Good Race, Bad Race: Belgium


Romain Grosjean comes full circle, Pirelli's image suffers a blow-out, McLaren story getting tiresome and more in Good Race, Bad Race.

Good Race
Romain Grosjean Comes Full Circle

Three seasons ago Romain Grosjean triggered a nasty first-corner accident at the Belgian Grand Prix, taking out Lewis Hamilton, Fernando Alonso and Sergio Perez. His Lotus car went airborne and he ended up just few inches away from the Alonso's head.

It resulted in a €50,000 fine and a one-race ban at the Italian Grand Prix.

In the build-up to this year's race at Spa the Frenchman admitted that he "needed help" after a series of accidents and he still speaks to a psychologists regularly. Kudos to him because whatever he is doing, he clearly has the right recipe.

And to be fair, his talent was never in doubt, it's about getting the mental side right and being given the right equipment. At Spa he was certainly given the right machinery as he proved in qualifying with his P4, which became P9 after he was handed a gearbox penalty.

He made a solid start and just kept plugging away and reward came on the penultimate lap when Sebastian Vettel's tyre exploded, handing him his first podium since 2013.

Mercedes Back To Their Best
Let's be honest, Lewis Hamilton had a very lonely race at the front and it was such a non-event that he barely featured on television. Nico Rosberg decided to make life interesting for himself as he dropped to P5 after a poor getaway, yet he quickly recovered to slot back in behind his team-mate.

Mercedes were poor at Hungary, but it appears to have been just a one-off as the well-oiled machine was back in full flow at the Belgian Grand Prix. Grosjean finished 37s behind race winner Hamiliton. Sure you have to take into account the Vettel incident, but before that Grosjean was within DRS zone of the Ferrari driver.

Is it now game over for the rest?

We Are Seeing The Perez Of Old
He has been outperformed by team-mate Nico Hulkenberg in recent races, but we got a glimpse of the Sergio Perez of 2012 at Spa over the weekend.

Make no mistake, Force India have upped their game following the introduction of the B-spec VJM08 and Hulkenberg had quite a few good results on the back of that, but Perez was clearly the faster man in Belgium.

He qualified fifth fastest, started P4 on the back of Grosjean's penalty, and was firmly in the mix for a podium early on before falling back to P5 as his final stint was a lot longer than that of Daniil Kvyat, who finished fourth.

Bad Race
Pirelli's Image Suffers Another Blow-Out

Two blow-outs in the space of a couple of days with both drivers pointing the finger at Pirelli. Although the Italian manufacturer said an external cut was to blame after Nico Rosberg's tyre exploded in FP2, the German insists "the problem is that we don’t really understand it" adding "there are theories but there’s no real evidence so that’s a bit worrying for sure".

On Sunday Vettel's right-rear tyre went up in pieces on the penultimate lap. Vettel made his feelings quite clear after the race and placed the blame squarely on the tyre manufacturer, but Pirelli's Paul Hembery says the Ferrari driver's tyres were simply worn out after they ran 28 laps on that set of rubber.

Whether or not Pirelli is to blame, they are once again getting bad publicity.

Ferrari are not covering themselves in glory with team principal Maurizio Arrivabene defending their strategy.

"We got our strategy absolutely right," he said. "Our strategy, even if it is aggressive, is based on clear data. We are not so crazy as to take a risk with our driver.

"We have an engineer from Pirelli – what do you think he is for? He’s not there to chew gum but to follow all the runs. We had zero warning. I can show you the paper."

Pirelli is really between a rock and a hard place. One minute they are criticized for producing rubber that lasts too long and the next teams want to run long stints on one set of tyres.

The McLaren Story Is Getting Tiresome
"Embarrassing to be floating around the back", "we were not competitive", "painful weekend", "not a very interesting race" and "couldn't meet expectations" are just some of the phrases used to describe McLaren-Honda's showing at Spa.

We don't think we need to add anything.

Williams Tyre Farce
Spare a thought for the poor bloke who actually put the wrong tyre in the wrong blanket. Unfortunately for him in Formula 1 you don't have any margins for such errors.

It's a mistake that probably cost Valtteri Bottas fifth place and will now lead to review of their procedures.

"There will be an investigation into the processes in place to understand what happened fully, and to put in place a procedure to stop this happening again," Rob Smedley said.

Last Year He Won It, This Year He Parked It
Daniel Ricciardo was helpless as his Red Bull car shut down on the start-finish straight due to an electrical problem. Nico Hulkenberg and Carlos Sainz joined him as the unfortunate retirements.

That Brings Us To Maldonado
Pastor Maldonado was another driver who retired through no fault of his own with his Lotus E23 suffering a transmission problem very early in the race. He started ahead of team-mate Grosjean after the Frenchman's penalty was taken into account and was running in the top 10 before his car came to a halt.

However, he lands up in the "bad race" column for his antics during practice on Friday as he once again put his car into the barriers.

The Venezuelan admitted that "I just lost the car in the middle of the corner", adding that "it was very unlucky because I nearly saved the car. But anyway, it happened."

You have to wonder just how much money these incidents are costing Lotus in terms of repair work.