Rosberg wins at Spa as Hamilton recovers to third

ยฉ XPB 

Nico Rosberg cut Lewis Hamilton's championship lead to nine points with victory in a Belgian Grand Prix halted by a big crash for Kevin Magnussen.

Hamilton started from the back row of the grid but took advantage of the red flag period to finish third behind Rosberg and Daniel Ricciardo, limiting the damage after taking a number of engine penalties at Spa-Francorchamps.

Magnussen's crash on lap six saw the race halted for 17 minutes. The Dane lost control of his Renault at the top of Radillon, overcorrecting as the rear of the car stepped out and getting pitched into a high-speed spin. The rear of the car clipped aย barrierย before Magnussen went head-on into another tyre wall, heavily damaging his car.

Having been able to climb out of his car unaided, Magnussen limped away from the wreckage and was taken to a nearby hospital for precautionary checks.

While the first half of the race was chaotic, it settled down after the stoppage, with drivers able to change tyres under the red flag. That benefitted Hamilton and Fernando Alonso who were both running in the top five behind Nico Hulkenberg - who had already stopped - when the race was red flagged.

Alonso faded slightly from that lofty position but still finished an impressive seventh after dropping behind Sergio Perezย and Sebastian Vettel. It was a crucial result for Force India as Hulkenberg came home fourth and Perez fifth, bringing the team 22 points and allowing it to leapfrog Williams in the constructors' championship.

Vettel was limited to sixth after being caught up in a chaotic opening lap which saw him hit team-mate Kimi Raikkonen at Turn 1. Max Verstappen was involved in the incident and also earned the wrath of both Ferrari drivers later on for his defensive driving, with the Dutchman crossing the line a disappointing 11th in front of an expectant crowd.

Alonso held off Valtteri Bottas for seventh place, with Raikkonen close behind his fellow Finn in ninth and Felipe Massa rounding out the top ten.

Rosberg led away off the line but a poor start from Verstappen saw the two Ferraris jump ahead on the short run to the opening corner. Verstappen then dived to the inside at La Source and took to the kerb to try and avoid contact with Raikkonen, who in turn was hit by Vettel as the German turned in from the outside of the corner.

The contact pitched Vettel into a spin and also saw both Raikkonen and Verstappen suffer damaged front wings which dropped them through the field on the opening lap. All three immediately came into the pits, with Raikkonen suffering a slow stop due to a fire at the front of his floor.

The opening lap accounted for two cars as Pascal Wehrlein hit the rear of Jenson Button's McLaren at Les Combes, causing both cars to retire. On the following lap, with a lot of debris on the track Carlos Sainz suffered a right rear puncture which took out his suspension and rear wing, while Marcus Ericsson also retired after starting from the pit lane due to a cooling issue.

Hulkenberg made a good start to run second, avoiding the contact between the Ferraris and Verstappen. After a Virtual Safety Car period following Sainz's retirement,ย Magnussen's crashย saw the Safety Car deployed. Hulkenberg took advantage to pit and only drop to third as Rosberg, Ricciardo, Alonso and Hamilton stayed out, but the subsequent red flag to repair the barrier meant all could change tyres without penalty, with Rosberg opting for medium tyres.

Hamilton quickly passed Alonso on the restart, while Raikkonen had to climb through from last place and was soon behind Verstappen. The 18-year-old defended robustly, pushing Raikkonen off at Les Combes and then cutting across him on the Kemmel Straight the following lap, leading to an expletive-ridden radio message from the Finn.

Verstappen soon stopped for soft tyres, leaving him out of sync with the rest of the field and eventually resulting in him being unable to score in front of huge numbers of Dutch fans at Spa-Francorchamps.

On lap 18, Hamilton used DRS on the Kemmel Straight to move third ahead of Hulkenberg, but three laps later had to pit for another set of softs after complaining his tyres were going off. That left him needing another late stop for mediums which allowed Ricciardo to hold on to second place, with the Red Bull only stopping once for mediums after the red flag.

While Hulkenberg ran in the top four all afternoon, Perez had to pass Massa on track after a poor start, pulling an impressive move around the outside of Les Combes. Massa slipped back in the closing stages to finish tenth, with team-mate Bottas running out of laps to close the gap to Alonso.

Esteban Ocon had a solid debut race for Manor, steering clear of trouble to come home a lap down in 16th, finishing ahead of Felipe Nasr who lost out due to a five-second time penalty for leaving the track and gaining an advantage.

Pos Driver Team Gap Stops
01 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 44 laps - 1h44m51.058s 2
02 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull + 14.113 2
03 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes + 27.634 3
04 Nico Hulkenberg Force India + 35.907 3
05 Sergio Perez Force India + 40.660 3
06 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari + 45.394 3
07 Fernando Alonso McLaren + 59.445 2
08 Valtteri Bottas Williams + 60.151 2
09 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari + 61.109 4
10 Felipe Massa Williams + 65.873 3
11 Max Verstappen Red Bull + 71.138 4
12 Esteban Gutierrez Haas + 73.877 3
13 Romain Grosjean Haas + 76.474 3
14 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso + 87.097 3
15 Jolyon Palmer Renault + 93.165 4
16 Esteban Ocon Manor + 1 lap 3
17 Felipe Nasr Sauber + 1 lap 3
18 Kevin Magnussen Renault DNF 0
19 Marcus Ericsson Sauber DNF 1
20 Carlos Sainz Toro Rosso DNF 0
21 Jenson Button McLaren DNF 1
22 Pascal Wehrlein Manor DNF 0

AS IT HAPPENED: Belgian Grand Prix

Breakfast with ... Otmar Szafnauer

Silbermann says ... Spa too hot

Romain Grosjean column: More motivated than ever

Chris Medland's 2016 Belgian Grand Prix preview

Keep up to date with all the F1 news viaย Facebookย andย Twitter