Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel sped away from first corner carnage to celebrate a commanding Belgian Grand Prix victory on Sunday and trim Lewis Hamilton's Formula One lead to 17 points with eight races remaining.
Ericsson and Brendon Hartley had arguably the best battle of the race as they tussled over 10th place for several laps before the Toro Rosso pitted.
It was Vettel's fifth win this season, equalling Hamilton's tally, and the 52nd of his career, surpassing the 51 of four-time world champion Alain Prost, and achieved with reasonable ease as he came home 11.061 seconds ahead of the Briton. "I don't know what's on their auto, so I couldn't say (if it is illegal or legal) either way".
"As soon as I was ahead I relaxed". But Hamilton sounded confused why Mercedes is slower than Ferrari.
"Going through traffic, I was fortunate I didn't lose much time".
Meanwhile Kimi Raikkonen and Daniel Ricciardo were taken out of contension as the Red Bull driver tagged the Ferrari, both forced to pit for repairs, as did Valtteri Bottas who ran into the back of a Williams.
The heavy crash at the start happened when Hulkenberg bumped into the back of Alonso, sending Alonso's McLaren spinning and then flying up in the air.
The incident led to a safety auto coming out on track, with drivers forced to hold position and not allowed to accelerate. While Raikkonen stopped a few laps down, Ricciardo retired from the race with 13 laps to go.
When the race re-started, on lap 4 of 44, the German driver smartly blocked an overtaking attempt by Hamilton. It's really about balance of circumstances and compromises and maybe Seb, as he said, he'd got a battery problem, or something like that. "After that it was a very smooth race".
Ferrari has made clear steps forward over the past two years with its power unit and now appears to have the strongest engine on the grid, with the team enjoying an advantage over Mercedes in the first and third sectors - featuring long flat-out sections - at Spa-Francorchamps. When the safety vehicle yielded the lead on lap four, Vettel didn't, immediately building a multi-second gap to Hamilton.
With his rear left tyre notably blistering, Hamilton pitted from second and returned to the track in third with new soft tyres on his W09. He also won here in 2010 and 2015, winning the title in the latter.