Both Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso showed why they’re past Formula One world champions today. Hamilton charged forward to a podium third-place finish and Alonso hauled his McLaren up to seventh place—after starting on the back row in 21st and 22nd, respectively.
Love ‘em or hate ‘em, or write it off as sheer luck if you absolutely must, but holy crap, that charge from the back row was pretty spectacular.
Many of the cars we thought would be in contention came together early on in the race. Red Bull’s Max Verstappen tried to fit his car inside the two Ferraris of Kimi Räikkönen and Sebastian Vettel on the first lap, taking all three away from the front of the pack. Räikkönen’s car briefly caught fire as well.
Meanwhile, Alonso made short work of climbing up to 11th place by lap 2. On lap 2, a tire on the Carlos Sainz Jr.’s Toro Rosso came apart, forcing a safety car to come out, further bunching up the field to help the back-row duo.
The race had to be red flagged for barrier repairs after Kevin Magnussen’s Renault crashed into a tire wall outside Turn 4, allowing both Alonso and Hamilton another opportunity to gain more ground on the restart.
By lap 19 of the race’s 44 laps, Hamilton was in third place. That’s a podium finish. He lost some ground back to ninth on a slow pit stop, where a rear jack got stuck. That didn’t matter, though. He soon reclaimed that third place spot after other competitors cycled through the pits. When Ricciardo pitted, Hamilton briefly held second place. Hamilton had to pit once more for tires, but ultimately clung on to third place until the end.
Hamilton may have had the most impressive result by the numbers, but given how McLaren has fared all season, Alonso’s seventh-place finish was almost more impressive. Alonso’s car is on its third Honda power unit for the weekend because of numerous failures in practice and qualifying.
Alonso had a sketchy moment in the pits when he was released alongside the Force India of Nico Hülkenberg, but that was really his biggest oops of the race. Williams driver Valtteri Bottas tried to grab seventh from Alonso at the end, but ultimately couldn’t make it happen.
Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg went largely unchallenged for the entire race out in front, cruising home to an easy victory. Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo came in second place after having to repair wing damage during the race. This is Rosberg’s first victory at Spa-Francorchamps after coming in second place for the past two years.
However, Hamilton holds on to his lead in the drivers’ championship by nine points following this somewhat unexpected result.