SPA-FRANCORCHAMPS: German Nico Rosberg steered clear of the chaos unfolding behind him to cruise to an unchallenged victory in a disrupted Belgian Grand Prix yesterday. His Mercedes team mate Lewis Hamilton, the world championship leader, finished third from the back row of the grid, behind Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo.
The pole-sitting Rosberg kept the lead at the start and was never headed, after his main rivals, fellow front-row starter Max Verstappen and the Ferrari pair of Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel, collided at the first corner. That elevated Ricciardo, starting fifth, to second and the Australian kept that place until the end, crossing the line 14.1 seconds behind the triumphant Rosberg.
The race was briefly halted with nine of the 44 laps completed after a massive crash for Kevin Magnussen, who lost control of his Renault as he crested the fearsome Eau Rouge. The Dane, who was taken to hospital for routine checks after suffering a small cut to his left ankle, slammed violently into the barriers. Officials deployed first the safety car then the red flag as marshals worked to repair the damage. Sunday’s win was the 20th of Rosberg’s career.
It was also his sixth win of the season, but first since June’s European Grand Prix, and it cut the deficit to Hamilton to nine points in the standings. The Briton’s rise through the order was helped by the first corner chaos that forced both Ferraris and Verstappen into the pits and by the safety car and red flag deployed after Magnussen’s crash. Nevertheless, the triple champion, who had gone into the weekend gunning to become only the third driver to score 50 career wins, was happy to come away still ahead in the title race.
Nico Hulkenberg finished fourth for Force India ahead of team mate Sergio Perez, on a strong day for the Silverstone-based team that took them ahead of Williams into fourth in the constructors’ standings. Vettel fought back to finish sixth ahead of Fernando Alonso who also enjoyed a strong race having started dead last. Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen was ninth and Red Bull’s Verstappen finished a disappointing 11th. — Reuters