Christmas comes early for Hamilton at Spa

Sun Aug 28, 2016 5:54pm EDT
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By Abhishek Takle

SPA-FRANCORCHAMPS, Belgium (Reuters) - Christmas came early for world championship leader Lewis Hamilton as he fought his way from the back of the grid to finish an unexpected third in Sunday's Belgian Formula One Grand Prix.

"It's like on Christmas Day, I never expect anything," the Briton told reporters. "When you find you've got some gifts from people that love you, it's a surprise."

Hamilton started the race 21st after being hit with a 55-place grid penalty for exceeding his permitted allocation of engine components.

He played down expectations after qualifying on Saturday, saying that making it into the top-10 points-scoring positions would be a tough ask while his Mercedes team predicted an eighth-place finish.

But circumstances fell into place for the 31-year-old on Sunday.

Hamilton made a clean start and rose through the field to fifth on durable medium tires as drivers peeled off into the pits under the safety-car period prompted by Kevin Magnussen's massive crash.

The subsequent red-flag stoppage allowed the Briton to take on fresh tires without any penalty before he capped his progress up to the final podium spot with some spectacular overtaking moves.

"That was perfect for me," said Hamilton, winner of six of the last seven races leading up to Spa.   Continued...

Belgium Formula One - F1 - Belgian Grand Prix 2016 - Francorchamps, Belgium - 28/8/16 - Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton of Britain waves on the podium after the Belgian F1 Grand Prix.  REUTERS/Yves Herman