Lewis Hamilton fought back from a 60-place grid penalty that resigned him to the back of the field to finish the Belgian Grand Prix in third place, ensuring he retains the lead of the Formula 1 drivers’ championship.
Hamilton was forced to take three new power units over the weekend at Spa after issues earlier in the season meant he did not have enough components to get to the end of the season.
Hamilton started the race from 21st on the grid, but rose up the order on the first lap after clashes further ahead involving Sebastian Vettel, Kimi Raikkonen and Max Verstappen.
Hamilton sat fifth before the race was red flagged so that repairs could be completed on a barrier damaged in a crash for Kevin Magnussen, allowing him to swap tires in the pits.
Despite passing Fernando Alonso and Nico Hulkenberg to run third before making his second pit stop, Hamilton was unable to match the pace of Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg or Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo ahead.
Mercedes tried a final stint on the medium tire to get Hamilton into the fight for second, a call the Briton was quick to question. Ultimately, he finished 13 seconds behind Ricciardo in third place.
Hamilton was pleased with the result when speaking on the podium after the race, ensuring that Rosberg did not re-take the lead of the championship with victory. The gap between them heading to Monza is nine points.
“The team did an amazing job this weekend,” Hamilton said.
“I changed three engines so I’m actually ahead of these guys on engines now which is a good thing.
“Just a remarkable day. Beautiful weather, great crowd, great race.”
Speaking in the post-race press conference, Hamilton admitted that he could not believe he’d managed to fight his way up the pack so quickly.
“I can’t believe we came up so far,” Hamilton said.
“I woke up this morning knowing how difficult it would be on these tires with blistering. You can never predict what will happen in racing.
“Great thing is every Sunday is different. We had previous races with no incidents but today there was.
“You make sure you had the right approach: not too aggressive, not too easy. Today collectively we had the right balance. This is the best result I could have hoped for.”