Sidepodcast - All for F1 and F1 for all

Race highlights - Belgium 2016 - Chaotic start in Spa to post-summer break racing

Published by Christine

Sainz has tyre trouble in Belgium
Credit: Charles Coates/Getty

The drivers only had four weeks off over the summer, but it felt like they were all starting from scratch again this weekend. The high temperatures and tyre pressures meant no one was quite sure how strategies were going to unfold, and there was plenty of jostling for position throughout the race. After first corner chaos, one red flag period, a high speed crash and another round of Räikkönen versus Verstappen, we finally managed to get the race finished and another three drivers soaked in champagne.

If you missed any of the action or want to catch up on the race lap by lap, then read on for the replay of the Factbyte Factbox coverage of the Belgian Grand Prix.

As it happened: Belgium 2016 - The race

  • 12:16

    Hello fact fans, how have you all been over the lengthy summer break? Well, forget all about that because F1 is back, it's in Belgium and it's brilliant!

  • 12:18

    Spa-Francorchamps is always well loved for its fearsome challenge and the fact it often delivers spectacular racing. And today, we've got two of the best drivers on the grid starting from the back of the pack with it all to do, so we could see fireworks.

  • 12:19
    Circuit Data
    Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps
    Local timezone+02:00 GMT
    First race1950
    Number of laps44
    Circuit length7.004km
    Race distance308.052km
    Start offset0.124km
  • 12:20

    Esteban Ocon is making his F1 debut here this weekend, and whilst he has done a reasonable job for the Manor team so far, all eyes are on Pascal Wehrlein who managed to get into Q2, he tweeted: "Amazing Q1 today!! unfortunately had no new tyres left for Q2 - confident for the race."

  • 12:21
    Medium tyreMedium
    Soft tyreSoft
    Supersoft tyreSupersoft

    Three tyre compounds available for the drivers this weekend, although there have been complaints about the tyres. Jenson Button has been particularly vocal that the higher tyre pressures Pirelli are mandating are meaning the rubber doesn't last anywhere near as long as expected.

  • 12:22

    QuoteMax Verstappen, who has a supportive crowd in his sort of home race, is starting on the front row of the grid today: "It’s something very special. It gives you goosebumps to hear them cheering you on. It gave me motivation already yesterday, and it gives me more motivation today. It’s going to be hard, I’m on the more aggressive strategy, we’ll see how it pans out. I have to stop earlier but then you’re on the new set to try and catch up a bit. We’ll see."

  • 12:25
    Starting grid
    1N RosbergMercedes
    2M VerstappenRed Bull
    3K RäikkönenFerrari
    4S VettelFerrari
    5D RicciardoRed Bull
    6S PérezForce India
    7N HülkenbergForce India
    8V BottasWilliams
    9J ButtonMcLaren
    10F MassaWilliams
  • 12:27

    The FIA have confused the issue a little by handing out a penalty that would force Lewis Hamilton to start from the pitlane, however that appears to have been incorrect. Mercedes are saying Hamilton will be on the grid, albeit at the back!

  • 12:29

    TweetTweet from @MercedesAMGF1: It's almost that time folks! Laps to the grid incoming shortly! Get the kettle on and settle down... We're all set for a classic #BelgianGP!

  • 12:30

    And the pit lane opens, allowing drivers to head out for their installation laps and to claim their spot on the grid.

  • 12:34

    What's interesting about the Mercedes battle this weekend is that Hamilton always knew he was going to have to take engine related penalties and he's chosen to do it here as there's a good chance of overtaking. But he had all the momentum before the summer break, winning four races in a row and taking over the championship lead. Can Rosberg switch things up with a win today? How will things stand in two hours' time?

  • 12:39
    Fastest Session Times
    Free Practice 1N Rosberg1:48.348
    Free Practice 2M Verstappen1:48.085
    Free Practice 3K Räikkönen1:47.974
    QualifyingN Rosberg1:46.744
  • 12:40

    QuotePaul Hembery, Pirelli motorsport boss: "Three, maybe two stops. It’s hot, I think I’ve been here 50 times over the years, and I’ve never seen this temperature. The teams have their free choice of the tyres, a lot of them brought the supersoft, no one was predicting this… I think the majority have a new set of the medium tyres and that’ll be central to the race."

