Belgian Grand Prix 2013

/ Commentary

Race

14:02 Hamilton leads the cars on the grid. Lets hope for a cleaner start than last year... One light, two lights, three, four, five ... GO!

14:00 We've had the Greenpeace banner. It's a protest at Shell (race sponsor here and Ferrari sponsor) against Arctic drilling. As soon as I posted that, Riku emailed in correctly guessing that would be the case too. Right then, shall we focus on racing?

13:59 We're away on the formation lap and the top 14 cars are all starting on medium tyres. Only the Marussias, Ricciardo and Gutierrez on hards

13:57 @zasportreport asks: "what is greenpeace issue with F1?"

I'd assume it's about the sport's environmental impact. We do leave a pretty big carbon footprint travelling around the world, but the sport works hard to reduce it and FOTA even publishes the numbers to show that.

13:56 Carlos asks: "Is everybody allowed to start with new slick tyres?"

Yes. The top ten qualified on intermediates so can choose their tyres, while the rest of the field are always allowed a free choice. Of course, a driver can start on used tyres if they wish, too.

13:55 @muquith asks: "Can kimi finish on podium?"

The Lotus looked quick in the dry, so yes I'd say he has a chance. His biggest problem could be a lack of straight line speed in the Lotus making it hard to stay close to the car in front in to the braking zones

13:54 @F1insider78 asks: "Any rain at all for the race?"

Could well be later on. Race control says 60% chance during the race.

13:52 Speaking of the race, the top ten drivers all get to choose which tyres they start the race on as they qualified on intermediate tyres and it's dry now.

13:50 The Greenpeace protest is a police issue, and with the grandstand far enough back from the track it shouldn't impact on the race.

13:48 Marlon emails in to ask: "A question about tyre changes in the race. If the race begins dry and later in comes the rain, should they still need to bolt both type of dry tyres on if the track dries again?"

That's a good question Marlon, and the answer is no - one set of slicks and a set of intermediates/wets counts as running two different compounds. So for example a driver could go hard-intermediate-hard and that would be fine.

13:45 We've got a bit of an odd situation on the main grandstand. Yes I said on; there are four people - apparently Greenpeace protesters - on the roof of the main grandstand. Some people will do anything for a good view...

13:44 And the first question in comes from Marty and it's a nice easy one to start (!)

"Who will win?"

Thanks, Marty. I'd keep my money firmly in my pocket but on the podcast earlier this week I tipped Hamilton for both pole and the win...

13:42 We always want to hear from you in the build-up and during the race, and will try our best to publish any comments or questions. Either get in touch using the link above or via Twitter @ESPNF1

13:37 The cars have been heading to the grid where we have drainage channels cut on to the first few rows. From the support races we haven't seen any notable difference - though the fact it's such a short run down to La Source might have something to do with that

13:34 Obviously the weather forecasts are not 100% reliable - especially at Spa - but I think we'll see a dry start today

13:32 Well, it's dry for now. We haven't had any rain since very early this morning, and while there are some heavy grey clouds overhead rain isn't expected until later in the race

13:30 Hello and welcome to ESPNF1's live coverage of the Belgian Grand Prix from Spa. You want to know about the weather, don't you?

Lap 1

Clean start for Hamilton, Vettel holds on to second and then takes the lead on the Kemmel Straight! Unbelievable speed. Button up to fourth behind Rosberg and Alonso fifth already. Webber down to P6 ahead of di Resta and Hulkenberg. Raikkonen is 10th

Lap 2

Vettel leads by 1.4s at the end of the first lap. That was ridiculously quick in sector two. Here comes Alonso on Button but he can't get past. Raikkonen passes Grosjean for 9th place. Vettel is immensely quick.

Bad start for Chilton, he made Q2 but is last already.

Lap 3

DRS is enabled by Vettel already has a 2.8s lead. Will anyone make a move using DRS? No. As you were - Button close behind Rosberg. Vettel is already told to save his tyres and that "We don't need any more than this." Alonso closing back up on Button and Raikkonen close behind Hulkenberg.

Lap 4

DRS for Alonso and he passes Button for fourth place. Rosberg is next up the road. Vettel has extended his lead to 3.5s and looks very comfortable, while Hamilton has a gap of 1.7s over Rosberg.

Onboard replays show Alonso and Webber side-by-side in to Eau Rouge at the start and Webber yielded. Grosjean made a great start but upshifted too many times out of La Source and lost out again.

Lap 5

Webber's got Button for P5 while we were seeing those replays. He had most of the move done before the DRS zone but that ensured it was finished easily. Hamilton on a good lap here...

