Ricciardo takes win no.3 at Spa

  Who’d have guessed that Daniel Ricciardo would take another victory at the fabulous Spa-Francorchamps Circuit, Round 12 of the Formula One World Championships? After the summer break, the teams have returned to full swing towards the rundown to the finale in Abu Dhabi in November.

Fresh from his win at the Hungarian GP, Ricciardo didn’t have the best of qualifying with a third row start, a day prior to raceday. Qualifying session was entirely dominated by the Mercedes duo of current Drivers’ standings leader Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton. Four-time champion Sebastien Vettel led off the second row, followed by Fernando Alonso, then Ricciardo and the Williams of Valterri Bottas. The fourth and fifth rows were occupied by Kevin Magnussen, Kimi Raikkonen, Felipe Massa and Jenson Button.

Mercedes drivers take charge during the start of the F1 Belgium Grand Prix

Off the blocks, Hamilton slotted in front of the pack as he dispatched Vettel who edged Rosberg at the La Source corner. Rosberg soon regained second place as Vettel ran wide at the next corner. Next, the championship leader tried a little too hard to get ahead of team mate and ended up puncturing the lead Mercedes’ left rear tyre. Hamilton had to take the next course of action and was forced to work his way up to the field from nineteenth position on lap 4. At this point, Ricciardo had the fastest lap time and closed in on Vettel’s RB10 on lap 5. A lap later Ricciardo made an easy pass on Vettel for second place due to a mistake by the reigning champion. Meanwhile, Rosberg who drove with a damaged front wing led the Red Bull by just 1.1 seconds.

When Rosberg decided to stop on lap 8, Ricciardo assumed the head of the order and nailed a fastest lap on lap 10. The Red Bulls pitted on lap 11 and 12, with Vettel on lap 11 and Ricciardo later. Ricciardo would be the new race leader when the race proceedings normalized by lap 13. Meantime, Rosberg would take the opportunity to close right up to Vettel for third on lap 14, but couldn’t quite overtake the faster Red Bull.

On lap 16, Ricciardo set the fastest lap of the race again and led Kimi Raikkonen by 3.5 secs. The Williams of Bottas got to within striking distance of Vettel for third place on lap 18, after he dispatched Rosberg who had a big lock-up at the bus stop chicane turn. Hamilton pitted for a second time on this lap and it looked like another forthcoming retirement for the Mercedes driver. At mid-distance of the 44-lap race, some of the front runners would stop for new shods, but Ricciardo had chose to run until lap 28 to secure his race lead. After his interval, the Red Bull retook the track in second behind Bottas, momentarily. When Bottas came in for his stop, Ricciardo would have a clear track and the race lead from lap 29.

Rosberg, who made his final stop on lap 35, was immediately in the thick of the action with Raikkonen and Bottas at the Les Combes on his out lap. He overtook Bottas first, then Raikkonen at the incredible Eau Rouge stretch to go second. Third place battle would be between Raikkonen and Bottas, with Magnussen fifth and Alonso sixth. Rosberg went after Ricciardo next, but catching the Red Bull was all together another matter. Bottas bumped Raikkonen off third place at Les Combes on lap 39, and on this very lap, Hamilton was told to pit and retire with an aero. degradation issue.

In the last four laps, Rosberg did reduce Ricciardo’s lead margin but there’s still 8.4s to overcome. A flurry of overtaking action for P5 between Alonso, Button and Vettel on lap 42 sealed the highlight of the race. Vettel actually gained fifth place when Alonso ran wide trying to pass Magnussen on the penultimate lap. Up front, Ricciardo had a more-than-enough comfortable lead margin to confirm his third victory of the season and back-to-back win.

In post-race, Ricciardo commented, “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. It feels a bit surreal, but another win is very cool, very cool. It was difficult staying out at the end of the race. The last lap I found a couple more tenths, so I was having a bit of fun then!”

Rosberg felt a bit disappointed for not getting the win, “We had the pace to win but the incident cost us a top result, so I’m really disappointed because for the team it was a bad day.”

2014 Formula One World Championships Spa, Belgium results

1 Daniel Ricciardo RBR 1:24:36.556
2 Nico Rosberg Mercedes +3.3 secs
3 Valtteri Bottas Williams +28.0 secs
4 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari +36.8 secs
5 Sebastian Vettel RBR +52.1 secs
6 Jenson Button McLaren +54.5 secs
7 Fernando Alonso Ferrari +61.1 secs
8 Sergio Perez Force India +64.2 secs
9 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso +65.3 secs
10 Nico Hulkenberg Force India +65.6 secs
11 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso +71.9 secs
12 Kevin Magnussen McLaren +74.2 secs
13 Felipe Massa Williams +75.9 secs
14 Adrian Sutil Sauber +82.4 secs
15 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber +90.8 secs
16 Max Chilton Marussia +1 Lap
17 Marcus Ericsson Caterham +1 Lap

Qualifying (Q3)
1 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 2:05.591
2 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 2:05.819
3 Sebastian Vettel RBR 2:07.717
4 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 2:07.786
5 Daniel Ricciardo RBR 2:07.911 21
6 Valtteri Bottas Williams 2:08.049
7 Kevin Magnussen McLaren 2:08.679
8 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 2:08.780
9 Felipe Massa Williams 2:09.178
10 Jenson Button McLaren 2:09.776

Drivers’ standings
1 Nico Rosberg 220
2 Lewis Hamilton 191
3 Daniel Ricciardo 156
4 Fernando Alonso 121
5 Valtteri Bottas 110
6 Sebastian Vettel 98
7 Nico Hulkenberg 70
8 Jenson Button 68
9 Felipe Massa 40
10 Kimi Räikkönen 39
11 Kevin Magnussen 37
12 Sergio Perez 33
13 Jean-Eric Vergne 11
14 Romain Grosjean 8
15 Daniil Kvyat 8
16 Jules Bianchi 2

Constructors’ rankings
1 Mercedes 411
2 RBR 254
3 Ferrari 160
4 Williams 150
5 McLaren 105
6 Force India 103
7 Toro 19
8 Lotus 8
9 Marussia 2