  • 12:42

    Weather icon

    Wind speed4.6mps
  • 12:45

    QuoteValtteri Bottas on the grid: "We had some issues yesterday in the qualifying with engine software that cost us some time. Luckily we could fix those issues today, so I’m hopeful."

  • 12:46

    The pit lane has closed, and Marcus Ericsson is still in the garage so he'll be starting the race from the pit lane, slightly disappointing for the Sauber squad.

  • 12:47

    TweetTweet from @SauberF1Team: We identified issues with the cooling system at Marcus' car. We need to do some changes,he has to start the #BelgianGP from the pit lane #F1

  • 12:49

    Looks like there's a good crowd present at the track this weekend, which makes a nice change. Great atmosphere out there.

  • 12:54

    TweetTweet from @easonf1: Still bizarrely hot, hot, hot at #BelgianGP Spa. Never known anything like it. Every other one I have been too has rained and been freezing.

  • 12:55

    TweetTweet from @fergieweather: #F1 #BBCF1 #BELGIANGP Just ahead of race start and temp has settled at 26C; track 37C. Nearest showers are away to S. Race most likely dry.

  • 12:58

    Rosberg starts on the soft compound, Verstappen on the supersofts, which is probably the wrong tyre to start on given the high temperatures/pressures.

  • 12:59

    The two Ferrari drivers and Ricciardo are also on the softs, whilst the rest of the top ten have the supersofts on board. Everyone else has the yellow softs except for Hamilton and Alonso who have mediums, and thus could go much further into the race before having to pit.

  • 13:00

    Puffs of smoke issue from the back of Rosberg's car as he peels away for the formation lap. No issues getting away, though.

  • 13:01

    We're expecting an incredibly slow outlap, considering drivers desperately trying to conserve their tyres and the fact it's the longest track on the calendar.

  • 13:03

    Green flagRace started.

  • 13:04 Lap 1

    Rosberg made a good start, Max Verstappen dropped back into the two Ferraris, and Vettel ended up spinning.

  • 13:04 Lap 1

    Vettel's spin cut up his teammate Räikkönen, who is now touring with huge sparks coming from the back of his car.

  • 13:05 Lap 1

    Kimi reports damage, and he's very slow.

  • 13:05 Lap 1

    Hülkenberg made a great start and moved up to third. Now Verstappen is dropping back, he's got front wing damage.

  • 13:06 Lap 1

    Verstappen dives straight into the pit lane, to get a new nose change. Medium compounds going on the Red Bull. It's a slow stop, but he's off again.

  • 13:06 Lap 2

    A few others have all pitted as well, Vettel, Nasr, Buttin, Räikkönen.

  • 13:06 Lap 2

    Right rear tyre failure for Carlos Sainz, he's spun way off track and there's tyre debris everywhere.

  • 13:07 Lap 2

    Räikkönen is back in the pits, his car is on fire!

  • 13:07 Lap 2

    Sainz is still trying to run, but the tyre debris attached itself to the rear wing, which then detached. He's had to stop, that's far too dangerous.

  • 13:08 Lap 3

    In all the chaos, Wehrlein retired early on, we didn't see what happened with him.

  • 13:08 Lap 3

    Yellow flagVirtual safety car.

  • 13:08 Lap 3
    Sainz rear wing

    Sainz running a slightly disfigured car.

  • 13:08 Lap 3

    Alonso is up to tenth place, Hamilton up to 12th.

  • 13:09 Lap 3

    Green flagTrack is clear.

  • 13:09 Lap 3

    Three retirements so far, Sainz and Button adding themselves to the list. Räikkönen is still going, despite the fire on his car, but he's last.

  • 13:10 Lap 4

    Replays of the start show the two Ferraris and Verstappen just squeezed into the same piece of tarmac, which caused damage to all three.

