Daniel Ricciardo won the Belgian Grand Prix for Red Bull on Sunday while Mercedes title rivals Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton provided the drama of the day by colliding on the second lap.
Hamilton failed to finish after fighting with a damaged car but Rosberg, blamed by his bosses and booed by the crowd on the podium, finished second to extend his championship lead to 29 points with seven of the 19 races remaining.
The victory, on a surprisingly dry afternoon at a circuit famed for rapid changes in weather conditions, was Ricciardo’s second in succession and third of his first season with the reigning champions.
It was also his team’s second in succession in Belgium after four-times world champion Sebastian Vettel triumphed last year and set off a run of nine wins in a row.
Finland’s Valtteri Bottas was third for Williams.
Ricciardo’s win was almost a sideshow to the major talking point, a further stirring up of already troubled waters at Mercedes.
The two team mates had been expected to dominate the race after qualifying on the front row but the intense rivalry between them blew up in their face.
Mercedes motorsport head Toto Wolf slammed the incident as ‘absolutely unacceptable’ and blamed Rosberg, who refused to comment on the incident until he had seen replays.
“Lap number two of a long race and a crash between two team-mates, we have often discussed the situation and it happened today,” he told reporters.
“You don’t try to overtake with the knife between your teeth in lap number two and damage both cars.”
The team’s non-executive chairman Niki Lauda was also fuming.
“It is unacceptable. If these things happen at the end of the race, when they are fighting for the win then you discuss it but in the second lap to hand the victory to Red Bull,” said the former champion.
“I thought they were clever enough to know that but obviously they aren’t.”