F1: Lewis Hamilton wins in Spa but third is sweet as victory for Romain Grosjean

    Story highlights

    • Lewis Hamilton wins the Belgian Grand Prix
    • Romain Grosjean claimed an emotional place on the podium

    Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium (CNN)Forget the fact that the merciless Mercedes machines won again at the Belgian Grand Prix.

    And that race winner Lewis Hamilton extended his lead over teammate Nico Rosberg in the Formula One world championship to 28 points.
      Sunday's result was as sweet as a victory for Romain Grosjean and his troubled Lotus team as it was for the dominant Silver Arrows.
      The Frenchman finished third at the demanding Spa-Francorchamps circuit, his first podium since the 2013 U.S. Grand Prix.
      "It has the feel of a race win," Grosjean smiled after gulping champagne from the third step of the podium. "I still can't believe we're here.
      "Every time I start in Spa, I remember 2012... but it made me stronger. It helped me to be who I am today."
      Three years ago at the Belgium GP, Grosjean endured the nadir of his racing career.
      He already had a reputation as a crasher -- former Red Bull racer Mark Webber famously called him a "first-lap nutcase" -- but his standing plummeted when he triggered a spectacular crash at the first corner. Grosjean was handed a one-race ban by the sport's authorities.
      Sunday's third-place finish on the same circuit marked a form of closure for the incident, which Grosjean credits as the turning point of his career.
      "It's no secret that from that day I've been working with a psychologist," Grosjean told CNN. "Spa 2012 was a tough time.
      "Sometimes we can speak about being a racing driver, having problems at the start, what was I focusing on the right way or the wrong way.
      "All of the work has not always been easy but it helps me understand things and to pull out some performances as we saw today."
      The podium also provided a welcome tonic for Grosjean's Lotus team who arrived in Spa beleaguered by a legal dispute with their former reserve driver Charles Pic.
      Asked by the media whether uncertainly over the future of the team had provided extra motivation, Grosjean added: "I don't really care what's going on around.
      "The only thing that I want is to do my best to give the guys who are working really hard a reward. It's been an incredible weekend."

      Tire trouble

      Grosjean had inherited third place from Sebastian Vettel, although he had been closing in on the German's Ferrari in the final stages of the race.
      Vettel fell through the field in dramatic fashion after his right rear tire burst on Lap 42 as his car reached the crest of Eau Rouge, one of F1's most formidable challenges.
      Rosberg's right rear tire had similarly failed during Friday practice, upsetting the rhythm of his race weekend.
      Speaking to the media, four-time world champion Vettel spoke strongly, not only about being classified 12th, but the potential dangers of the incident.
      He told BBC television: "Things like that are not allowed -- if that happened 200m earlier, I'm not standing here right now.
      "This sort of thing keeps going around but it's not acceptable. What's the answer? Cut, debris, driver running wide... Bulls**t. If Nico says he didn't go off the track, he didn't.
      "I didn't go off the track but, out of the blue, the tire explodes. It's not acceptable."
      Italian manufacturer Pirelli has supplied the tires used in F1 since 2011 but has faced criticism about tire failures, most notably at the 2013 British GP.

      Relaxed race

      At the head of the pack it was a more serene race for Hamilton, who never looked troubled after starting the GP from pole position.
      The reigning world champion collected his sixth win of the season with eight races still to go.
      "I was fairly relaxed at the front," said Hamilton. "Nico obviously had good pace but I was able to answer most of the time.
      "I was never in a position where I was nervous or anything. I saw there was a blow-up at the end so I was being very cautious with my tires. I was just going to make sure I brought it home."
      Rosberg relied on Mercedes' awesome pace to recover from a sticky start, which saw him drop back to fourth from second on the grid.
      "The start was really bad so I need to practice that a bit more," the German commented.
      "After that I just benefited from the fact that those in front weren't racing me. They assumed I was too quick anyway -- rightly so."
      Rosberg took a helicopter from the circuit, which is nestled deep in the heart of the Belgian countryside, straight after the race to speed his progress to his Monaco home.
      His wife Vivian is expecting the couple's first child next week. "I'm rushing off," he explained. "It's a very exciting time, I'm looking forward to that."
      Grosjean also told reporters in Spa that becoming a father to two sons since the events of 2012 had also helped "relax his mind."
      Expectant father Rosberg could well do with a renewed sense of focus as he hunts down Hamilton for the world title when he returns to the next race in Italy on 6th September.