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Vettel copes with compromises on tyres to win thrilling Belgian Grand Prix
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Photo: Red Bull
Posted By: James Allen  |  28 Aug 2011   |  2:42 pm GMT  |  197 comments

Despite suffering from severe tyre blistering in the early stages, which forced him to pit twice for new tyres by lap 15, Sebastian Vettel won the Belgian Grand Prix ahead of Red Bull team mate Mark Webber and Jenson Button, who started 13th on the grid and survived a scare when his front wing was broken early on and he was forced to stop.

Given the problems he faced, problems which basically forced his team mate Mark Webber to run the whole race on the medium tyre, it was one of Vettel’s most impressive wins to date. It was greatly helped by problems for some of his rivals and by the Red Bull being more competitive here in Spa than it has been in recent years, but there was still a lot of work to do for him given the restrictions of the tyres. The Red Bull was set up at a certain camber angle which, combined with the vertical loads in Eau Rouge corner in particular, meant that the inside shoulder of the tyres was blistering on many cars, but especially the Red Bull. This doesn’t necessarily affect lap time, but does raise some safety questions as there is always the chance of a failure.

It was Vettel’s 7th win of the season and the 17th of his career and it makes his grip on the world title even more secure with Lewis Hamilton crashing out of the race. Vettel’s win extended his lead at the top of the championship to 92 points with only seven races to go. At this rate he could wrap his second world title up by the Indian Grand Prix in October. Surprisingly it was only Red Bull’s second one-two finish of the season.

There had been some behind the scenes action on race morning with some teams, including Red Bull, suffering from blistering problems on the front tyres in qualifying and asking the FIA for some dispensation to get new fronts for the start of the race. This did not happen.

“We had a lot of concern going into the race given the damage on the tyre so we took quite a risk,” said Vettel. “We (he and Webber) both stopped early and the target was to see how the tyres and not think too much about the outcome. It was more management than usual, but the car worked brilliantly. I’m very happy with how we managed the tyres.”

There were some fantastic performances throughout the field with Webber recovering from a poor start to finish second, Jenson Button making up 10 places from his grid slot and Michael Schumacher coming through from last place to fifth at the finish.

The track was dry at the start and everyone except Michael Schumacher and Jenson Button started on the soft tyre.

Nico Rosberg made an electric start, up to second on the first corner from fifth on the grid and then into the lead on the Kemmel Straight. Vettel slotted in second, with Hamilton under attack from Alonso who went past the Englishman on lap 2.

There was quite a bit of contact in the first corner, Alguersuari, Senna, Kovalainen all had some damage. Vettel retook the lead on lap four. Senna missed the corner and went straight on into Alguersuari. Senna hadn’t driven a race for a while and he was given a drive through penalty.

Webber and Button both pitted on lap 5, Webber’s tyres suffering already.

Alonso and Massa attacked Rosberg and we had a sequence of fantastic racing, as Alonso passed Massa and as the Brazilian tried to resist, Hamilton went through as well.

Vettel pitted on lap 7, reporting vibrations on his first set. He rejoined in 9th place. This early switch to new tyres was critical to the outcome of the race as he was able to lap very fast and build a margin, while others were still trying to make their qualifying tyres last.

Alonso passed Rosberg for the lead, great progress from his 8th place starting position. Meanwhile Hamilton was starting to see blisters on his front tyres. He still managed to pass Rosberg using DRS on lap 8, for second place.

Hamilton passed Kobayashi but then the pair collided with Hamilton having a big impact with the barriers and going out of the race.

The safety car was deployed on lap 15 and as some cars came into the pits, Webber found himself in second place behind Alonso, the difference being that Webber had got his medium tyre phase out of the way, Alonso had not.

Vettel pitted for the second time under the safety car. Behind the safety car the order of the top ten was Alonso, Webber, Vettel, Massa, Rosberg, Sutil, Perez, Petrov, Schumacher, Barrichello.

The race restarted on lap 16. Alonso held the lead, but Vettel passed Webber on the straight and set about Alonso, using his fresh tyres. He got ahead into the lead, but Alonso seemed to be managing the tyre wear, apparently planning to make one less stop.

Button was making great progress at this stage, having already got his medium tyre phase out of the way early on. He passed Sutil and Massa in quick succession.

Vettel was trying hard to avoid making an extra stop at the front on his third set of tyres. He managed it and only pitted for the medium tyre when Alonso did so on lap lap 30. He had coped very well with the compromise enforced by the blistering early on, a tough job but one he and the team managed superbly. Understanding and working the tyres just right seems to be one of his strongest traits, as he also showed in the final part of qualifying.

In the closing stages the main interest was Webber trying to catch Alonso, both on the medium tyres. The Red Bull was much faster on them.

Michael Schumacher had a great day to celebrate his 20th anniversary, starting at the back of the grid he used an inverted strategy starting on and running mainly mediums with soft tyres at the end to get into the top six and fight with his team mate Rosberg, who started fifth. Rosberg was told to “save fuel” in the closing stages and Schumacher passed him for fifth place.

Webber passed Alonso on the medium tyre very easily, the Red Bull a lot faster on it than the Ferrari. Meanwhile Button on the soft tyre was catching Alonso at a second a lap with six laps to go. He passed him with four laps to go for the final podium spot.

Webber closed on Vettel in the closing stages at around 7/10ths of a second a lap, but Vettel managed that gap too.

BELGIAN GRAND PRIX, Spa Francorchamps, 44 laps

1. Vettel Red Bull 1h26.44.893
2. Webber Red Bull + 3.741
3. Button McLaren + 9.669
4. Alonso Ferrari + 13.022
5. Schumacher Mercedes + 47.464
6. Rosberg Mercedes + 48.674
7. Sutil Force India + 59.713
8. Massa Ferrari + 1m06.076
9. Petrov Renault + 1m11.917
10. Maldonado Williams + 1m17.615
11. Di Resta Force India + 1m23.994
12. Kobayashi Sauber + 1m31.976
13. Senna Renault + 1m32.985
14. Trulli Lotus + 1 lap
15. Kovalainen Lotus + 1 lap
16. Barrichello Williams + 1 lap
17. D’Ambrosio Virgin + 1 lap
18. Glock Virgin + 1 lap
19. Liuzzi HRT + 1 lap

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197 Comments
  1. John Starton says:

    Another perfect day for people in Ferrari who are responsible for race strategy… Sorry for Massa and Alonso – drives can’t do anything when they are managed by retards. I don’t think I’m too harsh with this word – since last year’s Abu Dabi there have been too many races having same problem…

    1. JF says:

      A bit harsh, but I agree

    2. Jo Torrent says:

      You’re a bit harsh indeed. Ferrari strategy was wrong for sure but given their pace on the prime, a win would’ve been very unlikely anyway.

      Ferrari issues are much worse than strategy. They can’t make their tyres work quickly enough or properly when it’s cold & this year we had very few hot races.

      As for strategy, McLaren made much more mistakes especially in qualies but in the race as well. RedBull is really excellent. Besides the wrong call in China for leading Vettel, I don’t recall any strategy mistake.

      1. Paulo Miranda says:

        Also in China i think, putting Webber out in Q1 with the hardest compound when he clearly was having some troubles to find the pace in it.

        Monaco was more a communication error.

        Both of this “errors” still given them good results.

    3. HansB says:

      100% agree. How stupid can you be to do a run of 14 laps (of the total of 44) on the harder compound while knowing that in the past this tyre was not working ? A new set of soft tyres when the safetycar was deployed would have left him down to 3rd place but from then on he could have put a lot of pressure on Vettel in 2nd. With these fresh soft tyres the ferrari would run almost to the end (at least much longer than the RB) to switch to the harder tyres just before the finish. I presume a 2nd place would have come out.

