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Lewis Hamilton admits he would have "gone to sleep" as fan in Belgian GP win

Lewis Hamilton admits he would have
© Reuters
The reigning world champion is now 47 points clear of his nearest challenger.

Lewis Hamilton cruised to victory at Sunday's Belgian Grand Prix – and then admitted he would have been sent to sleep through boredom by his own dominant display.

The world champion and his all-conquering Mercedes machine are in a class of one this season and his emphatic victory at the Spa-Francorchamps circuit marked the 89th of his career and fifth from seven in a campaign where he is now almost certain to match Michael Schumacher's championship record.

Hamilton led every lap around the 4.3 miles of asphalt that make up this iconic motor racing venue to take the chequered flag 8.4 seconds clear of Valtteri Bottas and move 47 points ahead of Red Bull's Max Verstappen, who finished third, and 50 clear of his Mercedes team-mate.

As well as matching Schumacher's seven titles, Hamilton is now on the verge of equalling the German's victory record, too. A win at Monza in seven days followed by victory at the Tuscan Grand Prix a week later will take him level with Schumacher.

The great German re-wrote Formula One's record books by winning 72 of his 91 races and five consecutive titles while driving for Ferrari at the turn of the century. Hamilton's own stranglehold on the sport is turning into a carbon-copy of Schumacher's dominant, but tedious, run.

"I cannot speak for the fans now, but having been a fan and growing up through different eras, the Schumacher era for example, I know what it is like," said Hamilton.

"I was a teenager back then. I would have woken up, eaten my bacon sandwich, watched the start, gone to sleep and then got up again to watch the end of the race.

"If I was watching as a fan today, I would have done the same thing and just tuned in for the highlights. I can imagine it was definitely not the most exciting race for those watching."

Aside from George Russell's dramatic exit after his Williams car was struck by a flying wheel from Antonio Giovinazzi's Alfa Romeo on lap 10, the latest instalment of this one-sided championship will not live long in the memory.

After racing to his 93rd career pole – qualifying half-a-second faster than anybody else – Hamilton will have been well aware that his sole threat to victory would arrive on the opening lap.

But after he kept Bottas behind on the short run down to La Source before continuing to keep the Finn at arm's length on the long march up through Eau Rouge, along the Kemmel Straight and into Les Combes, the following 43 laps resembled something of a procession.

"Fans need to understand this is not our fault," added Hamilton. "As drivers, we come through the ranks and we earn the positions we have. We come in to each weekend devoted and give absolutely everything to perform at our best.

"The decision-makers who design the cars and set the rules are the ones to apply the pressure to, to do a better job.

"I am hopeful that is what will happen in 2022 when the regulations change and we have a new type of car, and we will see a different form of racing where we can follow closely and have closer races."

While Verstappen is driving out of his skin to keep up with Hamilton, Bottas is no match for his team-mate. Indeed, instead of challenging for the lead on the opening lap and again at the re-start, after the safety car was deployed following Russell's accident, he was found wanting. Bottas was more concerned about keeping Verstappen behind than taking on Hamilton.

Valtteri Bottas, left, was second behind Hamilton with Max Verstappen taking third place
Valtteri Bottas, left, was second behind Hamilton with Max Verstappen taking third place (John Thys, Pool via AP)

The 31-year-old Finn said he still believes he can challenge Hamilton for the title but he is now the equivalent of two wins behind in the championship race.

Over at Ferrari, their torrid year is getting worse as each races goes by. Sebastian Vettel swore at his team over the radio, urging them to bring him in for a second change of rubber, before taking the flag in 13th.

Charles Leclerc won from pole here last year but finished 14th after he had to stop for a second time following concerns over his engine. Vettel and Leclerc ended the race 62 and 64 seconds respectively behind Hamilton.

This whirlwind season will now head to Monza for Ferrari's home race. Fortunately, for the failing Italian team it will be staged without fans.

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