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2017 F1

Five things we learned from the 2017 Belgian Grand Prix

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Mercedes speedy, Lewis Hamilton won the Belgian Formula 1 Grand Prix on Sunday, see the chequered flag first in a close-battle finish after completing 44 laps of the Spa-Francorchamps circuit.

Hamilton made top podium from pole in the 200th GP of his career, the triple time world champion snatched the 25 Championship points from rival Sebastian Vettel of Ferrari.

1. Gap between Mercedes and Ferrari now ‘minimal’

Ferrari showed a solid performance at Mercedes favourite circuit in Spa, its proven the difference between Ferrari and Mercedes’ F1 power unit is now “minimal”.

Hamilton beat his nearest championship rival Vettel to victory by just 1.4s, the fifth race victory of the season and reducing Vettel’s lead in the drivers’ championship to just seven points.

The Pole sitter Hamilton’s opportunities of victory came under risk with 14 laps remaining when a Safety Car was deployed after a crash between the two Force India drivers.

Vettel pushed Hamilton throughout the race, and closed right in following a late-race safety car period. But Hamilton made a defensive and faultless restart, pulling out sufficient of a gap to secure his 58th career win in his 200th start.

2. Sergio Perez needs serious discipline

Since the quarrel between Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon in Canada, their argument raises again, with a collision in Azerbaijan and the pair colliding again in Belgium.

Following the incident, Ocon called Perez an “idiot” over the radio, then accused his team-mate of trying to kill him during his post-race media commitments, before reiterating his stance on Twitter.

“We were having a good race until Perez tried to kill me two times,” the 20-year-old Frenchman wrote.

Perez, seven years Ocon’s senior, then gave his version of events. “I am very disappointed to see his comments that l wanted to kill him,” Perez said.

“I am not that type of guy. I just want to tell the truth and move on.”

Force India have said they will give them race bans if they collide again and are now instituting rules of engagement. Pérez in particular needs to take them on board.

3. Renault apologise to Verstappen

Totally disappointed race for Red Bull’s Max Verstappen on Sunday as the Belgian GP marked the young driver’s sixth retirement in 12 races, four of which were due to mechanical trouble.

The Belgium crowd came out in drones with 120 000 strong, of which 80 000 of those fans were Verstappen supporters.

Max retiring on lap eight with a power-unit failure, his sixth DNF of the season. The team principal, Christian Horner, was clear in blaming the engine supplier, Renault. “We pay a hell of a lot of money for the engine,” he said. “They need to sort it out.”

The four-time world champion and Renault adviser Alain Prost, agreed that the French manufacturer urgently needed to solve its issues.

“Six retirements for Max this season, which weren’t all our fault, but many were,” Prost told French broadcaster Canal+.

“I personally went over to apologize to him and to the team, in the name of Renault. Often in a team, at least from what we’re seeing from the teams we supply, there are always one or two drivers who have more problems than other, and that’s his case.

“He’s very impatient, he’s very talented and wants to fight up front, so it isn’t always an easy situation to manage,” Prost added.

“It’s unfortunate, and we need to solve the problem. But it’s also a situation which convinces us that we must not target performance at the expense of reliability.”

4. Alonso, Williams not denying 2018 rumours

Latest rumour is that Fernando Alonso could decide within the month of September to make the switch to either Renault or Williams.

Following another DNF at Spa, Alonso’s future remains in the balance, with the latest suggestion in the paddock being he might make an unlikely switch to Williams.

“We will do everything we can to keep Fernando,” said managing director Jonathan Neale.

Alonso’s options actually appear limited, with Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull apparently having no vacancies.

Renault is one option for the 36-year-old, but another may now be emerging – Williams.

“Auto Motor und Sport call it a rumour, but at Auto Bild Motorsport we know that Williams and Alonso are on the brink of a sensation,” the German publication said.

“The two sides have been talking for some time.”

And sources report that Lance Stroll’s billionaire father Lawrence is also keen on Alonso joining Williams, as his 18-year-old son could learn a lot from the two-time champion.

Auto Bild claims: “Lawrence Stroll is willing to pay Alonso’s EUR 25 million salary personally, as he wants the best driving instructor and development aid for his son.

“Stroll even plans to take over the Williams team, having already invested at least EUR 40 million,” the report added.

5. Mick Schumacher wowed the crowds

Mick Schumacher, the 18-year-old son of seven-time world champion Michael, driven a demonstration lap at the Spa-Francorchamps circuit in his father’s 1994 model Benetton B194 t.

“It was great to use my dad’s old livery,” said Schumacher Jnr, a talented Formula Three driver seeking to graduate to F1.

“I was just amazed by the car.” There has been almost no update on his father’s condition since December 2013, when he suffered irreparable brain damage in a fall while skiing in Meribel.

Schumacher, 48, is continuing his rehabilitation at his home in Switzerland from a traumatic brain injury, suffered skiing in December 2013.

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