      1. Fausto Cunha says:

        Totally agree!!

    4. Justin says:

      As a Ferrari fan it’s really disheartening to watch RBR make perfect call after perfect call almost every weekend while Ferrari is always a step behind and not quite with it. i understand their temperature issues with the medium compound, which, while it enables the fewer stops with the soft, severely hinders the ends of their races.

      I almost think they should just drop out in Q2, start on the hards when the cars are heaviest and heat the tires quickest, and then switch to softs for the rest of the race. Surely they could replicate what button, webber, schumi, alguersuari etc. have done and might even win a race.

      I guess i just need to hope for italy, singapore, japan, korea, india, abu dhabi, and brazil to be warm which isn’t too much of an ask is it?

  2. Chantelle says:

    great race! ferrari really need to sort out strategy and tyre management i just hope this is sorted out next year as, Alonso was blistering in the beginning just faltered at the end.

  3. Robert Lujan says:

    Was it just me or was Hamiltons DRS open all the time till he hit Kobi? I thought only the car behind (so Kobi this time)can open the DRS. Glad to see that Hamilton was able to get out. But the waiting felt a bit uncomfortable. Brilliant race lots of action and it was good to see Schumi beat Rosberg for once!

    1. Robert Gunning says:

      Hamilton was behind Kobayashi at the DRS detection zone, which is half way between La Source and Eau Rouge. So even though Hamilton had passed Kobayashi when going into Eau Rouge, he could still use the DRS along the Kemmel Straight.

      1. Robert Lujan says:

        Okay, I see now, I thought that (wing open) was what might have caused the accident. After listening to RTL (here in Germany) kind of seems that Hamilton moved left to block when he really didn’t have to as he was ahead anyways. I don’t want to say he did it to himself, but I can’t see how Kamui is reponsible in this case.

      2. Fausto Cunha says:

        The strange thing is how could Kamui follow Hamilton even with is DRS closed. Lewis with is DRS open couldn´t get away from Kamui with is DRS closed.

    2. KRB says:

      Hamilton passed Kobayashi with the DRS on Kemmel. Then Kobi hung his car in, for whatever reason (was he going to try to pass LH around the outside?!). Overly optimistic of Kobi, but it didn’t cost him in the end. The Ferrari and Sauber were really quick down Kemmel; must’ve been running fast wings.

      1. Baktru says:

        Hamilton should have seen Koby was on his outside though. He clearly didn’t expect the Sauber to be there at all, especially with his DRS open and Kobayashi’s closed. Kamui couldn’t have made the pass, but he had the right to be there. Hamilton crashing out was his own mistake. Again.

      2. markus says:

        Kobi had a every right to try to force Lewis offline for the second part of the chicane.

        Even with the miniscule tow Kobi was drifting up on the outside of Lewis and was in all probability gonna try to brake even with Lewis.

        So in fairness to both a racing incident.

      3. KRB says:

        Had a right to be there maybe, but was it reasonable? At some point, drivers have to assume that all others will act reasonably.

        Kobi was lucky he wasn’t adversely affected by it. Hamilton came off much the worse when he did something similar in Monza last year. Kamui knows where the racing line is, and should’ve expected that Hamilton might move to take it before the turn.

        There are some people for whom Hamilton is always in the wrong, and can do no right.

      4. Toby Mathews says:

        Agree with Markus. Interesting to see Lewis’s apology this evening; I imagine this is becoming a season from which he’s keen to move on.

      5. Justin says:

        baktru and markus are spot on.

        Kobi’s car position was just as unreasonable and overly optimistic as many places lewis has put his car this year.

        i don’t always think lewis is wrong, he just is most of the time. mtl with jenson was 65% lewis, in monaco 75% lewis with massa and all him with maldonado, his move in quali on maldonado was fine and perfectly reasonable, maldonado’s retribution was ridiculous and he was not punished harshly enough. with massa at silverstone, was rough but it was racing, his spin turn penalty was deserved (should’ve turned right), italy last year was him but a RI, singapore was more webber’s but a RI too, and i stil agree with the spa ’08 penalty. it was terribly administered and should’ve been a drive through, but i think the ruling was correct to the wording of the rule and you will not convince me otherwise.

        that’s all i can recall off the top of my head.

    3. Lee says:

      DRS availability is determined by being within 1 second of the car in front at the DRS detection zone – then at the activation zone you can activate – even if you are already ahead. If you use it to overtake, you don’t have to close it immediately once you are ahead – rather it closes when you starting braking at the next corner.

      I’d take a bit of an issue on “he hit Kobi” – I viewed Hamilton as being in front still and following the racing line.

      Having said that, I was surprised that the tow that Kamui got from Lewis appeared to be more than equivalent to the DRS benefit Lewis was getting, but I was also a bit surprised that Kamui kept his foot in when the line he was going need to take was going to intersect with the racing line Lewis was fully entitled to take as the leading car – I view that as causing an avoidable accident.

      1. rav says:

        I am not surprised that a *racer* would not just roll over… after LH passed him, KK got a tow, took a racing line (and stuck with it until LH hit him) to keep the other racer from the optimal racing line to perhaps force LH to a mistake coming out of the corner and get his position back, good race craft… LH should have looked in his mirror and kept to the inside line… he obviously didn’t expect a racer next to him, guess he will be more careful next time he passes KK :-)

        I am impressed with LH admitting his mistakes more often these days… another difficult year to mature as a person, I just hope he doesn’t lose his racing edge as he mellows a bit.

      2. Josh says:

        I think if KK were nearly wheel to wheel with Lewis than that would be “good race craft” to keep Lewis off his line. I think the fact that KK was there in this case was clumsy and optimistic at best.

        I agree he was within his right to be there, I just don’t think it was a good idea and it created this incident.

        For the record – I have no driver affiliations. I am an F1 fanboy.

  4. Sergio says:

    RB did a great strategy maneouvre with SC on Vettel and big mistake for Ferrari. The unique chance for the reds was broken after SC deployment, as a “traditional affair” with Alonso and SC.
    Tremendous Button.

  5. DK says:

    Great racing, a lot of wheel to wheel actions, must be one of best of SPA in the recent years.

    Congratulations to Vettel,it is his most convincing victory so far IMO.

    1. KRB says:

      I thought that was the least entertaining race at Spa that I can remember. Spa usually brings about total chaos … there was nothing approaching the end of last year’s race, or the end of 2008′s race.

      1. Fausto Cunha says:

        The least entertaining?? That´s a litle bit unfair…it was a very entertaining race…maybe not as great as some SPA races at the end but still a great race.

  6. Sammy says:

    Great drive from Seb & Schumi.
    Hamilton run into Koba and not vice versa.

    1. Jimmy G says:

      Utter rubbish, where was kobayashi going and why was he turning when there was still a car wheel alongside him, for him to attack Hamilton he needed to out brake him and turn later, not at the same time! Basics.

      1. markus says:

        @Jimmy Utter rubbish squared

        Kobi was gonna try and brake even with Lewis and then force Lewis off line for the second part of the chicane.

        Not hard to figure out with the amount of times 2 cars have gone through that very corner abreast. Basics (never settle!)

      2. shane says:

        Not utter rubbish at all. He had every right to try and get back at Lewis. Even some bloke called Lauda questioned Lewis pulling back across…he knows more than we do.

      3. frosty1 says:

        Just to add, despite the ridiculous lengths Hamilton fans have gone to absolve him of any blame, he has admitted fault via his twitter. Hamilton is a likeable character, but it’s his hardcore fan base that puts people off.

