Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo put himself in title contention, as he claimed his second successive Grand Prix win of the Formula 1 season with victory in the Belgium GP at the Spa-Francorchamps on Sunday. The Australian is now just 64 points adrift of championship leader Nico Rosberg, who finished second.
Ricciardo benefited from Mercedes' second lap debacle, when Rosberg clipped the left-rear tyre of teammate Lewis Hamilton's car. Rosberg lost the side plate of his front wing, while Hamilton, who was leading the race, faced a puncture and had to pit.
The puncture blew Hamilton's hopes of clinching a win, which he fancied after racing past his teammate on the main straight in the first lap. Rosberg, however, after losing the race lead, made a desperate attempt of passing Hamilton but the move turned into disaster at Les Combes.
Rosberg, meanwhile, managed to recover from the incident and claimed second position, but Hamilton was forced to retire because of body work damage he sustained while driving his punctured Mercedes.
"I am gutted with the result - not just for my own Championship hopes but for the team, as we really should have had a one-two today," Hamilton explained. "It's been a tough year for everyone and the whole team has been working so hard - every time we've been knocked down they've never given up."
"I didn't fully understand what had happened until I saw the replay just now, but I gave him plenty of space, took the corner like I usually do and suddenly felt a big hit from behind."
Regardless of the Hamilton-Rosberg lap incident, which overshadowed the grand prix, Ricciardo drove an error free race and made most of the opportunities that came his way. He, however, faced a strong challenge from Rosberg, who slashed Aussie's lead to just 4.3 seconds in the dying stages.
Ricciardo had a 21.6 second advantage over Rosberg on Lap 35, but the German pitted for new prime tyres and cut down the lead to less than five seconds, with two laps remaining. However, the Australian managed to keep the Silver Arrows at bay and clinched his third win of the season.
"I see good things ahead if we can collect maximum points around here," Ricciardo said. "It gives us a bit more hope for the circuits that are going to come later in the season, Singapore, Suzuka, just a couple to mention.
"It is great! We are really motivated right now and it has been a really good day for us on a track where we didn't expect to get maximum points."
Meanwhile, Williams' Valtteri Bottas made most of the dry conditions and clinched the final podium position, while his teammate Felipe Massa finished in a disappointing 13th place. Kimi Raikkonen was fourth, followed by Sebastian Vettel, Jenson Button and Fernando Alonso.
Force India managed to recover from their nightmare qualifying and registered a double points finish, with Sergio Perez finishing in eighth, while Nico Hulkenberg, after starting from 18th on the grid, claiming the final championship point available for the race.