  • 13:11 Lap 5

    Button's retirement comes as he got hit in the back at some point, and picked up damage.

  • 13:13 Lap 6

    QuoteJenson Button: "Someone hit me on the back at turn five, launched the car in the air and it’s broken something in the back. I got a good start, I got past Bottas, I was alongside Hülkenberg actually, so fifth, I got past the Red Bull as well, then all hell broke loose. At turn five and six, someone punched me up the back."

  • 13:14 Lap 6

    Replays show Button was backed up behind a Renault, had to brake mid-corner. Wehrlein was taken by surprise and smashed into the back of the McLaren. Wehrlein lost his front wing, Button lost everything!

  • 13:14 Lap 6

    Race controlDRS enabled.

  • 13:14 Lap 6
    Driver Positions
    10N Rosberg0
    25N Hülkenberg0
    32D Ricciardo0
    44V Bottas0
    51S Pérez0
    65R Grosjean0
    76J Palmer0
    84K Magnussen0
    99E Gutiérrez0
    1012F Alonso0
  • 13:14 Lap 6

    AccidentKevin Magnussen has crashed at the top of Eau Rouge.

  • 13:15 Lap 6

    Race controlSafety car and Medical car have been deployed.

  • 13:15 Lap 6

    He's out of the car, limping a little bit, but appears okay.

  • 13:15 Lap 6

    There's insane damage to the barrier, tyres and debris scattered everywhere and lots of dust floating about.

  • 13:16 Lap 7
    Mags in the barrier
  • 13:16 Lap 7

    Several drivers taking the opportunity to pit, of course.

  • 13:17 Lap 7

    Replays show Magnussen lost the rear of the car and spun on the kerbs into the barriers at high speed. The car is being hauled away, and there's not much left of the right hand side of it.

  • 13:18 Lap 7

    At the moment, Rosberg, Ricciardo and Bottas lead having not pitted. Hülkenberg is still up in fourth with one pit stop under his belt.

  • 13:19 Lap 8

    Having said that, Bottas has just come in to the pit lane and has dropped out of the top ten.

  • 13:19 Lap 8

    Alonso is up to fourth, Hamilton in fifth, neither have stopped yet and have those stronger medium tyres on.

  • 13:22 Lap 9

    QuoteMarcus Ericsson: "It feels like we’re taking steps forward. Already in my fP3, we had issues. In qualifying again we had issues. Thought we had it sorted today, we had to make some changes, I had to start from the pit lane. When we came out, thought it was looking alright, then we lost sixth gear."

  • 13:22 Lap 9

    Race controlLapped cars may now overtake.

  • 13:22 Lap 9

    Team radioTeam radio to Nico Rosberg: "Nico, notice any blistering on the rear tyres at the moment?"


  • 13:23 Lap 9

    TweetTweet from @RenaultSportF1: We can confirm that watching the replays is not fun. So happy to see him walk out of that one.

  • 13:24 Lap 9

    So far, everything has played into Hamilton's hands - Rosberg is unable to pull out a gap behind the safety car, and Hamilton has made his way up to fifth without stopping yet.

  • 13:24

    Red flagSession stopped.

  • 13:24

    All the cars head into the pit lane as the race comes to a halt so the barriers can be repaired.

  • 13:36

    Race controlSession to restart at 14:41.

  • 13:37

    Ferrari mechanics are making liberal use of gaffa tape to the underbody of Räikkönen's car, the bit that caught fire earlier.

  • 13:41 Lap 10

    Yellow flagYellow flags as they resume behind the safety car.

  • 13:42 Lap 10

    Rosberg has swapped to the medium compounds now, with those behind him changing to the soft tyres - including Alonso and Hamilton.

  • 13:43 Lap 10

    TweetTweet from @pirellisport: Looks like soft tyres are the most popular choice @nico_rosberg has gone for medium; @HulkHulkenberg didn’t change tyres at all.

  • 13:43 Lap 10

    Green flagTrack is clear.

  • 13:44 Lap 11

    Rosberg leads the way, Hülkenberg and Alonso side by side down the home straight but the Force India stays ahead.

