Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg drove superbly from pole position to clinch victory at the Formula One Belgian Grand Prix on Sunday.
Rosberg was flawless throughout in what was an otherwise chaotic race, building up a comfortable gap between himself and Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo, who came home in second. Lewis Hamilton, who started in 21st, capitalised on a frantic start to move through the field quickly, taking a hard-earned third.
This triumph for the German sees Hamilton's lead at the top of the world championship get chopped to just nine points. Here is the race result and those updated standings:
|Belgian Grand Prix 2016 Results|
|2||Daniel Ricciardo||RED BULL RACING TAG HEUER||+14.113s|
|4||Nico Hulkenberg||FORCE INDIA MERCEDES||+35.907s|
|5||Sergio Perez||FORCE INDIA MERCEDES||+40.660s|
|7||Fernando Alonso||MCLAREN HONDA||+59.445s|
|8||Valtteri Bottas||WILLIAMS MERCEDES||+60.151s|
|10||Felipe Massa||WILLIAMS MERCEDES||+65.873s|
|11||Max Verstappen||RED BULL RACING TAG HEUER||+71.138s|
|12||Esteban Gutierrez||HAAS FERRARI||+73.877s|
|13||Romain Grosjean||HAAS FERRARI||+76.474s|
|14||Daniil Kvyat||TORO ROSSO FERRARI||+87.097s|
|16||Esteban Ocon||MRT MERCEDES||+1 lap|
|17||Felipe Nasr||SAUBER FERRARI||+1 lap|
|NC||Marcus Ericsson||SAUBER FERRARI||DNF|
|NC||Carlos Sainz||TORO ROSSO FERRARI||DNF|
|NC||Jenson Button||MCLAREN HONDA||DNF|
|NC||Pascal Wehrlein||MRT MERCEDES||DNF|
|F1 2016 Driver Standings|
|3||Daniel Ricciardo||AUS||RED BULL RACING TAG HEUER||151|
|6||Max Verstappen||NED||RED BULL RACING TAG HEUER||115|
|7||Valtteri Bottas||FIN||WILLIAMS MERCEDES||62|
|8||Sergio Perez||MEX||FORCE INDIA MERCEDES||58|
|9||Nico Hulkenberg||GER||FORCE INDIA MERCEDES||45|
|10||Felipe Massa||BRA||WILLIAMS MERCEDES||39|
|11||Fernando Alonso||ESP||MCLAREN HONDA||30|
|12||Carlos Sainz||ESP||TORO ROSSO FERRARI||30|
|13||Romain Grosjean||FRA||HAAS FERRARI||28|
|14||Daniil Kvyat||RUS||TORO ROSSO FERRARI||23|
|15||Jenson Button||GBR||MCLAREN HONDA||17|
|17||Pascal Wehrlein||GER||MRT MERCEDES||1|
|18||Stoffel Vandoorne||BEL||MCLAREN HONDA||1|
|19||Esteban Gutierrez||MEX||HAAS FERRARI||0|
|21||Marcus Ericsson||SWE||SAUBER FERRARI||0|
|22||Felipe Nasr||BRA||SAUBER FERRARI||0|
|23||Rio Haryanto||INA||MRT MERCEDES||0|
|24||Esteban Ocon||FRA||MRT MERCEDES||0|
With Hamilton on the back row of the grid on Sunday, the start was always going to be fascinating. Things went perfectly for Rosberg, who surged away easily, although it was disastrous for a host of the other contenders.
The two Ferrari drivers touched on Turn 1, with Sebastian Vettel stranded in the middle of the track. Kimi Raikkonen suffered front-wing damage, too, so both men endured major setbacks early on; the Finn’s continued as he dived into the pits with part of his car on fire:
Red Bull’s Max Verstappen suffered damage to his car as well, while Hamilton stayed out of trouble in the early stages, capitalising on the issues of others to move quickly into 12th.
An incident-filled start continued, as Renault's Kevin Magnussen was involved in a high-impact crash at Raidillon. Per F1 journalist Gianlu D’Alessandro, here’s a look at moment in question, which eventually brought out a red flag and halted the race so the barriers could be fixed:
As the action restarted, Fernando Alonso, who started in last place, and Hamilton were in fourth and fifth, respectively, and well in the mix for the top spots. They quickly changed, though, with the Mercedes too sharp in a straight line for the McLaren.
Hamilton also made his way past Nico Hulkenberg into third, but before he could look too far down the road, the world champion was brought in for fresh tyres after complaining of poor grip. It triggered a few more drivers coming into the pits, with Ricciardo also struggling for pace.
Sometimes, things got a little close for comfort in the pits, as was the case between Hulkenberg and Alonso on the exit:
Hamilton was unable to get past Ricciardo and pitted again for more fresh tyres, coming back out in fourth with only Hulkenberg between him and a podium spot. The Brit quickly passed the Force India and went after Ricciardo for a second time with 10 laps to go.
The Mercedes didn't quite have the pace to reel the Australian in in the final stages, although Hamilton should be content with a spot on the podium at the end of a turbulent weekend. Meanwhile, Rosberg coasted to the chequered flag untroubled, taking a vital 25 points.
As noted by F1 on NBC Sports, Hamilton continued a strong record when he's started from the back section of the grid:
Afterwards Rosberg praised the effort of his longstanding rival. "Congratulation to Lewis," he said, per BBC Sport. "From last to third must have been pretty impressive. It is great to get the win, it is a legendary track. Lewis starting at the back made it a lot easier and I'm sure he will back at Monza."
For Rosberg, this win was the perfect way to get started once again after the break. The German needed to arrest the momentum built up by his team-mate ahead of the midseason interval and must carry the form he showcased here into the Italian Grand Prix next weekend.
Hamilton will be delighted to have limited the potential damage of this weekend. Of course, the world champion will always be disappointed not to be on the top of the podium, but given the lively start to the race and how well things aligned for the Mercedes man, this was a fine effort.