Lewis Hamilton won the 89th race of his career by dominating the Belgian Grand Prix from start to finish.
The victory opens up his championship lead over Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, who finished third, to 47 points, and reinforces the impression that he will waltz away to a record-equalling seven title.
The Briton is being helped in this pursuit by the relative sluggishness of his Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas, who failed to apply any significant pressure on Hamilton at the start or the re-start following a yellow flag period for a potentially serious accident involving Williams’ George Russell.
Bottas finished a less-than-brilliant second.
The biggest drama unfolded on the 10th lap when Alfa Romeo’s Antonio Giovinazzi lost control at Fagnes chicane and spun into the tyre wall before being spat out across the track. His left rear tyre was untethered and barrelled into Russell’s path.
The impact of the flying missile fell, thankfully, on his front wheel and sent him into the barriers.
Both men walked away unharmed, their races over.
It could have been much worse for Russell but for a few inches.
Elsewhere, Ferrari were fighting like rats in a bag. Having qualified 13th and 14th, it got worse for their disgruntled pair of Charles Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel. They both had strong words with their team – Vettel urging them to ‘f******’ consider pitting him again, and Leclerc asking why he was brought in for a second time. ‘We’ll tell you later,’ he was told. Ferrari subsequently confirmed it was to top up his pneumatic pressure.
There was a sense of the disarray about everything and everyone red as Vettel’s 13th-place finish and Leclerc’s 14th underlined.
Hamilton deviated off track but it was a satisfactory, if far too predictable, outcome.
He’s had to manage those tyres but he’s had such an advantage over Bottas and Verstappen that it comes as no surprise to see Hamilton take the chequered flag and clinch yet another win this season.
Last time out he dominated from start to finish in Spain and it was more of the same in Spa. Once he got away cleanly from La Source that was all she wrote as Hamilton managed his Mercedes superbly to increase his stranglehold on the championship race.
Esteban Ocon managed to nip in front of Alex Albon to take 5th while Lando Norris just didn’t have enough to get past the Renault and remained in 7th.
Daniel Ricciardo clocked the fastest lap of the race at the end there to nick the bonus point.
LAP 43/44: Ocon has another go at Albon but has no chance of an overtake there and will get one final go at it on the last lap. Hamilton is just under seven seconds ahead of Bottas as we enter the final lap.
LAP 42/44: Albon, Ocon and Norris are very close together heading into the final three laps. Ocon gains on the Red Bull driver, goes for it but Albon brakes very late to defend his place and move Ocon closer to Norris.
LAP 41/44: ‘I don’t like the feel of this right tyre,’ says Hamilton – could we be seeing Silverstone 2.0 here? It all went wrong in the final two laps there and he managed to limp over on three wheels. He is going very slowly now but could have just about a big enough buffer.
LAP 40/44: The tyre issues for those behind Hamilton means that we are unlikely to see the grandstand finish we had been hoping for as the Brit looks to nurse his car over the line with a handful of laps remaining.
The sky is full of dark clouds but the race has been dry for each of the 40 laps thus far.
Gasly has just got past Perez into 9th, a big move for the Alpha Tauri.
LAP 39/44: Lando Norris is doing well in his McLaren. He’s in 7th and has pulled away from Stroll to close down Esteban Ocon and Alex Albon in front.
Meanwhile, Charles Leclerc is looking to get close to Romain Grosjean in 14th.
‘Avoid the kerb with your front right,’ Bottas is told. Tyres are definitely causing issues for those in front.
LAP 38/44: Smoke kicks up from Hamilton’s tyres as he struggles around the bus stop corner. Could he be running out of grip from those tyres? He’s got a 5.5 second advantage with six laps left, will that be enough? It seems as though all three drivers at the front are having tyre issues this afternoon.
LAP 36/44: Perez judges his move to absolute perfection and gets past Daniil Kvyat, while a tyre graphic shows Hamilton’s set in the red, which could be of interest to the Red Bulls.
LAP 35/44: ‘Vibrations are getting worse, just keep an eye on it,’ Verstappen reiterates over the team radio.
Charles Leclerc looks to take 15th place and breezes past Kevin Magnussen. Perez, meanwhile, has Daniil Kvyat in his sights for 9th place.
LAP 34/44: Perez has just got past him and now here comes Gasly to overtake Raikkonen, again with relative ease.
Bottas has just told his team that he is feeling numbness in his left leg from the brake pedal.
33/44: Perez is flying through the track now, and gets past Raikkonen with ease to break into the top 10, like taking candy from a baby.
Speaking of which, Vettel expresses fears he is going to get ‘eaten up’ with his car really struggling for pace.
LAP 32/44: It’s just not Vettel’s day. He is overtaken by Gasly but attempts to regain his place but locks up and the Frenchman gets away easily.
‘I have nothing left on these tyres,’ he says.
