Nico Rosberg returned to winning ways with a serene victory at an otherwise chaotic Belgian Grand Prix. The German’s Mercedes team mate Lewis Hamilton started from the back but managed third behind Daniel Ricciardo.
Rosberg’s debut win in Belgium and his sixth of the season narrowed the gap to championship leader Hamilton to nine points with eight rounds remaining.
The German triumphed in the first four races of the year, before Briton Hamilton won six of the last eight.
“It’s been a great weekend, very happy of course,” Rosberg said. “And of course congrats to Lewis. Last to third must have been some drive.”
Rosberg started from pole at the Spa-Francorchamps circuit and was leading when the race was temporarily halted after nine laps following a high-speed crash by Renault’s Kevin Magnussen.
The Dane lost control of his car as he crested the fast uphill sweep of the Eau Rouge corner and slammed violently into the barriers.
Magnussen limped away from the mangled wreckage and was taken to a clinic for medical checks. Renault later said he had a small cut on an ankle but looked to be okay otherwise.
There had been a chaotic start to the race in which Red Bull's Max Verstappen, second on the grid, and the Ferraris of Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel collided at the first corner. German Vettel eventually finished sixth, with Raikkonen of Finland ninth, while Verstappen was 13th, much to the disappointment of thousands of the Dutchman's fans thronging the circuit.
Hamilton, who had incurred multiple grid penalties over the weekend for extra engine part changes, avoided the carnage at the start and gained places when the race was restarted after Magnussen’s smash.
“I just want to say a big thanks to everyone,” Hamilton said. “Just an incredible race. I think today I was on it, I was sharp. They predicted I would get eighth so that's a big bonus to come out here with three new engines and only a 10-point penalty."
Verstappen had a couple of run-ins with Raikkonen after the restart and later dismissed the Finn's criticism of his driving at Spa as "a big lie".
"I was defending my position - if someone doesn't like it that's their problem," Verstappen said. "It's ridiculous. It's good TV if someone is moaning, but especially after (the first corner) when they do something like that I'm not going to give up my position easily."
Verstappen's Red Bull team mate Ricciardo was delighted with his second-place finish having also made the podium in the previous two races in Germany and Hungary. The Australian is third in the driver standings on 151 points, with Hamilton on 232 and Rosberg on 223.
The teams now head to Monza for next weekend’s Italian Grand Prix.