Nico Rosberg avoids chaos to win Belgian Grand Prix

Nico Rosberg saw Lewis Hamilton’s championship lead cut to just nine points by winning the Belgian Grand Prix.

Hamilton started from the back of the grid after a number of engine penalties but was able to take advantage of a safety car and red flag period to secure a podium finish. He finished behind Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo.

The start of the race was chaotic with a number of drivers getting themselves into difficulty. Max Verstappen – who started alongside Rosberg on the front row of the grid- bogged down at the start and as a result lost out to Kimi Raikkonen. Verstappen tried a move up the inside at the first corner but Sebastian Vettel squeezed the pair resulting in contact. Both Ferraris dropped to the back of the pack while Vetstappen picked up damage which Christian Horner suggested cost him 1.5 seconds a lap.

Elsewhere Carlos Sainz picked up an early puncture and as the tyre delaminated it got caught in his rear wing, causing damage and the car to spin. Pascal Wehrlein and Jenson Button were also casualties of the first lap as the Manor driver drove into the back of the McLaren. Marcus Ericsson started from the pit-lane but was forced to retire after just three laps following a gearbox failure.

The safety car was brought out following a huge shunt for Kevin Magnussen on the fifth lap. He lost control of his car at the top of Eau Rouge and the impact was such that his headrest came free from the car. Thankfully Magnussen was able to get out of the car unaided, however with a limp. After a trip to the medical centre and a local hospital Magnussen tweeted that he had a cut on his ankle but expected to be able to race in Monza.

A red flag was eventually brought out after about ten laps behind the safety car to allow marshals to properly fix the damaged barrier. The red flag stoppage benefited Fernando Alonso and Hamilton as they stayed out while most ahead of them pitted. This left Alonso fourth and Hamilton fifth, due to the McLaren driver having got ahead of the Mercedes at the start and leading him for the duration of the race so far.

When the race was restarted Rosberg was once again unchallenged at the front and he was able to drive his own race and win by 14 seconds. Ricciardo was second with Hamilton 27 seconds off his team-mate in third. Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez were fourth and fifth for Force India meaning that they have now moved into fourth in the championship ahead of Williams. Vettel fought back to sixth and finished ahead of Alonso, who showed some good pace to stay ahead of the Williams duo. Raikkonen split the Williams after passing Felipe Massa, having had spirited battles with Verstappen throughout the race.

Verstappen missed out on a points finish after finishing 11th. He was visibly aggrieved by the incident, driving aggressively against Raikkonen. The Finn at one stage came onto team radio to suggest that Verstappen’s “only interest” was running him off the track. One incident saw Raikkonen having to back right off on the Kemmel straight after a last minute change of position for Verstappen. Esteban Gutierrez finished 12th ahead of Romain Grosjean, Daniil Kvyat and Jolyon Palmer. Rookie Esteban Ocon finished 16th on his debut ahead of Felipe Nasr.

There is a quick turnaround with the Italian Grand Prix taking place this weekend.

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