Nico Rosberg has cut his title-deficit to Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton to only nine points after securing victory in an eventful Belgian Grand Prix.
Championship leader Hamilton managed to recover to finish third, after being forced to start the race from the back row of the grid, whilst Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo continued his recent fine form with another podium finish.
In a race punctuated by controversy and crashes, Rosberg started from pole position and had a relatively incident-free race from start to finish.
The same cannot be said for his Mercedes team mate, however, after Hamilton had to avoid a series of early collisions involving cars in front of him en-route to his podium finish.
After a hectic start to the race, which saw Red Bull’s Max Verstappen along with both Ferrari drivers Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel all involved in a first corner collision, Hamilton was able to make up ten places on his first lap – passing the pits for the start of the second lap in 13th place.
McLaren driver and former world champion Fernando Alonso was also forced to begin the race from the back row, but also managed to benefit significantly from the race’s chaotic start, heading into the second lap in 11th position.
The two managed to continue their excellent start to the race – as Verstappen, Vettel and Raikkonen were unable to recover – with the pair sitting in fourth and fifth place after only eight laps.
The race was then interrupted by a horrific crash suffered by Renault’s Kevin Magnussen – with the Dane losing control on the way out of the infamous Eau Rouge swerves, and colliding with the barriers at a speed of almost 190mph.
Whilst Magnussen was able to walk away from the crash relatively unscathed – departing the track on his own two feet, displaying only a slight limp – the force of the collision was sufficient enough to dislodge the driver’s cockpit wraparound head protection, hurtling the piece from the car during the crash.
With significant damage having been suffered by the trackside barriers, the race was temporarily red-flagged whilst the damage was repaired, allowing all of the drivers to change onto a fresher pair of tyres.
After the restart, Hamilton continued his charge up the rankings, making quick work of Alonso in his slower Honda-powered McLaren, before overtaking the faster Toro Rosso of Nico Hulkenberg on lap 18 of 44.
After changing tyre strategy on lap 32, however, Hamilton was unable to close the gap on Ricciardo and Rosberg, despite displaying much greater pace in the closing laps of the race.
Despite the obvious power deficit between Alonso’s McLaren and with much of the field behind him, the Spaniard managed to capitalise on his impressive start to the race, eventually finishing in a very impressive seventh position.
Force India drivers Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez both drove very well throughout the race, finishing in fourth and fifth place respectively.
Sebastian Vettel managed to recover to sixth position, with his team mate Kimi Raikkonen eventually finishing up in ninth position.
Williams drivers Valterri Bottas and Felipe Massa rounded off the top 10, finishing in eight and tenth respectively.
1. Nico Rosberg – Mercedes – 1:44:51.058
2. Daniel Ricciardo – Red Bull – + 0:12.113
3. Lewis Hamilton – Mercedes – + 0:27.634
4. Nico Hulkenberg – Force India – + 0:35.907
5. Sergio Perez– Force India – + 0:40.660
6. Sebatian Vettel – Ferrari – + 0:45.394
7. Fernando Alonso – McLaren – + 0:59.445
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 F1 – + 1:13.877
13. Romain Grosjean – Haas F1 – +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
N/A – Kevin Magnussen – Renault – Retired
N/A – Marcus Ericsson – Sauber – Retired
N/A – Carlos Sainz Jnr – Toro Rosso – Retired
N/A – Jenson Button – McLaren – Retired
N/A – Pascal Wehrlein – Manor – Retired