After equalling Michael Schumacher’s pole position record less than 24 hours before, Lewis Hamilton undeniably brought his ‘A’ game to Belgium, expertly holding off multiple attacks from Sebastian Vettel’s Ferrari.
But, the battle between the two championship contenders wasn’t the only notoriety within the twelfth Grand Prix of 2017 – among the crashing team mates, ludicrous penalties and angry radio messages, who came out of the race with a smile on their face?
Lewis Hamilton – 10/10
Although I’ve already touched on it, Hamilton’s performance during the 2017 Belgium Grand Prix was undeniably superb. After defending his position on the opening laps from Sebastian Vettel – it looked reminiscent of a cat and mouse battle; Hamilton always had Vettel right where he wanted him. The only time Vettel looked set on getting past the Briton was at the safety-car restart, but Hamilton expertly positioned his car, forcing Vettel to the outside for the Les Combes chicane. This move just optimized the perfection in Hamilton’s drive today; it was a well deserved victory.
Valtteri Bottas – 7.5/10
Lewis Hamilton’s blistering pace with the soft tyre in the final stint made Valtteri Bottas look like a paid driver today. Unlike his team mate, Bottas just couldn’t get the yellow-marked tyres to work in the final stint and consequently both Kimi Raikkonen and Daniel Ricciardo flew straight past him down the Kemmel Straight. The safety car undid the good work Bottas had put in during the opening stints – if anything, he was quiet today, probably a little too quiet for my liking.
Sebastian Vettel – 10/10
At no point during the Belgium Grand Prix did Sebastian Vettel have a Ferrari capable of taking a natural victory. The only real overtaking opportunities are through the first and third sector, sections both dominated by efficient power units. This was an effective advantage to Mercedes – so Vettel’s attempted overtakes at the start of the race and during the safety car restart were pretty exceptional, in my view. But, in the end, the right car won and Vettel limited the championship damage with a strong second place.
Kimi Raikkonen – 7/10
Although Raikkonen’s penalty in Spa was harsh – it was better to see the stewards clearly showing an intolerance to the ignorance of double waved yellow flags. The decision by Raikkonen not to lift during the yellow flag sequence was ultimately a costly one and took him out of the fight with the front runners. In the end, it was the safety car which actually gave Raikkonen back a P4 position – but this weekend will always be a ‘what if?’ as P3 was very much on for him today if he wasn’t out of place at the safety car restart.
Max Verstappen – No rating
Just eight laps into the Belgium Grand Prix, the old reliability gremlin decide to rear its ugly face toward Max Verstappen again. Yes, this time a suspected turbo issue caused a premature end to the young Dutchman’s day, for the sixth time in just twelve races this year.
Daniel Ricciardo – 10/10
‘Opportunistic’ would be a perfect way to describe the Belgium Grand Prix for Daniel Ricciardo. He spent most of the race lagging behind the top four, who’s superior power units ensured they were constantly streaking ahead. But, with a safety car forcing Valtteri Bottas to the soft tyre and Raikkonen’s earlier penalty pushing him out of position, Daniel Ricciardo used the late race restart to propel himself to an exceptional third place. Wouldn’t expect anything more of less from the Aussie.
Sergio Perez – 6/10
I’ve always been contradictory about Sergio Perez, some days I like him, some days I don’t. And his role in the two collisions with Esteban Ocon during the Belgium Grand Prix gave me similarly mixed feelings. Perez’s admittance of guilt for the first incident, which happened on the opening lap, was something that impressed me – his ability to take full responsibility demonstrated an athlete who’s willing to admit he got it wrong. But, his denial of responsibly in the second incident on lap 29 has angered me, as it just makes me feel like he was trying to wrongly assert dominance over an admittedly young Ocon. Not impressed.
Esteban Ocon – 9/10
As you’ve probably guessed by now, P9 was nowhere near an accurate representation of the pace Ocon had today. He was quick enough for at least P7 today, and could’ve quite easily chased Nico Hulkenberg down too. It’s just annoying to see that an incident out of Ocon’s own control, in my view, ultimately ruined his day.