  • 13:45 Lap 11

    Rosberg already has clawed out almost a second and a half of gap in just one lap.

  • 13:46 Lap 12

    Hamilton is switching on the aggressive moves against Alonso, who keeps him behind in the final corner.

  • 13:46 Lap 12

    Up Eau Rouge and at the following straight, Hamilton easily makes it past Alonso, so he's up to fourth now.

  • 13:47 Lap 12

    Kimi Räikkönen and Max Verstappen are doing battle YET AGAIN. Kimi made a move to pass the Red Bull but Verstappen wouldn't leave him any space and pushed the Ferrari off track.

  • 13:48 Lap 13

    Race controlDRS enabled.

  • 13:49 Lap 13

    Another lap and another incident between the pair, as Max makes a very late defensive move against Kimi. There's going to be trouble here as Räikkönen vents on the radio.

  • 13:49 Lap 14

    Kimi swearing over the radio, "this is ridiculous now," he rages. With additional words in there too.

  • 13:50 Lap 14

    Big lockup for Lewis Hamilton as he rounds the first corner and sets his sights on the Force India of Nico Hülkenberg.

  • 13:51 Lap 14

    Räikkönen ran wide at the top of Eau Rouge this time round, still hunting to get past the Red Bull.

  • 13:52 Lap 15
    One to Watch
    N Hülkenbergvs.L Hamilton
  • 13:52 Lap 15

    Jolyon Palmer gets instructions over the radio that his tyres are getting hot. "What should I do about it?" he whines.

  • 13:53 Lap 16

    There's a good battle from eighth to twelfth, with Daniil Kvyat leading a train of four cars within one second of each other.

  • 13:56 Lap 17
    Gap Analysis
  • 13:56 Lap 17

    Verstappen has come into the pit lane for a fresh set of tyres, that drops him down the order behind Räikkönen, which will be a relief to the Ferrari driver!

  • 13:57 Lap 17

    Meanwhile, Sebastian Vettel sweeps past Daniil Kvyat to move into eighth place. The Ferrari drivers having to do a lot of recovery work after that first lap carnage.

  • 13:57 Lap 17

    TweetTweet from @ManorRacing: Lap 17/44 | Esteban is 17/17. He's made 2 stops and he's out on the Medium tyre.

  • 13:58 Lap 18

    Hamilton makes a late move on Hülkenberg, locks up his tyres again, but makes it stick for third place.

  • 14:00 Lap 19

    Räikkönen is having such a scrappy time today, he pulls alongside Grosjean in the Haas for 12th place, but they touch wheels and he has to drop back again.

  • 14:02 Lap 20

    Räikkönen now reporting a potential puncture or some kind of issue with the tyre that bumped into the Haas.

  • 14:02 Lap 20

    Can't be too bad though, as this time round he easily gets past Grosjean without contact. Next in line, another Haas driver.

  • 14:03 Lap 21

    Team radioTeam radio from Max Verstappen: "No grip in the low speed corners. It feels like I've not got the grip like normal."

  • 14:05 Lap 22

    Hamilton comes in for a pit stop, and it's a slow one as the rear jack clings on just a bit too long.

  • 14:06 Lap 22

    Kvyat also pits, freeing up those cars that were stuck in a train behind him.

  • 14:07 Lap 23

    TweetTweet from @RenaultSportF1: "24 laps to go. Lewis is third, having started last. Does he fancy going to the back again? For giggles? He'd be back to third by lap 42."

  • 14:07 Lap 23

    Race control5 second time penalty for Felipe Nasr - leaving the track and gaining an advantage.

  • 14:08 Lap 23

    The stewards have been surprisingly quiet so far this race, considering how much jostling there has been.

  • 14:08 Lap 24

    Felipe Massa kicks up some epic dust as he clips the kerb. He's currently in tenth place, with Max Verstappen chasing up behind him.

  • 14:09 Lap 24

    Hülkenberg, Alonso, Vettel and Bottas all come into the pit lane.