      4. Aaron Parsons says:

        Lauda – always the voice of reason (er…..no). Lewis was moving to the racing line which is not an unreasonable thing to do. He was spotting his braking point and looking for the apex of the corner and clearly didn’t expect Kobayashi to be there. It was a mistake by Lewis, for sure, but I also question what Kamui was doing trying to repass even though his car was much slower and damaged. I don’t begrudge the fact that he was having a go – it’s things like that which make F1 exciting. I suppose what I’m saying is that it was a racing incident pure and simple.

      5. lecho says:

        Kobayashi was driving straight on through the whole action. It was Lewis who was turning left and catched the Sauber’s front.

    2. KRB says:

      Hamilton did drift to the left, but why was Kobayashi there? Did he really think he could re-pass Hamilton around the outside there? He was on older tires, in a slower car. I like KK’s swashbuckling racing style, but there he should’ve accepted that he’s been passed by a faster car in the McLaren, on fresher tires, and get on with his race.

      I would hope to the racing gods that if we were in a tight championship year, with LH as a title contender, that KK would’ve stayed well clear of him, not wanting to court any controversy or influence in any way that title fight.

      F1 fans were robbed of a great race finish today. This was the first ho-hum race at Spa I can remember, even with the DRS passing.

      1. AB says:

        Maybe he was racing. It was for position. He is entitled to fight back. People whinging when it’s a DRS pass (Its too easy) then complain when a driver attempts to come back. In my opinion, Hamilton takes a fair share of the blame for Saturdays accident and also Sunday. In both cases, it appeared to me that he “expected” the other driver to move for him. Watch Saturday with Maldonardo. Hamilton is the one moving right, following the curve of the road and expecting Maldonardo to do the same. Sunday, Hamilton drifts back to the racing line and expects KK to drop back. When you are driving your car on the road, do you make allowances for other drivers? Why is it any different for Hamilton?

      2. Aaron Parsons says:

        What’s wrong with following the curve of the road and expecting another car to do the same? The problem was that Maldonado decided not to turn the corner and didn’t make allowances for the fact that there was another car there. That’s why PM was pushed back 5 grid places and Hamilton merely reprimanded (although no one seems to be able to say what for),

      3. Chapor says:

        I am so sick and tired of Hamilton getting blamed for EVERYTHING! Pastor swipes at him in a move that is dangerous and completely unsporting! But Hamilton gets a reprimand?! WTF!?
        Hamilton passes and is IN FRONT of KK and he gets taken out by an overly optimistic move from KK’s part and the stewards don’t even do an investigation?! Is that fair?! NO!!!! Is this what F1 is coming to these days? Hamilton did his fair share of stupid moves but this blame game is getting farcical and ridiculous! This F1 weekend leaves me with a sour taste in my mouth… If KK’s and LH’s positions were reversed Lh would have gotten a drive through penalty. If Lh would have taken that swipe at PM Lewis would have gotten a three race ban… That is the ugly truth today and everyone knows it’s true.

        Yours truly

        An ex- Kamui fan and disappointed F1 fan.

      4. Justin says:

        chapour:

        lewis doesn’t get blamed for everything, i haven’t seen a single item where people blame hammy for maldonato hitting him. lewis is just in the wrong on most of his incidents. a lot of the time i totally get what he’s doing, mtl or hungary for example, but that doesn’t mean it’s not wrong.

      5. quetric says:

        Who cares why Kobayashi was there? “He should have accepted that he’s been passed”, what a load of bull. It’s his right to put his car anywhere on track as long as he doesn’t break any safety rules. It was Hamilton who drifted into another car and ruined his own race, again.

      6. **Paul** says:

        “but why was Kobayashi there”

        Because it’s the racing line for the corner (which is why Lewis was drifting back across the track), and sitting on said racing line forces the other guy to take a narrower corner entry, which compromises the speed he can carry in, and may result in him making an error allowing you to re-pass.

        It’s called racing.

      7. Sammy says:

        Hamilton is one of the quicker drivers out there, but unfortunately, also one of the most reckless people on the grid.

      8. KRB says:

        Kobayashi has stated that he wasn’t going to fight for position, so why did he empty most of his KERS on that straight? Kobi could’ve been over to the left more. You just have to look at LH’s position at that corner in lap 1 (when Massa passed him) and lap 2 (when Alonso passed him) … in both instances LH has his left wheel over the line on the kerb, and in both cases the Ferrari’s drifted left before the turn. Kobi’s left front at the time of contact was more than a foot in from the white line, and he never moved left to avoid a collision. These are the top drivers in the world, and can react in an instant. Kobi could’ve and should’ve moved over. I thought at first that it didn’t affect his race, as he was still running, but the SC dropped him down quite a ways, and he scored no points (while Force India snagged 6 pts; James, what’s the difference in money between 6th and 7th in the Constructors championship?).

        Another good example is on lap 17, after the restart from the SC, Vettel passed Alonso on that straight, and was on the kerb after Alonso had pushed him left with a big move.

        Or on lap 5 as they were heading to Pouhon, Massa did a big push on Hamilton to move him out wide, going far off the racing line. LH went over all the way to the white line, and by then was just ahead, so the pass stuck. If he holds his position, then Massa will run into the side of him, and they’re both out.

        This is what I mean when I say reasonable. Alonso for example had full right to hold his position going into Eau Rouge with Webber. But if he had, Webber could possibly have been six feet under at present.

        As Jacques Villeneuve said, at some point drivers have to realize they’ve lost a battle, and concede. When drivers don’t concede when they’ve clearly lost out, that’s when big accidents happen.

  7. PaulL says:

    Once again, the race had action and there was uncertainty as to how it would all pan out, but like almost all the races this year, its an experience that’s left me unfulfilled and rueful.

    It seems the race is governed by tyre wear, tyre strategy, and DRS. The end-product, for me, is an endless tango of superficial hoopla.

    I find, on a broader level, mainstream pop culture to be of the same superficial essence, appealing to the quickest and most accessible forms of pleasure and entertainment. And it seems to me that F1 has accommodated and pandered to this quick-fix entertainment marketplace.

    1. KRB says:

      The first 5 laps were great stuff. But DRS on Kemmel made passing quite easy.

      1. FaithHealer1 says:

        True, but the best passes, and the most exciting racing, came without DRS – Webber on Alonso into Eau Rouge (which I think is one of the best passes I’ve ever seen – great driving from both of them) and Vettel around Rosberg (I think) in Blanchimont. And the Ferraris and Hamilton fighting all the way from Les Combes to Pouhon was great as well. I agree though, DRS activation should’ve been a bit further down Kemmel than it was, as there’s a bigger difference between the acceleration of a DRS car and a non-DRS car at higher speeds (owing to drag = drag coefficient X speed squared). The cars will be at very high speeds on Kemmel, so you could still have an effective DRS zone further down the straight.

      2. devilsadvocate says:

        Vettel around the merc, I think it was Rosberg was sublime

      3. KRB says:

        That pass looked good, as it’s a fast corner. But knowing the tires of both (Vettel’s new, Rosberg’s shot), it loses its lustre. Button on Schumacher was a nice pass. Hamilton on Massa was a nice pass.

        Vettel on Alonso on lap 17 was a nice pass, though DRS-assisted, and again, with some discretion by Alonso. Same with Button on Sutil at the same corner. Sutil locked-up to make sure he didn’t clip Button who was going to take the corner no matter what.

        Pass of the day no question was Webber on Alonso, even though yes Alonso was just coming out of the pit. Just the sheer audacity to have a go there, and betting with your life that you’ll make it stick, was just amazing.

  8. 1) The first few laps were awesome. Seeing Rosberg jump up to the lead in only a few corners was awesome. Shame DRS came in to ruin the day and allowed everyone to drive by him. The first two laps showed that DRS is not needed to provide excellent racing.

