/ Motorsport

Mercedes collision eclipses Ricciardo win

Updated: Sunday, 24 Aug 2014 15:19 | Comments

Daniel Ricciardo was victorious in the Belgian GP
Daniel Ricciardo was victorious in the Belgian GP

Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo clinched his third victory of the season, but the real story of the Belgian Grand Prix will focus on the fall-out from the first major collision between Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg.

The unfortunate Hamilton came off the worst as a left-rear puncture effectively ended his race,  ultimately retiring on lap 39 with damage to his Mercedes, while Rosberg went on to claim second place and stretch his lead over the Briton to 29 points.

For all of Hamilton's positivity coming into the race at the Spa-Francorchamps circuit, believing his luck had finally turned, the 29-year-old will need some consoling given his disconsolate nature from his radio messages.

Off the line, Hamilton conjured a flying start and was past Rosberg into the opening corner at La Source.

Although Hamilton came under attack along the Kemmel Straight from Sebastian Vettel, who had also passed Rosberg, the reigning four-times champion outbraked himself into Les Combes.

For a second Vettel had his nose in front of Hamilton, but in cutting across the corner he dropped into third behind the Mercedes duo.

A lap later and Rosberg had a look at Hamilton towards the end of the Kemmel Straight, but in filing back in behind the Briton into Les Combes there was serious contact between the two for the first time.

Rosberg lost his right front-wing endplate in clipping Hamilton's left-rear tyre, creating a puncture that resulted in a long three-mile return back to the pits.

On the way, Hamilton's car sent delaminating rubber flailing across the circuit, as well as causing damage to the floor of the car, and balance issues, forcing him to the back of the pack from where he barely made any recovery before ultimately retiring on lap 39.

Mercedes non-executive chairman Niki Lauda pulled no punches when it came to declaring who he felt was in the wrong as he said: "I said sorry to (Hamilton). It's bad, no question about it.

"Lewis was clearly in the lead, and maybe you do this at the end, but not on the second lap. These things can happen, but why on the second lap?

"We will have a meeting and decide what we will do, but it's a bad result for Mercedes and Lewis."

Mercedes motorsport boss Toto Wolff also made clear his unhappiness with what transpired as he said: "(It was) an absolutely unacceptable race from us.

"In lap two our drivers crashing into each other....unbelievable!

"There is one rule, and this is you don't crash into one another, This has happened today, and not at the end of the race, but on lap two."

Asked as to who within Mercedes should lay down the law, Wolff said: "It's not important. It's important there are rules and they are followed."

Rosberg waited until the end of lap eight for his first stop that included the fitting of a new front wing.

There was a touch of karma when on lap 10 a lengthy strip of the carcass of Hamilton's old tyre wrapped itself around a communications antenna on the front of Rosberg's car.

For a couple of laps the strips of material flapped in the cockpit and around the steering wheel, and was an undoubted distraction.

Rosberg had to be brave to reach out, grab it and yank it off before continuing until on lap 16 an attack on Vettel into the Bus Stop chicane resulted in him flat-spotting the front-left tyre.

The vibrations from that forced him into an earlier-than-planned second stop after 19 laps, dropping him back into the middle of the pack before be began the slow climb towards the front.

As for Hamilton, too far back to make any impression, he made it clear he was fed up and he wanted to pull out.

At one stage he suggested saving the engine, whilst later on he said even if he caught those in front of him, he had no downforce to pass.

On both occasions he was told to "keep plugging away" just in case a safety car materialised, but unfortunately for Hamilton it never did.

Instead, at the end of lap 39, and with the team remarking they could see "degradation in the aero data", suggesting something was coming adrift on the car, it led to the retirement he craved.

Williams driver Valtteri Bottas ended the race in third place, while Kimi Raikkonen achieved his best result on his return to Ferrari this season with fourth.

The Finn was followed home by Vettel and McLaren duo Kevin Magnussen and Jenson Button, with the second Ferrari of Fernando Alonso eighth.

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