Aside from an unchallenged race leader, and eventual race winner, in Nico Rosberg, the Belgian Grand Prix delivered excitement from start to finish including a P3 for Lewis Hamilton.
Rosberg set the early pace at the 44-lap grand prix as he escaped the carnage that took out several drivers on the opening lap – including Jenson Button – and damaged the cars of the others – including Max Verstappen, Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel.
He was comfortably ahead of Nico Hulkenberg and Daniel Ricciardo when the race was red-flagged on Lap 10 after a high-speed crash for Kevin Magnussen.
The Renault driver lost it on Lap 8 at the top of Eau Rouge as he over-corrected for a spin and slammed into the tyre wall.
Magnussen has transported to a local hospital with Renault reporting: “He has a small cut to the left ankle and has been escorted to a nearby hospital for further routine checks.”
The impact destroyed both his RS16 and the tyre wall, which brought out the Safety Car. But after two laps it was clear that the tyre wall was not a quick-fix and the race was red flagged.
Rosberg saw his advantage over the field completely negated while Hamilton, who was 50s behind his team-mate, found himself up into fifth place as some of those ahead of the Brit had pitted under the Safety Car.
The race restarted behind the Safety Car with Rosberg swapping to new mediums, Alonso and Hamilton to new softs.
Hamilton put his tyres to great use as he overtook Alonso and Nico Hulkenberg to run P3. Two pit stops later, three in total, he was still third and struggling to catch the two-stopping Rosberg and Ricciardo.
Rosberg raced to the victory, his sixth of this season, while Ricciardo held on for second place ahead of Hamilton. The result means the World Champion’s lead has been cut from 19 to nine points.
Nico Hulkenberg was fourth ahead of his Force India team-mate Sergio Perez.
Spa hopefuls Vettel, Raikkonen and Verstappen all found their races undone at the first corner.
Verstappen dived up the inside of Raikkonen, however, with the Finn’s team-mate on his outside, he could not move over. The two made contract with Vettel caught out in it.
All three had to pit for repairs with Raikkonen’s stop exceptionally long as the bargeboard under his SF16-H caught fire. Verstappen blamed Vettel, saying the German “just turned in.”
They finished P6, P9 and P11 respectively.
There were also points for Fernando Alonso, P7, Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa, eighth and tenth for Williams.
Carnage on the opening lap meant a retirement for Pascal Wehrlein, who hit Jenson Button from behind. The Brit made it into the pits but parked his McLaren while Carlos Sainz’s right rear tyre was shredded, breaking his rear wing.
1 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:44’51.058
2 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull +14.113
3 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes +27.634
4 Nico Hulkenberg Force India +35.907
5 Sergio Perez Force India +40.660
6 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari +45.394
7 Fernando Alonso McLaren +59.445
8 Valtteri Bottas Williams +1’00.151
9 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari +1’01.109
10 Felipe Massa Williams +1’05.873
11 Max Verstappen Red Bull +1’11.138
12 Esteban Gutierrez Haas +1’13.877
13 Romain Grosjean Haas +1’16.474
14 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso +1’27.097
15 Jolyon Palmer Renault +1’33.165
16 Esteban Ocon Manor +1 Lap
17 Felipe Nasr Sauber +1 Lap
Did Not Finish
Kevin Magnussen Renault crash
Marcus Ericsson Sauber technical
Carlos Sainz Jr. Toro Rosso tyre failure
Jenson Button McLaren crash
Pascal Wehrlein Manor crash