    2) So much for Senna’s brilliant Renault debut. That was a pretty silly move to make on the first corner, and it’s a shame that it took out Alguersuari. I was really looking forward to seeing what Alg could do, but Senna’s brain-fade into the first corner put paid to that. His race pace was also slow, which indicates that his qualifying performance relative to Petrov was exaggerated by Petrov’s mistake and the timing of his last timed lap. He never came close to Petrov for the entire race. I doubt his suspension was damaged in the first corner impact, since it was the impact Alg had with Massa on the other side that actually broke the steering arm. I wanted to see Senna do well, but with his 13th place finish compared to Petrov’s 9th with brake problems is definitely helping Heidfeld’s legal case; I bet Heidfeld would have had similar qualifying, a much smarter first corner, and perhaps even a top-six finish, given that Renault had a good update for this race.

    3) DRS made for a boring race. It killed Rosberg’s chance at a podium. Schumacher’s pass on Rosberg at the end was a simple drive-by (not exciting at all). Countless other passes were boring drive-by passes. These days there is no point in passing into La Source. You could see a few nice moves there at the beginning of the race, but whoever passed there would have the same car just drive by them again after Radillion. Basically, most drivers would just wait for that straight to ensure an uncontested drive-by, rather than risk an actual pass. Vettel even admitted to that in the post-race interview. Why bother risking anything by passing when a few corners later you can be guaranteed a drive-by on a long straight? Also, it’s not as if DRS replicates the draft, as the driver engaging DRS still has the advantage when alongside the other driver, and can just drive away, whereas a draft would be eliminated as soon as you attempt to pull alongside the leading driver. The latter takes skill to pull off (re: Hakkinen v. Schumacher in ’98), whereas the former takes no skill at all (re: Turkey, Valencia, China, Montreal, Spa, etc, etc, etc 2011).

    3) Due to DRS, and in some part Pirelli, the race strategy no longer counts on track position. In fact, it can largely be ignored (except at Monaco). With DRS, it is simple to drive by other cars, so the strategy then becomes to achieve the lowest possible race time, as other cars on the track provide minimal resistance. If there was no DRS, Button and Webber might not have made their last stops in an effort to stay ahead and defend their position; however, Vettel simply drove by Button, so Webber knew he didn’t have a chance to defend Vettel on new tires with DRS, so his best chance was to hope Vettel made a mistake and get a new set of tires.

    4) Lastly, starting from the back of the grid isn’t impressive anymore. First, you have a tire advantage at most GPs, due to the tire limit rules over a weekend. Second, because of DRS, every car is a sitting duck and provides little resistance over the course of a race. Schumacher showed this by simply driving through the pack. I didn’t see a single interesting pass of his; they were all DRS drive-by passes (can’t blame him – I’d do the same! No-risk guaranteed pass versus a high-risk attempt at a pass with no guarantee? He’d be stupid to do it any other way). The days of being impressed with a drive from the back (re: John Watson at Long Beach, 1983) are gone… Schumacher drove a smart race, but it’s just not impressive anymore.

    I was really looking forward to this race, but unfortunately it was a let-down after the first two laps of real racing. Sorry James, but that’s not what I consider a “thrilling” Grand Prix.

    1. James Allen says:

      There were many highlights; some astonishing side by side action, multiple changes of lead, overtakes, eg Webber on Alonso, cars coming through from P19 to podium – you sure are hard to please!

      1. AB says:

        Well said James. Thought it was a great race. And Webber and Alonso at Eau Rouge…Awesome! If that was boring, I don’t know what people want… Oh, I know Ferrari, Schumacher or Hamilton dominating.

      2. Mingojo says:

        James, perhaps you should mention on which tyres was Weber and Alonso at the time of Weber on Alonso. I think Alonso was unlucky today with SC ruining his race and given Vettel a free pit stop when he needed it.

      3. Fausto Cunha says:

        Alonso could have stopped too at that safety-car but ferrari are always playing safe and not taking risks with strategy.

        If Alonso had stoped at that safety-car he would be with new tyres like Vettel and Ferrari wasn´t suffering as much blistering as Red Bull so he could challenge Vettel after 5 or 6 laps.

      4. Michael C says:

        “multiple changes of lead, overtakes”

        How many of those were faked by DRS? Boring = driver skill being replaced by pushing buttons in a video game world. Many of us (like Malcolm) don’t think this makes for good Grand Prix racing.

        And I don’t think we’re that hard to please. Obviously it’s a matter of different values. If I wanted to see constant changes of lead, I could have switched to NASCAR long before the invention of KERS, DRS and dumbed-down Pirelli tires.

      5. Precisely. Changes of lead don’t interest me if they consist of cars gently driving by each other on the straights.

      6. beflox says:

        its exciting with these rules … but there is no tension. I can’t put my finger in it, but, apart from the last laps of Canada there has been no edge of the seat stuff for me this year – been watching since ’85, and I’m finding this year a bit coke&hamburger to be honest!

      7. Michael C says:

        Yes… like the old adage says, “Don’t mistake activity for achievement.”

        Can pushing a button to pass be considered achievement?

      8. Past Pupil says:

        Me too … there’s definitely something lacking – whatever it was that kept me watching has gone away.

      9. beflox says:

        @past pupil … yeah, i agree. For the first time in my life I am already realizing that if I don’t get a chance to watch the next race I don’t feel that bothered …

        Never thought that would happen. I still love F1, there is just something missing now.

      10. James – It’s not that I am hard to please. Sure, Webber’s move on Alonso was great, and the first two laps were really fun to watch… but DRS just puts a sour taste in my mouth. After seeing enough DRS passes, I just wanted to turn off the TV. With few exceptions, you could see every driver just waiting for the straight after Radillion.

        I think the icing on the cake for me was seeing Alonso passing Massa into Bruxelles (the corner after Les Combes), run wide and put two wheels off onto the paved run-off. He made a mistake, but was rewarded for it by being able to keep his position. Running wide doesn’t matter anymore. If there was grass there, Alonso would have spun, and his race might have been over… but since it was paved, he even kept his position. They should really have about two metres of grass between the track and the run-off, so drivers aren’t rewarded by running wide.

        DRS has even made passing boring. The circuit designers have made the tracks extremely forgiving. Each rules iteration the cars are given less and less power. These are supposedly the best drivers in the world – why aren’t they being challenged?

      11. James Allen says:

        Agree that some of the moves were too easy with DRS

    2. tank says:

      …you have numbered two of your points as 3). lol.

      I thought Webber’s pass on Alonso through eau rouge was pretty awesome.

      1. Oops! Haha. Must have been the heat of the moment when posting.

        I agree – that pass was awesome. A great moment surrounded by lameness.

    3. mazirian says:

      It was a good race, but I agree with you on DRS. It makes overtaking boring and needs to go.

      1. Yes, perhaps I was a little harsh… but the DRS just riles me up.

        It was a good race, but just by banning DRS it would have been a great one.

        There were so many instances where a driver got a better run and a little slipstream coming out of Radillion, and it would have made for a great side-by-side duel into Les Combes… but then one of them gets to press a button to give them an extra 10-15 km/h so they can drive ahead, uncontested, into the braking zone (unless you’re in a McLaren with the big flap).

        It doesn’t even replicate slipstreaming as you retain the advantage even when you aren’t behind the other car. Slipstreaming takes skill, pressing the DRS button doesn’t.

      2. patric says:

        The entire “human” side is being removed from the equation. There is something very much lacking in formula one. It has lost it’s edge and it’s heart.

