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Belgian Grand Prix Lewis Hamilton on salvage operation

Lewis Hamilton said a third-place finish was the best result he could have hoped for after starting the Belgian Grand Prix way back in 21st place

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Lewis Hamilton said a third-place finish was the best result he could have hoped for after starting the Belgian Grand Prix way back in 21st place on Sunday.

Nico Rosberg reduced Mercedes team-mate Hamilton's world championship lead to just nine points by winning an incident-packed race which included a red flag at Spa-Francorchamps.

Defending champion Hamilton started at the other end of the grid to that which he has become accustomed after accumulating penalties for power unit changes over the course of the weekend to the tune of a 55-place demotion.

Rosberg led from the start to claim his sixth victory of the season, but Hamilton was able to reflect on an incredible salvage operation after finishing behind Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo and his German title rival.

"I really can't believe that we came up so far to be honest. I woke up this morning knowing how difficult it would be on these tyres, you know, lots of blistering," said Hamilton.

"But you can never predict what's going to happen in the race. The great thing about motor racing is that, since I was eight years old, every Sunday has been different.

"Your car's positioned in a different way, your start is a bit different, something happens up front. Previous races there were no incidents, today there was.

"Today was really about trying to approach it with… make sure you had the right approach: not too aggressive; not too easy. I think collectively as a team we had just the right balance. This is the best result I could have hoped for."

He added: "What an incredible weekend it’s been. It’s obviously been a much different weekend to anything we have ever really experienced. I'm incredibly proud of my guys in the garage and back at the factory for building these engines and changing these engines this week.

"Even on Thursday there was an engine swap, warming one up, then warming another one up. A change after practice one, a change after practice two, so I had three new engines this weekend.

"So to come away with the points that we have, I'm extremely proud of everyone. I honestly didn't know what was going to happen in the race. I was trying to keep my head down all weekend and focus on the long-run paces.

"It seemed to work and pay off. Congratulations to the guys next to me [Rosberg and Ricciardo], this is great for Mercedes and still great for the championship. I'd have had an even better summer if I went into the summer knowing I'd come out nine points ahead still after three new engines. So I'm very grateful."

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