Lewis Hamilton admitted he never expected to be able to finish on the podium in the Belgian Grand Prix after having started from the back of the grid.

The championship leader was hit with several penalties for engine changes, and started the race from 21st position, while teammate and his sole title rival Nico Rosberg started from pole.

But a chaotic first few laps and early red flag helped Hamilton's cause, and the Mercedes driver managed to climb up for third place in the end.

"I really cannot believe that we came up so far," said Hamilton. "I woke up this morning knowing how difficult it would be on these tyres. Lots of blistering so you can never predict what will happen.

"In the previous races there were no incidents and today there was. Today was about having the right approach, not too aggressive and not too easy.

"Today collectively as a team we had the right balance. This is the best result I could have hoped for."

Although Hamilton was aided by the early incident and the red flag period, he said he never believed victory was on the cards.

"If the tyres were better I could have pushed and closed the gap but that is not the case," he added.

The world champion said he only had enough pace to finish in the top 10 without the help of the safety car and the red flag.

"I didn't know how long the tyres would last. Our performance today was stronger than I expected.

"I think still at the pace we were going, a top 10 finish would have been possible. Third was definitely helped by the safety car."

Rosberg went to on to win the race to reduce the gap to Hamilton to nine points.

Source: Motorsport.com

Gallery: Hamilton "cannot believe" podium finish