Vettel Wins Belgian Grand Prix to Extend Lead in F-1 Standings

Sebastian Vettel of Red Bull won the Belgian Grand Prix to extend his lead in the Formula One championship and boost his chances of a fourth straight title.

Vettel finished 16.8 seconds ahead of Fernando Alonso in yesterday’s 44-lap race at Spa-Francorchamps. Mercedes’s Lewis Hamilton finished third after starting from pole position.

Vettel’s fifth victory this season and the 31st of his career lifted him 46 points clear of Alonso in the standings with 200 points still available from the remaining eight races.

“It was a fantastic race for us from start to finish,” Vettel said at the podium ceremony. “We had very good tactics, and it helped on the first lap to be able to pass Lewis. Once I passed him, we had incredible pace. We could really control the race until the end.”

Germany’s Vettel, 26, overtook Hamilton on the first lap and was never threatened.

Starting from second place, Vettel only gave up the lead while making a pit stop. Alonso recovered from a disappointing performance in qualifying, surging from ninth position on the grid to finish second.

Hamilton failed to convert a fourth straight pole position into a race victory. Having dropped behind early on, the Briton didn’t have the pace to trouble Vettel and Alonso.

“We had a tough race and these guys were a little bit faster,” Hamilton said.

Nico Rosberg of Mercedes was fourth, ahead of Red Bull’s Mark Webber, McLaren’s Jenson Button, Felipe Massa of Ferrari and Romain Grosjean of Lotus. Force India’s Adrian Sutil and Daniel Ricciardo of Toro Rosso rounded out the points scoring positions.

Raikkonen’s Retirement

Alonso and Hamilton overtook Lotus’s Kimi Raikkonen in the drivers’ standings after the Finn retired from yesterday’s race because of brake problems.

Vettel has 197 points, followed by Alonso (151), Hamilton (139), Raikkonen (134) and Webber (115). Red Bull leads the constructors’ event with 312 points, ahead of Mercedes (235), Ferrari (218) and Lotus (187).

Two-time world champion Alonso said he can overhaul Vettel.

“This gives us the possibility to go forward,” he said. “The championship is very long. If you have a competitive car and win six consecutive races you can recover very quickly. We will find out if we are in a position to do that.”

Yesterday’s race was the first after the mid-season break. The next event, the 12th on the 19-race calendar, is the Sept. 8 Italian Grand Prix at Monza.

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