The end of Formula 1’s 25-day summer break means a return to the 4.4-mile, 19-turn forested thrills of Spa Francorhamps for the Belgian Grand Prix. Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull Racing-Renault) led the chase for his fourth consecutive championship by 38 points over Kimi Raikkonen (Lotus-Renault) coming into the race. The oft-changing weather at Spa during grid formation was cloudy but dry.
Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) won the pole, with Vettel starting next to him, the third consecutive race to feature that front-row combination. Red Bull and Mercedes also locked down Row 2, with Mark Webber starting P3 and Nico Rosberg P4. Raikkonen slotted in at P8 and Fernando Alonso (Ferrari), third in championship points just 1 behind the Finn, started P9.
Hamilton and Vettel held first and second through the first series of corners, with Rosberg moving into P3, Jenson Button (McLaren-Mercedes) P4, and Alonso P5 as Webber faded. Vettel passed Hamilton exiting Eau Rouge, however, and opened up a 1.4-sec lead by the end of Lap 1, doubling it as Lap 3 began. Alonso passed Button to take fourth during Lap 4. Webber passed Button for P5 two laps later.
Raikkonen retired during Lap 26 (of 44) with brake issues, ending his record streak of 27 consecutive finishes in the points. Felipe Massa (Ferrari) passed Raikkonen’s teammate Romain Grosjean for P7 during Lap 40 and held that spot to the end. Alonso meanwhile worked his way from fifth into second, but finished 16.8 sec behind Vettel.
Hamilton and Rosberg brought their Mercedes home in third and fourth, followed by Button and Webber. Daniel Ricciardo (Toro Rosso-Ferrari) helped bolster talk of his succeeding Webber at Red Bull in 2014 by finishing in the points (P10) after having started P19.