Daniel Ricciardo scored his second successive race victory at Spa on Sunday, picking up where he left off in Hungary last month as Formula One restarted after the summer break.
The exceptional win was overshadowed however by a lap two incident involving Mercedes pairing Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg. With Hamilton leading the race, Rosberg attempted a move at Les Combes only for the two to make minor contact resulting in a puncture for Hamilton and front wing damage for the German. Post-race Mercedes management appeared to blame Rosberg, despite widespread opinion everywhere else in the paddock that the clash was a normal racing incident. Toto Wolff and Niki Lauda both labelled it ‘unacceptable’ hinting at a rebuke for Rosberg.
It also lead to a negative reaction from Hamilton fans in the podium ceremony as they booed Rosberg to the chastisement of interviewer Eddie Jordan.
Elsewhere the racing entertainment proved more pure as a series of strategic and on-track battles were played out between the likes of Ferrari, McLaren and Force India with Sebastian Vettel adding his weight to the combat.
Ricciardo took the lead after Rosberg made a stop for a new front wing and never looked back, despite facing a late-race charge from the German that came up a few laps too short with the Mercedes on fresh soft tyres. Kimi Raikkonen made a very early first stop that enabled him to leap up to 2nd – which became 4th by the chequered flag – while Valterri Bottas scored another podium for Williams in 3rd on a day when team-mate Felipe Massa struggled to a pointless finish.
Fernando Alonso and Kevin Magnussen enjoyed a couple of close scraps throughout the grand prix with the Dane proving firm in defence, though his spirited tactics ultimately proved McLaren’s undoing when team-mate Jenson Button caught the battling pair in the final two laps. With Vettel closing fast on fresher soft rubber, Button jostled past Alonso and looked to have overcome Magnussen only for the sister car to run him off the track at Rivage. The tussle allowed Vettel to pass all three men and take 5th, with Button finishing in Magnussen’s wheeltracks after re-passing Alonso. A post-race investigation resulted though after it emerged Magnussen had perhaps been overzealous when he pushed Alonso onto the grass at high speed on the Kemmel straight.
Sergio Perez and Daniil Kvyat rounded out the top ten with measured performances, while Sauber missed out on points again despite getting both cars to the finish. Hamilton eventually retired from the race to save his engine life with a few laps left on the board while running 16th. The Briton was unable to make progress after damaging his floor when speeding back to the pits with the shredded left rear tyre. The debris left behind spent some time flapping in Nico Rosberg’s face when it got caught on his radio aerials, while some other lodged in Massa’s front wing causing the Brazilian to lose downforce.
***Kevin Magnussen was penalised post-race for his incident with Alonso on the Kemmel straight, dropping him out the points. Nico Hulkenberg consequently inherits 10th place and associated point.***
CLASSIFICATION – Race – Belgian Grand Prix – 24th August 2014
|1||Ricciardo||AUS||Red Bull||25 Pts|
|5||Vettel||DEU||Red Bull||10 Pts|
|8||Perez||MEX||Force India||4 Pts|
|9||Kvyat||RUS||Toro Rosso||2 Pt|
|10||Hulkenberg||DEU||Force India||1 Pt|