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Hamilton wins Belgian Grand Prix

September 07, 2008 19:20 IST
Last Updated: September 07, 2008 21:07 IST

McLaren's Lewis Hamilton [Images] won a Belgian Grand Prix thriller on Sunday after fighting wheel to wheel with luckless world champion Kimi Raikkonen [Images] in an all-or-nothing duel over the closing laps.

Raikkonen led until rain began to fall and Hamilton, the 23-year-old championship leader who had started on pole position, reeled in the Ferrari [Images] and powered past on the penultimate lap.

The action did not stop there, with the desperate Raikkonen fighting back to retake the lead before losing control on the slippery surface and smashing into a wall while Hamilton went wide over the grass.

The two rivals had already banged bodywork, skidded and narrowly avoided other cars, with race stewards announcing after the chequered flag that they were investigating one particular incident.

Brazilian Felipe Massa [Images] finished second for Ferrari with Germany's [Images] Nick Heidfeld [Images] third for BMW-Sauber.

"It was an experience and a half," said Hamilton, who drove gingerly round his final lap on the treacherous surface. "It was just mix and match. I was just praying for rain. I wanted it to come because I knew how to deal with it.

"It was one of the most exciting races of my career. I love having battles.

"I was on every limit that I knew possible, and even beyond."

Hamilton's fifth win of the season, at the circuit where 40 years ago founder Bruce McLaren gave his team their first win, put him on 80 points to Massa's 72 with five races remaining.

Raikkonen, still without a win since April, slipped to fourth place overall with 57 points and could soon find himself supporting Massa's title aspirations.

It was a stunning turnaround to an afternoon that, until two laps from the end, looked sure to revive Raikkonen's championship hopes with a fourth Belgian Grand Prix win in succession.

Starting in fourth place, the Finn made a determined move on Massa after running wide at the tight first corner.

The two Ferraris ran side by side up the hill through Eau Rouge before Raikkonen, whose engine had blown in the previous race in Valencia, scythed past and took the chase to Hamilton.

Hamilton then locked his right front tyre and spun at La Source at the start of the second lap, with Raikkonen seizing the advantage.

Renault's double world champion Fernando Alonso [Images] was fourth with Germany's Sebastian Vettel fifth for Toro Rosso.

Poland's Robert Kubica [Images] was sixth, a result that elevated him to third in the championship with 58 points, with France's [Images] Sebastien Bourdais considerably enhancing his prospects of staying at Toro Rosso next season with seventh.

Germany's Timo Glock took the final point for Toyota.

McLaren's Heikki Kovalainen [Images], who had started in third place, missed out in 10th place after capping a string of errors with a drive-through penalty.

Ferrari, with their home race at Monza next up, lead the constructors' championship with 129 points to McLaren's 123.

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