Lewis Hamilton made his 200th Grand Prix start this past weekend in the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa, and delivered his 58th career win Sunday after scoring his 68th pole on Saturday. The latter mark tied the great Michael Schumacher for most in Formula 1 history.
As Hamilton reached a threshold only 16 other drivers have in F1 history, Sam Posey reflects on Hamilton’s journey to get there, from his youthful days in karting, getting scouted by Ron Dennis, to then leaving the paternalistic nature of McLaren to find himself at Mercedes.
This essay is called “The One & Only Lewis,” written and narrated by Posey. For further 2017 and 2016 Posey essays, click here.
Force India Formula 1 drivers Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon continued to blame each other for the on-track clash in the Belgian Grand Prix in a series of Twitter posts following the race.
Having previously made contact on-track in Canada and Baku, Perez and Ocon tangled twice during the race at Spa on Sunday in separate incidents.
Running down to Eau Rouge on the first lap, Perez squeezed Ocon towards the wall on the right-hand side of the track, with both escaping without any damage.
Perez claimed responsibility for the first clash, but the second and more costly coming together happened in near-identical fashion later in the race, with neither driver wishing to back out of the move.
Damage forced both drivers to pit for repairs, with Perez ultimately retiring from the race late on. Ocon went on to finish ninth, continuing his impressive points record in 2017.
Force India’s management reacted angrily to the incident, confirming it would insist on team orders from now on to prevent its drivers clashing yet again and harming the team’s constructors’ championship score.
Ocon posted a video on Twitter in the hours following the race in which he repeated his claim that Perez “tried to kill me”, calling his run to ninth and haul of two points “damage limitation”.
Perez responded by posting two videos of himself talking about the incident, insisting that he was not at fault for the second coming together.
On Monday morning, Ocon issued a short statement on Twitter in which he wrote he would be moving on from the incident, as well as accepting Perez’s apology for the first clash.
Force India has already confirmed it will revise its rules of engagement with both Perez and Ocon ahead of this weekend’s Italian Grand Prix.
Formula 1 has confirmed a three-day attendance figure of 265,000 fans for last weekend’s Belgian Grand Prix at the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps, an outright record for the race.
Spa has enjoyed a boost in popularity since the arrival of Max Verstappen in F1 at the start of 2015, with tens of thousands of fans making the trip across the border from his native Netherlands.
An estimated 80,000 fans came over from Holland for this weekend’s race, aiding the surge to a record crowd for the race in Belgium.
“It’s been a busy and exciting weekend for all of Formula 1 and I think the thousands of spectators at this amazing circuit, as well as the millions that watched on television and on line, all enjoyed the show and saw just how spectacular this sport can be,” Ross Brawn, managing director for motorsports at Formula 1, said.
“It was also a special weekend for me personally, as it was a pleasure to be able to pass on the congratulations of the Schumacher family, in addition to my own, to Lewis Hamilton after he equalled Michael’s outright record of pole positions.
“It was also wonderful to see Michael’s son Mick, driving his father’s Benetton on the circuit where he scored the first of his 91 Formula 1 wins in 1992: these moments make Formula 1 special.”
Lewis Hamilton criticized the decision to deploy the Safety Car during Sunday’s Formula 1 race in Belgium, believing it was done in the interests of creating a closer battle at the front of the field.
The Safety Car was called for on Lap 30 at the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps after contact between Force India teammates Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon left debris strewn across the circuit.
The bunching of the field saw Hamilton’s lead over title rival Sebastian Vettel evaporate, with the Briton calling the decision “BS” over team radio at the time.
“I felt it was a bit like NASCAR, where they keep pulling out the safety cars for no reason,” Hamilton said after the race, referring to the ‘caution clock’ concept that looks to aid the on-track action.
“The wing was cleared. After we’d slowed down they could have done a Virtual Safety Car but I guess they wanted to see a race.
“That’s for sure the reason they did they, because there was hardly any debris, if at all, they cleaned it so well.”
Despite coming under pressure from Vettel immediately after the race returned to green, Hamilton was able to kick on and secure his fifth victory of the season, cutting the Ferrari driver’s championship lead down to just seven points.
“It’s an amazing feeling to come back into the season and start off on the right foot, being that the Ferraris obviously finished on the right foot going into the break,” Hamilton said.
“They’ve really put in a fantastic fight today. The speed and pace they had was very strong. There was not a single point at which I would say that I could be comfortable.”
Hamilton and Vettel will write the latest chapter of their rivalry this weekend at the Italian Grand Prix.
Honda Formula 1 chief Yusuke Hasegawa has revealed there was no sign of an engine issue in Fernando Alonso’s engine data from the Belgian Grand Prix, but opted to retire his car as a precaution on Sunday at Spa.
Alonso reported over the radio that he had an issue with his engine, prompting McLaren to call him into the pits and park him up after 25 laps of the race.
Honda has been struggling for either reliability or performance for much of this season, with a number of problems with its power unit resulting in retirements earlier in the year.
However, Hasegawa confirmed after the race that Alonso’s engine data showed no abnormalities despite his report.
“We thought we had the possibility of scoring some points here in Belgium today, so it was disappointing that we finished the race outside of the top 10,” Hasegawa said.
“After starting brilliantly, Fernando then had a tough race overall. He radioed in with what he thought was a problem with the car.
“Although there was nothing showing in the data, we decided to stop the car as a precaution.”
Eagle-eyed fans noted on Twitter after the race that Alonso’s call regarding his engine came not long after a query about the weather, asking if any rain was on the horizon.
Alonso had vented his frustration about the lack of straight-line speed and power from his car earlier in the race, being left a sitting duck while running P7 after a rocket start.
It is not the first time there has been doubt about Alonso’s report of issues with his Honda power unit, with his retirement late on in Bahrain also being suspect.