Sebastian Vettel claimed a commanding victory in the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa-Francorchamps as the challenge of Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso failed to materialise.
The German produced a good overtake on pole-sitter Lewis Hamilton during the first lap and never looked back. Fernando Alonso made a good start pay off and showed good race pace to claim second ahead of Lewis Hamilton who had a disappointing race for Mercedes.
The start was clean as everyone navigated the La Source hairpin, Paul di Resta and Mark Webber lost out with poor starts as Alonso moved up to fifth from ninth. Jenson Button also made a good start for McLaren moving up to fourth from sixth.
It was on the run out of Eau Rouge where the race was won for Vettel, taking advantage of a slow exit by Hamilton, Vettel used his superior straight line speed to cruise past the Mercedes on the run to Les Combes.
From there Vettel pulled out a three second gap within two laps and controlled the race from there.
Alonso continued his move forward passing Button using the DRS along the Kemmel straight into , Mark Webber had recovered from his poor start and he too made a move on Button using the Drag Reduction System to drive past the McLaren, by this point Alonso had moved ahead of Nico Rosberg into the podium places.
The two Lotuses failed to move up from their grid positions and Kimi Raikkonen's race was quickly hampered by an overheating front brake disc. As for Romain Grosjean he was falling back into the clutches of Sergio Perez in the McLaren, the Mexican looked to make a pass on the Frenchman using the DRS and made the move work, but he was given a drive-through penalty soon after for forcing Grosjean off the track.
Despite his brake issues Raikkonen began to move through the field producing a number of good overtakes at the Bus Stop chicane and in the DRS zone as the leaders began to pit.
Felipe Massa was the first to do so though Lewis Hamilton, who was struggling for grip in his Mercedes, also made an early stop as most chose the two-stop strategy over the one-stop.
Following his stop Hamilton was caught up behind the Lotus of Romain Grosjean spending a couple of laps behind the Lotus, allowing Alonso to close in. As the Spaniard made his stop he emerged just behind Hamilton.
When the Mercedes driver finally passed the Lotus, Alonso followed straight through and was able to make a move on Hamilton at La Source when the Brit had a slow exit, the Ferrari was upto a nett second.
Controlling the race out front Vettel was able to pit later than his rivals and rejoin comfortably in front extending his advantage.
The battle down the order was fraught with a number of bold moves, Adrian Sutil's pass on Gutierrez on the run into Eau Rouge one of the most notable.
Kimi Raikkonen continued his move forward but as he came to attack Felipe Massa his front brake disc finally gave up and he was force to retire for the first time in nearly two years, ending a run of 27 consecutive points finishes.
Half distance and those on a one-stop made their compulsory switch from the medium to the hard compound as carried on to the end as the threat of rain receded.
A few laps later the others made their switch to the hard compound and the run to the flag was on.
Jenson Button continued to run strongly for McLaren running in the podium places for a while though a second stop for tyres dropped him down to an eventual 6th place finish.
The biggest incident of the race came on lap 29 as the two Force Indias, Esteban Gutierrez and Pastor Maldonado, all jockeyed for position into the Bus Stop, with Sutil looking to make a move and Maldonado trying to get to the pits, the Venezuelan turns into the back of Paul di Resta flicking the car in the air and forcing the Scot out of the race.
While a safety car was not needed Maldonado was given a 10 second stop/ go penalty for the crash.
With the field pretty well spread little action occurred in the closing laps Vettel cruising to an easy win ahead of Alonso from Hamilton. Rosberg held off a challenge from Mark Webber to claim 4th with Button 6th.
Felipe Massa claimed 7th ahead of Grosjean, Sutil claimed 9th with Daniel Ricciardo producing a good drive for Toro Rosso claiming the final point in 10th.
While the race was not as exciting as many had hoped, Vettel's win is an ominous sign for his rivals heading into the second half of the season.
In the championship Vettel now has a 46 point lead from Alonso, Hamilton moved ahead of Raikkonen into 3rd, and the constructors looks equally one sided as Red Bull now have a 77 point lead over Mercedes, a good battle is on for second between Mercedes and Ferrari while Lotus will need to improve to get back in that fight.
The next race is the Italian Grand Prix at Monza on September 6-8.
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