F1: Vettel wins in Belgium to close points gap to Hamilton

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Sebastian Vettel used a slipstream off of Lewis Hamilton to take lead on Lap 1 of Sunday’s Belgian Grand Prix, and he commanded the race from there to take his fifth victory of the 2018 Formula 1 season.

Vettel’s move came just before a Safety Car was deployed for a scary crash involving Nico Hulkenberg, Fernando Alonso, and Charles Leclerc entering La Source – Hulkenberg locked up the brakes and ran into the back of Alonso, which propelled him over Leclerc.

In fact, Vettel and Hamilton nearly went three and four-wide with the Racing Point Force India duo of Esteban Ocon and Sergio Perez, but they fell back in line on corner entry, leaving Vettel in the lead over Hamilton.

Vettel took off away from the field when racing resumed and he never looked back, dominating the rest of the way. Hamilton came home in second, while Max Verstappen battled his way up to third at race’s end.

Valtteri Bottas worked his way up to fourth after starting last, passing Perez in the final laps to get the spot.

Perez and Ocon brought the new-look Force India team home in fifth and sixth, followed by the Haas duo of Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen.

Pierre Gasly and Marcus Ericsson rounded out the points scorers. Of note: Daniel Ricciardo and Kimi Raikkonen also suffered damage in the opening lap crash – Ricciardo suffered a broken rear wing while Raikkonen had a right-rear tire puncture.

Ricciardo was able to continue, but dropped out near the end of the race after being unable to make up ground. Raikkonen, too, retired, although much earlier due to damage to the car’s floor.

Results are below. The 2018 Formula 1 season continues next weekend with the Italian Grand Prix.