Spa-Francorchamps: Australian Daniel Ricciardo won the Belgian Grand Prix for Red Bull on Sunday while Mercedes title rivals Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton provided the drama of the day by colliding on the second lap.
Hamilton failed to finish after fighting with a damaged car but Rosberg, blamed by his bosses and booed by the crowd on the podium, finished second to extend his championship lead to 29 points with seven of the 19 races remaining.
The victory, on a surprisingly dry afternoon at a circuit famed for rapid changes in weather conditions, was Ricciardo’s second in succession and third of his first season with the reigning champions.
It was also his team’s second in succession in Belgium after four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel triumphed last year and set off a run of nine wins in a row. Finland’s Valtteri Bottas was third for Williams.
Ricciardo’s win was almost a sideshow to the major talking point, a further stirring up of already troubled waters at Mercedes.
The two teammates had been expected to dominate the race after qualifying on the front row but the intense rivalry between them blew up in their face.
Hamilton had passed pole-sitter Rosberg at the start but his race was effectively over moments later when Rosberg tried to retake the lead in a misjudged move that proved extremely costly for Hamilton.
The German’s front wing made contact with Hamilton’s rear tyre and punctured it, leaving the Briton having to nurse his car back to the pits in a trail of tyre debris.
He rejoined a minute adrift of Rosberg. After complaining that he had no downforce and repeatedly asking the team to save the engine, the Briton was recalled to the pits five laps from the end and retired.
Rosberg has 220 points to Hamilton’s 191 with Ricciardo moving closer on 156. Mercedes remain comfortably in front in the constructors’ standings with 411 points to Red Bull’s 254.
Kimi Raikkonen finished fourth for Ferrari, the first time he has beaten Spanish teammate Fernando Alonso this season, with Vettel fifth. Alonso finished eighth.
Force India gained from Kevin Magnussen’s post-race 20 seconds penalty with their drivers Sergio Perez and Nico Hulkenberg promoted a place to be classified as eighth and 10th respectively.
Though the penalty for the McLaren driver was not enough for Force India to remain fifth in the team standings, it cut the deficit to just two points in favour of the Woking squad from 11 after the provisional results. McLaren are on 105 points and Force India 103.
Perez scored his first points at Spa after starting 13th on the grid.