Daniel Ricciardo rose above the ballyhoo around him to enjoy the celebrations after he delivered Red Bull a 50th F1 victory.
It also made him the first Australian winner of the Belgian GP since Jack Brabham in 1960. The win was his third in six races and moved him to within reach of mounting a title challenge in the final races of the year.
His victory came after the two McLaren drivers, championship leader Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton, crashed into each other on the second lap. Ricciardo is now just 35 points behind Hamilton and 64 adrift of Rosberg.
Ricciardo said: “There was a bit of pressure, though it probably looked a bit easier because I had the lead early on and I just kept it.
“We couldn’t really rest though because I knew Nico Rosberg would be quick at the end, but we held on and it was nice to taste the Champagne again.”
Reflecting on his rapid progress in his first season at Red Bull, he said: “It couldn’t have gone better considering everything that’s happened, especially during pre-season. It’s been awesome and I have enjoyed every moment of it. Monza will be challenging, but if Mercedes slip up then we will be there to capitalise.”
His Red Bull team chief Christian Horner said: “Ultimately we benefited from the Mercedes’ little gettogether, but in like-for-like pace we were not far off them.”
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Lewis Hamilton has sensationally claimed Nico Rosberg deliberately crashed into him in yesterday’s controversial Belgian Grand Prix.
The incident occurred on lap two of the race at Spa-Francorchamps, with Hamilton leading after passing Mercedes team-mate and polesitter Rosberg off the line.
Approaching the right-hander at Les Combes at the end of the Kemmel Straight, Rosberg attempted a passing manoeuvre on Hamilton, only to seemingly back out.
In doing so, it resulted in contact between the two for the first time, with Rosberg’s right front-wing endplate clipping Hamilton’s left rear tyre. It created a puncture that resulted in a long three-mile return back to the pits for Hamilton, ultimately wrecking his race in which he retired at the end of lap 39 of 44.
As for Rosberg, he went on to claim second place behind eventual winner Daniel Ricciardo and has now opened up a 29-point cushion over Hamilton with seven races left.
The incident resulted in a heated, angry meeting between Hamilton, Rosberg, Mercedes motorsport boss Toto Wolff, technical executive director Paddy Lowe and nonexecutive chairman Niki Lauda.
Following the meeting, Hamilton dropped a bombshell when he said: “We just had a meeting about it and he basically said he did it on purpose. He said he did it on purpose.
“He said he could have avoided it. He basically said ‘I did it to prove a point’, and you don’t have to just rely on me. Go and ask Toto, Paddy and all those guys who are not happy with him as well.”
Mercedes motorsport boss Toto Wolff later made it clear Rosberg was at fault as he opted not to move line.
“Nico felt he needed to hold his line. He needed to make a point, but for Lewis (from his perspective), it was clearly not him who needed to be aware of Nico,” said Wolff.
“He (Rosberg) didn’t give in. He thought it was for Lewis to leave him space, and that Lewis didn’t leave him space.
“So they agreed to disagree in a very heated discussion amongst ourselves, but it wasn’t deliberately That is nonsense. It was deliberately taking into account that if Lewis moves or would open up then it could end up in a crash.”
Asked as to what he made of one of his drivers who wanted to make a point to his team mate, Wolff replied: “The incident, as I see it, is not acceptable for us. What we saw there was that Nico was not prepared to take the exit, and that caused the collision. That is not something we want to happen.”
Prior to the meeting Wolff had suggested the possibility team orders would now be imposed, and even the prospect of taking action against Rosberg, who was jeered onto the podium.
“We’ve not hit the self-destruct button yet, but there is a lot at stake,” added Wolff.
“If you don’t manage this properly now it could end up at that point. “It’s one thing enjoying great races and letting them fight with each other, but you look like a fool at the end of the season if you have not won anything.
“I’m extremely upset about what’s happened today.”
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.
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.
Rosberg – who finished second – heard loud booing from spectators as he took his place on the podium before saying: "I got a good run on Lewis and tried to go around the outside.
"But we touched, which hurt both of our races, which from a team point of view is very disappointing."
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."