The Inside Line: Mercedes duo ride their luck

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Rosberg and Hamilton.

Yes, we’re the first ones to say it – both Mercedes drivers got lucky in Spa. Nico Rosberg won his 20th Grand Prix because of Lewis Hamilton’s grid penalties. In the same breath, we’ve got to agree that Hamilton was lucky to make it to the podium (from P21) thanks to the Safety Car period and the red flag.

Though we wonder why Lewis Hamilton didn’t win the 44th lap Grand Prix, if 44 is his lucky number! Only nine points separate the duo, which way will the remainder of the season go?

Formula One returned after the summer break with a bang at Spa – it was a race of collisions and crashes (mostly into Ferraris). Was Vettel at fault at the first corner? Vettel should have a ‘How to Overtake Max Verstappen’ class with mandatory attendance for Raikkonen.

Max Verstappen has been accused of dangerous driving, but of course the FIA won’t do anything about it. He’s THE crowd puller, at the moment. Though Niki Lauda believes that Max needs to visit a psychiatrist!

Lauda says that he will call Jos if Max does not listen – Parent Teacher Meeting for the teenager in Monza? Also, did the young sensation not win the ‘Driver of the Day’ in Spa because his entire Orange Army was at the race track? Of course, Hamilton did find support in his Barmy Army.

There’s a lot of Formula 1 to absorb in the Inside Line podcast this week, all of which you can hear below.

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Hamilton's recovery shocked Rosberg

F1i 18:30 30/08/2016
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Taken by surprise: Nico Rosberg

Lewis Hamilton started from 21st on the grid as a result of power unit penalties, with Toto Wolff expecting a difficult race for the championship leader as Mercedes had struggled with its tyres throughout the weekend.

However, a chaotic opening lap and fortunate red flag period helped promote Hamilton to fifth after the opening ten laps, with the triple world champion going on to finish third.

Asked if he was surprised Hamilton was as high as fifth when the race was restarted on lap 10, race-winner Nico Rosberg admits the final result I surprised him.

“[P5 after the red flag] I didn’t see,” Rosberg said. “I just saw the result at the end and I saw that Daniel was behind me and HAM was in P3 and I was like ‘What?! Seriously?’ But I didn’t know until after the race where he was.”

Despite his surprise, Rosberg insists he does not feel disappointed that he is leaving Belgium having only taken ten points out of Hamilton’s championship lead.

“That’s not what I’m focusing on. I came to the Belgium Grand Prix wanting to win it and the opposition was unusually close this weekend. Not eventually in the race, but up until then they were very close, but it worked out with a perfect weekend for me and Lewis did a great job to finish third.”

Hamilton’s 60-place grid penalty was mainly a result of taking three new power units, leaving him with more available than Rosberg is due to have this season, but the German does not see it as an advantage for his team-mate.

“I don’t think about it in that way, but I’m aware of it yes. But he had the big disadvantage today, so I don’t think about it in that way and I’m just focusing on my thing and that’s it. I don’t think it will make a big difference after this.”

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What we learned from the Belgian GP

Sport360 staff 09:24 30/08/2016
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Attention now turns to Monza.

We reflect on an action packed Belgian Grand Prix and the five major talking points from the race.

Which moments stood out for you and who do you think will end up victorious in the two championships?

Share with us your thoughts by commenting below, using #360fans on Twitter or getting in touch via Facebook.

HAMILTON KEEPS DAMAGE TO A MINIMUM

After storming from the back of the pack to third place, Hamilton jumped on his private jet and headed to London. He spent the evening playing with his dogs Roscoe and Coco in Regent’s Park before heading out to dinner with his mother Carmen Lockhart. The 31-year-old was sporting a broad grin, and who could blame him? Hamilton has long feared the engine penalties – which have been looming over him since the opening rounds of the season – would derail his bid to win a third consecutive title. But after losing only 10 points to Rosberg following a superb recovery drive, the Englishman still remains in charge of his own destiny. Yet, after his brilliant showing at Spa, Hamilton admitted he was not anticipating such a strong result. “If you go into Christmas Day expecting stuff, at some stage you are going to be disappointed that you got shoelaces instead of a car,” said Hamilton. “That is how I am.”

BITTERSWEET DAY FOR ROSBERG

Not for the first time in his career, Hamilton’s heroics left Rosberg in the shade – despite sealing his sixth victory of the season. The German attempted to remain upbeat after the race, taking a behind-the-scenes podium selfie with Hamilton and Daniel Ricciardo while joking that he could not believe Hamilton had finished third. “I saw ‘HAM’ in P3 and I was like, ‘What?’ ‘Seriously?’,” Rosberg said. A brave face perhaps, but the German will know that Hamilton’s grid penalty was his golden opportunity to take a hefty chunk out of his rival’s title lead. Reducing the deficit by just 10 points will be considered somewhat of a failure.

MAGNUSSEN’S FORTUNATE ESCAPE

Kevin Magnussen expects to take part in this week’s Italian GP despite a harrowing crash in Belgium. The Danish
driver lost control of his Renault through Eau Rouge at 180mph before crashing into a tyre wall. Mercifully, he emerged with only a cut to his ankle. Renault team principal Fred Vasseur said: “I have the feeling he had huge wheelspin on the kerb, but let’s see about the reasons. We have to take time to analyse exactly what has happened.”

FRUSTRATION FOR BUTTON

Jenson Button will want to forget what could be his final appearance in an F1 car in Belgium. The 2009 world champion, who is fighting for his future in the sport, was punted out of the race in the opening exchanges by the Manor of Pascal Wehrlein. “We looked really good for points, so it’s disappointing,” said Button, who started from ninth. “Pascal made contact with me at Turn Five. There was a lot of damage.”

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