LAP 31/44: Pierre Gasly overtakes Romain Grosjean into 13th. Bottas was told to give it everything he had but he is falling further behind Hamilton – at a 4.5 second gap. He is extending his lead over Verstappen, though.
‘I have vibrations on these tyres,’ the Red Bull driver says.
LAP 29/44: Seb Vettel looks to take the initiative and asks to be pitted. He was a bit tetchy with his team last time out in Spain and he is acting decisively to call for a pit stop. Sergio Perez, who was in last place a few laps ago, gets past Vettel and moves into 11th.
LAP 28/44: ‘Everything you’ve got, Valtteri,’ a Mercedes engineer tells the driver. A change of strategy, perhaps? A two-stop strategy could cover the threat of being undercut by Verstappen.
LAP 27/44: Gasly is falling back into the middle of the pack. Esteban Ocon is the next driver to get past the Frenchman, overtaking him on the previous lap.
Charles Leclerc posts the fastest lap with a 1:47.840, if he ends the race outside the top 10 he would not receive the bonus point. Gasly is finally told to bring his Alpha Tauri into the pits.
LAP 26/44: Leclerc is back into the pits for another stop and Ferrari are very slow – that one took five seconds.
‘What’s happening? Why do we do slow pit stops?’ the young driver vents over the radio. ‘We’ll explain to you later,’ is the reply.
LAP 24/44: Albon has been creeping towards Gasly for the last few laps and the Red Bull driver is now looking to make his move on the man who used to drive his car. Gasly forces him the long way around but he has the pace and climbs up to fifth.
We are beyond half way through the race now. Hamilton remains comfortably in the lead with a 2.8 second advantage over Bottas.
LAP 23/44: Sergio Perez chose to stay out on the softs while the safety car was on the track and that may well prove a costly decision for the Racing Point driver. He has pitted and is in last place now. He is matching the leaders for time, though. Now it’s about making his way through the pack.
LAP 21/44: Ricciardo is half a second behind Gasly and could be set to use DRS to get past the Frenchman. He does and he absolutely breezes past the Alpha Tauri and the Australian returns to the place where he started the race, fourth.
LAP 20/44: It’s been a poor weekend for Ferrari thus far and it could have been made much worse just now as Leclerc tried to overtake his team-mate, Vettel. They got pretty close and a collision over a fight for 12th place would have been disastrous. But the pair are okay and racing.
LAP 19/44: Bottas is 1.8 seconds behind Hamilton and will have to up the pace to get within DRS range. Gasly is doing a good job of hanging onto 4th ahead of Ricciardo, despite the fact his tyres are 11 laps older.
Bottas has just been told his tyres will be on for a long stint.
LAP 17/44: Daniel Ricciardo puts his Renault up into 5th place after using the slip stream to get past Sergio Perez. There’s an interesting battle for 6th ongoing with Perez looking to keep Albon and Ocon at bay. He doesn’t put up much of a fight to defend against Albon who gets around him at the bus stop turn.
LAP 16/44: Hamilton is putting his foot down and stretching that gap to his team-mate, who has struggled to keep up with the championship leader for much of this weekend. He posts the fastest lap but says over the team radio: ‘loss of power’. How bad is that power unit problem for the Brit?
‘Nothing to worry about Lewis that was just energy management, should be back to normal now,’ his engineer says. That’ll come as a big relief.
LAP 15/44: The safety car peels away and Hamilton is off while Verstappen is right on Bottas’ tail. Pierre Gasly is in fourth having chosen not to pit, and Perez is just behind in fifth as he too chose to stay out on the track.
LAP 14.44: It looks as though all drivers have opted for the hard tyres after that pit stop, which could thereby neutralise the race. Alex Albon is on the medium compound, though.
LAP 13/44: Replays of that incident show Giovinazzi crash into the barrier and a front tyre spins out onto the track into the path of George Russell’s car. The Brit attempts to swerve out of the way but goes into the crash barrier.
Really good to see both drivers well and walking away from the scene in good health.
‘There’s a lot of debris out there,’ Hamilton says over the team radio as the cars look to avoid shards of carbon.
LAP 12/44: There’s an awful lot of debris on the track, and the drivers are being very careful not to do any damage as they drive through that section.
The two Mercedes have changed tyres and Bottas comes out just in front of Verstappen. The Renaults have also made a change of tyres but Albon comes out just in front of Ocon.
Everyone is going for a cheap pit stop.
Yellow flags are out after what looks like a big collision between Antonio Giovinazzi and George Russell. The safety car will be out while the huge amount of debris is being cleared from the track.
That yellow flag allows a change of tyres, with Leclerc gratefully coming off the softs.
Safety Car ⚠️
Giovinazzi spins into the wall, and a stray wheel sends Russell into the barriers 💥
Both drivers okay 👍
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LAP 11/44: Meanwhile, down in 5th, Esteban Ocon is doing well to hold off Alex Albon. Both are on the softs, as are Stroll and Ricciardo. Gasly, who is on the mediums, may be able to sneak a place into the top five if he plays this right.
