian Grand Prix as well as he did, dropping only 10 points in the lead he holds over his world championship rival Nico Rosberg, after the German started on pole and Hamilton in 21st place because of engine penalties.
Rosberg won the action-packed race, with Hamilton in third and Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo second. Behind them, Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen and Red Bull’s Max Verstappen once again came together repeatedly on the track and continued in a war of words after the race.
Hamilton took three new engines over the weekend, which incurred the grid penalties, and had not expected to come away with 15 points. I’d have had an even better summer if I went in knowing I’d come out nine points ahead still after three new engines. So I’m very grateful, the Mercedes driver said. I’m incredibly proud of my guys in the garage and back at the factory for building these engines and changing these engines this week. To come away with the points that we have today, I’m extremely proud of everyone.
I honestly didn’t know what was going to happen in the race. I really can’t believe that we came up so far, to be honest. I woke up this morning knowing how difficult it would be on these tyres, you know, lots of blistering. But you can never predict what’s going to happen in the race.
Mercedes had come into the race knowing Hamilton would have to take penalties due to failures earlier in the season and opted to maximise the number of components he can now draw on in the remaining eight races. Toto Wolff was pleased they had come out of it so well.
The Mercedes executive director said: He has so many engines he could go well into next year. I am happy for him because he had to take the penalty. He had the luck and a sensational drive today which put him in third but it’s not a lot of points lost and now he has an engine in his pocket compared to Nico and the race is pretty much open.
Rosberg, for whom this was his first win in five races and a vital step in reeling in Hamilton’s lead, admitted that the race had not proven to be a great challenge, with his rival so far back. In general I had everything under control, he said, because I had an awesome car out there, and Lewis wasn’t there to battle it out, which made it a less difficult weekend. But I am really pleased to get the win.
Verstappen has been unafraid all season to take on veteran drivers – he pulled off a remarkable move in overtaking Rosberg round the outside of Becketts in the wet at Silverstone – and having already done battle with Raikkonen in Spain and Hungary, it was resumed here. The pair clashed on the first corner of the first lap and Verstappen may have to look at his technique given the way he moved late to defend on the Kemmel Straight . Certainly Raikkonen was left feeling angry about it.
The Finn referred to Verstappen’s driving as fucking ridiculous during the race and said his only interest is pushing me off the circuit completely. Afterwards he was equally critical. I’m all up for fair battles and close racing but when I have to back off on the straight when I’m making my move, that’s not correct, the 36-year-old said. I had to brake from full speed. I haven’t had that with any other driver.
Verstappen, however, as he has been in the past after tangling with Raikkonen, was unrepentant. To be honest, it’s a big lie, he said of the criticism. I’m just defending my position and if somebody doesn’t like it it’s his own problem. It’s good television when someone’s moaning.
He finished out of the points, not what he had been expecting before the race. In stark contrast, Hamilton was more than pleased with his outcome. I think today, collectively as a team, we had just the right balance, the British driver said. This is the best result I could have hoped for.
News Source TheGuardianNews