Vettel wins Belgian GP to trim rival Hamilton's F1 lead

Vettel wins Belgian GP to trim rival Hamilton's F1 lead
Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel of Germany steers his car during the Belgian Formula One Grand Prix in Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, Sunday, Aug. 26, 2018. (AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert)

SPA-FRANCORCHAMPS, Belgium (AP) — Sebastian Vettel made a crucial early overtaking move on Lewis Hamilton to win the crash-marred Belgian Grand Prix on Sunday and trim his rival’s overall lead.

Hamilton started from pole position for a record fifth time at Spa, and a record-extending 78th in Formula One, with Vettel second on the grid.

But Vettel has a knack for quick starts, and nudged his Ferrari past Hamilton’s Mercedes on the first lap with a smart move down the left.

It came moments after Fernando Alonso’s McLaren flew through the air and landed on top of Charles Leclerc’s Sauber. Leclerc, unharmed, was likely spared a head injury by the protective halo device surrounding the cockpit area.

Vettel finished about 12 seconds clear of Hamilton, with Red Bull driver Max Verstappen an impressive third after starting seventh.

Vettel’s 52nd career win closes the gap to Hamilton to 17 points heading into next weekend’s Italian Grand Prix at Monza — Ferrari’s home.

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