Verstappen has just complained about the grip of his tyres over the team radio.
LAP 10/44: It’s looking like Max Verstappen is in for one quiet afternoon in P3. The Red Bull driver is already four seconds behind Bottas while Ricciardo is seven seconds behind the young Dutchman.
Lewis Hamilton is comfortably managing his pace after ten laps here in Spa, managing the gap to his team-mate very well indeed.
LAP 8/44: Leclerc started the race on softs and they look to be losing him pace already, with the Ferrari man 1.3 seconds slower than Kvyat ahead of him in 11th. His team-mate, Sebastian Vettel, is on the mediums and one place behind him.
Gasly is three-tenths behind Stroll and is really pushing the Racing Point.
LAP 6/44: Hamilton puts in a fastest lap of 1:49.470 to extend that 1.1 second gap to Bottas to 1.7 seconds. Gasly is putting pressure on Lance Stroll while Leclerc is breathing down the neck of Lando Norris in the fight for 10th place.
‘I have one push no?’ Bottas says over the team radio. ‘We do, but we agreed not to use it against each other,’ his team reply. ‘I never heard of that,’ the Finn responds.
LAP 4/44: The top four remains the same while Gasly looks to climb up the top ten, the Frenchman overtakes Leclerc into eighth, and the Racing Point of Sergio Perez has just got past the Ferrari car.
‘We are struggling so much on the straights,’ Leclerc says over the team radio.
Bottas is 1.1 seconds behind Hamilton.
LAP 2/44: Pierre Gasly has had a great start in the midfield, and the Frenchman is aggressive to bypass Sergio Perez on Eau Rouge with a fantastic move. Kevin Magnussen has moved up five places into 15th after a great opening lap, too.
DRS opens up after this lap, Bottas is just over a second behind his team-mate and has posted the fastest lap of the race. It would be great to see the two Mercedes go at it today.
LAP 1/44: Away we go for the seventh Grand Prix of the season! Hamilton and Bottas both start well and the two Mercedes are able to hold off Max Verstappen in third, but here comes Daniel Ricciardo attacking the Red Bull but the young Dutchman holds off his former team-mate. It’s a great start for Charles Leclerc who is up to 9th from his starting position of 13th. A thrilling start here in Spa!
Lights out and away we go! 🚦
Ricciardo and Verstappen scrapping for third! ⚔️
Magnussen climbs 5 places on the first lap! ⬆️
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The drivers are in their cars and are out on their formation lap at Spa. Hamilton said before today’s race that the first corner – La Source – is one of the toughest of all the race venues.
If he gets a good exit out of there and can ascend the steep Eau Rouge he will be very happy with that start.
Not long to go now until lights out here at Spa. Before we get going, there a few formalities to take place.
The drivers have lined up on the track in the F1’s End Racism movement, with Lewis Hamilton taking a knee for Black Lives Matter.
Now a minute’s silence will be observed to remember Anthoine Hubert, the drivers are standing in a circle around a picture of the young Frenchman who died a year ago.
The Belgian national anthem has been sung and the drivers now return to their cars with the seventh race of the season starting shortly.
Here are the tyres available for the race. The front three of Hamilton, Bottas and Verstappen will start on mediums, while fourth-placed Ricciardo is starting on softs.
The #Fit4F1 compounds ready to challenge @circuitspa.#BelgianGP 🇧🇪 #F1 pic.twitter.com/9a3oqEXtqJ
Carlos Sainz is out of today’s race with exhaust failure.
He was due to start from 7th after a strong qualifying session yesterday, but he will miss out today.
The anniversary of Anthoine Hubert’s passing will be remembered this weekend with a minute’s silence before the race.
A special tribute, for a dear friend we miss sorely ❤️#AH19 pic.twitter.com/xvfFHWNyMo
It’s dry now but y’know… it’s Spa!
🌞🌥🌦🌨⛈🌨🌦🌥🌞#BelgianGP 🇧🇪 #F1 pic.twitter.com/QW5eppm7xh
It is largely sunny here but rain is forecast in the first hour of the race – 51 per cent on my app.
I think we may get a good grand prix but that may depend on whether Lewis gets cleanly away. For the sake of the spectacle, I hope not. A drive from the back, please!
Hello and welcome to Sportsmail’s live coverage of the Belgian Grand Prix in Spa.
After a week off, the drivers are back in action this weekend as Lewis Hamilton looks to pick up from where he left off in Barcelona, with a dominant performance that saw him lead from start to finish in Spain.
He’ll be starting from pole position again, after a flawless display in qualifying on Saturday that saw him clock in half a second faster than team-mate Valtteri Bottas.
Stay tuned as we bring you all the action from today’s race, due to get underway at 2pm BST.