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Winners and Losers - Belgium

24 Aug 2015

Sunday’s 2015 Formula 1 Shell Belgian Grand Prix threw up another thrilling afternoon’s racing, with the podium line-up only determined in the dying stages and the fight for points going all the way to the flag. The new start procedures saw some big gains and losses off the line, and differing tyre strategies prompted some late-race drama, with Lotus profiting from Ferrari’s misfortune. We take a team-by-team look back at the action…

Mercedes

Lewis Hamilton, P1
Nico Rosberg, P2

Mercedes were right back on form at Spa, so much so that after the halfway point their engines were turned down. It was a tour de force that confirmed that Ferrari still have a way to go before they can challenge them consistently. Hamilton made a great start and led virtually throughout. Rosberg, however, fumbled his start with too much wheelspin and had to fight back up from fifth. Having done so he kept Hamilton honest with a series of blistering laps, but the world champion was always in control as he scored his 39th victory and equalled idol Ayrton Senna’s 80 podium finishes.

Lotus

Romain Grosjean, P3
Pastor Maldonado, Retired lap 3, power loss

Grosjean drove a superb race, helped by great strategy during the Virtual Safety Car deployment. He always looked good for a podium shot and was really pressuring Vettel when the Ferrari suffered its tyre failure. Third place was a brilliant and sorely needed result for Lotus, and very well deserved. It also made up for Maldonado dropping out early on with power unit problems.

Red Bull

Daniil Kvyat, P4
Daniel Ricciardo, Retired lap 20, electrics

Kvyat had another strong drive, clawing his way to fourth on softs in his final stint, but Ricciardo’s great start and strong first-stint performance came to nought when his RB11 stopped exiting the Bus Stop due to electrical failure on his 20th lap.

Force India

Sergio Perez, P5
Nico Hulkenberg, Retired on the grid, power loss

Perez led the race for a fraction of a second running up to Les Combes after making a brilliant start, but had to cede it to Hamilton who had the inside line. The Mexican was on great form, but heavy tyre wear in the first stint and a slight lack of overall pace prevented him staying so high and he finished a nonetheless impressive fifth. Hulkenberg should have been with him, but suffered power loss on the first grid formation lap. He was told to pit, then to stay out, but when the problem recurred on the grid, the first start had to be aborted and his car was retired.

Williams

Felipe Massa, P6
Valtteri Bottas, P9

Williams should have done a lot better than sixth and ninth, but inexplicably three softs and a medium tyre were fitted to Bottas’ FW37 in his first stop. He got a drive-through penalty as a result. Up until then both cars had struggled on the softs - Massa labelled it a 'disaster' - and by the time they got on to mediums they had lost too much ground to do any better.

Ferrari

Kimi Raikkonen, P7
Sebastian Vettel, P12

Ferrari found themselves fighting with Williams, Force India, Red Bull and Toro Rosso, but seemed to have gambled well on a single-stop strategy for Vettel which required him to run 29 laps on medium tyres. He was running third, under intense pressure from Grosjean, when his right-rear Pirelli exploded through wear with a lap to go. Raikkonen at least finished, but couldn’t better seventh. Not a great day for the Scuderia or for Vettel's outside title hopes, and a brutally stark contrast to Hungary.

Toro Rosso

Max Verstappen, P8
Carlos Sainz, Retired lap 33, engine conservation

Toro Rosso effectively lost Sainz early on because of power loss problems on the grid formation lap, and later withdrew him to save engine mileage. But Verstappen was in blistering form as he recovered from his gearbox-change penalty, and pulled off a stunning pass on Nasr around the outside at Blanchimont. He also overtook Raikkonen late in the race at Les Combes, but slid wide and dropped back again. But his was among the performances of the race and one that again underlined the effectiveness of James Key’s STR10.

Sauber

Marcus Ericsson, P10
Felipe Nasr, P11

Ericsson lost time early on when debris hampered his C34’s aerodynamic performance, but once that was cleared in his first pit stop he was able to run hard to take the final point. Nasr had problems with his brakes and a slow puncture, but followed him home.

McLaren

Fernando Alonso, P13
Jenson Button, P14

This was a dire race for McLaren in which Honda’s latest Mk3 version of their power unit failed to produce the goods. Despite a stellar start from Alonso - he started 20th and was 14th by the end of lap 1 - both drivers ultimately struggled, with Button hit badly by intermittent ERS deployment.

Marussia

Roberto Merhi, P15
Will Stevens, P16

Once again Merhi led Stevens home in 15th and 16th places after a race-long battle, the Englishman suffering from damage sustained in the first corner when he got pinched between two cars after making a strong start.