Lewis Hamilton’s racecraft of champions kept Sebastian Vettel at bay

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This means we can give a voice to those less heard, explore where others turn away, and rigorously challenge those in power.We hope you will consider supporting us today. We need your support to keep delivering quality journalism that’s open and independent. Every reader contribution, however big or small, is so valuable. Support The Guardian from as little as $1 – and it only takes a minute. Thank you. Reuse this content Since you’re here… Topics Read more Share on Pinterest Lewis Hamilton warns Mercedes must improve to beat Ferrari for F1 title Share on Facebook Formula One 2017 Sportblog Share on WhatsApp 1 Hamilton is on songLewis Hamilton was open about how hard the win in Belgium had been, hounded to the flag by Sebastian Vettel. His defence on the opening lap with Vettel almost alongside him going down the Kemmel Straight and into Les Combes was textbook but the second time after the safety car restart was in another league. He admitted he had been lucky in selecting the wrong power mode before the last corner which kept Vettel close to him – an advantage in denying him the car lengths he needed to gain momentum and get a good tow. But he followed it with the racecraft of champions – using only 90% of throttle going down to Eau Rouge to keep Vettel tucked up under his rear wing, then finally applying maximum beans through Eau Rouge – where at the top Vettel had no room to propel himself and could only pull out alongside. Hamilton then topped it with a masterclass on the brakes into Les Combes. On cold rubber, with his title rival parallel with him and the race in the balance, his touch was glorious.2 Pérez needs proper management Since the row between Sergio Pérez and Esteban Ocon in Canada, their feud has been bubbling away, with a collision in Baku and the pair colliding again in Hungary. Force India have dropped points but still singularly failed to control their drivers. In the wake of Spa Pérez needs serious discipline. Ocon admitted he was at fault when the pair touched on the opening lap but the second time, when Pérez squeezed Ocon going down the hill to Eau Rouge and they clashed, he took a puncture and Ocon lost part of his front wing. It could have been much worse, a large part of the wing flew off towards the crowd and was fortunately stopped by catch fencing. He had put the drivers at risk and might have inadvertently caused serious injury to spectators. Ocon accused him of trying to “kill him” on Twitter and Pérez responded by claiming he had done nothing wrong in maintaining his line – but giving up a few inches might have prevented the incident. 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) Verstappen not to blame for Red Bull woesIt was a mixed weekend for Red Bull with Daniel Ricciardo gaining his sixth podium finish of the season but Max Verstappen retiring on lap eight with an engine failure, his fourth mechanical DNF of the season. The team principal, Christian Horner, was unequivocal 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.” Verstappen has said Red Bull will need to improve drastically in the next year and a half to stop him leaving and he was frustrated. Ricciardo in contrast was effusive as ever. When asked if there was something Verstappen was doing to prompt the failures, he was mischievous but emphatic. “I do a lot of things with my driving style which is very nice to the car,” he said. “I actually talk to it a lot during the race. I massage it. I wouldn’t call it foreplay but it’s something like that and Max is young, he’s aggressive, he goes straight in. In all seriousness, I don’t have an answer. I’ve even asked all the guys in the team and I’ve said: ‘Is there something you see Max is doing which I should maybe avoid?’ and they said: ‘No, there’s nothing he’s doing. He’s not over-revving it or anything silly.’”4) Alonso to Williams?After another weekend of disappointment for McLaren Fernando Alonso’s future remains in the balance, with the latest suggestion in the paddock being he might make an unlikely switch to Williams. Alonso missed Q3 due to a lack of power and the race was little better. He described his pace as “embarrassing” before retiring his car saying it had an engine issue, though Honda insisted afterwards they found no problem. A Renault power unit is McLaren’s only alternative to Honda for next season and that is by no means a certainty as regulations stipulate manufacturers can supply only three teams – which Renault already do. Alonso again insisted that performance was what would influence any decision and he appears to have lost all confidence that Honda can deliver. A move to Mercedes customers Williams was mooted on Saturday afternoon and, while they would not be able to provide him with a title-wining car, it would make a more competitive home for a year – before the driver market opens up again at the end of 2018. They are expecting improvements under Paddy Lowe and Alonso would be a coup for the British team to replace Felipe Massa. Alonso in turn has few options left, making this a rumour that is not quite as far-fetched as it sounds.5) Mercedes discuss the discussionHamilton noted pointedly on Thursday that Vettel would not want to be his team-mate, stressing that Mercedes’ policy of allowing their drivers to race and not favouring one over another would not be to the German’s liking. He was confident it would not happen, not least because the team have been insistent all season they have not made any move for Vettel. Hamilton was surprised then on Saturday, after Ferrari announced they had extended Vettel’s contract for three more years, when Mercedes’ non-executive chairman, Niki Lauda, said he had spoken to Vettel about a potential move to Mercedes. Some clarification was needed and the executive director, Toto Wolff, was keen to provide it. “There was zero discussions with Sebastian around the contract between him and Mercedes,” he said. “I don’t know what Niki was asked. You cross each other out there in the paddock and ask, ‘What are you doing?’ but there was no discussion. Zero. Have you ever got me not saying the truth in the five years I have been here? I do not deal in lies, so I am saying to you there were zero conversations with Sebastian.” Lauda’s paddock conversations may be more strictly monitored in future. features Formula One Motor sport Read more Share on Twitterlast_img read more