  • 14:09 Lap 24

    Alonso was released right alongside Hülkenberg, the pair running side by side out of the pit lane - they narrowly avoided contact.

  • 14:10 Lap 24

    Hülkenberg got the advantage, but Alonso is now snugly tucked up behind him waiting for the slipstream to gain him position.

  • 14:10 Lap 25

    Team radioTeam radio to Nico Hülkenberg: "Did Alonso hit you?"


  • 14:11 Lap 25

    Kimi Räikkönen comes into the pit lane for the fourth time this afternoon. Medium tyres going on the Ferrari this time.

  • 14:13 Lap 26

    Of all the runners, Nico Rosberg has only pitted once whereas everyone else has been in two, three or four times!

  • 14:14 Lap 26

    Vettel takes on Verstappen, and easily makes it past the Red Bull, but as they reach the crest of Eau Rouge, Verstappen moves back alongside and regains the position. Eighth place, they're fighting for.

  • 14:14 Lap 27

    All drivers are on medium tyres, except Hamilton and Verstappen, both on softs.

  • 14:14 Lap 27

    Another pit stop at last for Rosberg, another set of medium compounds going on that Mercedes.

  • 14:16 Lap 27

    And Vettel is back past Verstappen again, it doesn't look like that position will change hands again as the Red Bull immediately comes under pressure from Bottas in the Williams.

  • 14:17 Lap 28

    Max Verstappen comes into the pit lane for his fourth stop of the afternoon. Super quick stop for the Red Bull crew and they send him on his way on a fresh set of softs.

  • 14:19 Lap 29
    One to Watch
    F Massavs.S Pérez
  • 14:20 Lap 29

    Pérez dips to the outside of the Williams and holds the line round the following corner to take the position. Massa runs wide a little but no major damage done.

  • 14:21 Lap 30

    Team radioTeam radio to Daniel Ricciardo: "Like I say, make his life hard, it'll help us at the end of the race."

    Hamilton is hunting the Red Bull, the gap just dropping below 1 second.

  • 14:21 Lap 30

    TweetTweet from @RenaultSportF1: Update on Kevin:

    Kevin Magnussen ran wide at the exit of Eau Rouge and made heavy contact with the barriers. He left the car unaided and was taken to the medical centre for precautionary checks. He is fully conscious and responsive. He has a small cut to the left ankle and has been escorted to a nearby hospital for further routine checks.

  • 14:22 Lap 31

    Replays show Jolyon Palmer running wide and allowing Max Verstappen to easily get past. The Red Bull in 13th place now.

  • 14:23 Lap 31

    Sergio Pérez has passed Fernando Alonso for fifth place. The two Force India drivers sitting 4th and 5th now.

  • 14:26 Lap 33

    A peaceful part of the race now. Hamilton is warned that his pit window is coming up, and in he comes for his final stop of the afternoon.

  • 14:26 Lap 33

    Medium tyres go on the Mercedes as he rejoins in fourth place.

  • 14:27 Lap 33

    Sebastian Vettel makes an easy overtaking move on Felipe Massa, but then runs wide off track at the following corner. He moves back on the racing line and pushes Massa out of the way - a tricksy move there.

  • 14:28 Lap 34

    Team radioTeam radio from Lewis Hamilton: "I'm not sure that's the right idea."

    "We think it is."

    Medium tyres it is then!

  • 14:29 Lap 34

    Hülkenberg has nothing left in the tank to defend from Lewis Hamilton, who sweeps past easily to move into third place.

  • 14:29 Lap 34

    Second attempt for Vettel, who does manage to make the move on Massa and jumps to seventh place.

  • 14:31 Lap 35

    Vettel making his way through the field now, he dispatches Alonso for sixth.

  • 14:33 Lap 37

    Although Lewis wasn't convinced the medium tyre was the right one to be on, the field is mostly on that white striped compound. We've got Verstappen still on softs, and Kvyat and Palmer both on supersofts. But otherwise, the mediums are the tyres of the moment.

