Hamilton scores commanding Belgian GP win

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Lewis Hamilton beat Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg to claim a commanding Belgian Grand Prix win.

Hamilton withstood pressure on the opening lap from a fast-starting Sergio Perez to hold onto the lead, while Rosberg dropped to fifth after a slow getaway.

Rosberg quickly passed Valtteri Bottas and then cleared Perez and Daniel Ricciardo during the opening round of stops, but once up to second could not seriously trouble Hamilton, who claimed his sixth win of the campaign.

Sebastian Vettel looked set for a podium finish, only to suffer a high-speed tyre failure on the penultimate lap, handing third to Romain Grosjean – his first top three finish since the 2013 US Grand Prix.

The start was initially aborted after Nico Hulkenberg was left stranded on the grid with a problem.

After a second formation lap, Hamilton established an early lead as Rosberg was swamped into La Source.

Last year’s winner Daniel Ricciardo ran third during the opening phase of the race, before he was forced to park his Red Bull at the Bus Stop chicane, prompting a brief virtual safety car period.

Red Bull team-mate Daniil Kvyat started just 12th, but produced a feisty drive on an alternate strategy, using the soft tyres to progress to fourth by the end of the race.

Sergio Perez recorded his best finish of 2015 with a run to fifth for Force India, narrowly holding off the attention of’ Felipe Massa and Kimi Raikkonen – who started in 16th – in the closing stages.

Max Verstappen collected three points for Toro Rosso in eighth after running a similar strategy to Kvyat, ahead of Valtteri Bottas.

The Finn briefly featured in the top six early on, but his race was spoilt when his Williams team sent him out on a mix of tyres – three softs and one medium, earning him a drive-through penalty.

Marcus Ericsson profited from Vettel’s late tyre failure to take the final point on offer for Sauber in 10th.

His team-mate Felipe Nasr crossed the line 11th, one spot ahead of Vettel.

Fernando Alonso made a fine start from the back row to run 12th in the opening laps, but the Spaniard ultimately slipped back, leading home McLaren team-mate Jenson Button in 13th and 14th respectively.

Roberto Merhi beat Manor Marussia team-mate Will Stevens to finish 15th.

Carlos Sainz Jr. was forced to start from the pits, and spent most of the race two laps down, before he retired his Toro Rosso late on to conserve mileage.

Pastor Maldonado was an early retirement for Lotus after he slowed with a loss of power on the Kemmel straight.

Image courtesy of Mercedes AMG PETRONAS

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