Lap 6

Hamilton cuts Vettel's lead for the first time from 4.2s to 3.9s. DRS time again and it's Alonso on Rosberg... Easily done. Alonso is third and sets off after Hamilton. Raikkonen yet to find a way past Hulkenberg, who in turn is right behind di Resta

Lap 7

Vettel responds to increase the lead to 4.1s but all that time was found in sector one. Alonso is the quickest man on track at present and 7.2s off the lead. As Hulkenberg has DRS behind di Resta, Raikkonen can't make an impression on the Sauber. Lots of brake dust coming off Raikkonen's front left...

Lap 8

The top three all post identical lap times. The signs aren't good for Raikkonen right now...

Perez uses DRS and is on the inside in to Les Combes. Grosjean tries to hang on around the outside, eventually goes across the run-off area and loses another place to Massa. Replays show that Perez did squeeze Grosjean on to the outside a bit

Lap 9

Again less than 0.1s between the lap times of the top three. Rosberg is struggling as Webber attacks but doesn't get a move done. Raikkonen is finally through on Hulkenberg using DRS in to Les Combes but he has a very black front left wheel.

As I mentioned that replay showed - Perez is now under investigation for forcing another driver off track.

Lap 10

Vettel pulls out another couple of tenths on Hamilton - the lead now 4.3s. Alonso is slightly quicker on that lap and 2.8s behind. Early stops for Massa and Hulkenberg - Massa comes out ahead. Rosberg still holding up Webber and that's keeping Button in touch too for P4.

Lap 11

Again Alonso is 0.1s quicker than those ahead but he's still seven seconds behind Vettel. Di Resta pits as Raikkonen was right behind him, while Pic has retired. Vergne also pits.

Rosberg is a second per lap slower than Vettel and his team-mate Hamilton. He's lost touch with Alonso ahead of him now by 4.1s.

Perez is hit with a penalty for forcing another driver off track - it's a drive through for him. He didn't leave a car's width on the outside where Grosjean was.

Lap 12

Hamilton pits from second place and puts on another set of medium tyres. It's not worked out well for him though as he rejoins right behind Perez and Grosjean. Hamilton will hope Grosjean pits as well as Perez's penalty

Lap 13

Vettel leads by 7.4s now - all looking quite comfortable. Rosberg is in while Hamilton has overtaken Grosjean in to the bus stop chicane with a textbook move up the inside. Unfortunately for Hamilton, Grosjean uses DRS to retake the place on the Kemmel straight.

A message to Raikkonen about his front left tyre wear gets the response: "I don't understand, you speak to early"

Lap 14

Vettel continues as Alonso pits. Hamilton stays behind Grosjean to use DRS on the Lotus and it was a good call as Alonso was close behind him on exit of the pit lane. This is looking very good for Vettel right now. Alonso clears Grosjean immediately though and is less than a second behind Hamilton.

Lap 15

Vettel in the pits for a new set of medium tyres. Like clockwork for Vettel and he comes out behind Button. Alonso has got past Hamilton for what is effectively second place and he holds on in the DRS zone too. Hamilton appeared to let the Ferrari through at La Source by running slightly deep.

Vettel straight on to the back of Button and unlike Hungary he is easily past the McLaren. Webber has put on the hard tyre and sets the fastest lap.

Lap 16

Raikkonen muscles his way past di Resta around the outside of the chicane. Vettel has got his foot down as Alonso was 5.7s behind after the pit stops. Fastest lap for Vettel and he's half a second quicker than those behind.

Lap 17

Button in second is yet to pit and Alonso is two seconds behind him. Grosjean also yet to pit and Webber passes him using DRS. Raikkonen has quickly dispatched Perez for 10th place.

Alonso passes Button at the chicane and Button pits for a set of hard tyres.

Lap 18

Only Grosjean and Gutierrez yet to pit now. Raikkonen can't get round Gutierrez while behind him the two Force Indias and Perez go three abreast towards Eau Rouge. Before the corner it's di Resta who comes out on top ahead of Perez and Sutil.

Raikkonen passes Gutierrez up the inside in to Rivage, while a replay shows he got by Perez around the outside of the following left-hander - great move that one.

Lap 19

Vettel is just easing away at the front now and leads by 7.7s. I think it's starting to look like rain will be needed to halt Vettel's march here. Hamilton 1.7s behind Alonso and a touch slower.

