Two years on from losing victory in the Belgian Grand Prix
in controversial circumstances, Lewis Hamilton
dominated the 2010 event to thrust himself back into world title contention.
The Briton made the most of a poor start from polesitter, and points leader, Mark Webber
to lead from lights to flag at Spa-Francorchamps, surviving two rain interruptions and a trip through the gravel at Rivage to claim a third win of the season and the first for McLaren
with its blown diffuser system.
More importantly, perhaps, three of Hamilton's title rivals failed to score and, while Webber bounced back to secure second, Red Bull
team-mate Sebastian Vettel, McLaren's Jenson Button
number one Fernando Alonso
all went home empty handed. The revised scoring system introduced for this season, with its increased margin between first and second, allows Hamilton to return to the head of the championship standings, now leading Webber by three points 182-179, with third-placed Vettel, who endured a ragged race, 31 marks adrift.
The race started badly for Webber who, having admitted that victory would not be determined on lap one, pretty much had his words thrown back in his face. As his RB6 lapsed into anti-stall when the lights went out, Hamilton, third-placed Robert Kubica, Vettel and Jenson Button
all took advantage. Such was the world champion's start from fifth on the grid, he very nearly made it a McLaren
1-2 at La Source, and wasted little time in achieving his aim.
Having fended off the eager Vettel at La Source second time around, the pair swapping places, Button blasted back to deprive a fish-tailing Kubica of second exiting Eau Rouge, while the Red Bull
took to the grass in his efforts to follow the Briton through. The conditions, however, had taken an early turn for the worst, with a rain shower causing mayhem at the Bus Stop chicane.
Hamilton ran wide before rejoining, as did the majority of the frontrunners, while Rubens Barrichello, making his 300th appearance in a grand prix, found himself left with nowhere to go when he arrived, front wheels locked up, and clattered into the side of Alonso. Remarkably, the Ferrari
was able to continue, unlike its assailant, but Alonso's decision to switch to intermediates proved misguided, although the ensuing safety car period at least allowed him to change back with too much penalty.
At the restart, on lap four, Vettel claimed third at the hairpin, and quickly closed on Button who, it transpired, had damaged the left-hand endplate in his defence of third early on. While Hamilton lapped a second faster than anyone, the battle for the place immediately behind was joined, with Button clearly struggling but able to keep Vettel behind on the straights, where the Red Bull
was on the limiter in its attempts to pass.
Matters came to a head at the Bus Stop on lap 15, when Vettel's attempt to gain the inside line resulted in him hitting a bump as he realised the move wasn't on and cannoning into the left-hand sidepod of Button's MP4-25. This time, the assailant came off best, with Vettel able to head to the pits for a new nose. Button, however, was out on the spot, crawling into retirement with a radiator removed and drive lost. Vettel's losses were compounded shortly afterwards, however, as the stewards slapped a drive-thru' penalty on him for causing an avoidable accident, and that only accelerated what became a bad afternoon for the impetuous German.
With the weather appearing to clear, Force India's Adrian Sutil, promoted to fifth by the Button-Vettel contretemps
, headed for his mandatory pit-stop, prompting those ahead of him to follow suit over the next few laps. Webber was next in, on lap 22, with Kubica, Massa and Hamilton all in within two laps, although the order remained unchanged. Only the two Mercedes drivers, running safely in the top ten despite their pre-race penalties, and backmarkers Jarno Trulli
and Lucas di Grassi
had yet to stop, no doubt gambling on another rainstorm heading Spa's way.