        Please tell me the last time F1 made front page of a paper??? Thought so. Not for many years, cause there is no drama, no human conflict. A bunch of piolts who all love each other and are best buds, boring. Gimme the cold stare of hate between senna and prost any day, than all this hugging on the podium.

        The Hill/Schumacher era, the Senna/Prost era..headlines, all the time. Now, nada, nothing.

        DRS, needs no talent, i agree. Look at Rosberg, or Alonzo..there is no fight in them. They just bend over and take it when someone passes. gimme them a scare guys, senna style, make people watch these races again, cause F1 is fading, FAST. IT IS DULL, SORRY.

        Yes, DRS is pathetic. However it is more the TYPE of pilot we have (it started with coulthard IMO, the nicely, nicely, goody two shoes type) and the moronic, wrapped in cotton wool rules that have taken all that made F1 great and left it as a shadow of it’s former self. Thank god for Hamilton, the one breath of spirit and heart in F1.

        The TV figures reflect this, the masses have lost interest in F1 over the last few years, because, it is full of emotionless, dull pilots, dull tracks and rules that reduce the sport to a Playstation game with no REAL danger.

      3. James Allen says:

        TV figures are down in Italy, Germany etc that’s true, but well up in UK and Spain and other places. Hard to say it’s the racing at fault, at the moment

    4. Cristobal says:

      DRS dumbing down the sport nails it for me. There is nothing exciting, at all, about an overtake in a straight line, especially when it has come about by a momentary advantage handed to the ‘following’ vehicle courtesy of the rule book. Moves like Webber on Alonso are very special and I suspect happen less and less in a DRS world where a driver can opt to simply wait to cross the white line and do it all in a straight line – no risk – unless your name is Hamilton and you expect everyone to clear the road around you whenever you appear.

    5. Aaron Parsons says:

      Webber passing Alonso into Eau Rouge is probably one of the most exciting overtakes I have ever seen. It was a heart in mouth moment and even if the rest of the race had been a procession would have negated any accusations of the race being boring.

      1. pargo says:

        +1 on that.

      2. Mark in Australia says:

        You nailed it the Aaron. That was sublime seeing Mark and Fernando side by side through one of motorports golden pieces of track.

        Great drives also from Michael and Jenson.

        So much talk about Lewis here.. He sure does polarize the sports fans. For me, it was brought about through two hard racers going for it. And I for one am delighted to see the boys going at it with elbows out. Sometimes it comes off; as per Mark and Fernando at Eau Rouge, sometimes there is contact. Better to see this than see guys falling off the road to get out of each others way!!!

        I look forward to a weekend when Lewis can keep his nose clean. They are the weekends when he goes the best. You can still race on the edge and cone home with a straight car and the biggest trophy, when he learns this another WDC will soon follow, in my opinion.

      3. Fair enough… I’ll give you that. That pass definitely made me sit up straight.

    6. garoidb says:

      In some ways, the races in which DRS facilitates “easy” overtaking are akin to the
      slipstreamer races of old when the following car could gain extra speed from the tow.

      If overtaking is straightforward, you adapt to those conditions and race accordingly. Pace matters more, and you could say that is a purer race.

      Overtaking would not have been excessively difficult in races like Jim Clarks comeback drive at Monaco in 67, for example.

      1. DRS doesn’t even replicate slipstreaming, as you retain the advantage even when you aren’t behind the other car. With DRS, you keep the button down until you brake, so not only do you get a run on the driver ahead, but then pull away down the whole straight. Slipstreaming takes skill to time it perfectly, pressing the DRS button doesn’t.

        The first two laps showed that you can have slipstreaming where you get a run on someone, pull alongside, and then it is a side-by-side duel into Les Combes… then DRS was activated and the duels were replaced by drive-by passes.

        A race strategy relying purely on pace does not make it a “purer” race – it makes it a very long qualifying session. Track position should matter in a race.

        Finally, 1967 would not have had “easy” passing. Slipstreaming, at Monza, still required precise timing and strategy. As I said above, slipstreaming passes in 1967 would have resulted in a close duel into the next corner, not one car streaking off into the lead, leaving the other not even able to catch up to their dust. Possibility of the passed car re-slipstreaming and diving up the inside under braking? Possible in 1967, not so possible now.

        Passing at Monaco is still tight and requires bravery and ultimate accuracy (true in ’67 and today). Clark is probably rolling in his grave that drivers can press a button and drive by their competition.

        If you want slipstreaming, there are several ways you can augment that in a passive way. Bigger rear tires (Villeneuve’s long-held argument), no slots in the rear-wing endplates, single-element rear wings, simple front-wing endplates that wouldn’t push the air around the front tire; all of that would increase the drag on an F1 car and subsequently increase the slipstream effect. Simple to implement as well.

      2. garoidb says:

        I take some of your points, such as the difference whereby the slipstreaming advantage instantly passes to the overtaken car, whereas for DRS you need to wait a lap and stay with 1 second.

        Broadly, though, both have the effect of giving an advantage to the following car rather than the long years where the dirty air artificially impaired the prospects of the driver behind (even more antithetical to racing in my view).

        I don’t think that “track position should matter in a race” should trump all other considerations. What about race pace? Skill? An extreme example is Alonso and Hamilton (two of the most skillful) absolutely unable to overtake much slower cars in Abu Dhabi.

        This year, we have had races where overtaking was relatively easy (Turkey, Spa), and others where it was still difficult. This throws up a need for different approaches to different races, and represents a challenge to the drivers and teams to adapt and think on their feet. This is fine by me, and just another variant on F1 racing which has also seen things like turbo boost buttons, KERs and f-ducts to name but a few.

      3. I never said it should trump all other variables.

        With Pirelli’s tires, you won’t have those trains of cars anymore. Bridgestone’s tires made it excessively difficult to pass, and Pirelli has turned things around.

        Pirelli has made it possible to have interesting and exciting overtakes.

        DRS has only provided boring drive-by passes… Hamilton overtaking Schumacher at Monaco being a notable exception.

        Also, turbo boost was variable for anyone, and wasn’t a “push-to-pass” gimmick. KERS is available to anyone at any time, and while it falls under the guise of “push-to-pass”, at least the leading driver isn’t a sitting duck. F-Ducts aren’t “push-to-pass” either, and were solely a performance enhancer. DRS leaves the leading driver as a sitting duck and provides boring passes.

        Does it excite you to watch a driver drive by another car on a straight and be able to pull back onto the racing line before even entering the corner?

      4. garoidb says:

        I am conscious of all the points you raise. Some people are more offended by the DRS concept than others. I see advantages and disdvantages to it. This comments section is not really set up for over-and-back discussions, so lets just agree to disagree.

    7. Jo Torrent says:

      You missed a great pass the one pulled by Alonso on Massa. I don’t blame you for forgetting because some suggest that in that team the Number 1 driver is always handed the position on a plate.

      1. Liam in Sydney says:

        I can’t disagree with the original post more. Although there were elements to the race that seemed a bit processional, or, predicable(?), what more do you want in a race? There were at least two ‘all time’ great passes in the race. You saw Schumi storm back from last to 5th. Come on, it wasn’t all bad!!

        Re the DRS, maybe all they needed to do was put the DRS trigger another 300m closer to turn 5?

      2. That one bothered me the most.

        Had the track not had paved run-off, Alonso would have spun out or lost a few positions; however, they have made modern circuits so forgiving that he was able to carry on despite his mistake and not even lose the position he just gained!

        However, I did like Hamilton’s pass on Massa coming out of corner 11.

        There should really be a strip of real grass (or something slippery that doesn’t rubber-up) to prevent drivers from using it as part of the circuit. Alonso takes the most advantage of that, from what I can see… and the first corner of just about every race looks like a novice karting event with cars all over the place… but with none of them penalized for going 20 metres off the track!

