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Winners and Losers: Belgian Grand Prix

Sunday 25-August-2013 22:17

Spa failed to rain on Vettel's parade as Kimi Raikkonen's glorious run of points finishes came to an end.

Star of the Race
Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, 1st
Blondes certainly have more fun when it's dry at Spa. The Red Bull team presumably sat down and looked at the data after Qualifying and decided that as Mercedes had opted for more downforce than them, then they would be difficult to pass beyond S2. So save all the KERS up for the whoop up to Les Combes and try and get alongside Lewis on Lap 1. The plan worked to perfection with Vettel being sucked along as though the Mercedes had a Dyson twin-cyclone attached to its rear wing and he passed the W04 as though he had DRS enabled.

From then on it was a question of managing the gap to Hamilton and then Alonso. You got the impression when he chucked in his Fastest Lap toward the end that he could have made the gap much bigger if he really wanted to show off, or increase Rocky's blood pressure.

Overtaking Move of the Race
Lap 17: Kimi Raikkonen on Sergio Perez
Raikkonen was in a hurry to make up places after his poor start and his early pit-stop put him behind Sergio Perez. Perez was in a tetchy, defensive mood after his spat with Grosjean. Checo wasn't going to make it easy for Raikkonen, as he showed on the run-up to Les Combes, when the McLaren looked like it was moving around in the braking zone. These two have history from Monaco so you'd have expected Kimi Raikkonen to be a bit wary and wait until he had a perfect DRS overtake lined up...
No, it's Raikkonen isn't it, and so he got close to Perez going through Rivage and then hurled his Lotus round the outside of Perez into Turn 9 to take the place. Perez for his part, complied by not piling into the Lotus.

Winners

Fernando Alonso, Ferrari, 2nd
Alonso has made far better getaways from the line than today (such as Hungary) and ended up with less. This was like quite a few of his 2012 starts (such as Austin) where a path magically appeared in front of him, this time on the inside into La Source hairpin. He was helped by the slow-starting Paul DiResta in front and Mark Webber moving to his left and restraining the two Lotus cars, and suddenly there he was racing down to Eau Rouge with all the momentum to take fifth.

After that grande momento he used the Ferrari's low downforce to pick off the cars in front of him with relative ease. Sadly the car he really needed to get in front of was not within reach, even for a man with all the courage and bravery to stick a pink cuddly pig on top of his helmet locker in the Ferrari garage.

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, 3rd
Mercedes' compromise wet/dry set-up became immediately apparent on the opening lap when the Red Bull hurtled past the W04. From that point on it was a question of hanging on and looking backwards to see who else might be looming large in his mirrors - or, as David Coulthard likes to call them, his "murr-urrs". Nico Rosberg believes he could have taken the place off Lewis who he shadowed right till the line.

Nico Rosberg, Mercedes, 4th
Nico believes he lost the opportunity for a better place in qualifying, but 3rd and 4th is a pretty consistent team result when Red Bull could only manage 1st and 5th and Ferrari, 2nd and 7th.

Jenson Button, McLaren, 6th
At last Jenson looked like a contender, not just someone who was clinging onto some points. In the closing stages of the race he was catching 3rd, 4th and 5th places - a bit of a novelty in 2013.

Felipe Massa, Ferrari, 7th
Felipe wasn't happy with seventh place, but there were extenuating circumstances, such as his early KERS problem. And he did outqualify his team-mate for once.

Romain Grosjean, Lotus, 8th
Nice start.

Daniel Ricciardo, Toro Rosso, 10th
Now that Daniel has got the Red Bull drive safe in his pocket there is a definite requirement for him to beat JEV. He didn't outqualify him, but he just about beat him in the race.

Giedo van der Garde, Caterham, 3rd in Q1
van der Garde not only qualified for the race in P14, but he was still P14 at the end of the opening lap. Obviously it was not going to last, but it was still great to see in a season where the top three spending teams will be the top three scoring teams.

Marussia
On Saturday Marussia gave us ample evidence as to why we need ten teams on the grid and not eleven and why the senior management of the sport needs to be changed not the number of competitors.

Greenpeace ProtestorsWithout disrupting the race, the Greenpeace Protestors got their point across, including an incursion into Bernie's precious and inviolable Podium Ceremony. They also gave Alexandre Molina a new job as the smartly dressed (affect a cinema voice-over voice here) Podium Enforcer

Losers

Kimi Raikkonen, Lotus, DNF
Lotus say that a visor rip-off got stuck in Kimi's brake duct that made his left front brake overheat, but it also looked like something was already smoking on the grid before the start and a lump of steel fell off Raikkonen's car in practice causing the two punctures sustained by Alonso and Vettel. Could that have been brake related? Whatever, Kimi's incredible run of 27 points finishes came to an end, but Nick Heidfeld's record of 41 consecutive finishes remains. Raikkonen will have to wait till the 2015 season for that one.

Mark Webber, Red Bull, 5th
Mark's post-race comments are getting increasingly more trenchant as he gets closer to his final Red Bull race. Describing your car's get-away as "diabolical - like a tractor" won't make him any additional friends on the engineering side. He knows that with Vettel dominating the race, that fifth place on a track where overtaking is not tricky is significantly below par.

Pastor Maldonado, Williams, 17th
You've got to feel a bit sorry for Pastor Maldonado, he looked like he was trying to get into the pitlane but Guitierrez got in the way, then he gets clumped by Sutil and hits DiResta.

Paul DiResta, Force India, DNF
The way that Paul's Force India fell apart after a nudge from a Williams was almost as alarming as the self-aggrandisement of Saturday, i.e. "it was a pretty ballsy decision by myself". He got an awful start, recovered some of the places, but struggled with early tyre wear.

Sergio Perez, Mclaren, 11th
Perez squeezed Romain Grosjean unnecessarily into Les Combes - because there was no way the Lotus driver was going to make it round the outside. He didn't leave Grosjean room and forced him off the road. Fair enough. But as Martin Whitmarsh remarked, the JEV versus Nico Hulkenberg incident at Les Combes was even more clearcut and the stewards didn't act on that.

Media Watch
Thanks to Stephen Wright for collecting the marvellous EJ-ism from the BBC's Inside F1. EJ was suggesting that Mercedes had spoken to Nico to help Lewis's championship hopes, something Eddie relished:
"and that could be the excitement on the cake going forwards". Forget the hundreds and thousands, the candles, and the little silver balls that you're not sure are edible; excitement on your cake is what you need.
More EJ-isms:
After Qualifying: "All these young drivers have met the metal today."
Also after Qualifying: "If someone says that we have to get rid of Spa and substitute it with another track I will personally shoot them."

Andrew Davies

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