Despite the dominance Mercedes have shown in 2014, Daniel Ricciardo secured his and Red Bull’s third win of the season. Nico Rosberg came home in second place after being unable to take victory at Spa-Francorchamps but stretched his championship lead. Daniel Ricciardo took the chequered flag ahead of Rosberg by just three seconds in the Belgian sun after early contact wrecked Hamilton’s race.
There was a slight bit of rain in the build up to the race, but come lights out the sun was out and stayed out. Rosberg started the race in pole position ahead of his team-mate Lewis Hamilton after shading the Brit out in qualifying by two tenths.
Alonso managed to qualify in fourth place, all be it a few seconds down on the Mercedes. However an early problem, whilst on the gird, brought the Spaniard a 5 second stop-go penalty. His mechanics were still at work getting his car ready to go when the formation lap got underway. This breaches the Formula One regulations as team personnel must leave the grid by the 15-second warning to avoid an incident with the moving cars.
When the lights went out a super start for Hamilton and Vettel saw the pair overtake Rosberg before they hit turn one. Handing Hamilton the lead of the race. Oddly, the Red Bull has shown great straight line speed this weekend and after Vettel dispatched Rosberg, he was challenging Hamilton for the lead into Les Combes.
Hamilton managed to maintain the lead and Vettel ran wide onto the run off, allowing Nico back into second. By the time the two Mercs hit the Les Combes chicane on lap two, Nico had his rear wing alongside Lewis’ rear left. Nico hung in for the corner hoping for an overtaking chance out of the corner but Lewis kept the racing line. Unfortunately for Lewis, Rosberg’s front wing end plate clipped his rear-left tyre and the Brit suffered a puncture.
Back on lap one, Romain Grosjean and Jules Bianchi suffered contact in a similar style to Lewis and Nico. For these two, Jules Bianchi left the incident running slowly with a rear-right puncture and Grosjean was forced to pit at the end of the lap.
Maldonado in the other Lotus brought his car to a stop at turn four on lap three and Andre Lotterer, on his F1 race debut, was forced to retire in his Caterham very early on.
Back at the front, Rosberg was still unable to dispatch the Red Bulls. Ricciardo was flying, setting the fastest lap time and managing to get passed his team-mate. Vettel ran wide following a wobble through Pouhon, allowing Ricciardo to make the overtake. The Aussie then set about catching Rosberg for the lead and closed in on the German swiftly.
Drivers began to hit the pits early on with Rosberg pitting in lap 8. The race-leader took on a new front wing during the stop following the contact with Hamilton earlier on and rejoined in P15. After Ricciardo gained the race lead, he set out another fastest lap time and kept the race lead following his pit stop.
As the laps began to tick by and Nico began his drive back to the front, he managed to pick up some debris, potentially from Hamilton’s punctured tyre. It was one of those incidents you couldn’t script, he was driving along and all of a sudden the debris attached itself to the aerial of his car. Initially he could not remove it and it dangled in his line of sight but thankfully it soon made its way off.
By the time Nico caught up with Vettel, he knew he had to make an overtake stick if he was to go on to win. However he suffered a big lock up into the Bus Stop chicane in his bid to get passed. This lead to the championship leader being overtaken soon after by Bottas along the Kemmel Straight.
What was worse for Rosberg was that the lock up had left a black spot so severe it was ‘on the limit’ of wrecking the suspension, resulting in the team bringing him back into the pits on lap 20. As it stood Ricciardo was stretching his lead to Raikkonen at the front with Rosberg falling back to P11.
For Hamilton however, he continued to linger at the back with just the Caterham and the two Marussia’s behind him. Lewis was dejected straight after the contact with Rosberg and by this time he had all but given up and retired. Simply because the time didn’t allow him to despite Hamilton suggesting they should to save the power unit.
With the mid-race laps ticking by, the order changed a few times with Rosberg making his way back to second place, Vettel and Bottas battling and Raikkonen regaining positions following his pit stop. But the best overtakes came when Bottas made his way around the outside of Vettel on lap 31 at Les Combes. But for Hamilton, he continued to want his race to come to an early end.
The need to pit again soon struck Rosberg and Vettel on lap 35. Rosberg switched to the soft compound tyres, rejoining behind Raikkonen and ahead of the other Finn in F1, Bottas.
