Hamilton bathes at Spa

Sports Network

, Last Updated: 2:52 PM ET

SPA, Belgium -- Lewis Hamilton from McLaren dealt with rainy conditions and overcame a slip off the track and into the gravel to win Sunday's Belgian Grand Prix and reassume the Formula One championship points lead.

Hamilton started second on the grid, but immediately pulled ahead of polesitter Mark Webber on the opening lap. The 2008 world champion led from start to finish in the 44-lap race at the Spa-Francorchamps road course, but managed to avoid any major incidents during the changing weather conditions for his third win of the year and the 14th of his F1 career.

"It became difficult conditions when it started to rain," said Hamilton, who won the Belgian GP for the first time in four starts. "I was losing temperatures in the tires, and not really knowing how much you can push in these corners. I braked quite late, locked my wheels and went wide into turn eight. Luckily, I was able to get away with it, and I stay ahead of the guys in back of me."

Hamilton now holds a three-point lead over Webber from Red Bull. Earlier this month in Hungary, Hamilton had a disastrous 20th-place finish after retiring early in the race due to a gearbox issue. He had lost the championship lead to Webber, who won the Hungarian GP.

"The team did a remarkable job this weekend," Hamilton added. "We're constantly pushing, and obviously, some places we're not as fast as these guys. It's great that when we are close we maximize on it."

Hamilton finished 19th in last year's Belgian GP after being caught up in an accident on the opening lap.

Webber experienced a mechanical issue at the start, which allowed Hamilton and several other drivers to pass him before heading into the first corner. Webber fell back as far as 10th, but rebounded nicely for a second-place finish.

"I had big balls on the formation lap, and then we made a small adjustment to the clutch, which I hopefully thought was going to get rid of that situation, but then I had it even worse on the main start itself," Webber said. "It was pretty mixed up after that, but the guys did a great job in the pits."

Webber's Red Bull teammate, Sebastian Vettel, was not as fortunate. Vettel had to serve a drive-through penalty after he knocked McLaren's Jenson Button out of the race when the two collided on lap 16. The young German was attempting to pass Button before the incident occurred.

"I was doing a decent job of keeping my position, and doing it fairly," Button said. "I'd say it was a very strange incident. Clearly, he didn't do it on purpose, and I gather he's now apologized, but I have to say I've got no idea what he was doing. It's a massive blow to my world championship hopes."

Vettel, who finished 15th, fell 31 points behind Hamilton, while Button's 22nd-place finish put him 35 points in back of his teammate.

Robert Kubica gave Renault a third-place finish. Kubica was running second to Hamilton late in the race, but a mishap during his final pit stop allowed Webber to take the position.

"It was a good race for us, but it was very tricky and difficult, Kubica said.

Felipe Massa from Ferrari and Force India's Adrian Sutil rounded out the top- five.

Mercedes GP teammates Nico Rosberg and Michael Schumacher overcame their low starting grid positions to finish sixth and seventh, respectively. Rosberg had to start 14th due to an unscheduled gearbox change on his car after Saturday's qualifying, while Schumacher rolled off from the 21st starting spot due to a 10-grid penalty he received for aggressive driving against Rubens Barrichello in the Hungarian GP.

BMW Sauber's Kamui Kobayashi finished eighth, followed by Renault's Vitaly Petrov and Vitantonio Liuzzi from Force India.

Jaime Alguersuari crossed the finish line 10th, but the Toro Rosso driver had 20 seconds added to his race time after stewards penalized him for cutting the final chicane while battling Liuzzi for position with two laps remaining. Alguersuari failed to surrender his position and therefore was penalized for gaining an advantage. He dropped to 13th. Liuzzi moved up from 11th place to 10th.

Fernando Alonso from Ferrari ran off course and crashed into the barrier with seven laps seven laps remaining. Alonso ended up finishing 21st and dropped 41 points behind Hamilton.

Barrichello, who made his historic 300th grand prix start, wrecked on the opening lap and finished last in the 24-car field.


Videos

Photos