Ricciardo breathes life into ‘boring’ Hamilton procession

Lewis Hamilton led from start to finish at the Belgian Grand Prix to clinch his 89th career win and move two behind Michael Schumacher’s Formula One record on Sunday.

The world champion was untroubled from pole position, beating his Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas by eight seconds and finishing 15 seconds ahead of Red Bull’s Max Verstappen.

Daniel Ricciardo came home in fourth spot and claimed the bonus world championship point for the fastest lap in his best weekend for Renault.

It was Renault’s first fastest lap in a race since the 2010 Canadian Grand Prix, on a weekend in which the car showed its genuine speed for the first time this season.

“We had a lot of pace, more so on the hard [tyre],” Ricciardo told F1.com.

Loading

“The first lap was fun with Max, we were close. I was ahead and then he got ahead and we were side-by-side for a few corners,” he added of the first lap battle with former teammate Max Verstappen.

“Fourth is good.”

With teammate Esteban Ocon finishing in fifth, Renault claimed 23 points from the weekend’s racing — its best return from a race since it re-joined the pack in 2016.

Ricciardo said his fastest lap of the race, the final of the 44 completed, was “probably better than my qualifying lap yesterday”.

Heading into next weekend’s race at Italy’s famed high-speed Monza circuit, where Renault had its best result of the season, Ricciardo said he had plenty to be positive about.

“This was a good track for us last year, but Monza was even better so we’ll see. We’ll try not to get ahead of ourselves, but I think we can go there with a lot of confidence.”

Daniel Ricciardo drives a yellow formula 1 car

Daniel Ricciardo drives a yellow formula 1 car

The weekend was Renault’s best since its return to the sport in 2016.(Pool via AP: John Thys)

Hamilton wins ‘boring’ race

Hamilton’s fifth win from seven races this season once again highlighted his class in a vastly superior car, but the six-time world champion acknowledged that F1 fans might be getting a little bored.

“You generally know I don’t make too many mistakes. I can imagine it’s definitely not the most exciting [race],” Hamilton said.

Hamilton extended his championship lead over Verstappen to 47 points with Bottas drifting 50 back in third. Hamilton is favourite to win a seventh title to tie Schumacher’s record.

“I do feel that I’m driving at my best … I am 35 going towards 36 but I feel better than ever,” Hamilton said.

Lewis Hamilton bends his head forward and crosses his hands in front of his chest

Lewis Hamilton bends his head forward and crosses his hands in front of his chest

Lewis Hamilton honoured Black Panther star Chadwick Boseman on the podium.(Pool Photo via AP: Francois Lenoir)

Bottas vowed, before this season and last, that he could take Hamilton’s crown.

Yet he’s won only one race.

“It’s not over, there are 10 left. I had a puncture in Silverstone, lost a lot of points with that,” Bottas said. “If I gave up now, I’d rather stay home.”

Verstappen, meanwhile, would love a faster car to take the fight to Hamilton, but Red Bull has yet to bridge the gap with Mercedes.

“It was not really enjoyable out there.”

Schumacher won five of his F1 titles consecutively during a glorious era for Ferrari, but the proud Italian team is struggling badly now. Sebastian Vettel finished 13th and Charles Leclerc 14th.

Russell glad for halo after crash

Early into the 44-lap race, Williams driver George Russell and Alfa Romeo’s Antonio Giovinazzi crashed heavily but were both unharmed.

Loading

Last year, Anthoine Hubert died following a horrific crash during the F2 support race.

A minute’s silence was held before the race in memory of the French driver as drivers gathered solemnly around a picture of Hubert on the grid. His racing helmet was placed on a stand.

Giovinazzi lost control of his car and Russell swerved into the barriers to avoid a loose tire from Giovinazzi’s car bouncing across the track.

Both climbed out unhurt, while other drivers crawled at snail-like pace slowly over the debris on their way into the pits for new tires while the safety car was deployed.

“Feeling unlucky and lucky right now,” Russell said.

“Gutted, as we were having a great race, but really glad we have the halo [a mandatory safety bar protecting the driver’s head] on these cars now or it could have been much worse.”

ABC/AP