Sebastian Vettel took a step closer to a fourth World title when he beat Fernando Alonso to the race win in Belgium.
The German took control of the 44-lap race on the opening lap, overtaking polesitter Lewis Hamilton into Les Combes and carving out a four-second gap in as many laps. Alonso took advantage to move from P9 to P5 at the first corner and was also head of Hamilton by Lap 6.
With Greenpeace protestors not shown by TV cameras, the race had little of the drama of Saturday's qualifying. Hamilton finishied third ahead of Nico Rosberg, Mark Webber and Jenson Button - the top six qualifiers finishing in the top six positions.
Kimi Raikkonen's 27-race points scoring total came to an end when his Lotus suffered brake failure.
It was cloudy at Spa but with no immediate prospect of rain, indeed, the 40% chance of rain during the race had fallen away. The ambient temperature was 19C with the track at 25C.
Grid: 1.Hamilton, 2.Vettel, 3.Webber, 4.Rosberg, 5.DIResta, 6.Button, 7.Grosjean, 8.Raikkonen, 9.Alonso, 10.Massa, 11.Hulkenberg, 12.Sutil, 13.Perez, 14.van der Garde, 15.Bianchi, 16.Chilton, 17.Maldonado, 18.Vergne, 19.Ricciardo, 20.Bottas, 21.Gutierrez, 22.Pic.
When the tyre warmers came off, all the front-runners were revealed to be running the Pirelli Medium tyre, with only Gutierrez and Ricciardo opting for the harder tyre.
As the red lights went out Lewis Hamilton got a great getaway from pole and led through La Source hairpin. Vettel followed him through with Rosberg and Jenson Button challenging.
Mark Webber had a poor getaway after two practice starts which Mark described afterwards as "diabolical - it was like a tractor". Going through La Source he had the two Lotuses on his outside as he pushed out wide, propelling Grosjean into Raikkonen who went out over the white line. Fernando Alonso took full advantage by nipping up the inside and got the run on Webber down into Eau Rouge.
Further up the road, Sebastian Vettel tucked in right behind Lewis Hamilton going through Eau Rouge and got what he thought was "an amazing tow" up the Kemmel Straight, hit the KERS button and was past the Mercedes as though he had full use of DRS.
Behind Jenson Button challenged Rosberg into Les Combes but the German had the inside line covered. Behind him, Paul DiResta in the Force India, had bogged down from P5 on the grid but had the benefit of the inside line at La Source and had made some of the places back.
As they crossed the line on Lap 1 Vettel already had a 1.4 second lead and the positions were: 1.Vettel, 2.Hamilton, 3.Rosberg, 4.Button, 5.Alonso, 6.Webber, 7.DiResta, 8.Hulkenberg, 9.Grosjean, 10.Raikkonen, 11.Perez, 12.Massa, 13.Sutil, 14.van der Garde.
Fernando Alonso looked lively right from the opening corner and was shaping to go up the inside of Button into Les Combes from Lap 2. By Lap 4 he was past the McLaren using DRS at the same spot. A lap later and Mark Webber demoted Button to P6. Overtakes were fairly routine up the hill into Les Combes and on Lap 6 Alonso dispatched Rosberg to take third place.
Vettel's lead had stretched out immediately with a 1.4 gap moving to 2.8 seconds on Lap 2, 3.5 seconds on Lap 3 and 4.2 seconds on Lap 4. Hamilton had no response and looked to be swallowed up immediately by Alonso who was just 1.1 seconds behind the Brit on Lap 6.
Kimi Raikkonen's brakes already looked like they were smoking as the cars lined up on the grid and on Lap 7 the front left was throwing out a lot of brake dust as the Finn braked at the Bus Stop chicane. His Lotus team-mate Romain Grosjean was coming under pressure from Sergio Perez and the Mexican passed him into Les Combes but didn't leave Grosjean enough room on the outside in the braking zone and crowded him off the road. Grosjean then missed his braking point and had to carry on through the run-off, losing a place to Massa as he regained the track.
Kimi's brakes weren't doing too badly as he passed Nico Hulkenberg's Sauber for P8 as it was announced that the Perez/Grosjean incident would be investigated by the stewards. Perez was very rapidly given a drive-through penalty which Mclaren had no problem in accepting.
The first pit-stops started on Lap 9 with Massa and Hulkenberg, followed by DiResta on Lap 10, Hamilton on Lap 11, Rosberg on Lap 12, Alonso and Webber on Lap 13 and finally Vettel on Lap 14.
Lewis Hamilton had an interesting duel with Romain Grosjean who was yet to stop for the first time when Lewis came out behind the Lotus. Lewis overtook the Frenchman and then Grosjean came back past him on the Kemmel Straight. It wasn't until Lap 14 that Lewis could re-assert himself.
By this time he had Fernando Alonso in close attendance and Lewis actually let him past at the La Source hairpin so that he could get the DRS tow on him up to Les Combes. When the Mercedes emerged from the Ferrari slipstream he found that, actually, he wasn't any faster than Alonso with his DRS open.
