Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo took his third victory of the 2014 Formula 1 season at the Belgian Grand Prix on Sunday.
But a clash between Mercedes drivers Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg on lap two was the biggest story of the race.
Rosberg pipped Hamilton to pole by just over 0.2 seconds, the Brit suffering brake issues. When the lights went out at the start of the race, Hamilton got the better start and took the lead in the short run to the first corner.
Rosberg briefly dropped to third, but on the second tour he challenged for the lead at the Les Combes chicane. Hamilton defended the inside as he went into the left-hander, but as he swung across to go right, Rosberg’s front wing made contact with Hamilton’s left-rear tyre.
The tyre immediately deflated, leaving Rosberg in the lead, albeit with a wounded car, and Hamilton tumbling down the order. He eventually retired on lap 39.
Mercedes management blamed Rosberg for the incident; Lewis claimed Nico admitted it was deliberate. The FIA is taking no action, but that will not necessarily be the end of the matter. Whatever happens next, relations between the two have certainly reached their lowest ebb.
Back in Belgium, Rosberg lead ahead of Sebastian Vettel, but a mistake by the reigning world champion allowed Ricciardo into second.
A nose change meant Rosberg was delayed during his first stop, and Ricciardo took the lead. He stayed there for the rest of the race, despite coming under pressure from Rosberg in the closing stages.
Valtteri Bottas took another podium finish for Williams in third place, which had been held for much of the race by Kimi Raikkonen. The Finn’s fourth place was nevertheless his best showing so far this year in the Ferrari.
The final laps of the race were enlivened by a four-way scrap between Kevin Magnussen, Fernando Alonso, Vettel and Jenson Button.
Magnussen pushed Alonso out onto the grass on the run to Les Combes. The delay allowed Vettel and Button past Alonso’s Ferrari.
The battle raged on, but at the flag, the order was Vettel, Magnussen, Button and Alonso. But Magnussen was handed a 20-second penalty, dropping him to 12th.
That promoted Sergio Perez to eight, with Daniil Kvyat and Nico Hulkenberg rounding out the top ten.
However the dust settles after the Belgian Grand Prix, Hamilton now has 29 points to make up if he is to become world champion.
It could be a tall order in seven races, but he will be more determined than ever to beat his teammate.
The next race is the Italian Grand Prix at Monza on 7 September
Belgian Grand Prix results after 44 laps
- Daniel Ricciardo — Red Bull-Renault — 1h24m36.556s
- Nico Rosberg — Mercedes — +3.383s
- Valtteri Bottas — Williams-Mercedes — +28.032s
- Kimi Raikkonen — Ferrari — +36.815s
- Sebastian Vettel — Red Bull-Renault — +52.196s
- Jenson Button — McLaren-Mercedes — +54.580s
- Fernando Alonso — Ferrari — +1m01.162s
- Sergio Perez — Force India-Mercedes — +1m04.293s
- Daniil Kvyat — Toro Rosso-Renault — +1m05.347s
- Nico Hulkenberg — Force India-Mercedes — +1m05.697s
- Jean-Eric Vergne — Toro Rosso-Renault — +1m11.920s
- Kevin Magnussen — McLaren-Mercedes — +1m14.262s
- Felipe Massa — Williams-Mercedes — +1m15.975s
- Adrian Sutil — Sauber-Ferrari — +1m22.447s
- Esteban Gutierrez — Sauber Ferrari — +1m30.825s
- Max Chilton — Marussia-Ferrari — +1 lap
- Marcus Ericsson — Caterham-Renault — +1 lap
Retirments: Jules Bianchi (Marussia-Ferrari); Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes); Romain Grosjean (Lotus-Renault); Pastor Maldonado (Lotus-Renault); Andre Lotterer (Caterham-Renault)