Nico Rosberg has taken victory at the Belgian Grand Prix, leading an eventful race from start to finish. Daniel Ricciardo and Lewis Hamilton completed the podium. Kevin Magnussen meanwhile had a heavy crash at Raidillon early on in the race, but escaped with only minor injuries.
As the lights went out, Nico Rosberg made a clean getaway and was the first to dive into the first corner.
Trouble happened behind him though, as Verstappen's attempt to recover from a troubled getaway turned out to be more trouble, as he chose to take the inside of turn one, where there was really no space. He came together with Raikkonen, resulting in a pitstop for both men. At the same time, Vettel was bumped off the track by Raikkonen, with the latter simply being sandwished between two cars, with essentially nowhere to go for him.
The next lap, Sainz had a blown tyre on the approach to turn 5, eventually spinning at turn 6. The Spaniard still got his car going again, but as the rubber got stuck on the rear wing, that itself was torn loose as well, forcing Sainz to park his Toro Rosso at turn 8. The tyre debris also initiated a virtual safety car for around a minute to get things sorted.
While cars were slowing due to Sainz being parked alongside the track, Wehrlein was surprised and hit Button from behind, forcing a retirement from them.
When things appeared to settle, Kevin Magnussen lost control of his car on the top of Raidillon, crashing off violently and coming to a halt against a tyre barrier. Magnussen was able to come out of the car himself, but limped slightly and was supported by marshalls to get him to safety.
Interestingly, the side impact foam that prevents helmet damage from bouncing left and right in the cockpit area slow off the car before final impact. It could as such have become a much worse outcome. Fortunately, that was not the case.
The safety car and medical car were immediately brought out on track, but it took until lap 9 to red flag the race, as marshalls realised it would take quite a bit of time to repair the guardrails at turn 4. This required all drivers to return to the pits, park there one after the other and allowed the drivers to get out of their cars and talk to their teams in person. It also enabled all to
Positions in this stoppage were ROS, RIC, HUL, ALO, HAM, MAS, PER, KVY, PAL, GRO, VET, BOT, GUT, VES, OCO, NASR, RAI. 5 retirements were counted by then, with Ericsson out early as well, despite starting fro the pitlane, away from most of the incidents. The big winners from the early events were clearly Alonso and Hamilton as both managed to progress to points scoring positions from the very back of the grid, in no time.
While the race was stopped, Ferrari mechanics worked feverishly to repair Raikkonen's car, applying duct tape on the front floor. During his first stop, flames were seen coming from underneath the car in this area, most likely from debris being stuck there.
Alonso meanwhile was also relieved with the red flag, as this allowed him to take another steering wheel. The Spaniard had reported on lap 6 that his screen was no longer working.
15 minutes later, the cars got going again to complete the remaining 32 laps. At this time, only Rosberg, Perez, Verstappen and Ocon were using the medium tyres, all others on softs.
On the restart there were no position changes, but Alonso certainly was awake and challenged Perez in the first half of the lap. He didn't have speed advantage on the straight though, forcing him to stay behind and getting challenged by Hamilton in turn.
One lap later, Hamilton materialised an easy pass on Alonso thanks to his Mercedes power. Perez also gained a position by passing Kvyat in the Toro Rosso.
The next lap, Raikkonen tries to pass Verstappen on the left hand side on the Kemmel straight, only to see Verstappen brake lightly and get back aside, forcing Raikkonen off track to avoid an incident. The next lap, Kimi was again troubled by Verstappen's tactics, as this time the Dutchmen slowly moved right when Raikkonen had committed to the right hand side of the track as well, forcing the Finn to back out of it completely.
On lap 17, Raikkonen's issue was gone as Verstappen was called into the pits to change to soft tyres.
By that time, Hamilton had reduced his deficit to Hulkenberg to less than a second, giving him DRS and a proper chance to overtake. It didn't take long, as the first pass on Kemmel was the good one, going past the German at 348 km/h.
On lap 22, Hamilton pitted for new mediums, a pitstop that was slightly slow due to the rear jack not releasing in time. Two laps later, Hulkenberg and Alonso followed, with both men leaving the pits side by side and touching slightly in the sharp right hand corner on the exit of the pitlane.
On lap 26, Rosberg pitted from the lead while moments later Vettel passed Verstappen at Les Combes as the Dutchman lost his cool and locked up his front wheels while trying to defend his 8th position. Verstappen returned to the pits that same lap for another set of softs, after having lost another position to Bottas. He rejoined the race in 15th position.
A few laps later, Vettel drew the spots on him as he passed Massa round the outside of Combes, before taking also for 5th one lap later. That made it 4 and 5 for Force India. Vettel meanwhile closed into the overtaken duo from behind, followed by Bottas and Raikkonen a few seconds further down the road.
On lap 35, Vettel finally breezed past Alonso, having needed 4 laps to make a move stick on Massa. By that time, Bottas and Raikkonen were right on the tail of Felipe Massa as well.
With no movement in the pack, Bottas was eventually allowed to pass Massa, following which Raikkonen followed suit one lap later. Alonso ahead pushed hard to keep the chasers at bay and out of DRS range as long as he could, and eventually secured that 7th position, confirming Honda's progress.
At the front, Rosberg won, having lead the race from start to finish. Daniel Ricciardo finished second, with Hamilton third.
|1||6||Nico Rosberg||Mercedes AMG||44||1:44:51.058||25|
|2||3||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull Racing TAG Heuer||44||+14.113s||18|
|3||44||Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes AMG||44||+27.634s||15|
|4||27||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India Mercedes||44||+35.907s||12|
|5||11||Sergio Perez||Force India Mercedes||44||+40.660s||10|
|7||14||Fernando Alonso||McLaren Honda||44||+59.445s||6|
|8||77||Valtteri Bottas||Williams Mercedes||44||+60.151s||4|
|10||19||Felipe Massa||Williams Mercedes||44||+65.873s||1|
|11||33||Max Verstappen||Red Bull Racing TAG Heuer||44||+71.138s||0|
|12||21||Esteban Gutierrez||Haas Ferrari||44||+73.877s||0|
|13||8||Romain Grosjean||Haas Ferrari||44||+76.474s||0|
|14||26||Daniil Kvyat||Toro Rosso Ferrari||44||+87.097s||0|
|16||31||Esteban Ocon||MRT Mercedes||43||+1 lap||0|
|17||12||Felipe Nasr||Sauber Ferrari||43||+1 lap||0|
|NC||9||Marcus Ericsson||Sauber Ferrari||3||DNF||0|
|NC||55||Carlos Sainz||Toro Rosso Ferrari||1||DNF||0|
|NC||22||Jenson Button||McLaren Honda||1||DNF||0|
|NC||94||Pascal Wehrlein||MRT Mercedes||0||DNF||0|