Scuderia Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen finished fourth in the Belgian Grand Prix to secure his best result of the season so far, while team-mate Fernando Alonso salvaged a few points, in a race compromised before the start, when a problem on the F14 T meant his mechanics stayed on the grid too long and the Spaniard was given a stop-go penalty. He took the flag in eighth spot, but a post-race penalty for Magnussen moves him to seventh. With the Mercedes duo tripping each other up, the way was clear for Daniel Ricciardo in the Red Bull to take his third win of the season, joined on the podium by Nico Rosberg, second for Mercedes and Valtteri Bottas third in the Williams.
Fernando’s car would not start for the formation lap and the mechanics had to stay on the grid longer than allowed to sort the problem. After Vettel briefly split Hamilton and the slow starting Rosberg, it was back to a Mercedes one-two as the cars came through to end the opening lap. The internecine battle at Mercedes saw Rosberg clip the back of Hamilton’s car, giving the Englishman a puncture, which ruined his race.
From the leader to sixth-placed Kimi the gap was just 4 seconds on lap 7, with Bottas in the Williams passing Fernando on lap 8, so the two Ferraris were now running fifth and sixth. The stewards announced a stop-go penalty for Fernando for having his mechanics on the grid after the 15 second signal. Temporary leader Bottas came in on 12, along with Fernando to take on fresh rubber and to sit out his penalty. The Spaniard emerged in tenth place but soon got by Perez to go ninth. Kimi had got as high as second, benefiting from having pitted early, before making his final tyre change on lap 21. The second time, the early stop would work against him in the closing stages, as Rosberg and Bottas, on fresher rubber, both passed him to push the Ferrari man off the podium.
Fernando made his second stop on lap 25, taking on a set of Mediums and rejoining ninth. In the closing laps Fernando was caught up in a fight for fifth, behind Magnussen and ahead of Button and Vettel, the cars four abreast for a moment. The Ferrari man lost a position to Button but then got it back in the most exciting scrap of the race. Fernando then lost more places on the final lap, when the hectic scrap between world champions saw Vettel’s car remove most of Fernando’s front wing as the two men touched, which dropped him to seventh and then eighth as Button got by one more time. Magnussen’s moves on Fernando were later deemed irregular and the Dane was given a 20 second penalty, promoting the Ferrari man to seventh.
On a track where a lack of top speed for the F14 T was going to make for a difficult weekend, the actual performance level shown by Kimi and Fernando during the 44 laps was better than expected, proof that the team is making progress. It’s come at the right time with the all important home race next at Monza in a fortnight.
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