Lewis Hamilton kept himself in pole position in the race for the 2016 F1 world title with a brilliant drive at Spa on Sunday, but it was his team-mate and title rival Nico Rosberg who ultimately prevailed to keep his own hopes alive.
However, whilst Rosberg celebrates victory after closing the gap on Hamilton to just nine points, all eyes were on the British racer and his superb drive from the rear of the field to reach the chequered flag in third,
“Man, this was a great race,” said Hamilton afterwards. “It was wild out there and I just drove as I knew how to get as high up the running order as possible.
“It was about as good as damage limitation can get.”
The weekend had started badly for Hamilton when it was announced that he would suffer grid penalties after being forced to change components on his car more often than permitted under the regulations.
So, while Rosberg led the Grand Prix away from pole position, Hamilton was left to start from the very rear of the field. But that didn’t stop him from scything through the field as he took advantage of an incident-filled race that eventuallyhad to be stopped following a huge crash by Kevin Magnussen at the wheel of a Renault.
Barrier damage was repaired by track officials, and racing resumed some time later with Rosberg keeping the pace at the front.
He drove strongly to victory, his sixth victory of the campaign, while Daniel Ricciardo was second for Red Bull, with Hamilton third in the second Mercedes.
Away from the podium, another local teams impressed with Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio scooping fourth and fifth respectively for the Silverstone-based Force India team.
Hulkenberg, who almost finished on the podium, survived a pit lane exit skirmish with Fernando Alonso on his way to the end of the race.
He said: “This was a great day for me and the team. In some ways I am sorry not have been on the podium, but I managed to show that I have the ability to score good results and the team are doing a great job right now!”
Carlos Sainz Jr., after showing good form of late, was an early race casualty after a puncture caused his car to spin and further damage itself, while Daniil Kvyat in the second Toro Rosso car toiled in the Belgian sunshine to finish the race in lowly position well away from the points.
Standings: 1. Hamilton, 232pts; 2. Rosberg, 223; 3. Ricciardo, 151; 4. Vettel, 128; 5. Raikkonen, 124. Next race: September 4, Italy.