Ricciardo eases to victory at Spa

Red Bull celebrate 50th Formula One win; Rosberg tightens grip

Ricciardo eases to victory at Spa

Nico Rosberg rode his luck to open up a clear 29-points championship advantage over Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton on Sunday when he finished second behind triumphant Australian Daniel Ricciardo in the Belgian Grand Prix.

Ricciardo, of Red Bull, won with a bold and well-judged drive in a dramatic race that saw Hamilton lead from the start, but suffer a second-lap puncture following a collision with Rosberg.

It was Red Bull's 50th win in Formula One and a beaming Ricciardo was hailed with cheers, while Rosberg was booed by the crowd at the end of the race. It appeared that Hamilton was the victim of a misjudged passing move by the German.

The damage wrecked his race and may have ruined his title bid with seven of this year's 19 races remaining.

"I have apologized to Lewis. A bad result for Lewis and a bad result for the Mercedes team," said Mercedes team chief Niki Lauda.

After struggling to regain his momentum, the 29-year-old Briton retired with four of the 44 laps remaining leaving Rosberg content to take his first podium finish in Belgium at the eighth attempt. He came 3.3 seconds behind the beaming Ricciardo.

It was Ricciardo's third win in six races in his first season with Red Bull since succeeding fellow Australian Mark Webber as teammate to four-time champion German Sebastian Vettel, who came home fifth. "Nico hit me, Nico hit me!" said an incredulous Hamilton.

Hamilton was forced to limp back to the pits with a puncture and, after his stop, rejoined in 19th position while Rosberg battled on with half his front wing missing until he pitted from the lead after eight laps.

It was clear he was struggling for outright pace and, following his stop, the aggressive Ricciardo took control at the front before he pitted after 12 laps and handed the lead to Bottas.

By lap 20, Ricciardo led Raikkonen, Vettel and Bottas with Magnussen fifth, Alonso sixth and Button seventh. Perez was eighth ahead of Rosberg and a luckless Hamilton down in 17th after making two pit stops.

All this left the young Australian out in front with 15 laps remaining, having driven flawlessly to head the field and leave Red Bull teammate Vettel struggling in his wake and unable to resist Bottas on lap 30. Rosberg stayed second ahead of Raikkonen, a four-time winner at Spa.

Force India stutter

Sergio Perez scored his first points but that could not prevent Sahara Force India from slipping to sixth place in the team standings. A ninth place finish for Perez resulted in two points for India, taking their tally to 100 after 12 rounds.

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