        Like I said in my reply to James, above, the drivers aren’t being challenged anymore.

      3. KRB says:

        Agreed that Alonso would’ve been in the gravel last year, or at least the left side of his car. As such, he would never have attempted that pass there last year. Agreed also on Hamilton’s move on Massa later in the sequence. Massa was hounding Rosberg for 2nd, and then 15 sec’s later he’s back in 5th!

    8. Michael C says:

      “4) Lastly, starting from the back of the grid isn’t impressive anymore.”

      I’m starting to feel the same way. But not every driver can do it, even with all the cool boost buttons on the gamepad — er, I mean steering wheel.

    9. Stuart says:

      If DRS is here to stay then I think it can be tweaked to provide a far better spectacle than we have seen this year. What they need to do is get rid of the 1 second rule and let the drivers have 4,5,6 (something like that numebr) of times per race when they can use the DRS.

      If in the lead, defending, overtaking, whenever the driver wishes to use it to their advantage they can use DRS but a limited number of times per race.

      We were robbed yesterday of seeing a much closer race. Had Rosberg been able to defend normally as in pre DRS days then the race would have been one of the best. With Rosberg fast on the straights but not as fast elsewhere the whole pack would have bunched up and allowed everyone to have a go at Vettel.

      The first 2 laps proved that we can have great racing with no DRS and those laps were brilliant!

      1. My suggestion would be to make it so that DRS could only be enabled when you are behind the other car. As soon as your nose goes forward of the leading cars rear wing, DRS should be disabled.

        DRS should, if anything, allow a driver to get beside the other drive… not provide them with an easy pass.

      2. Stuart says:

        Yep that would work and would be good. The problem currently is that the lead driver can do nothing to defend their position whcih is artificial and not good sport.

  9. eric weinraub says:

    Thrilling is a word commentators and journos use when they attempt to hide a forgone result. Shock! Red Bull wins again! If there is a story worth telling in great detail, it is the story of Schuey starting dead last and finishing 5th! Easily, he was the driver of the day! I certainly enjoyed the race but the Red Bulls were never in serious trouble

    1. KRB says:

      Sure they were! Hamilton was a serious threat for the race win. Button finished 3rd from 13th, for chrissakes! LH was managing his softs better than either RB driver … the race would’ve come back to him at the time SV and MW went to the mediums 5 or so laps before LH would’ve had to take them.

      Ferrari on the other hand again struggled on the medium tire. They looked dangerous at the start on the softs, but weak on the mediums. That’s their biggest weakness at the moment.

      Feel bad for Alguesuari too … started 6th, and his race is screwed at the first corner. I know you can say Senna didn’t get his brakes up to temp and so he locked up and slid into JA, but I say tough. He’s destroyed his whole race 300m in. A drive-thru doesn’t seem like enough of a penalty to deter such bang-up’s … I was amazed at the level of driver skill in avoiding first-corner collisions at China and Barcelona, but everyone should know that La Source is a total bottleneck, and to drive accordingly.

    2. frosty1 says:

      Schuey won’t get driver of the day. Button will. I don’t know why, as he has better machinery and made up less places, but that’s how the media will score it.

      1. Peter C says:

        He will on German sites. You have that option.

      2. Andrew J says:

        Schuey’s leading the way at the time I write this, although I have to admit that I voted for Button. Very close though.

        Before the safety car went in, Button was 2 places behind Schuey. He was 2 places ahead of him at the end. That swung it for me.

  10. Matthew says:

    It was a fantastic race to watch, I thought Alonso, Schumi and Jenson all had particularly strong races.

    I felt a bit for Alonso, whose race was ruined by the safety car and lack of pace on the mediums.

    If the SC hadn’t happened then Seb would’ve needed 2 stints on the mediums and Alonso just one short burst at the end. But that’s Spa, always likely to be an SC so Ferrari were vulnerable, again through this lack of pace on the mediums.

    I wish we could’ve kept the off-throttle ban in place and at least we may have had a championship to get interested in.

    Such is life, a good race but underwhelming finishing order for anyone but Red Bull and their fans.

    Credit to Seb for getting the job done again, he can only beat what’s in front of him.

    Well done also to Schumi, what an amazing drive from 24th! As was described during Peter Windsor’s Flying Lap show this week, Schumi started his career racing against Nelson Piquet Snr, outlasted his SON and is flat out at 42… what a driver.

    1. JF says:

      I think you are underrating Seb. Woudn’t you say he beat those behind him? If they were in front of him they would not be beaten? The popular polls tend to punish the winner (unless its Hamilton).

      1. Matthew says:

        Sorry for not being clearer, I mean that Seb can only beat the opposition that turns up each weekend i.e. he can’t do anything about having the fastest car, all he can do is beat everyone to show how good he is and that’s what he does.

        Whether or not I choose to believe that the car is more decisive in this scenario than I would if it were Fernando or Lewis is my problem, not his!

  11. Harvey Yates says:

    A thrilling GP. Lots of excitement.

    Button drive was tremendous, coming from the back, through no fault of his own, to the podium. Some of his overtakes were tremendous. Shame he doesn’t drive like that always. If the team could only find the right, er, button to press at each race he’d get another championship.

    Spa is the jewel in the crown of F1. I wonder how long Bernie will allow it to be so.

    1. Andrew J says:

      “Some of his overtakes were tremendous”.

      Especially as he had no right-hand-side wing mirror to check in to make sure he’d passed.

  12. Pasq says:

    Alonso was fantastic at the beginning of race, on cold Tyres and full tanks, the most confident. I feel the safety car helped vetted tremendously, would he have won without it?

    1. KRB says:

      It seems as though SV has gotten all the breaks this season. You would think with that horseshoe up his butt they would have less ballast to play with elsewhere.

      You have to be good to be lucky though, and Seb keeps doing what is required of him to win the DWC at a canter. Still, if the car you’re driving has grabbed every pole, it stands to reckon one of those drivers should win the DWC. There’s no overcoming a stat like that.

  13. Andrew says:

    Moment of the race for me was Mark Webber and Alonso going side by side towards the hill… was certain Mark was going go flying to the barriers! Great race all round with Schumacher at his most convicing he has been since his return.

    1. KRB says:

      W/o doubt! BIG BALLS required there!

  14. Nando says:

    No aboard from Kobayashi’s car? Just not good enough FOM, you can’t have stewarding based on in-car footage if it’s not available for all driver.
    The footage for Hamilton’s car shows he kept his wheels straight for a good 200 metres+ before the collision.

    1. KRB says:

      Yeah, not good enough for FOM … why wouldn’t they be recording KK’s onboard at that point? It was a pass! You’re telling me 7 other drivers were worth recording more at that point? I don’t buy it!

      If they can only record 9 of 24 racers at any one time, they have a tremendous record of catching any and every incident that they select for replays later.

      As for KK, he should’ve pulled back from where he was, or moved with Hamilton to the left a bit. He still had room to. I could see Pastor doing what Kobi did (just hanging in there), but not Kobi.

      The F1 world owes a great debt to Hamilton it seems … we learn a little more every week of FIA and FOM internal practices b/c of him!!! It’s simply garage league for something as big as F1.

    2. Bunchies says:

      Not all drivers carry onboards. I believe they have a choice. I have not seen a forward facing onboard from Kobayashi all season.

  15. Michael S says:

    Top shelf race weekend from Vettel… Took pole in dmap conditions, dealt with extreme blisters on tires, and had to pit an extra time to most…. Most importantly he did all his passing on track and not in the pits so no one can complain “he can’t pass”

    1. Stuart says:

      All his passing with DRS you mean…..

