Lewis Hamilton celebrated his record-equaling 68th pole position with victory at the Belgian Grand Prix on Sunday, trimming championship leader Sebastian Vettel’s lead to seven points.
Hamilton clinched his fifth win of the season and 58th overall, having equaled Michael Schumacher’s pole record.
Vettel finished second, about 2 seconds behind Hamilton.
“Sebastian was very, very close. He was very consistent throughout,” said Hamilton, after his 200th GP. “That’s what racing’s about.”
Hamilton was in good form all weekend, topping every part of qualifying.
“Really brilliant,” Mercedes head of motorsport Toto Wolff said. “Hamilton’s drive was really fantastic.”
Although it was a comfortable win for the British driver, it got a bit tense toward the end.
“I was waiting for Lewis to make a mistake and he didn’t,” Vettel said.
With about 10 laps left, Vettel almost overtook his challenger as they emerged from behind the safety car.
Vettel got his Ferrari alongside Hamilton on a long straight, but Hamilton edged his Mercedes into the corner just in time.
“I’m not entirely happy,” said Vettel, adding that he got his approach slightly wrong.
On a track more suited to Mercedes than Ferrari, Hamilton felt Vettel got “way too close” for comfort.
“This weekend we definitely didn’t have the race pace. The car is not quite where we need it,” Hamilton said. “It was only just enough to stay ahead.”
Third place for Ricciardo
Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo was third - for his sixth podium of the season - finishing ahead of Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen, with Hamilton’s teammate Valtteri Bottas fifth.
Ricciardo showed great race intelligence and opportunism to pass Bottas after the safety car incident.
After 12 races, four-time F1 champion Vettel has 220 points to three-time champion Hamilton’s 213 heading into next weekend’s Italian GP in Monza.
“The positive thing is that we had really good race pace,” Vettel said. “I’m looking forward to next week.”
Hamilton made a good start to the race on the long climb up to Eau Rouge, with Vettel on his tail.