Lewis Hamilton claimed yet another win ahead of Valtteri Bottas and Max Verstappen but Aussie Daniel Ricciardo has snatched an all-important extra point with the fastest lap despite finishing fourth.
Ricciardo was fighting all the way to the end, making up huge ground over the final few laps, cutting the deficit to the podium from 15 seconds with five laps remaining, to just three and a half seconds to Max Verstappen.
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As the drivers ahead of him complained about tyre issues, Ricciardo appeared to get stronger towards the end of the race, pulling off the fastest lap of the race in the final lap and earning an extra point in the drivers’ championship.
It’s the first time Ricciardo’s claimed the fastest lap since the 2018 Hungarian Grand Prix.
It was a great day for Renault with Ricciardo’s teammate Esteban Ocon finishing fifth. With 23 points on the day, it was the most points for Renault in a race and the first time the team’s had a fastest lap since Robert Kubica in Montreal in 2010.
Despite a bit of frustration over what could have been if the race was longer, Ricciardo was in good spirits after crossing the line.
“Ha ha ha ha, I was f***ing pushing,” he said over team radio. “I f***ing sent that last lap.”
Ricciardo was a nagging presence all race for the leaders, having a first lap tangle with Verstappen as both drivers sent each other wide after driving wheel-to-wheel.
He then made it uncomfortable for the Mercedes’ and Verstappen late, with all three complaining of the issues with their tyres.
In fact, Hamilton lost grip going through the final corner with seven laps remaining and Valtteri Bottas did the same with five laps remaining.
Ricciardo finished the strongest after a one-stop when the safety car emerged following a crash between Alfa Romeo’s Antonio Giovinazzi and Williams’ George Russell on the 11th lap.
Giovinazzi lost control and crashed into the wall, before sliding across the track with his wheel flying off and hitting Williams’ George Russell with both men taken out of the race.
Both men walked away from the incident.
Sky Sports commentator David Croft said Ricciardo was unlucky the race wasn’t another two laps as it may have been all he needed to get on the podium.
However, it was still a great day for Ricciardo, even dropping in on McLaren driver Lando Norris’ Sky Sports interview.
As it probably breached the social distancing protocols, the Sky Sports moved Norris on, with Ricciardo saying “Let me have today, let me have this moment” as his future McLaren teammate dismounted the interview stage.
Karun Chandhok said: “You guys are going to hug it out next year.”
Ricciardo added: “We’ll probably hate each other after Melbourne.”
Sky’s Simon Lazenby said it was so close for Ricciardo to take a shot at third, with talk immediately going to the bet Ricciardo and Renault team principal Cyril Abiteboul have that if the Aussie gets a podium, his boss will have to get a tattoo.
“I feel our podium this year, if it happens, when it happens, is going to be overshadowed by a tattoo,” he said. “We’re going to be spraying champagne and it’ll all be about a tattoo.”
Chandhok said with a fast track in Monza coming up next week and the Renault performance at Spa, Ricciardo might need to look out for a tattoo artist in Milan.
“We had a lot of pace,” he said. “I got a little bit frustrated by Gasly and Perez’ stategy (they stayed out on the safety car), it put a buffer between Max and myself on the restart so without that, I genuinely think we could have stayed with him on the hards. Whether we could have passed I don’t know but we could have had a much better chance.
“I honestly felt the pin was out as soon as I passed Gasly. I wasn’t really leaving anything on the table, then the last lap I put everything into it but that wasn’t sustainable to hit those laps for much longer so I feel I used everything.”
Speaking about the early battle with Verstappen, Ricciardo didn’t hold back, putting the pressure on his former teammate.
“I was trying to overtake and if he passed me later than so be it but it wasn’t worth putting myself out in the first few corners,” he said. “I was there and I was trying but keeping that one per cent of maturity and discipline in me.”
Post-race, Verstappen wasn’t happy and said “it was pretty boring”.
“There wasn’t much to do. I couldn’t really keep up with the Mercedes,” he said. “It was not really enjoyable out there today.”
Sky Sports’ Martin Brundle asked Verstappen about how annoying Ricciardo had been throughout the race with the Dutchman unable to open a 20 second gap to maintain his position with a pit stop.
“I wasn’t sure with their top speed if it would be easy to pass, so we’ll just stay out,” he said. “I think was was very close to a puncture.”
