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REPORT: Lewis Narrowly Beats Vettel to 58th Win

REPORT: Lewis Narrowly Beats Vettel to 58th Win

Lewis Hamilton edged Sebastian Vettel to a hard-fought victory in Sunday's Belgian Grand Prix at Spa-Francorchamps.

'The Ferrari was very strong today'

On his 200th Formula 1 start, Lewis narrowly beat his title rival by 2.3s to slash the Ferrari racer's lead at the head of the Drivers' Championship to just seven points.

The Brit took charge from lights out and retained the lead throughout the opening round of stops until a clash between the two Force Indias prompted a Safety Car on Lap 30.

A flurry of pitstops followed, but while the Ferraris went for the UltraSoft tyre the two Mercedes cars moved onto another set of Softs.

Vettel was on theoretically the faster rubber, but Lewis saw off a brief attack on the restart and cruised home from there to take his 58th F1 win - his third at Spa.

'It is fun to be racing against another team'

"It's amazing to come back into the season and start on the right foot," said Lewis. "The Ferrari was very strong today and they put on a fantastic fight. We were both pushing every single lap and there was no room for error or mistake.

"The Safety Car was driving so slow that keeping tyre temperature was very difficult. On the restart, Sebastian got a good tow, it was very close.

"It is fun to be racing against another team and Sebastian at his best and the car at its best - that's what racing is all about.

"I want to thank the team, I would not have been able to win today without them."

'Today's race and result were a big disappointment'

Valtteri had a tougher race, and was disappointed to finish just fifth. The Finn started cleanly and looked odds on to claim the final spot on the podium until the late Safety Car intervened.

Switching onto the Softs and struggling to get heat into the harder compound on the restart, Valtteri was swamped by the UltraSoft-shod Raikkonen and Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo.

"Today's race and result were a big disappointment," said Valtteri. "It's been an all-around difficult weekend for me. It would have been nice to at least be on the podium and score good points for us as a team.

"After the Safety Car restart I was on the Soft tyres, but the guys who overtook me were on the UltraSofts. I was on the back foot, struggled with grip and could not fight them. In the race the Softs were working well for us, but during a Safety Car restart there's always a risk that other guys might have softer compounds. In a normal race we would have had an optimal tyre strategy.

"This has been the most difficult weekend for me, so I need to learn a lot from it because I wasn't quick enough. I need to analyse my mistakes quickly, and then hopefully come back stronger next week in Monza."

'That was a fantastic drive from Lewis'

Team boss Toto Wolff hailed Lewis' superb result, but on a day when Valtteri struggled and Ferrari showed that none of their pace has been lost over the break, he also delivered a reminder that there is more work to do if the Silver Arrows are to win these two world titles.

"That was a fantastic drive from Lewis to finish off a perfect weekend from him," said Toto. "It was a great result for the championship and a faultless performance. He defended well on the opening lap then it was a battle lap by lap to stretch out the gap to Sebastian.

"After the pit stop, we saw a small blister on one of his rear tyres and we had some question marks about whether they would last to the finish. Then the Safety Car came out and made the decision easier for us.

"We had a discussion about which tyres to fit - we didn't have a new set of UltraSoft remaining, and the team on the pit wall knew that the Soft would be the better tyre over the stint - if we could defend in those first laps after the restart. As Lewis showed, it was the right decision, and he delivered a great win.

'Now we move on to Monza'

"From Valtteri's side, we struggled with his car this weekend, and especially in traction as you could see on the TV pictures at the restart. We need to find out what happened there - and likewise, he will be the first to be self-critical about losing the positions after the restart.

"Now we move on to Monza. Ferrari were very strong here and we can expect exactly the same at their home race. Our job is to keep pushing, keep bringing performance to the car and to make sure we deliver all of our potential at every race from here to the end of the season."

The Silver Arrows lead the Constructors' Championship with 392 points, 44 points clear of Ferrari in second.

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