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Hamilton cruises to Belgian win

 Lewis Hamilton celebrates victory in the Belgian Grand Prix. PHOTO/AFP

Lewis Hamilton celebrates victory in the Belgian Grand Prix. PHOTO/AFP

SPA, August 23- Two-time world champion Lewis Hamilton extended his lead in this year’s title race to 28 points when he claimed a near-flawless victory ahead of Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg in the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa-Francorchamps on Sunday.

Starting from his 10th pole position of the season and sixth in succession, the 30-year-old Briton dominated with some ease as he finished a controlled 2.058 seconds clear of the German.

Hamilton now has 227 points and Rosberg 199.

It was Hamilton’s second victory at the Belgian race — his previous for McLaren in 2010 — his sixth of the season and the 39th of his career.

His 80th podium finish equalled the mark of the late great Ayrton Senna.

Four-time champion German Sebastian Vettel looked likely to finish third for Ferrari, in their 900th Grand Prix race, until he suffered a right rear tyre failure on the penultimate lap, as the team risked running him on a one-stop strategy.

That spectacular incident ensured that Frenchman Romain Grosjean, who had mounted a thrilling attack for Lotus in the final laps, took third place in an enthralling race.

It was Grosjean’s first podium of the season for the troubled Lotus team, that has faced severe financial problems, and his first podium since the 2013 United States Grand Prix.

Russian Daniil Kvyat followed up his podium finish in Hungary with a bold drive to fourth for Red Bull ahead of Mexican Sergio Perez of Force India, Brazilian Felipe Massa of Williams and Finn Kimi Raikkonen in the second Ferrari.

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Local hero Dutch teenager Max Verstappen thrilled his fans in a big crowd by driving from 16th on the grid to take eighth place for Toro Rosso ahead of Finn Valtteri Bottas of Williams and Swede Marcus Ericsson of Sauber.

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