Formula 1

Daniel Ricciardo wins the Belgian Grand Prix

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Daniel Ricciardo claimed a brilliant victory at the Belgian Grand Prix as the two Mercedes made contact at the start of the race.

The Red Bull driver was in the right place at the right time to capitalise on the drama ahead producing a commanding display after he inherited the lead.

Nico Rosberg was an unpopular man on the podium as the boos that rang for Sebastian Vettel last year returned. He was un-flustered in the race, however, recovering from the controversial collision and almost making a late bid for victory before eventually settling for second.

In third was Valtteri Bottas as the Finn enjoyed his fourth podium in five races for Williams.

The start

At the start it was Lewis Hamilton who jumped into the lead at the first corner as Rosberg was demoted to third by an equally fast starting Vettel.

The German looked to repeat his first lap overtake along the Kemmel straight from last year on the run to Les Combes but instead ran wide across the run-off area losing second to Rosberg.

Daniel Ricciardo made his way upto third behind the two Mercedes after starting fifth passing Fernando Alonso en route to Les Combes and then another error from Vettel allowed the Australian through exiting Pouhon.


Back upto second Rosberg looked very racy against Hamilton and again along the Kemmel straight had a run of his team-mate heading towards the chicane.

Looking to take the wide line, Rosberg's eagerness would cost Hamilton as the German refused to yield at Les Combes, and when he did, made contact with the Briton's left-rear wheel causing a puncture and dropping Hamilton to the back of the order.

The collision was not investigated by the stewards, however, it would also cost Rosberg an early pit-stop to replace his damaged front wing giving the lead to Ricciardo.

Differing fortunes at Ferrari

Due to Saturday's rain, the tyres were much less durable than previously expected causing most to switch to a three-stop strategy, indeed an earlier stop helped the so-called 'King of Spa' Kimi Raikkonen as the Finn jumped upto second for a while in his Ferrari.

His progress was marred by disappointment for Alonso, as the Spaniard's mechanics were on the grid at the 15-second signal and the stewards punished him with a 5-second penalty at his first pit-stop.

The decision by Ferrari to keep Raikkonen out on a two-stop strategy as most around switched to three also worked in the four-time winner of the Belgian race, as Kimi would finish fourth only after been passed by Rosberg and Bottas in the final laps.

Whereas for Alonso, the penalty embroiled him in the fierce midfield battle between Vettel and the two McLaren's.

After a lot of close and aggressive action, particularly battling with Kevin Magnussen, slight contact at the start of the last lap would hamper the two-time champion as he only finished eighth.

Vettel struggles continue

It was something of a mixed race for the four-time world champion Vettel, after his opening lap moves, two errors cost him and ultimately left the way for Ricciardo to once again take advantage of Mercedes' troubles.

But it was the speed Ricciardo showed, that was almost Vettel-esque from last year that will really frustrate the German.

Indeed, Sebastian was one of the drivers to go for a late push on the soft tyres to make some progress and ultimately he made no gain only overtaking those who went past him when he pitted as he took fifth.

Lewis Hamilton dejected

If Vettel's woes were bad they were nothing compared to Lewis Hamilton. After the incident with Rosberg, the rear of the 2008 champion's Mercedes was damaged and he made very little progress through the field.

Indeed for much of the race, Hamilton was heard over the radio pleading with the team to retire the car and save the engine for future races.

For all his fans who will give the sympathy vote, you do have to question if his attitude during the race highlights why Rosberg is now favourite to win the championship.

After the puncture you would have expected a strong fightback, but it was like Hamilton had already given up on the race and simply wanted to get out of the place.

Valtteri Bottas impresses again

After somewhat failing to meet with expectations throughout the weekend, Valtteri Bottas gave Williams a result most were expecting taking third.

Once again, the young Finn was the far superior of the Martini-striped cars as Felipe Massa dropped out the points after starting ninth, but starting seventh, Bottas made good overtakes and looked after his tyres to take advantage of the struggling Raikkonen towards the end.

While Red Bull covered off the threat of the Mercedes-powered cars at Spa by running with less downforce, at the next race in Italy all the cars will have the skinnier wings and I would expect Bottas and Williams to feature much stronger at Monza.

Perez and Kvyat complete top 10

Two other performances of note were Sergio Perez and Daniil Kvyat taking advantage of the troubles ahead to score ninth and tenth respectively.

For Kvyat it is a great result on a weekend that saw his Toro Rosso struggle more than some had expected, and while it may have been a poor result based on recent years, for Perez ninth marks a good weekend even if his team-mate Nico Hulkenberg's recovery from 18th to 11th was slightly more noticeable.

Ricciardo in the hunt?

With another excellent win, and a first where he has shown he can lead a race from the front, questions must be asked if Daniel Ricciardo is a part of the battle for the championship?

As Mercedes continue to trip themselves up and with relations between Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg now at an all-time low, could the Red Bull man be the one to pick up the pieces if incidents like the one at Spa continue?

Certainly second place could be within grasp as he is only 35 points behind Hamilton who is now in turn 29 behind Rosberg, but with tracks like Singapore and Suzuka, which will suit the Red Bull, he could be the one to come from left field.

Crisis at Mercedes?

But at the championship leaders, a major diplomatic effort will be underway after the events at Spa.

If the team orders controversy in Hungary had caused some bad blood, the first on-track incident between the pair all year will plunge the relationship between the two drivers to an all-time low.

Whether or not team bosses Toto Wolff, Paddy Lowe and Niki Lauda can rebuild any trust between Hamilton and Rosberg for the rest of the season will be a key question and is why the prospect of Ricciardo sneaking on the outside isn't being laughed off.

How the team respond in Monza in two weeks time will be pivotal to the rest of the season but I wouldn't be surprised if the 'silly season' rumours don't start growing if this discontent continues.

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