Rosberg dominates as Hamilton recovers to third in chaotic Belgian Grand Prix

Nico Rosberg took a dominating win at Spa ahead of Daniel Ricciardo, as his team mate Lewis Hamilton joined him on the podium after recovering from 21st place on the grid.

Hamilton was lucky at the start of the race when the two Ferrari drivers and Max Verstappen collided at La Source which severely damaged their cars, while Carlos Sainz suffered a dramatic puncture going down the Kemmel straight which put him out of the race.

Pascal Wehrlein and Jenson Button also made contact at Les Combes, which forced both to retire on the opening lap.

Nico Rosberg (GER) Mercedes AMG F1 W07 Hybrid leads behind the FIA Safety Car. 28.08.2016. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 13, Belgian Grand Prix, Spa Francorchamps, Belgium, Race Day. - www.xpbimages.com, EMail: requests@xpbimages.com - copy of publication required for printed pictures. Every used picture is fee-liable. © Copyright: Charniaux / XPB Images

Photo Credit: XPB Images

After a brief Virtual Safety Car period the racing got back underway, before a huge shunt for Kevin Magnussen on the exit of Eau Rouge brought out the Safety Car then led to a red flag for barrier repairs. The replays showed Magnussen lost his Renault on the exit of the corner, which sent him violently into the barriers. Even though the headrest came off in the crash, Magnussen was able to escape with just a injury to his left ankle.

Amidst the pit stops for damage and cars retiring Hamilton made his way up to fifth place, with Fernando Alonso who started alongside him in 22nd on the Medium tyres up to fourth. The red flag benefitted Rosberg and Daniel Ricciardo mostly though because it meant they could change their tyres and effectively win a pit stop, meaning those who pitted during the Safety Car period, which included Nico Hulkenberg who made his way up to third, had lost that advantage.

Alonso did well to defend in the opening laps of the restart, but was ultimately no match for the Mercedes under DRS. Further back Max Verstappen restarted on the Medium tyre and was under pressure from Kimi Raikkonen on the Soft compound.

The Red Bull driver defended aggressively, nearly causing a high-speed shunt as Raikkonen had to brake on the Kemmel straight because of a late defensive move. The Fin eventually got the move done as Verstappen ran out of tyre life.

This was also a concern amongst the leaders, specially Hamilton who was on the Soft tyres. He had not got any closer to Ricciardo and his lap times started to tumble, so Mercedes switched him to a three-stop.  Ferrari did the same thing to Vettel and Raikkonen, which allowed them to salvage more points later on.

As for Mercedes they had to find a gap behind Nico Hulkenberg who demoted Alonso, along with team mate Sergio Perez, to sixth place in order to ensure a podium finish.

Rosberg meanwhile was able to start pushing at this stage on the Medium tyres to ensure his lead coming out of what would be his final pit stop for the race. Despite a slow stop Hamilton he emerged behind Hulkenberg, but got past him in the closing stages to secure his podium position.

Elsewhere Alonso was passed by Vettel, who recovered to fifth, and was now defending from Felipe Massa. The Williams driver was unable to get close enough to pass on his tyres which had done similar milage, and with Bottas behind the team elected to switch their places in the closing stages.

That allowed Raikkonen to pick up ninth place after overtaking Massa in the closing stages, meaning the Williams driver rounded out the top ten. Verstappen finished his home race outside of the points in 11th. having started from the front row and converted to a three-stop later on.

Both Haas drivers also finished just outside of the points, while Esteban Ocon stayed out of all the trouble and managed to finish ahead of Felipe Nasr on his F1 debut, after the Sauber driver got a five-second time penalty for exceeding track limits.


Photo Credit: XPB Images

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