Ricciardo holds off Rosberg for Belgian GP win

08/24/2014 7:50 AM

08/24/2014 10:46 AM

Spa, Belgium (SportsNetwork.com) - Daniel Ricciardo claimed his and Red Bull's third win of the 2014 Formula One season after he held off a hard-charging Nico Rosberg in the closing laps of Sunday's Belgian Grand Prix.

Rosberg survived early contact with his Mercedes teammate, Lewis Hamilton, to finish second and increase his lead in the F1 world championship point standings.

It's the second straight victory for Ricciardo. The 25-year old Australian took the checkered flag for the July 27 Hungarian Grand Prix. F1 had been on its "summer break" for the past three weekends. Ricciardo scored his maiden win in the June 8 Canadian Grand Prix.

"The first part of the race, we had pretty good pace," said Ricciardo, who's in his first season driving for Red Bull. "On lap 1, I actually had the inside of [Fernando] Alonso at [turn] five, but then I locked up and went off, so he got me back, and then I was able to get in front a few laps later. When Nico came in for a front wing change, we were able to get into the lead and then the pace was pretty good. We were happy with what we were doing, and the consistency was there, and we were making the tires last. It was just really up to me at the end to stay consistent and stay focused."

Rosberg started on the pole, but Hamilton quickly pulled ahead of him to take the lead on the opening lap. While battling for the top position on lap 2, both Mercedes drivers made contact. Hamilton suffered a punctured left-rear tire when Rosberg's front wing clipped it. Hamilton was forced to pit and fell to the back of the field.

"I got a good run on Lewis and tried to go around him on the outside, but unfortunately we touched in the end," Rosberg said. "That hurt both of our races. From a team point of view, of course, that's very disappointing. But that's the way it is."

Hamilton, who entered the 44-lap Belgian Grand Prix 11 points behind Rosberg, dealt with an ill-handling car from there on and ended up retiring with five laps to go. He is now 29 points behind his teammate.

"I'm gutted with the result, not just for my own championship hopes but for the team, as we really should've had a one-two finish today," Hamilton said. "I didn't fully understand what had happened until I saw the replay, but I gave (Rosberg) plenty of space, took the corner like I usually do and suddenly felt a big hit from behind. There was nothing I could do about it."

It was the third time that Hamilton was forced to retire in a grand prix this season.

"I wanted to retire the car early, not because I was giving up, but because I couldn't catch the people in front of me, and even with a safety car, I don't think I would have been able to pass them," he added. "The car was quite badly damaged, and my thoughts were to preserve the engine after the last one was destroyed in Hungary."

Rosberg last pitted on lap 35 and then charged through the field to take second shortly after. He chased down Ricciardo in the final laps but came up 3.4 seconds short at the finish.

With the win, Ricciardo moved to within 64 points of Rosberg. Seven grand prix remain this season. F1 will compete in Monza, Italy on Sept. 7.

"I see good things ahead," Ricciardo said. "If we can collect maximum points around here, it gives us a bit more hope for the circuits that are going to come later in the season - Singapore, Suzuka [Japan], just a couple to mention. Obviously, it's great. We're really motivated right now. It's been a really good day for us. We didn't expect to get maximum points from it, so it will keep us smiling for a while."

Valtteri Bottas from Williams finished third, while Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen had his best result of the season with a fourth-place run.

Sebastian Vettel, the four-time F1 world champion and Ricciardo's teammate, placed fifth. Vettel concluded the 2013 season by winning the last nine grand prix, a streak that began in Belgium.

McLaren's Kevin Magnussen originally finished sixth but was handed a 20-second post-race time penalty by the stewards for forcing Alonso, in a Ferrari, off the track during the penultimate lap. The penalty dropped Magnussen to 12th, and he was stripped of his eight points.

According to the stewards' report of the incident involving Magnussen and Alonso, "The driver of car 20 [Magnussen] was defending his position on the straight between turns 4 and 5. A significant portion of car 14 [Alonso] was alongside car 20. The driver of car 20 did not leave enough space for car 14 and forced the car off the track."

Magnussen's teammate, Jenson Button, was promoted to sixth-place, followed by Alonso and Sergio Perez from Force India. Toro Rosso's Daniil Kvyat and Perez's teammate, Nico Hulkenberg, completed the top-10.

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