Lewis Hamilton soaked up race-long pressure from Formula 1 championship rival Sebastian Vettel en route to victory in Sunday's Belgian Grand Prix, cutting the gap at the top of the drivers' standings to just seven points.

Hamilton enjoyed a comfortable lead over Vettel in the early part of the race before a safety car period bunched the field, giving the Ferrari driver a chance to make a pass at the front.

Running on the faster ultra-soft tyre compared to his rival's softs, Vettel appeared to have the pace advantage for the restart on Lap 34, and was able to get into Hamilton's slipstream before attempting to overtake on the Kemmel Straight.

Hamilton held firm, defending the inside line to ensure that Vettel could not pass into Les Combes, with the defensive move proving crucial come the end of the race.

Vettel was forced to drop back, and although the pair exchanged a number of quick lap times, he was unable to bridge the gap, allowing Hamilton to sweep to his third Belgian Grand Prix victory.

The result sees Hamilton draw to within seven points of Vettel at the top of the drivers' championship with eight rounds remaining this season.

The race to complete the podium took a number of in-race twists, with Daniel Ricciardo ultimately emerging third for Red Bull. Valtteri Bottas had been in the pound seat after the first round of stops, with Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen falling back to seventh after a stop/go penalty for failing to slow for yellow flags. The safety car brought Raikkonen back into contention, the trio running nose-to-tail on the restart down the Kemmel Straight.

Bottas struggled to pull clear, allowing both Ricciardo and Raikkonen to get through, the latter picking up a double tow. Bottas ran wide at Les Combes, dropping to fifth, and was unable to make it back past either driver before the end of the race.

Nico Hulkenberg emerged as the top midfielder at Spa, finishing sixth for Renault ahead of Romain Grosjean and Felipe Massa, all of whom benefitted from two bizarre clashes between Force India drivers Esteban Ocon and Sergio Perez. The first came on the opening lap, Ocon being squeezed into the wall on the run to Eau Rouge, the Frenchman escaping without any damage.

After both drivers took their second stop, they ran together on-track once again, with a near-repeat of the incident happening but with greater repurcussions. Ocon was squeezed into the wall by Perez, with both cars sustaining damage. Ocon was left fuming, but was able to recover from the clash to take two points for P9. Perez was less fortunate, retiring late on.

Carlos Sainz Jr. completed the points for Toro Rosso in P10 ahead of Lance Stroll and Daniil Kvyat, while Jolyon Palmer was 13th for Renault. Stoffel Vandoorne finished his first home grand prix 14th, being McLaren's sole finisher after Fernando Alonso was forced to retire due to an engine issue after 25 laps.

Kevin Magnussen fell out of the points to P15 after appearing to struggle under braking late on, while Marcus Ericsson was the last finisher in P16 for Sauber, with teammate Pascal Wehrlein retiring early.

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Most definitely the best season we've had lately! Two very equal teams and the two best drivers in the sport  fighting for it! Im pleased to see the Ferrari team step up and challenge the Mercedes. If you think about it the last time was 12' and arguably the RedBull was the better package that year over the Ferrari . This year I think the Ferrari and Mercedes are so close that the difference is more in setup and driver preferences . Lewis does well at the circuits he often does well at and Vettel is just having a hell of a strong season. 

I'd love to see Alonso in a Ferrari now. 

WE saw the potential of the merc over the ferrari in many occasions yesterday, only on the start and re-start did Vettel get close enough, but when hamilton needed it, the extra power was available. This was an excellently controlled and managed race by Hamilton, trying to save his engine for this weekend. Hopefully Bottas get his finger oot and bring the other merc home ahead of the ferrari's