Source: Roman Pilipey via Twitter
The 2017 Formula One season took another twist as Lewis Hamilton closed the gap once again to Sebastian Vettel at the top of the standings.
The Brit had slipped off the pace after finishing fourth in the Hungarian Grand Prix as Vettel claimed his fourth victory of the campaign. However, Hamilton responded with a fine performance in the Belgian Grand Prix to reduce the deficit to seven points, with eight races left in the season.
The race for the Drivers’ Championship promises to go down to the wire, reminiscent of the battle for the crown last season when Nico Rosberg edged out the Brit. The 32-year-old will be determined to avoid the same fate and is backed in the latest F1 odds at 1/2 to secure the title, although a lot of work is ahead of him to beat out Vettel.
Momentum has played an important factor in the campaign thus far. The German came out of the blocks and capitalising on Hamilton’s misfortune and mistakes to take an early lead in the standings. However, after notching his third victory of the season at Monte Carlo, Vettel went off the boil presenting the Brit with a chance to hit back in the battle.
Source: Scuderia F1 via Twitter
Vettel finished fourth in Azerbaijan and Canada before returning the podium by placing second in Austria. A disastrous performance at Silverstone suggested that Hamilton was now in possession of the momentum heading into the second half of the campaign.
The German picked the perfect moment to respond to the pressure from his rival. He produced a fine drive from start to finish to claim the victory, while Hamilton dropped back after failing to pass Vettel and Ferrari teammate, Kimi Raikkonen, to allow Valtteri Bottas back into third place.
The 32-year-old gave up three points with his sporting decision, although that could cost him in the long run. He lost the title by five points to Rosberg last season and due to the close nature of the race this season it could play a factor in the final rounds.
If that moment was weighing on his mind, Hamilton certainly did not show it at the Belgian Grand Prix. He was clinical from the start of practice to the chequered flag to secure his fifth victory of the season and perhaps his most important to stop the momentum sliding towards Vettel.
The Brit faced a challenge from the 29-year-old towards the end of the meet at the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps. However, he was able to hold off the pace of the Ferrari in the closing stages to win by a two-second margin.
Both men look locked in as they attempt to etch their places among the greats of the sport. Hamilton finished last season incredibly well, triumphing in the final four races of the term. That will be firmly on his mind as he knows that a similar performance this time around could be good enough to land his fourth Drivers’ Championship.
The important aspect from his point of view is to keep Vettel within striking distance before making his surge towards the end of the campaign. It promises to be a thrilling battle once again between the sport’s best two drivers.