Sunday, 29 August 2010

Hamilton wins jolly diverting Belgian GP

Well that was a diverting hour and a half. I'm sure there must have been dull races at Spa, but somehow it's hard to imagine a race there not being entertaining. Once again, the combination of proper race track that racing cars can actually race on, plus changeable weather throwing the odd spanner in, gave us a classic.

A big well done to Lewis, who not for the first time drove like a king. He took the lead off the line, and retained command throughout, no matter what the weather threw at him or what went wrong behind him. The win was also timely, given some reckon that the remaining tracks, after the next race at Monza, may not suit the McLaren.

It's reasonably clear that Lewis is driving better than ever, with all the speed there as always but with the former (occasional) impetuosity apparently curbed. OK, he had a bit of a moment in the rain down at Rivage, which on another day could have wiped a front wheel off, but I'm prepared to forgive him for that.

It was also a good day for Mark Webber, who, after bogging down horribly at the start, stayed out of trouble and came second. The other championship contenders failed to score for a variety of reasons, so today may well be pivotal in turning the championship from a five-horse race into a two-horse race. Were getting perilously close to both McLaren and Red Bull having to ‘back’ a driver for the world championship, and Spa's result may have forced their hands. Still plenty of twists and turns ahead though, no doubt.

Losers in Spa

As mentioned, Vettel, Button and Alonso, all left Spa with nil points, stretching the thread that their championship hopes were hanging by.

Alonso had a weekend to forget, having set the pace on Friday (mostly in the wet) he and Ferrari outsmarted themselves in qualifying and started 10th. He was then wiped out by Rubinho, who misjudged his braking, in the rain on the first lap. He came back to a points position in some style, only to drop it at Malmedy (again in the rain) with six laps to go. This adds to Alonso's list of (admittedly uncharacteristic) errors this season, which are costing him a closer shot at the title. In his defence, he was fighting for tiddler points at the time, and had a potential penalty for his pit release hanging over him, so he may have had a 'nothing to lose' mentality. Still doesn't look good though.

The other two contenders were in large part accounted for by Vettel driving into Button when trying to overtake him for second place on lap 17. Button, the innocent party, was out on the spot. Vettel kept going, replaced his front wing, but then got a drive-through penalty (I personally thought this was harsh, as well as had characteristics of double jeopardy) which ensured he would finish out of the points. By all accounts there is much rumbling in the paddock about Vettel's driving, given his continuing preponderance to drive into other cars, and into the scenery, and his trailing in the championship in a season he's been the fastest virtually everywhere. He has certainly been giving the outward impression that his head has been in a bad place for most of the season. However, we shouldn’t forget that he's still young, and that there has been a lot of internal politics at Red Bull for him to content with. It also strikes me that Vettel may be suffering from a 'second season syndrome'. Yes, I know this is in fact his fourth season in F1, but it's his second as a front runner. Give the lad time, in other words.

Race results

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