Felipe Massa – 10/10
After seeing the stunning P16 to P8 performance of Felipe Massa during the weekend, you wouldn’t quite believe that he didn’t do any running on Friday. This, in of itself, only makes the P8 finish all the more extraordinary. Massa obviously agreed, saying “it was like a victory.” Felipe is brilliant!
Lance Stroll – 8/10
With a difficult qualifying session the day before, Lance Stroll’s effort to come home in P11 is also something to celebrate. This entire weekend Williams as a team have looked weak, and that’s not necessary his fault. In difficult times like these, Stroll did what he could to keep the car out of trouble and bring it home – hopefully collecting valuable data to fix their problems for Monza…
Carlos Sainz – 8/10
Like Felipe Massa, Carlos Sainz was overwhelmed by his finishing position in Belgium. It may have been just P10, but he said “it tastes like glory!” With the power demands of the first and third sectors, it was never going to be a strong weekend for Toro Rosso; but that didn’t stop Sainz at all, he kept it together the whole race and brought home an unexpected P10, amidst the chaos between the Force India’s.
Daniil Kvyat – 6/10
Spa was another normal day at the office for Daniil Kvyat: show up and get beaten by Sainz, again. It just feels as though the Russian is slightly demotivated at the moment. He may have started at the back, but, at the end of the day, he never made any real impression. Then again, this was a weak track for Toro Rosso – so maybe I’m just being harsh?
Stoffel Vandoorne – 7/10
It was a pretty standard day for McLaren at Spa. With the aforementioned power sensitivity of this circuit, we all knew that McLaren was never expected to perform here. With 65 place grid penalty ensuring he was starting plumb last on Saturday, the Belgian didn’t make all that much progress from there; Vandoorne’s day saw him finish third-to-last of the classified finishers, in front of only Marcus Ericsson and Kevin Magnussen
Fernando Alonso – 8/10
As always, Fernando Alonso provided the best he could with the terrible machinery he’s driving – his pass on Nico Hulkenberg into Les Combes on the second lap was something exceptional. From then on in, Alonso would suffer the same fate for the next few laps as he watched Hulkenberg, Perez, Ocon and Grosjean breeze past him. His infamous “embarrassing” radio came back out – poor old Fernando.
Nico Hulkenberg – 10/10
Nico Hulkenberg was by far one of my drivers of the day in Belgium. He commanded that ‘best of the rest’ spot with an aggressive opening lap. With the Force India’s tripping over themselves, no one was around to challenge the weak power of Renault – allowing Hulkenberg to take home this outstanding result.
Jolyon Palmer – 7/10
After a promising Saturday, where Palmer constantly outpaced team mate Hulkenberg, his Sunday was quite the contrary. After a grid penalty pushed him back to a P14 start, it was just too far back for Palmer to make an impression on the points. His race finished with a mediocre P13, a performance which doesn’t represent the true pace he had. Let down by machinery once again.
Romain Grosjean – 9/10
You know, it’s been a long time since we’ve heard Romain Grosjean complain about brakes. They obviously weren’t affecting him during this weekend as the Haas driver stormed to an awesome P7 finish. He was one of the main benefiters from the Force India calamity and he undeniably took the opportunity he was given. P7 made him “very proud” of Haas, and rightfully so.
Kevin Magnussen – 5/10
After an exceptional race for Romain Grosjean, Kevin Magnussen couldn’t really say the same; he was second to last of the classified finishers after botching the restart in the last phase of the race. With the field all bunched together, Magnussen’s mistake dropped him down the order considerably – an uncharacteristic mistake from a talented driver.
Marcus Ericsson – 7/10
With a 2016 Ferrari power unit, Sauber were never expected to be any good at Spa. Their pace backed this suspicion up as Marcus Ericsson came home as the last classified finisher, two seconds behind Kevin Magnussen. His race was rather lonely after his team mate retired early on.
Pascal Wehrlein – No rating.
Pascal Wehrlein was the first casualty of the Belgian Grand Prix, his retirement came on lap 3 because of suspension issues. Too bad, really.
Be sure to tell us in the comments whether or not you agree with our ratings!
By – Steven Walton