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Sebastian Vettel closes gap in title race and other takeaways from Belgian GP

We take a look at the key takeaways from Spa

Niall McCague 2018/08/26

Sebastian Vettel has reduced Lewis Hamilton‘s championship lead to 17 points after sealing a commanding victory in Belgium on Sunday.

Ferrari’s Vettel passed pole-sitter Hamilton on the opening lap of the Spa-Francorchamps race before taking the chequered flag 11 seconds clear of his rival.

Unlike in the wet of qualifying 24 hours earlier, Hamilton’s Mercedes was no match for Vettel, with Red Bull driver Max Verstappen completing the podium places.

Here, we take a look at the main takeaways from Belgium.

Vettel cuts gap in title race

The German can leave Spa with plenty of positives after sealing his fifth win of the season and also, significantly, cutting the championship lead to 17 points.

The 31-year-old led a consistent performance in Belgium, overtaking Hamilton on the first lap and maintaining his lead for the rest of the race.

Overall, he didn’t put a foot wrong around a circuit that Ferrari last clinched victory on back in 2009.

With one week until the championship rolls into the home of Ferrari in Monza, the four-time world champion looked sharp after sub-par performances in France and Austria before the summer break.

Hamilton’s shown his resilience for large spells of the campaign, so can Vettel follow suit?

Lewis second best

It was a weekend that started with promise for the Briton, but he struggled to challenge Vettel on a day the Ferrari romped to victory.

Apart from his lock-up after the safety car restart, the 33-year-old showed strong pace and did little wrong but was just unable to put himself in a position to secure his fourth win in Belgium.

Needs to up his performance in Italy to prevent the German from getting closer in the title race.

Verstappen shines on home soil

Starting from P7, the Dutchman produced a sublime performance for his fifth podium of the season.

The 20-year-old endured a frustrating end to the first half of the season, with P15, P4 and one retirement from the three races before the summer break.

But the Monaco resident looked magical in his home race, overtaking the two Force India drivers and pushing Hamilton as he yearned for second place.

With his teammate Daniel Ricciardo retiring midway through the race, it proved to be a mixed weekend for Red Bull.

Bottas shows his class

The title fight may be between Hamilton and Vettel, but Bottas could be right in there.

The 28-year-old started from 17th on the grid after taking a new engine for the race, but he soared 13 places to finish in a formidable fourth.

The Finn looked like he was having real fun out around the sweeping track of Spa, overtaking Romain Grosjean, Pierre Gasly and Marcus Ericsson to name a few.

Deservedly our driver of the day.

Racing Point Force India revival

A stunning result for Racing Point Force India.

Esteban Ocon and Sergio Perez may have started third and fourth on the grid, but to finish in fifth and sixth respectively represents the best finish of the season for the new Canadian-owned team.

The duo showed once again that they have the potential to threaten the bigger midfield teams, especially in the European races.

Ocon and Perez looked consistent throughout the race and the car had good pace and balance to remain ahead of Renault and Haas.

Their 18 points scooped from two top-6 finishes means Racing Point Force India are now sixth in the constructors’ championship – seven points ahead of McLaren and seven behind Haas.

Chaotic opening

There was plenty for the stewards to investigate after a dramatic crash heading into turn one.

Nico Hulkenberg appeared to have stalled, resulting in a serious collision that caused Fernando Alonso to go airborne and take out Charles Leclerc.

All three drivers were forced to retire, with Ricciardo picking up rear wing damage and Raikkonen also caught in the carnage with a puncture.

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Belgian GP Lewis Hamilton Max Verstappen Sebastian Vettel