Vettel storms to Belgian Grand Prix win
25 August 2013 – Sebastian Vettel secured a dominant Belgian Grand Prix win at Spa-Francorchamps on Sunday. Having moved into the lead with an aggressive opening lap, the Red Bull driver consistently responded to his rivals' surges in pace, finishing 16.8 seconds clear of Fernando Alonso. Pole-sitter Lewis Hamilton wound up third.
Drama unfolded before the race had even started in the Ardennes, with Greenpeace protesting against title sponsor Shell’s Arctic drilling plans. Having climbed atop the main grandstand, activists proceeded to abseil and unveil large banners, with police and circuit officials doing their best to limit the effects of their publicity stunt.
With the light procedure ultimately unaffected, Hamilton made a smooth getaway from the front of the grid, retaining his lead amid a flurry of lock ups into the first corner. However, Vettel was on a charge and found away past the Mercedes man on the run down to Les Combes. From this point onwards, the reigning World Champion never looked back, comfortably looking after his Pirelli rubber on a routine two-stop strategy.
The battle for second intensified during the first pit-stop phase, with Hamilton facing traffic after stopping on Lap 12. Having circulated for two more laps, Alonso was able to close in and capitalise on a mistake by his former team-mate at La Source. The Spaniard then defended well under a DRS-aided attack along the Kemmel Straight.
Jenson Button had looked set to be a contender for the final podium position, the McLaren driver pondering a one-stop strategy throughout the race. But he was forced into a late switch of tyres as his degradation levels took a turn for the worse, allowing Nico Rosberg and Mark Webber to take fourth and fifth positions respectively.
In the second Ferrari, Felipe Massa battled his way to seventh, the Brazilian having lost ground with a sloppy start. Romain Grosjean scored Lotus' only points of the day in eighth position after Kimi Räikkönen retired with suspected brake failure.
The final two points-paying positions were determined by a clumsy accident involving Pastor Maldonado and the Force India duo of Adrian Sutil and Paul di Resta. Having attempted to pass Esteban Gutiérrez at the final chicane, Maldonado cut back across the track, clipping the back of Sutil's car and collecting the innocent di Resta.
With Maldonado handed a drive-through penalty and di Resta out of the race, Sutil and Daniel Ricciardo went on to claim ninth and tenth, the latter deposing of Sergio Pérez – who was also penalised for an illegal move on Grosjean – in the closing stages.
Back at the front, Vettel's 31st career victory and fifth win of the season moves him 46 points clear in the title race, with Alonso now his nearest challenger. Hamilton holds third place a further 12 points in arrears, with Räikkönen slipping back to fourth.
The 12th round of the season takes place at Monza, Italy from September 6-8, with practice, qualifying and the race covered via the GPUpdate.net Live Report