“Concern” was the word Lewis Hamilton used to describe his feelings about the rest of the season after his title rival Sebastian Vettel’s dominant victory in the Belgian Grand Prix.
Vettel did in his Ferrari what he should already have done in the previous two races in Germany and Hungary, but let slip through his fingers.
Although Hamilton took a superb pole position in wet conditions, the pre-race fears of Mercedes came true within 25 seconds of the start. Vettel used his car’s superior traction out of the slow first corner and greater straight-line speed to drag past on the straight.
After a brief fright when it looked like Force India’s Esteban Ocon might try a move down the inside into the Les Combes chicane as four cars headed side-by-side towards the corner, Vettel swept into the lead. And like that, he was gone.
Hamilton still leads the championship by 17 points but the message from the classic Spa-Francorchamps track was loud and clear – Ferrari have the fastest car in Formula 1.
“They’ve had the upper hand on us for some time,” Hamilton pointed out afterwards.
The 33-year-old Briton won the last two races before the summer break but those wins came against the run of form.
Vettel crashed out of the lead in a late-race rain shower at Hockenheim, and rain again came to the rescue in Hungary. Ferrari had been the faster car all weekend but in a downpour in qualifying, Hamilton excelled as usual. Vettel was only fourth and finished the race second.