Rosberg Punctures Hamilton’s Hopes in Spa
The Belgian Grand Prix marked the beginning of the second half of this year’s Formula One season, and came complete with all the thrills and spills to make the occasion a very exciting race.
The starting grid was fairly predictable, and the beginning of the race went off without a hitch (besides a 5-second penalty for Alonso, for his crew staying too long on the track), with the Mercedes and Red Bulls comfortably at the front of the pack. The Austrian team made some important changes to their cars in the month off which has greatly increased their straight-line speed and made them somewhat competitive with the Silver Arrows in dry conditions.
The Two Mercedes Clash
However, the Mercedes team were in for a shock as in the first lap of the race, during a daring overtake attempt by Nico Rosberg on his teammate to retake first place, there was contact between the two cars.
Hamilton’s left rear tyre was punctured and part of Rosberg’s front wing came away – a disaster for a team which got off to a 1-2 start. Hamilton was forced to pit immediately, and the loss of downforce on Rosberg’s nose cone saw the other teams catching him fast, so he also had to pit on only the sixth lap.
Ricciardo Storms Ahead
This misfortune left the way open for the charging Red Bull of Daniel Ricciardo to push its way through to the front. Hamilton had a disastrous race, in the midst of the pack after the incident and eventually retiring, and while Rosberg fared better and managed to get on the podium, it was definitely not the expected result for the German team.
The Mercedes clash, however, allowed the other teams to fight for position, and Ricciardo again showed his superstar quality and took a comfortable win ahead of his teammate Vettel, who came in fifth.
Ricciardo has had a brilliant season so far at Red Bull, claiming all three of their wins for them so far, and the back-to-back race wins at Hungary and Belgium will be sure to boost his confidence even more.
Rise of the Underdogs
Valtteri Bottas, too, must be mentioned, taking the Williams car from strength to strength in each Grand Prix and using the powerful Mercedes turbo engines to their full potential. He has shown excellent form this season and took another podium in Spa, continuing the outstanding results from Williams so far.
A word must also be said for Kimi Raikkonen, who after a bit of a wobbly season so far, managed to outpace the Red Bull of Vettel and take fourth place. Hopefully he will regain some form, and there will be even better results for Ferrari’s new acquisition as the season draws to a close.
In terms of the big picture, the contact incident means that Rosberg has pulled even further away from Hamilton in the driver’s championship, and Ricciardo’s win places him less than 40 points behind the Brit, which combined with the renovations to his car and the motivation and ambition he has shown so far, could spell trouble for Mercedes.
Hamilton will have to work hard to claw this championship back from Rosberg, and even harder now to prevent Ricciardo from stealing second place out from underneath him.
Whatever happens next, with the rivalries hotting up and the driver’s championship all to play for, it’s sure to be a thrilling race.