BELGIAN GRAND PRIX STARTING GRID
1st: Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)
2nd: Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes)
3rd: Max Verstappen (Red Bull)
4th: Daniel Ricciardo (Renault)
5th: Esteban Ocon (Renault)
6th: Alexander Albon (Red Bull)
7th: Lando Norris (McLaren)
8th: Pierre Gasly (AlphaTauri)
9th: Lance Stroll (Racing Point)
10th: Sergio Perez (Racing Point)
Alfa Romeo’s Antonio Giovinazzi has suffered a huge crash, with his wheel flying off and hitting Williams’ George Russell.
Both men are out of the race after the huge smash which saw Giovinazzi’s car smoking heavily.
It was a crazy incident and Russell appeared to be shaken by the incident.
“I’m ok,” he said sighing. “Nowhere I could go there.”
Luckily both men walked away from the smash but again, a wheel came loose.
“You do not want to see a wheel flying across the track – especially with some suspension attached to it,” David Croft said.
“Fantastic to see the drivers walking away from that kind of impact.”
Now most drivers got a free pit in as well, but had to drive through the debris.
It will be an interesting battle ahead but it could also see the race peter out as well short of a puncture or another unfortunate driver mistake.
The same old story is unfolding with Hamilton, Bottas and Verstappen opening up a lead at the front after 8 laps.
But there may be some trouble in paradise as Bottas felt he had a chance to take the lead from his teammate.
“We have one push, no?” Bottas asked, probably asking for more engine modes to catch Hamilton.
The reply: “We do, but we agreed not to use it against each other.”
Bottas: “I never heard that.”
The problem is Bottas is just going to lose the championship with a whimper without doing something more drastic.
Martin Brundle’s solution?
“I think Bottas should destabilise Lewis Hamilton somehow,” he said.
“Especially with the team saying we’re not using the engine mode to challenge each other.”
Daniel Ricciardo has given old teammate Max Verstappen a first lap fright as the Renault went wheel to wheel with the Red Bull.
Both drivers pushed each other off the track but it was just glorious racing.
Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc has pulled up five places into the top 10, while Pierre Gasly has moved up four places.
Lets hope the race continues like this.
Before the race has even started, there is drama with McLaren’s Carlos Sainz out of the race after an exhaust issue on the way to the grid.
Sainz was set to start on the fourth row of the grid but has already changed out of his race overalls.
“It’s a real shame because he had a car he was confident with in these race conditions,” Sky Sports’ Karun Chandhok said. “He’s very good on tyre management – so it’s bitterly disappointing for him and the team.”
Similarly, Martin Brundle added: “Carlos is having one of those years where if it can go wrong, it does go wrong. He’s driving beautifully.
“We don’t have spare cars any more! It’s a great shame, it strikes me he’s had a turbo issue somewhere.
“There’s not a snowball’s chance in hell they can fix that before the race.”
Daniel Ricciardo has his best ever qualifying for the Belgian Grand Prix with stunning fourth to sit on the second row of the grid.
After a stunning performance on the weekend, he pulled out a brilliant qualifying lap despite issues with his brake by wire system in Q2.
But speaking to Sky Sports, Ricciardo said he believed he could hold off the Mercedes and Red Bulls if he could get ahead.
“I think the start of the race we have a real opportunity and I think I could defend for a while if I had to so that‘s the plan,” he said. “Try and go a few better on the start and elbows out.”
But speaking on Channel 4 F1, David Coulthard said he didn’t believe when it came to the race that Ricciardo would be as competitive as he had been on the one lap pace.
“Great qualifying from Renault,” he said. “This circuit really opened up their performance window. But Daniel knows that Red Bull is faster… I don’t think he’s going to risk all at the first corner to just get a bit of short term glory in front of Max.”
The wait for a podium – at tattoo for Renault team principal Cyril Abiteboul – may have to continue.
Then again, Ricciardo is impressed with his speed this weekend so far.
“Second row, it’s only my second second row with Renault, so it’s a big result for us,” Ricciardo said to F1.com. “Even looking at the times we did here last year, we’re a lot faster. It felt fun. When it’s hooked up, especially through the second sector, it’s fast and flowing. I think I was purple in the third sector, it’s been a while since we’ve had one of those.”