Bottas soon had his Williams into the top three after dispatching Nico at Les Combes. Although Valtteri would not hold on to third place for to long, when Rosberg made a bold move stick through Blanchimont.
In my opinion, one of the best battles throughout the race was between Magnussen and Alonso. The pair were continuously battling for fifth with the McLaren youngster showing superb defending abilities to keep the experienced Ferrari driver behind. However, things between the pair got very close on lap 38 with Alonso attempting to get around the outside of Magnussen through Rivage. Magnussen made a defensive move to keep Alonso behind but the cars got very close and Alonso became very frustrated.
On the subsequent lap, Hamilton finally got his wish of retirement. With just 5 laps remaining of the 2014 Belgian Grand Prix, the team told him to pit and ‘cool the car’ due to an aero degradation issue, according to the team. A few laps later, another retirement in the race came for Jules Bianchi.
But for Jules’ team-mate Max Chilton, his battle with Marcus Ericsson was ruined when Magnussen, Alonso, Vettel and Button came through. Button made a move stick on Alonso but Fernando was soon back past the Brit, igniting a fierce battle between the four drivers. Alonso’s overtake of Button let Vettel pass the Brit as well. Magnussen meanwhile stayed ahead of the trio in fifth place but was soon clawed into the battle.
Magnussen’s first involvement in the foursome came on lap 43. Once again Alonso was attempting to get passed at Rivage, but ran wide and Vettel slipped into sixth. Sebastian Vettel later completed what Alonso could not and took fifth place from K-Mag on the final lap.
Out in front, Daniel Ricciardo ended the race with a super lap to keep the surging Rosberg behind. At the flag, the two were split by just 3.3 seconds and Ricciardo won his third Formula One Grand Prix. His win also marks Red Bull’s 50th ever Grand Prix victory in F1.
Bottas almost on his own came home in third place to take yet another podium finish for Williams. Valtteri had driven another solid race and deserved the podium finish. Button went on to challenge his team-mate to the line but would take the flag three tenths of a second behind Magnussen.
After the race, the boo boys were out in force for Rosberg on the podium. The fans at the race were clearly unhappy with the way Hamilton and Rosberg made contact on lap two. Martin Brundle stated whilst commentating for SkyF1 that there were even boos for Rosberg over the last few laps at Eau Rouge. To have the race end in this way is such a shame as the racing was fantastic.
|1||3||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull Racing-Renault||44||Winner||5||25|
|2||6||Nico Rosberg||Mercedes||44||+3.3 secs||1||18|
|3||77||Valtteri Bottas||Williams-Mercedes||44||+28.0 secs||6||15|
|4||7||Kimi Räikkönen||Ferrari||44||+36.8 secs||8||12|
|5||1||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull Racing-Renault||44||+52.1 secs||3||10|
|6||20||Kevin Magnussen||McLaren-Mercedes||44||+54.2 secs||7||8|
|7||22||Jenson Button||McLaren-Mercedes||44||+54.5 secs||10||6|
|8||14||Fernando Alonso||Ferrari||44||+61.1 secs||4||4|
|9||11||Sergio Perez||Force India-Mercedes||44||+64.2 secs||13||2|
|10||26||Daniil Kvyat||STR-Renault||44||+65.3 secs||11||1|
|11||27||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India-Mercedes||44||+65.6 secs||18|
|12||25||Jean-Eric Vergne||STR-Renault||44||+71.9 secs||12|
|13||19||Felipe Massa||Williams-Mercedes||44||+75.9 secs||9|
|14||99||Adrian Sutil||Sauber-Ferrari||44||+82.4 secs||14|
|15||21||Esteban Gutierrez||Sauber-Ferrari||44||+90.8 secs||20|
|16||4||Max Chilton||Marussia-Ferrari||43||+1 Lap||19|
|17||9||Marcus Ericsson||Caterham-Renault||43||+1 Lap||22|
|18||17||Jules Bianchi||Marussia-Ferrari||39||+5 Laps||16|
|Ret||44||Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes||38||+6 Laps||2|
|Ret||8||Romain Grosjean||Lotus-Renault||33||+11 Laps||15|
|Ret||13||Pastor Maldonado||Lotus-Renault||1||+43 Laps||17|
|Ret||45||Andre Lotterer||Caterham-Renault||1||+43 Laps||21|