  • 14:34 Lap 37
    Gap Analysis
  • 14:36 Lap 38

    TweetTweet from @Ericsson_Marcus: Very disappointing DNF for me and @SauberF1Team . But I'm glad to see @KevinMagnussen seems ok after that big crash

  • 14:39 Lap 40

    Five laps to go. Very quiet portion of the race now.

  • 14:39 Lap 40

    StopwatchLewis Hamilton sets the fastest lap of the race so far - 1:51.692.

  • 14:42 Lap 41

    Nico Rosberg has just started lapping cars, with Nasr dropping down a lap and Esteban Ocon being shown blue flags for the race leader.

  • 14:42 Lap 41

    Valtteri Bottas moves past teammate Felipe Massa, taking eighth place and setting off after Fernando Alonso.

  • 14:43 Lap 42

    Räikkönen hunting Massa now, the Finn hoping to snatch another points place, and perhaps also put a car between him and Verstappen who is a further six seconds down the road.

  • 14:47 Lap 44

    Final lap.

  • 14:48

    Chequered flagNico Rosberg wins the Belgian Grand Prix!

  • 14:49

    Daniel Ricciardo and Lewis Hamilton finish the podium lineup.

  • 14:50
    Driver Positions
    10N Rosberg2
    23D Ricciardo2
    318L Hamilton3
    43N Hülkenberg3
    51S Pérez3
    6-2S Vettel3
    715F Alonso2
    80V Bottas3
    9-6K Räikkönen4
    100F Massa3
  • 14:53
    Race Winner
    DriverN Rosberg
    Race time1:44:51.058
    Race distance308.052km
    Average speed176.279km/h
  • 14:53

    TweetTweet from @ManorRacing: Great job @OconEsteban. P16 from NAS in 17th. Kept your nose clean and managed the tyres well. "Thank you, guys" Thank YOU, Esteban!

  • 14:54

    Great finish for Force India to help them challenge Williams in their season long championship battle.

  • 14:56

    The top three take to the podium, Rosberg receives his fair share of boos as he jumps on the top step. The national anthem plays out with the crowd still cheering and booing below.

  • 15:02

    QuotePodium quotes - Nico Rosberg: "It’s been a great weekend. Very happy with that result. I understand some of you are disappointed, as you wanted Verstappen to be up here. He has many years to go. Thank you to my team of course, great car they’ve given me. And congrats to Lewis, from last to third place is very impressive.

    "It’s been great to get the win today at this special track. Lewis starting from the back made it a lot easier, I’m sure he’s going to be back in Monza and it’s going to be a great battle as always."

  • 15:02

    QuotePodium quotes - Daniel Ricciardo: "It was cool. It was pretty messed up at the start, there was a lot of virtual safety cars and then the red flag. We had some damage from the first corner, but we fixed the front wing. It was a bit of a race by myself, but we kept up the pace and to keep Lewis behind was a bit of an achievement."

  • 15:03

    QuotePodium quotes - Lewis Hamilton: "Firstly, I have to say thank you to this crowd. I know a lot of you came out for Max which is amazing, great for the sport. The team did a great job this weekend, they changed three engines. What a remarkable day: beautiful weather, great crowd, great race."

  • 15:03

    The first two laps were insane, still don't totally understand what happened. After a four week break, it seemed like the drivers had forgotten how to drive!

  • 15:04

    Ferrari must have the worst feeling in the world after today. They screwed up this race - sixth and ninth is an achievement considering Vettel was facing the wrong way at the first corner and Räikkönen caught fire in the pit lane.

    However, they were third and fourth on the grid, so this could be considered a disaster - particularly going into their home race next.

  • 15:05

    Lots of retirements today, disappointing for Wehrlein and Button who both had great grid positions. A good job done by Esteban Ocon, keeping out of trouble in a chaotic race to have as your debut. And there'll be plenty of discussion about the pros and cons of Verstappen's weekend, I'm sure.

  • 15:05

    One week to go until Monza, it's back to back racing so not much time to untangle all the strands of what we've seen today. Fast and furious racing is set to get going in seven days time, so I'll see you then!

All content in the series Belgium 2016