Vettel dominates Belgian GP
Sebastian Vettel extended his World Championship lead on Sunday with a dominant victory in the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa-Francorchamps.
The defending champion took the chequered flag 16.8 seconds ahead of Ferrari's Fernando Alonso with Lewis Hamilton completing the podium after starting the race from pole position.
Vettel appeared in control of the situation from the first lap pretty much. Hamilton led into the first corner, La Source, but the lead Red Bull, which was running a noticeably skinnier rear wing for a straightline speed boost, swept by the Mercedes on the run up to Les Combes.
Starting ninth on the grid, Alonso also made ground on the opening lap but the same was not the case for Kimi Raikkonen. The Finn started eighth but lost two places on the opening lap.
His Lotus subsequently developed brake problems which eventually forced Raikkonen's first retirement since his F1 comeback on lap 27, thus ending the 2007 Champion's record-breaking run - also numbering 27 - of consecutive points finishes.
By that stage, Vettel had built an eight-second lead over Alonso, who had passed Hamilton, again up the Kemmel Straight and into Les Combes, again shortly after both made their first pit stops.
Hamilton's team-mate Nico Rosberg finished fourth ahead of Red Bull's Mark Webber and McLaren's Jenson Button.
Button was confident he might score McLaren's first podium of the season at Spa and certainly made a strong start from sixth on the grid, almost drawing level with Vettel at La Source on lap one.
He soon lost ground but made his first stop later than rivals and, changing from medium to hard tyres, it seemed for a while that a one-stop strategy might help him achieve his aim.
As it transpired however, a second stop was needed, dropping Button back to where he had started.
With the World Champion driving assuredly out front - "Vettel's been in a class of one," remarked Sky Sports F1's Martin Brundle as he reeled off the closing laps - it turned out to be a difficult race in general for British drivers.
While Hamilton failed to convert his pole and Button treaded water, Paul di Resta retired on lap 29 after being hit by the Williams of Pastor Maldonado at the Bus Stop chicane.
The Venezuelan was penalised for the incident but it was another disappointing result for the Scot, who qualified an excellent fifth on Saturday.
Likewise, Max Chilton started a career-best 16th on the grid but would up 19th and last in his Marussia.
Both had profited from the wet conditions which hit the circuit on Saturday but the forecasts were wrong this time, with rain staying away throughout the race.
Behind Button, Ferrari's Felipe Massa finished seventh ahead of Lotus's Romain Grosjean, with Adrian Sutil (Force India) and Daniel Ricciardo (Toro Rosso) completing the final points positions.
The result means that Vettel has extended his lead in the Drivers' Championship to 46 points. Alonso has picked up the chase, with Hamilton also climbing to third in the standings ahead of Raikkonen.