Daniel Ricciardo notched up his third win of the season at the Belgian GP, giving the Team its 50th grand prix victory. On top of that, Ricciardo became the first Australian since Jack Brabham, in 1960, to win the GP in Belgium.
Meanwhile, Sebastian Vettel, broke away to finish in fifth position, winning another battle in the final laps and overtaking Jenson Button (McLaren), Fernando Alonso (Ferrari) and Kevin Magnussen (McLaren).
Behind them, Daniel, who had started the race in fifth position, was shoulder to shoulder with Fernando Alonso in the early laps. Meanwhile, Rosberg and Hamilton continued to vie for first position, to the point where they ended up colliding with each other. Rosberg was able to get back into the race, but Hamilton was forced to change one of his wheels. He returned to the track but had to withdraw from the race on lap 39.
Rosberg’s pace was slowed by the damage to his car and he soon saw Vettel and Ricciardo gaining on him. Ricciardo was getting ever closer to the Mercedes driver. The response from his team was to make a pit stop to change a front wing and to switch the tyres. Daniel went into the lead at this point, and this was the moment when he counter attacked with a consistency strategy. Rosberg had to change his tyres again and Daniel tried to squeeze the most out of his, making a second and final visit to the pit lane in the hope that the new tyres would help win him the race.
You know everyone was saying we didn’t really have a chance around here, but I think we had some really good pace today and surprised ourselves.” said Daniel afterwards. “It feels a bit surreal, but another win is very cool, very cool.
It was difficult staying out at the end of the race. When you’re the leader as well you always feel like you’re the most vulnerable when it comes to a pit stop or not, but Simon my engineer came on the radio and said I think it’s 11 laps left, can these tyres get to the end? And I said I think I can keep more or less this pace, and we were able to, and then on the last lap I found a couple more tenths, so I was having a bit of fun then!
There’s been a lot of good things about the win today, obviously the last two came from a more aggressive style of race, but today was more calculated and it was nice to win under different circumstances.”
Vettel, meanwhile, was very close to finishing the race with a place on the podium. He managed to hold on to third position for a while, but after a tyre change he dropped back to fifth. After stopping for the last time to change the tyres on lap 34, he fell back to eighth position. But Vettel stepped up the pace again and clawed back a few positions, breaking away from Alonso and Jenson Button and finally finishing the race in fifth position.
Towards the end of the race was good, I was in a rush to get through because the laps were going down and obviously Alonso and Magnussen didn’t have fresh tyres, so Jenson and me caught them fairly quickly,” he said.
“In the end it was good not to lose a position compared to when we decided to pit, which was probably a little bit late, but in the end we maintained the position. The battle was fairly interesting, it was a bit all over the place with people pushing each other off on the track, but we race hard, although sometimes maybe a bit too hard! The team did a great job in the pit stops, three perfect stops, they felt really quick.”
In short, Daniel’s calm throughout the race ensured perfect control of his car, and leaves him with 156 points in the world ranking, 35 behind Hamilton who is in second place with 191 points. Rosberg leads the rankings with 220 points. Next stop: Monza (Italy).