      1. Matt says:

        he actually passed Rosberg round the outside of Blanchimont

      2. Stuart says:

        Not the race I was watching. He passed Rosberg at the end of the Kemmel straight which is… ah yes at the end of the DRS zone.

      3. KRB says:

        With newer tires, while Rosberg’s were shot. He was catching him at 3.2 sec’s a lap (lap 7), so it’s little wonder he could pass him there.

      4. His pass on Alonso was not DRS-assisted either…

      5. Stuart says:

        Well it was actually. He got a better run off the top of the hill and HAD DRS available so Fernando could not fight back due to the DRS boost Seb had. Had he not had DRS Fernando could have defended or re-passed. Seb did not make any moves other than on the Kemmel straight. Watch it again and correct me if I am wrong.

      6. I think he didn’t use DRS – it’s been mentioned on a few websites too (BBC, F1 Fanatic). Not quite sure if it was because it wasn’t enabled yet after the safety car period or because he wasn’t using it to reduce the load on the front tyres.

        He also passed Rosberg on the outside round Blanchimont. And, if I remember correctly, his pass on Webber (right before the one on Alonso) was not DRS-assisted either.

      7. KRB says:

        Yeah, that’s true. I thought it was with DRS, but it was right after the safety car, so DRS wouldn’t have been enabled. But he was on newer tires (having pitted during the SC), and got a great tow in Radillon.

  16. Common Sense says:

    Another moral victory for Lewis. Can’t imagine anybody taking it from him until the unfortunate accident. Again showing us why he’s the greatest driver ever in the sport.

    1. Dominic J says:

      He needs to learn to leave other drivers enough space. Drivers have been penalised before for moving back onto the racing line having moved off it on the same straight to defend their position.

      Personally I think both drivers could easily, and therefore should have prevented that accident.

      James, any comment on why Sauber left Kobayashi out so long with his damaged front wing? Even after the safety car came out he didn’t pit instantly.

    2. beflox says:

      Common sense?

      He made a mistake and crashed …

    3. Steve says:

      What’s your 1st name? TotalLackOf?

      In fairness to Lewis, I see he has apologized & admitted it was his fault.

    4. JF says:

      Hamilton could be great if he learned to stop hitting other cars. I wonder if Whitmarsh is choking on the “crash kid” moniker he labeled Vettel with last year considering Hamiltons crash worthiness.

    5. Andrew J says:

      Sorry, but the Greatest Driver Ever would not make as many mistakes. He’s good, he’s fast, but he seems to expect everyone to get out of his way.

      Don’t get me wrong, I rate Lewis very highly. But he’s certainly not the greatest driver ever. He’s not even the greatest driver currently in F1.

    6. Stuart says:

      Ever?? I assume you make that comment to get responses rather than have any facts or claims to back that up?

      I think you will find that the greatest people in their sport ever need a few more results to their name rather than a flimsy WDC and then a few years of banger racing….

    7. Mark in Australia says:

      Greatest driver ever in the sport? He is good, but not that good…

      Is “Common Sense” an oxymoron? Please…

    8. Realist says:

      Common sense ???????????????
      unbelievable

    9. Hard to tell if there’s some sarcasm in there or not… :-/

  17. JohnBt says:

    Overall, what a great race, nice and dry.
    Pity Alonso lost out with the mediums.

  18. Chris Searle says:

    James – why did the stewards not take any action re: Kobi’s car PRIOR to the incident with Lewis? Surely his front end plate and the other damage on his car made him a danger. He should have been black flagged previously.
    Your view???

    1. James Allen says:

      Mmm. Car was still fast, but clearly damaged. They did call in Buemi with a broken rear wing

    2. If he loses the front endplate, there would be a minor loss in downforce, the car would retain stability, and the endplate would not take off and fly away like a wing element – it would just bounce to a stop. The worst thing that would realistically happen is that he would suffer a bit of understeer for the rest of the lap before pitting to change noses.

      With a rear wing failure, there would be a major loss in downforce and a major loss in stability; that is a very dangerous situation. Check out Ralph Firman’s crash in Suzuka for an example.

      Apples and oranges.

  19. Robert Gunning says:

    A noteworthy point I noticed from the race, was the straight-line speed of the Mercedes, who could stay ahead of the McLarens whom had DRS activated. Possible outsider for the win in Monza James?

    1. Alex W says:

      maybe a podium.

    2. You also need good mechanical grip at Monza, as the chicanes are slow enough that you don’t have any downforce. In addition, your car needs to be good over the kerbs.

      The two Lesmos and Paribolica require some good downforce, so again the team with a good aero efficiency will be sitting well, but power will certainly be more important than at other circuits.

  20. David says:

    Button also started on the Prime along with Schumi. And also I think Button did a far better Job than Michael because he had to pit on lap 5 cause of front wing damage.

    1. James Allen says:

      And dropped to 19th at that point.

      1. johnny says:

        Your serious? schumacher pitted at lap 5 aswell…

      2. Andrew J says:

        At the end of lap 4 Button (having stopped for a new nose cone) was actually in 20th position – Schuey was in 11th. After his pit stop, Schuey rejoined in 16th place. Thus, Button finishing a couple of places above Schuey clinches it for me.

    2. tank says:

      How could Schumacher have done a better job than what he did?

      Your comparison is apples and oranges. With the merc being a lemon.

  21. Sergio says:

    Maldonado 10th.
    Hamilton crashed!!!OOOOOPS

    1. KRB says:

      There’s injustice for ya! Maldonado should not have been racing today, and should have been ordered to submit a recent eye-test by the FIA.

      The message sent is that you can “accidentally” run into someone (and especially LH) and scupper their qualifying chances, and all you’ll get is a 5-place grid drop.

      1. Stuart says:

        Injustice? Or justice if you are not a Hamilton fan. The incident on Saturday was 50-50 and very unfair for Maldonado to get a penalty and not Lewis considering he was partially to blame.

        Seems that the stewards went easy on Lewis for some reason but hard on Maldonado. Good to see him pick up a point and see Lewis pointless again after another situation he could have avoided.

      2. KRB says:

        50-50? What planet are you from? The only way LH could avoid Maldanado hitting him was to evaporate!

        I’ve even seen people complain about LH’s pass on PM in the bus-stop!!! That was a perfectly legitimate pass, and there was ZERO wrong with it! But the Lewis-haters will cling to anything.

        Let’s face facts here … Maldanado’s only in F1 as long as his sponsorship money keeps coming in.

      3. Stuart says:

        I agree, no complaints or issues with the pass in the bus stop and I am not a Lewis-hater and not a supporter either. Maldonado will never be a winner but clearly has some ability, and better than many pay drivers that have taken the grid over the years.

        Lewis and Maldonado both had a part to play in the incident and both should have had a penalty not just PM.

      4. KRB says:

        What I saw was that they both did quick feints toward each other after La Source going down the hill. Big whoop is what I say to that. If it ends there, then neither would get a penalty or reprimand. But then PM speeds up and swipes Hamilton, to such an extent that he ends up on the left hand grass! All this after the session’s over, and the cars should be cruising.

        I think Lewis received a reprimand based solely on previous run-in’s with the stewards, rather than on the merits of that incident alone. Lewis has the “trouble maker” tag as far as the stewards are concerned, so at present he goes into the stewards’ offices guilty until proven not to be.

      5. Stuart says:

        Fair enough and a difficult one to agree on which is why we love it so much!

        Best comment I have heard/read recently and somes up my thoughts on Lewis was by G. Berger today

        “Lewis is the best in overtaking, but with a huge amount of risk. Therefore, it’s usually 50-50 if it works or if he collides. Surely, Lewis is not to blame for every collision, but he is often involved. And it does not create a nice picture if you are always there when something goes wrong.”

