Sebastian Vettel put one hand on the 2013 world championship with a dominant victory in the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa on Sunday.
With title rival Kimi Raikkonen forced into retirement with a brake failure while lumbering down the order, Vettel was given a clear shot at victory.
Having dominated in the free practice sessions on Friday, Vettel was shocked to find himself second on the grid come qualifying.
The ever-changing weather conditions played into the hands of Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton who was last to cross the line on a drying circuit, just edging out the Red Bull Racing pair of Vettel and Mark Webber, who had occupied the front row.
From the start, Vettel got away cleanly but remained behind Hamilton after the first corner, while Webber, notorious for making bad starts, slipped down the order.
It didn’t take Vettel long to breeze past Hamilton though - overtaking him before the hard breaking zone into Les Combes on the first lap.
From there, he didn’t look back as he drifted off into a commanding lead.
With Raikkonen struggling with a visor tear-off strip stuck in his brake ducts, he fell down the order before eventually retiring.
This played into the hands of Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso, who had made a brilliant start and had battled his way up into second place not just in the race, but also in the championship standings.
Webber meanwhile carved his way back through the field, but his late charge wasn’t enough for him to catch Hamilton’s team-mate Nico Rosberg for fourth in the closing stages and he had to settle for fifth.
After crossing the line to win and extend his championship lead to 46 points, Vettel said: “I don’t think we expected to be dominant here, and it surprised all of us actually; it’s a great result.
“I think we knew going into the race that our race pace, compared to Mercedes, maybe gave us a little in hand, but we didn’t know where we were compared to the others, especially Ferrari, and Lotus looked very quick in dry conditions also.
“It wasn’t clear if the rain was going to come at the end of the race, so we kept pushing, but the gap we had by that stage meant we were able to control the race from there and the last couple of laps weren’t too stressful.”
Webber though was left to lament yet another poor start which cost him a spot ion the podium. He said: “We tried our best, but lost a couple of rows off the line. We then had to try and clear people on the track, which was difficult.
“The bad start put us out of position and it snowballs from there, as you use up the tyres trying to getting to back into position.”