Nico Rosberg cruised to an effortless win in Belgium with Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo finishing in second and team-mate Lewis Hamilton driving superbly to come third. The win for Rosberg now takes him to within 9 points of championship leader Hamilton and gives him crucial momentum leading into the second half of the season.
Don’t look away
The Belgium Grand Prix began in dramatic fashion and there was barely time for the drivers to catch their breath. Rosenberg got off the start line well albeit without immediately stamping his dominance. But he did enough to get clear of the chasing pack as Verstappen took the inside into Turn 1 and Raikkonen was wedged in the middle with Vettel turning in sharply from the outside. The result was damage to Raikkonen and Verstappen’s wings and Vettel spinning backwards to face the oncoming cars. Parts of Verstappen’s front wing appeared to break off soon after and Torro Rosso’s Carlos Sainz suffered a dramatic puncture to his back left tyre that left the Spaniard in the run-off area and out of the race.
Further back in the field, Jenson Button’s race ended prematurely when Manor’s Pascal Wehrlein shunted his rear at Lea Combes.
Magnussen Has Major Accident
Starting from the back on medium tires, Hamilton and Alonso both made strong starts and found themselves in fourth and fifth places by lap 8 as most other drivers began pitting to change their softer tires. But the race changed dramatically when Renault’s Kevin Magnussen lost control of his car at high speed through the final part of Eau Rauge and crashed into the tyre barrier. It sent pieces of his car flying across the track – including his head protection material – and the race was stopped with a red flag so that the barrier could be repaired.
The break gave the teams an opportunity to change their tires, effectively giving a free pit stop to those who hadn’t already come in. Rosberg and Ricciardo took advantage to develop a solid lead on the re-start. But few would discount Hamilton and for a while it appeared that he could grab an unlikely victory.
But the reigning world champion struggled to get past Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg until lap 18 and although he managed to close the gap on Ricciardo the Australian controlled the gap to the end. “To come away with the points we have today, I’m extremely proud of everyone,” said Hamilton. “I was trying to keep my head down all weekend and focus on the long-run paces. It seemed to work and pay off.” “I’d have had an even better summer if I went into it knowing I’d come out nine points ahead still after three engines. So I’m very grateful. This is the best result I could have hoped for.”
Raikkonen Angered by Verstappen
The simmering tension between Raikkonen and Verstappen threatened to boil over with a series of controversial incidents. With both drivers on edge following their collision on the opening lap, the Ferrari driver was left fuming with Verstappen’s attempts to defend. The young Dutchman has tended to adopt a tactic of sitting in the middle of the track and wait for the other driver to make an overtaking move before swerving to cut them off. “If I had not braked, we would have had a massive accident,” add Raikkonen. “It will happen sooner or later if this doesn’t change. I am fine with good, hard racing but that is not correct.”