Lewis Hamilton was full of praise for Formula 1 title rival Sebastian Vettel after a close battle throughout Sunday’s Belgian Grand Prix, believing the Ferrari driver to have enjoyed better race pace at Spa.
Hamilton edged out Vettel by 2.3 seconds at the checkered flag following a race-long fight, the pair running side-by-side on two occasions.
Vettel was unable to find a way through, allowing Hamilton to grab his fifth victory of the season and cut the gap at the top of the drivers’ championship down to just seven points.
“The Ferraris I think genuinely had the upper hand particularly on race pace throughout the weekend,” Hamilton said.
“He was very, very strong today, and I was towing him around everywhere, so they were getting a good tow down the straights.
“On the restart the safety car was driving so slow, it was I guess to let the other people catch up, so keeping tyre temperature, given I was on the harder tire, was very, very difficult. I came to the restart, Sebastian was very, very close, the front tyres weren’t switched on initially. He got a good tow.”
Vettel was able to tuck in behind Hamilton’s car after the safety car period, only to get too close and force himself to back off a bit, losing straight-line speed.
“I think he was a little bit too close on the run out of Turn 1, so I think he had to lift off as he would have otherwise come by potentially before Eau Rouge, which perhaps was a good thing for me because he lost a little bit of performance,” Hamilton said.
“He did a great race, he was very, very consistent throughout. It was fun to be racing against another team and Sebastian really at his best and the car at his best, battling within half a tenth every lap.
“That’s what racing is about. I think they’re able to keep up and follow quite closely for a long, long time, so I think they had the better pace today.
“But fortunately I was able to do just enough to stay ahead.”