Today was a bit busy, but finally, I will get a chance to talk about Spa and all that went down both during and after the race, in a two part post.
First things first, lets talk about in race goings on.
To me, Spa was a bit of a let down, if I am honest, especially after qualifying. I saw a ton of potential. I saw a chance for Kamui Kobayashi to get what should be his, Sauber’s first win since BMW pulled the plug. I saw a chance for Raikkonen to get his first win of the season off the back of a better than usual qualifying position from Lotus. And I saw Pastor Maldonado ready to take them all out. Sebastian Vettel was no where, Alonso and Hamilton were right there. It all looked set for a great race.
And then the start happened, and it all went sideways. Hell, even before the lights went out, things were not as they should have been. Pastor Maldonado jumped the start. No arguing that one. SkyTV did some of their wizardry and proved it. And, even under the principles of common sense, in modern F1, no one jumps a whole row of cars so fast off the start. No one. So that happens, and I figure a penalty is on its way, unsurprising if I’m honest.
But then Romain Grosjean decided that Lewis Hamilton’s car was a good foot and a half shorter than it really was and ended up causing a first lap collision that took out Alonso (that was a rough one), the slow starting Kobayashi (who continued) and Sergio Perez. That was a brutal blow for Sauber after there was such promise. We will talk about Grosjean’s penalty tomorrow.
After that the race settled down. Apart from Maldonado running into Glock on the restart (again, penalty discussions tomorrow).
Button absolutely cruised, becoming the eight unique winner of the season. He led from start to finish and was never challenged, by anyone at any point.
Further down the field, though, was some great battles and maneuvers, particularly by Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen. Vettel in particular impressed me with his dives down the outside of the chicane before the start finish. I thought they showed great control and poise, if not much courage (there is not much risk on the outside besides not getting the spot). I was especially pleased because Red Bull has clearly developed a habit of gearing their cars for overall lap pace over the ability to overtake. That means that Vettel does not have as much top end, making it impossible to pass after cresting Eau Rouge. This race was particularly important for the German as it moves him up to second in the driver’s standings, only 24 points behind. Unlike Hamilton or Webber, Vettel and Raikkonen were the only drivers to really take advantage of Alonso’s retirement.
Speaking of which, Kimi Raikkonen also impressed in an unlikely way. Though he was certainly the favorite, he was struggling with the car all weekend and victory soon seemed out of reach. Mistakes in qualifying did not help, but he drove a strong race with some great battles with Michael Schumacher to finish a very strong third, bringing him up to fourth in the driver’s standings.
Other drivers who impressed include Nico Hulkenberg, finishing fourth, and Felipe Massa in fifth. Strong drives from one driver on his way out and the other looking to take his place.
Part 2 to follow tomorrow. I will discuss the penalties handed out by the FIA as well as some of the news surrounding the race, such as Lewis Hamilton and his twitter account.