• Hamilton returns to top of drivers’ standings with win
• Mark Webber says Red Bull must decide who is team’s No1
McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton won an incident-packed Belgian grand prix to seize back the Formula One championship lead from Red Bull’s Mark Webber.
After the race, Webber, who began on pole but finished second, called on Red Bull to choose who is the team’s No1 driver between him and Sebastian Vettel. The Australian said the decision is “still too early but not too far away. I think it depends on how hungry we are.”
On an afternoon where the fickle Spa weather played its hand to full effect the safety car was deployed twice. McLaren’s Jenson Button was forced to retire after a collision with Vettel, who was given a drive-through penalty as a result and finished 15th, while Fernando Alonso spun out of the race in his Ferrari. Poland’s Robert Kubica finished third for Renault.
“To be taken out like that is disappointing,” Martin Whitmarsh, the McLaren team principal, said of Button’s retirement. Referring to Vettel’s collision with Webber at the Turkish grand prix earlier in the season, Whitmarsh added: “I’d rather he take out his own team-mate than [our driver].”
Hamilton now has 182 points to Webber’s 179 with six races remaining. Vettel is third, 31 points behind Hamilton, with Button and Alonso fourth and fifth respectively.
“It was a great weekend, a very tough race for me, the same for everyone,” Hamilton said. “I was praying it would be a race that would go smoothly, but then the rain came late on and I locked my wheels at turn eight, but thankfully I got away with it.
“We didn’t know what to expect, but fortunately I got round and changed the tyres – it was probably the best one this year.
“Again fortunately it didn’t rain any more, and in the end it was about nursing the car home, making sure it stayed in one piece and bagging the points. I’m very proud of the job the team did, and I’m so glad to be here.”
Explaining his abysmal start, Webber said: “I had a big bump on the formation lap, and although we altered the clutch, it was worse at the start. Once you have a micro-problem there it’s massively exaggerated by the performance of the other guys.
“After that it was a pretty mixed-up race, so I’m happy with second in the end. To have the top-three qualifiers on the podium after a race like that you could never have predicted, although the top two are the wrong way round for me.”
1 Lewis Hamilton (GB) McLaren 1hr 29mins 04.260secs; 2 Mark Webber (Aus) Red Bull 1:29:05.831; 3 Robert Kubica (Pol) Renault 1:29:07.753; 4 Felipe Massa (Bra) Ferrari 1:29:12.524; 5 Adrian Sutil (Ger) Force India 1:29:13.354; 6 Nico Rosberg (Ger) Mercedes GP 1:29:16.619; 7 Michael Schumacher (Ger) Mercedes GP 1:29:19.808; 8 Kamui Kobayashi (Jpn) BMW Sauber 1:29:20.938; 9 Vitaly Petrov (Rus) Renault 1:29:28.211; 10 Jaime Alguersuari (Spa) Toro Rosso 1:29:33.717; 11 Vitantonio Liuzzi (Ita) Force India 1:29:39.091; 12 Pedro de la Rosa (Spa) BMW Sauber 1:29:40.359; 13 Sébastien Buemi (Swi) Toro Rosso 1:29:44.155; 14 Nico Hülkenberg (Ger) Williams at 1 Lap; 15 Sebastian Vettel (Ger) Red Bull at 1 Lap; 16 Heikki Kovalainen (Fin) Lotus F1 at 1 Lap; 17 Lucas di Grassi (Bra) Virgin Racing at 1 Lap; 18 Timo Glock (Ger) Virgin Racing at 1 Lap; 19 Jarno Trulli (Ita) Lotus F1 at 1 Lap; 20 Sakon Yamamoto (Jpn) HRT-F1 at 2 Laps. Not Classified: 21 Fernando Alonso (Spa) Ferrari 37 Laps completed; 22 Jenson Button (GB) McLaren 15 Laps completed; 23 Bruno Senna (Bra) HRT-F1 5 Laps completed; 24 Rubens Barrichello (Bra) Williams 0 Laps completed
Drivers’ championship standings
1 Lewis Hamilton (GB) McLaren 182pts; 2 Mark Webber (Aus) Red Bull 179; 3 Sebastian Vettel (Ger) Red Bull 151; 4 Jenson Button (GB) McLaren 147; 5 Fernando Alonso (Spa) Ferrari 141; 6 Felipe Massa (Bra) Ferrari 109; 7 Robert Kubica (Pol) Renault 104; 8 Nico Rosberg (Ger) Mercedes GP 102; 9 Adrian Sutil (Ger) Force India 45; 10 Michael Schumacher (Ger) Mercedes GP 44; 11 Rubens Barrichello (Bra) Williams 30; 12 Kamui Kobayashi (Jpn) BMW Sauber 21; 13 Vitaly Petrov (Rus) Renault 19; 14 Vitantonio Liuzzi (Ita) Force India 12; 15 Nico Hülkenberg (Ger) Williams 10; 16 Sébastien Buemi (Swi) Toro Rosso 7; 17 Pedro de la Rosa (Spa) BMW Sauber 6; 18 Jaime Alguersuari (Spa) Toro Rosso 4; (Seven drivers on zero points)
1 Red Bull 330pts; 2 McLaren 329; 3 Ferrari 250; 4 Mercedes GP 146; 5 Renault 123; 6 Force India 57; 7 Williams 40; 8 BMW Sauber 27; 9 Toro Rosso 11; (three teams on zero points)