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Hamilton sees off Vettel challenge to win Belgian Grand Prix

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 Lewis Hamilton took the 58th victory of his career, his third at the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps and fifth of the 2017 season, as the Mercedes superstar closed the gap at the top of the Drivers' Championship down to just 7 points against Ferrari star Sebastian Vettel.

Ferrari finished second and fourth in a Belgian GP that was closely contested right down to the wire. Vettel was runner-up, with Kimi Raikkonen fighting back after a penalty to take fourth. Sebastian still leads the Drivers’ classification with a 7 point advantage over Lewis Hamilton.

At the start, Seb was tucked in behind Hamilton and poked his nose alongside at Les Combes, while Kimi was tailing Valtteri Bottas. “We can go with him,” said Vettel over the radio, confident in his pace. At this point, the top five were all within five seconds of one another. The tyres were showing no signs of blistering on the SF70Hs and on lap 10, Sebastian was quickest, while further back, the pit stops got underway. Hamilton pitted at the end of lap 12 to switch from Ultrasoft to Soft, with Bottas coming in on lap 13, also going for the harder tyre.

Ferrari covered its rival’s strategy, calling Seb in next time round. He too opted for the Softs and came out behind Kimi, who was fighting with Hamilton before also pitting. But there was some bad news for the Finn in the shape of a 10 second stop-and-go penalty for not having slowed down under waved yellow flags. “A shame as the car was going really well…” Meanwhile, Seb reduced the gap to the leader to around a second. Raikkonen began moving up the order, passing Ocon to go sixth. With 20 laps to go, he slipped by Hulkenberg on the Kemmel climb and he was fifth.

Then came drama on lap 30: Perez lost his right rear wheel after a collision and struggled to stay on track and the Safety Car was called out. Ferrari immediately called in both its drivers to fit the softest tyres. The rivals reacted, but they went for the Softs and at the restart, the gaps were of course much smaller and the race was on with different compounds.

The Safety Car came in at the end of lap 33. Seb kept the pressure on Lewis, but was unable to get past, although Kimi fared better, as he and Ricciardo jumped Bottas who had run wide. On lap 36, the DRS could be used again but the gap was over the requisite one second. On lap 40, Vettel set the fastest race lap, which wasn’t enough to win, but going into Monza it’s a result that exceeds expectations.

Hamilton shared after his win, "It's amazing to come back into the season and start on the right foot. The Ferrari was very strong today and they put on a fantastic fight. We were both pushing every single lap and there was no room for error or mistake. The Safety Car was driving so slow that keeping tyre temperature was very difficult. On the restart, Sebastian got a good tow, it was very close. It is fun to be racing against another team and Sebastian at his best and the car at its best - that's what racing is all about. I want to thank the team, I would not have been able to win today without them."