2017 F1

Lewis Hamilton marks 200th race with Belgium GP victory

Lewis Hamilton completed his 200th Grand Prix in winning style on Sunday when he took a much- needed victory for Mercedes, beating out title leader Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull F1’s Daniel Ricciardo.

Triple-time world champion made history during qualifying on Saturday when he secured the 68th pole of his F1 career, equalling the all-time record set by racing legend Michael Schumacher.

Leading race from pole and battling with the German entire the race, especially the final session’s skilled defense style saved him from Vettel’s attack.

Vettel finished second in Sunday’s 44-lap race, 2.3sec behind Hamilton.

“It’s been a strong weekend for myself and the team,” said Hamilton.

“Sebastian put up a great fight, but this is what I said I came to do here and so I did it.”

The Mercedes boss, Toto Wolff has told Sky F1 after Hamilton’s victory.

On the race restart and tyre selection

“We didn’t have a fresh ultrasoft left because we used it in qualifying – Ferrari had one.

“The opinion of James (Allison) was that the soft is the better tyre for our car for the last 13 or 14 laps and it would be an advantage if we could survive the restart – and it proved to be the right decision.

On Ferrari’s pace

“We were surprised. They have done a good job in bringing an upgrade package that works.

“This is a track that shouldn’t suit them, like Silverstone, and they were much closer than expected. We just have to keep our development scope steep and continue to bring bits on the car and deliver faultlessly.”

On Mercedes struggles at certain tracks

“We’ve not been good on high downforce circuits. Like Ferrari has caught us up at circuits like Spa, we need to catch up at circuits like Silverstone. It won’t be a walk in the park.”

Hamilton explains about Belgium GP weekends performance during the Post-race press

Question: (Ysef Harding – Xiro Xone News) Lewis, what a way to start the second half of the season off. Looks like you were in control there, you felt a little pressure from Seb, did you feel you had the whole race in control and, y’know, with this historical pole position that you did yesterday, does this set you up for momentum going into Monza on his home track for Ferrari?

Hamilton: I think… obviously it’s an amazing feeling to come back into the season and start off on the right foot, being that the Ferraris obviously finished on the right foot going into the break but they’ve really put in a fantastic fight today. The speed and pace they had was very strong.

There was not a point at which I would say that I could be comfortable. I think for both of us it was pushing every single lap, which is more like a sprint race, which was fun. That’s really how racing should be: no room for error; no room for any mistakes – because if I’d had the smallest mistake, he would have picked up on it. And there were clearly strengths and weaknesses from both sides: strengths on our car and strengths on their car. We were constantly exchanging times.

But this is definitely a good start going into the next race. Clearly we have not a bad car on the straights. I think, again, I imagine it’s going to be very, very close in the next race. I would think more heavily towards places like Singapore, where it’s high downforce circuits, where I think Ferrari seemed to have really picked up some pace. Places obviously like the last race.

Otherwise I’ve got a say a big thank you to my team. It’s been a long period of time with Mercedes-Benz, and obviously with this team as well, so I wouldn’t have been able to have won any of these grands prix without them, so very, very grateful for all the hard work that they put in, and yeah, it just feels… everyone worked so hard so then when you match them and put in the same effort together and achieve what you set out to achieve, it’s such a great feeling.

Q: (Livio Oricchio – globoesporte.com) Lewis, Friday you were very fast on the soft tyres and today, after the pitstop, it looks like you suffer a little. Sebastian was very close to you, could even use the DRS. And also, you had 14 laps to the end when you did the second pitstop and you used again the soft tyre, not the ultrasoft. Were you satisfied with the decision?

LH: It was a very, very late decision. It was made literally just before the last corner, so I wasn’t expecting it. I was expecting to collect the Safety Car – which is why I allowed Sebastian to get close, because I didn’t… it’s not like the VSC where you have to keep to the delta, there’s no point because I’d be catching the Safety Car. Obviously that didn’t work out that way and came into the pitlane with Sebastian right up my tail, so very, very fortunate the team did a great pitstop and able to get back out ahead.

After that, yeah, the pace I think I was struggling because the tyre temperatures were so low. I just couldn’t keep… from the slow pace, the safety car was going extremely slow and I knew it would be… firstly he’s on the better tyre and yeah, knowing that I thought the start was going to be very difficult. And it clearly was. I got into Turn One struggling with the front end of the car.

But fortunately got a relatively decent exit but I mean he was on the gas before I was. I could hear him. So he was in a much more comfortable position but fortunately, once he pulled out of my slipstream we were both going against the same wind and fortunately I think maybe we have a little bit less downforce and that worked in that scenario.

Q: (Mike Doodson – GP Plus) Lewis, there were moments during the race where you were clearly a bit nervous over the radio, things like the speed of the safety car and the other nervousness seemed to come from the fact that you had to go on the yellow tyre at the end. Was that because there was only a supply of yellow tyres? Do you know why you didn’t get the same ultrasofts that Seb was able to use?

LH: In Q2, Ferrari only ran once, we ran twice, so we used the spare ultrasoft whereas they saved it. I doubted if they were planning on doing a two stop as a two stop was slower but just by sheer luck there was a safety car which again, I commented, which I don’t think was necessary but anyways it worked out OK, so yes, we had to put on a fresh tyre. If we had put on a used ultrasoft we would probably have been in more trouble so I think it was the right decision at the end of the day, but potentially in the future, maybe we will take precautions to make sure we also have a new tyre available just in case.

But otherwise… I think everyone was in the same boat with the safety car being slow but yeah, I guess for me, being on that harder tyre, it was already hard for Sebastian on the ultrasofts to keep temperature in the tyres but being on the harder tyre again, it makes it even harder. But anyways, it was what it was and I did the best I could with it and fortunately was able to defend, just about.

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