Hamilton podium sours Rosberg’s Belgian win
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[August 29, 2016]
By Abhishek Takle
SPA-FRANCORCHAMPS, Belgium, (Reuters) -
Nico Rosberg was handed a much-needed break in the Formula One title
battle which he duly converted by winning Sunday’s Belgian Grand
Prix, but victory could have tasted much sweeter for the German.
Rosberg went into the weekend knowing this was his race to lose.
Mercedes team mate and title rival Lewis Hamilton was set to start
at the back of the field after taking a planned series of
engine-related grid penalties. That gave Rosberg the perfect
opportunity to reignite his title challenge after a run of
lackluster form and make major inroads into the Briton’s 19-point
advantage in the standings.
Instead, he came away still trailing Hamilton by nine points after
the reigning triple world champion took full advantage of collisions
involving his rivals, race disruptions and some spectacular
overtaking, to finish a shock third. “I just saw at the end after
the checkered flag I looked at the results and I knew Daniel was
behind me and then I see Hamilton in third,” said Rosberg, who
cruised to a comfortable win from pole-position in a chaotic race
ahead of Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo.
“I was like ‘What, seriously?’. I don’t know what happened, I
haven’t looked at the details, but for sure he must have done a
great job.” Rosberg, runner-up to Hamilton in 2014 and last year,
opened the season with four wins in the first four races. He led
Hamilton by 43 points following May’s Spanish Grand Prix, but has
steadily lost ground to his former childhood friend who blitzed to
six wins from seven races leading up to the Belgian Grand Prix.
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Mercedes' Nico Rosberg of Germany (C) celebrates on the podium with
Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton of Britain (R) and Red Bull's Daniel
Ricciardo of Australia (L) after the Belgian F1 Grand Prix.
The race at Spa-Francorchamps was Rosberg’s one "free race", as
Hamilton referred to it, in which the Briton was set to serve his
long-pending engine-related penalties. With the championship now
heading to Monza for the Italian Grand Prix, before the Asian leg
which Hamilton has dominated the last two years, Rosberg was asked
if he had hoped to come away with more from Sunday’s race.
“That’s not what I’m focusing on," he told reporters. “I came here,
Belgian Grand Prix, and I wanted to win it. So, just happy it worked
out, perfect weekend for me.” Hamilton, meanwhile, who now has three
new engines, was upbeat. “Definitely things have happened in the
right way in that second quarter of the season and to go into the
break 19 points ahead and now only lose 10 today… I’ll take it,” he
(Editing by Ed Osmond)
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