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Button wins in Belgium in race marred by spectacular first corner crash

updated 5:38 PM EDT, Sun September 2, 2012
Jenson Button leads while his McLaren teammate Lewis Hamilton has made contact with the rear of Romain Grosjean's Lotus. Jenson Button leads while his McLaren teammate Lewis Hamilton has made contact with the rear of Romain Grosjean's Lotus.
HIDE CAPTION
First corner fracas
Dangerous collision
Going airborne
Flying Grosjean
Down to earth
Crash chaos
Angry Hamilton
Victorious Button
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STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Jenson Button wins Belgian Grand Prix with commanding drive from pole
  • Reigning two-time champion Sebastian Vettel second and Kimi Raikkonen third
  • Spectacular first corner crash ends the hopes of four drivers
  • Vettel closes to within 24 points of championship leader Fernando Alonso

(CNN) -- Britain's Jenson Button won the Belgian Grand Prix Sunday after a spectacular first corner crash ended the hopes of championship leader Fernando Alonso and three other drivers.

Frenchman Romain Grosjean clipped the McLaren of Button's teammate Lewis Hamilton and catapulted into the air in his Lotus, flying over Ferrari's Alonso and narrowly avoiding the head of the two-time champion from Spain.

Mexican Sergio Perez of Sauber was also caught up in the crash.

Miraculously, no-one was injured in the incident, but a safety car was deployed while the debris was cleared off the circuit at Spa-Francorchamps.

Grosjean was later given a one-race ban by stewards after being held responsible for the carnage.

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Button, who was on pole, avoided the incident and quickly took command for his second victory of the year and the 14th of his career.

The 2009 world champion came home nearly 14 seconds ahead of defending champion Sebastian Vettel, the Red Bull driver capitalizing on the chaos after starting a lowly 10th on the grid.

Finland's Kimi Raikkonen for Lotus completed a podium of world champions in third place.

Button, who has struggled since his opening race victory in Australia was delighted by his change in fortunes.

"What can I say, this circuit is so special to most drivers with the history and the way it flows. To get a victory from lights to flag is very special, especially as it has not been an easy year for me. We are going to enjoy this before we head to Monza (for the Italian GP) and hopefully do the same," he told the official post-race conference.

German Nico Hulkenberg was a surprise fourth for Force India ahead of Brazil's Felipe Massa in his Ferrari.

Vettel has closed up to 24 points behind Alonso in the title standings, with teammate Webber, sixth in Belgium, eight points further adrift.

Seven-time champion Michael Schumacher marked his 300th Grand Prix with a fine drive for seventh in the Mercedes ahead of their Toro Rosso pair of Jean-Eric Vergne and Daniel Ricciardo.

Briton Paul Di Resta took the final point in 10th place in the second Force India.

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