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Belgium comes good yet again

Posted by Carrot on September 5, 2012 | No Comments

No matter what the content of the season, whether it’s close and gripping like this year or as processional as an Armistice Day parade, Spa always delivers an excellent race and this year was no exception. Let’s forget promoter’s fees and all the money associated with F1, for as long as this circuit is able to safely host a race, it should be a permanent fixture on the calendar.

Jenson Button took pole with massively impressive times on Saturday, even more impressive due to the compromised Friday with the rain, and then led every lap of the race to secure the win. He only needed the fastest lap to secure the rare achievement that is the Grand Chelem, but I’m sure he won’t mind the 25 points with Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton out at the first corner.

Now, the crash… Romain Grosjean has received a fine and a one race ban, which means Jerome d’Ambrosio will be in the car at Monza this weekend, for causing the crash. I don’t agree with this penalty. When Michael Schumacher only got a grid demotion for nearly sticking Rubens Barrichello into the wall in Hungary deliberately, and Pastor Maldonado has only got the same for intentionally crashing into people when he’s spat his dummy, I think the penalty is too harsh. Yes, he has been involved in a few first lap incidents this year and the crash in Belgium ended up being very dangerous for Alonso, but from what I saw there was no malice in it. He wasn’t trying to force Hamilton to crash when he squeezed him, he was defending his position and I don’t think he realised that their wheels were interlocked. Unfortunately in racing these things happen, motor sport is dangerous, but the punishment doesn’t fit given the other precedents I’ve mentioned. Team mate Kimi Raikkonen ended up rounding out the podium in third, rescuing part of the weekend for the team at least. 33 points behind Alonso, the Finn is becoming something of a favoured dark horse for the championship by those in the know, and if we have a few more weekends like this, I wouldn’t discount it. I promise not to pick him for the race win in Monza, hopefully me continually tipping him for the victory is what’s jinxing away the first win of the year.

Red Bull had an abysmal Saturday, with both cars ending up with double figure starting positions after Mark Webber’s penalty was applied. Skilful avoidance of the crash by both drivers, good overall race pace and some excellent overtakes left Sebastian Vettel second and Webber sixth. Vettel’s overtakes were so good it might ever make the uber-skeptic that I am reconsider the long-standing opinion that he can’t really overtake. The points let the team increase their lead over McLaren by a single point and allowed both drivers to chip into Alonso’s lead. Crucially Vettel has leapfrogged Webber into second place in the standings. Hopefully this won’t mean a sudden shift by the team to supporting their ‘favourite son’ after the excellent job Webber’s been doing this season.

Force India continued their resurgence with a double points finish. A fourth for Nico Hulkenberg and tenth for Paul di Resta allowed the team to jump Williams in the standings. Given they’re targeting beating the Saubers this year, a good haul of points on a day when their rivals fail to score is most definitely a positive, especially since the result wasn’t contingent on the crash, but rather was a continuation of their qualifying pace.

And now I shall say something I did not expect to say this year… Felipe Massa had a good race. I’m as shocked as you are, and I still expect an announcement after the race at Monza which says his services are no longer required, but he did beat Webber and Schumacher to the line to take fifth. Of course, it can be said that any race where Alonso didn’t finish would make him look good, and while I would certainly have expected the Spaniard to be well ahead of him if he’d finished the race, Massa came on form to do the job of a number two driver. Going into the weekend Webber was Alonso’s closest rival and by finishing ahead of the Aussie, Massa denied him two points, and we’ve all seen championships decided on less than that.

Rounding out the points were Schumacher in seventh and the Toro Rossos of Jean-Eric Vergne and Daniel Ricciardo in eighth and ninth respectively. Schumacher managed to outperform Nico Rosberg quite comprehensively this weekend, but the car isn’t really on form for either driver at the moment. Mercedes AMG are in the spotlight due to the fact that the silly season is focussing on Schumacher’s decision to continue racing or not. I think he might call it day myself, he didn’t come back to fight for a couple of points, but Mercedes will leave the decision to him, if only for the reason that they quite like selling cars in Germany. On the Toro Rosso front they managed to double their points for the season, that is, they scored six points to take their total to 12. It would be easy to be critical, but considering the spread of teams fighting for the points, it’s surprising to me that they have that many points at all. It’s not the fault of the drivers, that car is substandard.

And that was pretty much it for Belgium, a few days now until the Temple of Speed that is Monza. Keep an eye on anything with a Mercedes engine, Ferrari on home soil and Lotus if they get that rear wing stalling device working. See you there.

 

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  • Drivers Championship 2013

    1 Kimi Raikkonen 25
    2 Fernando Alonso 18
    3 Sebastian Vettel 15
    4 Felipe Massa 12
    5 Lewis Hamilton 10
    6 Mark Webber 8
    7 Adrian Sutil 6
    8 Paul Di Resta 4
    9 Jenson Button 2
    10 Romain Grosjean 1

  • Constructors Championship 2013

    1 Ferrari 30
    2 Lotus 26
    3 Red Bull 23
    4 Mercedes 10
    5 Force India 10
    6 McLaren 2
    7 Toro Rosso 0
    8 Sauber 0
    9 Williams 0
    10 Marussia 0
    11 Caterham 0