F1: Hamilton revs up world title bid with Spa win

Lewis Hamilton (left) and Sergio Perez go wheel-to-wheel during the opening lap of Sunday's Belgian Grand Prix at Spa

Lewis Hamilton (left) and Sergio Perez go wheel-to-wheel during the opening lap of Sunday's Belgian Grand Prix at Spa

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Lewis Hamilton held off the challenge from his Mercedes AMG Petronas team-mate Nico Rosberg to win Sunday’s Belgian Grand Prix at the famous Spa-Francorchamps.

Hamilton powered away from pole position, and although he was challenged early on by the Sahara Force India of Sergio Perez, the reigning world champion enjoyed an easy drive through the Ardennes to claim another victory.

His performance equalled the number of podium finishes in Grand Prix racing as his hero, the late Ayrton Senna.

Afterwards Hamilton, who has extended his lead at the head of the Drivers’ Standings to 28 points, said: “I will not talk about the championship yet. We still have many races remaining and as far as I am concerned the battle for the title is still wide open.”

Rosberg added: “I didn’t have the pace to win this afternoon, but I believe I can win the title and that is very much my focus. The next race is at Monza, a very famous track, and I am aiming to win in Italy.”

Finishing third behind the two Brackley-based Mercedes cars was the Lotus-Mercedes of Romain Grosjean - his best performance of the year so far.

Sergio Perez enjoyed an excellent weekend for Force India, finishing the race in fifth position.

He said afterwards: “This was a good performance today. Sadly Nico (Hulkenberg) was unable to start due to some technical issues with his car, but I wanted to do well.

“I made a good start and I just wanted to keep in the zone and be able to pick up places if anyone ahead of me experienced problems.

“This was a good performance for us, and traditionally the team does perform well here. We now head to Monza, where again we hope to go well.”

Max Verstappen finished the race in eighth for the Bicester-based Toro Rosso squad, while his team-mate. Carlos Sainz, was an early retirement with his Renault-powered car.

Verstappen said: “We found this race a struggle as Spa is very much a power circuit. A points finish was good though as at this stage of the year every point helps in the Constructors’ Championship.”

Points after round 11: 1) Hamilton (Mercedes), 227pts; 2) Rosberg (Mercedes), 199; 3) Vettel (Ferrari), 160; 4) Raikkonen (Ferrari), 82; 5) Massa (Williams), 82; 6) Bottas (Williams), 79. Next race: Italy, Monza - September 6.