Lap 20

Alonso matched pace on that last lap, while Hamilton was 0.3s slower than those ahead. Button gets by Massa for P7 around the outside of the first part of the chicane with a good move and he's looking strong on the hard tyres now. Webber closing in on Rosberg again - both he and Button are quicker than Hamilton too.

Perez is down in 17th after his drive through and pit stop

Lap 21

Vettel's lead up to eight seconds and Alonso now 2.6s clear of Hamilton. I think Button and Webber could be one-stopping. Button certainly is in a good position having stopped on lap 18 for hard tyres - this is a 44 lap race.

Lap 22

Galling for Hamilton as he asks on the radio "Are we catching Vettel together" meaning him and Alonso. Neither are catching him. Hamilton was a second a lap slower than Vettel last time round.

Button passes Grosjean for sixth place at the chicane. Grosjean is dropping back towards Massa and Raikkonen now.

Lap 23

In fact, Grosjean pits for his one and only stop. Raikkonen close behind Massa. Vettel continues his comfortable pace and now leads by 8.7s. Webber getting very close behind Rosberg but then loses out in the middle sector.

Sutil is up to 9th and di Resta 10th place after those pit stops, with Grosjean out of the points for now but no longer needing to stop again.

Lap 24

Raikkonen picks up DRS on Massa but isn't quick enough in a straight line and can't get past for seventh place. He set the fastest first sector but the Ferrari has some serious speed.

Lap 25

Vettel's lead is stable at 8.8s - he's just managing his tyres through this phase. Hulkenberg and Vergne both pit for a second time.

A rain radar shows rain coming in from the East but I'm not sure it's going to arrive quickly enough to affect the race.

Lap 26

Raikkonen attacks Massa under braking at the chicane but sails straight on - it looks like his brakes have gone and he pulls straight in to the pits and retires. 27 consecutive finishes in the points for Raikkonen comes to an end. It was 39 races since he last retired.

Lap 27

Hamilton pits from third place, while Webber has found a way past Rosberg for fourth place. Hard tyres for Hamilton but he will come out well behind Webber who technically doesn't have to stop again.

A number of second stops taking place now, but at the front Vettel leads by 10.1s .

Lap 28

Raikkonen is already doing his press interviews - that's really going to hurt his championship chances.

We've got a crash at the chicane and it's Maldonado and di Resta. Four cars were close together and Maldonado hit the rear of di Resta at the second part of the corner.

Lap 29

Alonso pits from second place. No sign of a safety car. Maldonado managed to go straight in to the pits and get a new front wing, though I'd be surprised if there isn't more damage to his car.

Alonso rejoins just ahead of Button ad the track is clear already. Button was asked which tyres he would like next and he says prime (hards). Maybe he isn't one stopping.

Lap 30

Replays show Sutil cut across the front of Maldonado, damaging the front wing of the Williams and forcing Maldonado to straighten, hitting the left rear of di Resta. That's all under investigation.

Webber stops for a second time from what was second place. Hamilton is three seconds behind Button and much further behind Alonso now.

Lap 31

Vettel is in for a set of hard tyres and it's all nice and easy for him. Alonso sets the fastest lap behind him but Vettel is well away now, leading by six seconds.

Button is actually pulling away from Hamilton right now and will need to keep that pace up if he wants to hold on to third place.

Lap 32

Vettel is told to use his tyres until the end of the race. "There could be some rain coming, so open a gap but do it progressively". A bit of rain soon would be lovely to mix things up a bit for the neutral, but not for Vettel fans.

Buton's pace is OK. He gets a radio message saying "We think we can go back to Plan A" and Button responds "OK I'm up for that." That seems to be a one-stop strategy, but Hamilton is now 2.6s behind

Lap 33

A rain radar doesn't look encouraging for any late drama - no rain expected for the next 30 minutes. Vettel's lead a comfortable 7.7s now. Rosberg is catching Hamilton right now too and Webber is very quick.

Drive through penalty for Max Chilton for ignoring blue flags.

Lap 34

Hamilton takes 0.6s out of Button, while Rosberg is three seconds behind his team-mate and Webber is just a second behind Rosberg. Webber on medium tyres now and very quick.

Lap 35

Webber within 0.6s of Rosberg. This looks like a matter of time. Button pits from third, so there goes his hopes of a podium. He sticks on another set of hard tyres and rejoins just ahead of Grosjean in sixth place. If he's chasing a podium then he has a big gap to make up and Webber's pace make that virtually impossible.

Great racing between Hulkenberg and Vergne as the Toro Rosso is squeezed wide in to Les Combes but then stayed on the track and eased Hulkenberg wide on the exit to take the place.

