2 Sept 2012

F1 - Belgian GP - Button storms it

The build up to the Belgian Grand Prix was a much longer one than usual.  No talk of tired drivers and mechanics - after the summer break F1 was raring to go.

During the break Jenson Button hadn't been resting.  Instead he organised and took part in a triathlon.

Friday practice had been a rather dismal affair with rain being the order of the day and no real meaningful times set as a result.  But it was on Friday that Lewis and Jenson decided, with the team, which rear wing to go for.  The new wing was supposedly slippier and produced less drag, whilst the older one provided more downforce.  Jenson opted for the new wing and Lewis, with the team, opted for the older one.

Hamilton's choice proved to be wrong.  He qualified in eighth whilst Jenson reigned supreme and stuck his McLaren on pole.  Button was in a league of his own.  Kobayashi was a respectable second whilst Raikonnen was third.

On the grid Bernie Ecclestone dropped a clanger and said this of Michael Schumacher, "I'm sorry that he's leaving us not being a winner, because he is a winner."  Oops.

At 1pm the race started.  Maldonado jumped the start and Grosjean, from a place behind Hamilton flew off the line but then immediately turned into Hamilton.  See here for the photo sequence.  Thus we had the worst crash at the start of a race since the 1998 Belgian Grand Prix.  Hamilton couldn't steer or stop because his front wheels were in the air, courtesy of the rear end of Grosjean's Lotus.  Alonso was collected and his Ferrari rendered useless.  Perez' Sauber was rear ended by Grosjean.

The safety car came out for four laps whilst the debris was cleared and off they went with Button, unscathed, in first and the Force India's in second and third.  Vettel, meanwhile, had started tenth but was fifth after the safety car went back in.

Thus Jenson treated us to a start to finish demonstration of utter superiority.  For Jenson to do well in an F1 car everything must be just so for him.  And, at Spa, it was.  Pole, race win.  He made it look easy.

Behind Jenson the race was alive with moves - particularly at the DRS enabled Kemmel straight and at the back of the lap coming into the bus stop chicane.  At one point Kimi overtook Schumacher into the bus stop with an awesome move, then half a lap later Schumacher repassed him on the Kemmel straight, then on the next lap Raikonnen pulled off what must be the overtake of the year.  Kimi set up the move at the first corner and overtook Schumacher on the short stretch of tarmac just before Eau Rouge.  Had Schumacher fought back Raikonnen would have had little room to move.

Vettel slowly but surely moved forwards whilst Paul DiResta moved backwards.

Spa 2012 was a fantastic race which, despite Grosjean's hopeless startline move, showcased F1 at a track that is the most exciting and challenging on the calendar.  Another ancient epic, Monza takes place in a weeks time.  Can Button do the double, or will Hamilton - with the new rear wing, take it away from him?

Whatever, McLaren look to have come out of the summer break with the superior package.  The Red Bull occasionally looks fast and the Lotus is a very good car but with only one driver capable of not crashing.  Ferrari, meanwhile, should not be discounted.  Alonso would surely have been on the podium today had he not been crashed into by Grosjean.

In the end they finished like this (with a note by the top finishers):

  1. Button - man of the race
  2. Vettel - quietly fast
  3. Raikkonen - overtake of the race
  4. Hulkenberg - great effort
  5. Massa - Alonso would have been on the podium
  6. Webber - should really have done better
  7. Schumacher - potential for more
  8. Vergne - excellent result for once
  9. Riccardio - great drive
  10. Di Resta - went backwards for no apparent reason
  11. Rosberg - poor race
  12. Senna - should have done better, pulled a great move on DiResta but lost positions later
  13. Kobayashi
  14. Petrov
  15. Glock
  16. Pic
  17. Kovalainen
  18. De La Rosa
  19. Karthikeyan
  20. Maldonado
  21. Perez
  22. Alonso
  23. Hamilton
  24. Grosjean