Positions on Lap 15: 1.Vettel, 2.Button (not stopped), 3.Alonso, 4.Hamilton, 5.Grosjean (not stopped), 6.Rosberg, 7.Webber, 8.Ricciardo (not stopped), 9.Gutierrez (not stopped), 10.Massa, 11.Perez (not stopped), 12.DiResta, 13.Raikkonen.
Button looked to be one-stopping but came in as early as Lap 18 for a set of the Hard tyres. He rejoined in P7 behind Grosjean who was himself one-stopping.
The television cameras studiously ignored some Greenpeace protestors who had scaled the Spa grandstand and were abseiling on ropes in protest over drilling for oil in the Arctic (presumably by Shell the GP sonsors).
Already the front of the race looked pretty settled with Vettel steadily pulling out the gap to Alonso and by Lap 23 it was up to 8.7 seconds with Alonso 4.4 in front of Hamilton and Hamilton 5.3 clear of Rosberg. Mark Webber was just 0.9 behind Rosberg with Button a further ten seconds back after Grosjean had disappeared for his solo pit-stop on Lap22.
The action in the midfield was far more frantic with Kimi Raikkonen challenging Felipe Massa until Lap 25 when the Lotus dropped back and then missed its braking point for the Bus Stop chicane. Raikkonen headed across the road for the pitlane entrance and retirement with brake failure, his first DNF after 38 races.
Three laps later there was an incredible squabble involving the two Force Indias, the Sauber of Esteban Gutierrez and the Williams of Pastor Maldonado going into the Bus Stop chicane side by side in a mob. The Williams was clipped by Sutil's Force India and launched into the entirely innocent car of Paul DiResta, the back end of the Force India folding up with surprising ease. Di Resta was out on the spot and the car was recovered under Yellows, while Maldonado received a new nose and a ten-second stop-and-go penalty for hitting the Scotsman.
Gutierrez was driving erratically and when Adrian Sutil came alongside him in the run down to Eau Rouge he had the time to wave an angry hand at the errant Sauber driver ( who was also handed a penalty by the race stewards)
Rosberg had pitted for the second time on Lap 25, Hamilton on Lap 26, Alonso on Lap 28 and Vettel on Lap 30. This left the supposedly one-stopping Jenson Button in P3 - behind Alonso and in front of Hamilton. But it looked like Hamilton would catch him, Rosberg would catch him and Mark Webber too, so on Lap 34 the Mclaren driver took on another set and resumed in P6.
Positions on Lap 35: 1.Vettel, 2.Alonso, 3.Hamilton, 4.Rosberg, 5.Webber, 6.Button, 7. Grosjean (one stop) 8.Massa, 9.Sutil, 10.Perez, 11.Vergne, 12.Hulkenberg 13.Ricciardo.
The two Mercedes were able to keep ahead of Mark Webber by superior speed in the twistier middle sector and Nico Rosberg was able to stretch out a gap that was 1.2 seconds to the Australian on Lap 36 to over three seconds by the flag.
With far more life in his tyres Felipe Massa was able to wrest P7 from Grosjean and both Adrian Sutil and Daniel Ricciardo were able to overhaul Sergio Perez, who had been down pitlane twice but stopped only once.
Sebastian Vettel crossed the line for a dominant win ahead of a resurgent Fernando Alonso and a resigned Lewis Hamilton. Had the forecast rain arrived in the Ardennes it would have been a different story for the Mercedes driver, but although there was some in evidence on the radar, it was not going to arrive anywhere near the end of the race.
Rosberg picked up a careful 4th, Webber a frustrated 5th and Jenson Button a fairly cheerful 6th place. The race couldn't match the drama of qualifying, and the drama of the battle between police and protestors was played out off-camera to the pantomime boos and cheers of the crowd and the obvious bemusement of the drivers on the podium.
1 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 1:23.42.196
2 Fernando Alonso Ferrari +16.800
3 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes +27.700
4 Nico Rosberg Mercedes +29.800
5 Mark Webber Red Bull +33.800
6 Jenson Button McLaren +40.700
7 Felipe Massa Ferrari +53.900
8 Romain Grosjean Lotus +55.800
9 Adrian Sutil Force India +69.500
10 Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso +73.400
11 Sergio Perez McLaren +81.900
12 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso +86.700
13 Nico Hulkenberg Sauber +88.200
14 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber +1 lap
15 Valtteri Bottas Williams +1 lap
16 Giedo van der Garde Caterham +1 lap
17 Pastor Maldonado Williams +1 lap
18 Jules Bianchi Marussia +1 lap
19 Max Chilton Marussia +2 laps
Did Not Finish
R Paul di Resta Force India RETIRED 18 laps
R Kimi Raikkonen Lotus RETIRED 19 laps
R Charles Pic Caterham RETIRED 36 laps
The Belgian GP In Pictures
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