Lap 36

Webber right behind Rosberg and he uses DRS but doesn't make a move. Sutil, however, has just used DRS to cruise past Perez for P9.

Carlos emails in: "It seems Mercedes has mastered the slow circuits but still have some way to go on the fast ones."

Agreed. No answer to Vettel or even Alonso today.

Lap 37

Vettel's lead is 10.2s over Alonso, while Hamilton is 12.6s further back. It's been a while since we've seen such gaps. Maldonado gets a 10 second stop/go for causing a collision at the chicane.

Webber has suddenly dropped back a bit from Rosberg and Button sets the fastest lap. He's 11.9s behind Webber.

Lap 38

Now Vettel's lead is up over 11 seconds. He's been in a class of his own so far. Rosberg is now 2.2s behind Hamilton but I doubt going to be allowed to challenge. Massa is closing in on Grosjean for 7th place.

It is definitely going to rain this afternoon, but it looks like the chequered flag is going to fall before we get any.

Lap 39

Yes I am tempting fate a bit - I'd like to see the championship bunching up! Button in sixth isn't making enough progress in to those ahead to threaten. Massa not really that much quicker than Grosjean so it's hard to see what's going to change here.

Lap 40

Maldonado takes his penalty while Gutierrez is hit with a drive through for leaving the track and gaining an advantage.

Vettel leads by 13s. What did I say about nothing changing here? Grosjean with a very slow first sector on his one-stop strategy and that allows Massa to pass in to Les Combes for seventh.

Lap 41

A new fastest lap for Vettel - he loves those stats doesn't he? It also shows how much pace he has in hand.

Perez trying to hang on to the final point but Ricciardo is right behind him and should get the move done easily. He does indeed - DRS up to Les Combes and Ricciardo is in position for the final point.

Lap 42

Vettel is told to stay "within the car and within yourself" after setting his fastest lap. Vettel's lead is now 16.1s while Alonso has 11.3s over Hamilton. Rosberg is 2.5s further back and then it's 1.6s back to Webber

Lap 43

Vettel is pulling away at a second a lap at this late stage as he starts the penultimate lap. It's been a walk in the park for him today once he got clear of the Mercedes and has never looked under threat since.

Lap 44

Vettel starts his penultimate lap. Webber has dropped over two seconds behind Rosberg so that should remain as it is. Vettel is told to "bring it home, stay away from the kerbs".

Vettel comes through and takes the chequered flag to win by almost 17 seconds from Alonso. Too easy. Hamilton comes home third ahead of Rosberg and Webber.

Button in sixth is 7 seconds behind Webber at the flag. Then it's Massa, Grosjean, Sutil and Ricciardo.

It was indeed protesters that were trying to get on the podium causing the crowd reactions. The crowd was very appreciative of all the drivers. After all that it's time to say goodbye. Thank you very much for joining us today and for all the questions and comments. Join us again for the Italian Grand Prix in two weeks' time and stick with ESPNF1.com for all the reaction from today's race. Bye for now.

Hamilton: "It was a tough race, these guys had a little bit more pace than us today ... definitely when we get to Singapore I think we have a much better chance there."

I missed Alonso's first answer as Vettel and Hamilton teamed up to drench Coulthard in champagne!

Alonso: "Monza is an important weekend for us, for the team. We arrive fully motivated and we would like to give some smiles to the Tifosi"

Something is going on above the podium, I wonder if Greenpeace are back. The crowd keeps booing and then cheering and when Vettel mentions it Coulthard says "We're not going to say why right now!"

Vettel: "Once I was past [Hamilton] we had incredible pace"

Michael Manning picks up the constructors' trophy for Red Bull after what is Vettel's 31st grand prix victory. Here comes David Coulthard to ask the questions...

Vettel takes to the podium and the German national anthem rings out once again. He's even singing it this time. I'll stick with you to bring you the quotes after all the champagne is sprayed.

The crowds flood on to the track ahead of the podium ceremony. Vettel celebrates as he walks in to the drivers room and looks at the timing screen. Hamilton says to him "too fast" and then Vettel gestures showing himself flying past Hamilton on lap one. Hamilton and Vettel seem very chatty and I was right! Hamilton says he let Alonso past at Turn 1 to try and get back using DRS as he would have lost out anyway, but then Alonso was too quick for him!

Vettel stands on his car and punches the air. He's delighted to quickly put down any hopes Hamilton and Mercedes had to really ignite this title battle. Hamilton was 27.7s behind Vettel at the flag.