        Lewis is often involved, if he managed 5 or 6 races without a visit to the stewards office it would help his cause and give him a case to defend himself when a genuine incident/decision goes against him.

  22. JFan says:

    Didn’t Button start on the medium tire as well?

    1. KRB says:

      Yes he did.

  23. Daniel Dinu says:

    Ferrari made a crucial mistake by not pitting Alonso for fresh tyres (softs) when the safety car was out. That would have saved the third spot for him, as the Bulls wew too good on hard tyres anyway. Another poor call from the Ferrari pit wall.

    Vettel got a free tyre change, just like in Monaco.
    Domenicalli was nlt able to think fast enough.

    In order for Ferrari to get back in top they need now to hire Christian Horner. Then they have a chance. Otherwise they’ll stay “Italian” with flashes of briliance and speed, but overall not quite at the top of F1.

    Great drive by Alonso.

    1. James Allen says:

      Domenicali doesn’t do the strategies. A guy called Neil Martin is in charge of that (ex McLaren and Red Bull strategist)

      1. HansB says:

        Mmm… he probably never did a better job for his ex teams than today.
        LOL
        To me Ferrari indeed made a huge mistake today not pitting under SC which left them running for too long on the harder tyre.

  24. For sure says:

    Hi James, I saw Hamilton wasn’t moving for a while. Just curious was he out for a few seconds?
    To me anything above 15g is like a knock out or worse.

    1. Baktru says:

      That’s what it looked like to me. That impact did look pretty harsh. Not that we haven’t seen worse, but still.

      I am glad he seems to be completely unharmed from it.

    2. Ed says:

      I agree, my first thoughts were that Hamilton had been knocked unconscious, although it appeared that he came back around almost immediately as the stewards had signalled for more help, due to him being KO…

      1. Peter C says:

        Wrong

      2. Ed says:

        Not wrong, I don’t think – rewatch the BBC coverage.

        a) after the first impact, Lewis doesn’t steer the car away from the barrier and the car drives along the barrier before hitting the tyres.
        b) the suspension didn’t break until the car hit the tyres.
        c) lewis was motionless in the cockpit and the stewards signalled for extra help, at which point it appeared as though Lewis came around.
        It is quite clear that after initial impact Lewis didn’t appear to be voluntarily moving to start with….

    3. Alex W says:

      Yes he looked KO’d for sure, hands limp, no braking, no head movement, his head always moves after a crash (he crashes plenty if you want to look for examples) Lewis’ word he was not KO’d counts for nothing, anyone that has been KO’d for a few seconds is the last one to know about it!

    4. Alex W says:

      PS: The british race feed I have seen on youtube had an obscured view of Hamiltons head, whereas the world feed clearly showed his head looking very very KO’d.

      1. Peter C says:

        Gosh, awesome.

  25. goferet says:

    Hmm unlike most, I didn’t enjoy the Belgian Grand Prix for without rain, Spa seems pretty bland to be honest.

    And the DRS zone was pretty long, it made overtaking a foregone conclusion kinda like it was in Turkey.

    Yes I was also gutted Lewis DNF but I always suspected that Kobayshi & Hamilton occupying the same piece of tarmac can only end in tears.

    Anyway it was a great win from Vettel for he managed to make his second stint last much longer & this so win means he still holds the upper hand on Hamilton for whenever Lewis lies up second on the grid, Vettel has won each time.

    Also great drives by Alonso, Schumi & Jenson & Sutil though it has to be said, the safety car helped Schumi & Jenson a lot.

    My driver of the day is Sebastian Vettel for not only is he the first non Ferrari/Mclaren driver to win at Spa in 10 years but it was so crucial that he made his soft tyres in the second stint last.

    Drivers that disappointed – Senna, Jaime & Kobayshi

    Argh, am tired of this season, let the FIA give Vettel his trophies already, roll on 2012.

    1. KRB says:

      “For whenever Lewis lies up second on the grid, Vettel has won each time.”

      Do you mean he wins the race, or he finished ahead of Hamilton? ‘Cos he didn’t win in Hungary, though he finished above Hamilton.

      There’s actually been only four occasions where Vettel’s been on pole with Lewis beside him:

      Abu Dhabi ’10
      Australia ’11
      Malaysia ’11
      Hungary ’11

      In Australia Vettel was eight-tenths up in Q3! So a stretch to expect much there. In the only one of those four where different engine maps were not allowed for the race, he didn’t win. Statistics are great, aren’t they?

      Of the 11 times Vettel hasn’t converted pole to a race win, here’s who won and from what grid position:

      Turkey ’09 – Button (2)
      Bahrain ’10 – Alonso (3)
      Australia ’10 – Button (4)
      China ’10 – Button (5)
      Britain ’10 – Webber (2)
      Germany ’10 – Alonso (2)
      Hungary ’10 – Webber (2)
      Korea ’10 – Alonso (3)
      China ’11 – Hamilton (3)
      Canada ’11 – Button (7)
      Hungary ’11 – Button (3)

      Very harsh on Alguesuari … not much he can do about Senna running into the side of him!

  26. Rich_M says:

    Great race.

    James, who makes the decision on DRS zone positions? Its almost as if the decision makers haven’t watched a non DRS race!! I find it very frustrating when the DRS zone is put in place which is normally good for overtaking ie. the back straight in Turkey, the straight before the last chicane in Canada and the straight after Eau Rouge in Belgium. It will be a big shame if the DRS zone is on the start/finish straight in Italy and especially in Brazil, think of all the great non-DRS overtakes we have at these locations in the past. I want DRS to help overtaking where it is difficult, not replace genuine overtakes in traditional overtaking spots. There should be consideration to tracks which do not need DRS, especially with KERS and Pirelli. Barcelona & Silverstone need DRS, Spa & Interlargos do not.

    1. quetric says:

      I subscribe to your point of view. Italy should have a DRS zone before Ascari or the Parabolica. Maybe even both those zones, since it would allow the car passed into Ascari to come back on the next DRS zone. DRS-ing the main straight would be stupid.

    2. John Starton says:

      The DRS, imho, should be banned at all. Enough of this fake overtaking like here and in Turkey. You have two cars having 0.3 second difference per lap and they overtake each over like one is just standing by the track. We have great races but there is no fight at all – momens like between Alonso and Webber today – cars are just passing by like on the different lanes on the motorway. I completely agree with Jaques Villeneuve – F1 shoud get ride of fake systems. We need fights on track – not only numbers of overtakes per race.

    3. KRB says:

      Fully concur! DRS shouldn’t make a tough-but-doable-by-some overtaking zone an automatic zone for all; it should make overtaking possible again in those zones where there was overtaking in earlier years in F1 but where with modern F1 aerodynamics it’s become harder.

      Yeah, Interlagos would be so easy along the start/finish straight, or the run down Reta Oposta.

      Having the zone between turns 5 & 6 there would be great though!

      I wonder where it will be for Monza? Hopefully not the start/finish straight.

    4. Robin says:

      +1 on DRS where you can already pass. Canada and Spa were both painful in this regard, the double DRS in Canada doubly so.

    5. Past Pupil says:

      Good question – how come they get it wrong so often, in a sport where they have such incredible simulators?

      Maybe for the same reason they can get so much else so wrong too ;-)

  27. Baktru says:

    Good race from a number of drivers.

    Alonso did what the Ferrari could do I guess, the SC clearly didn’t help him.

    Button had a fantastic drive, best I’ve seen so far from him this year I think.

    Vettel had a smart race.

    Schumi and Rosberg did well as well. It was fun seeing Rosberg in the lead for a bit, he would have gotten my driver of the day award, if not for Schumi beating him in the end. So that goes to Schum.

    Hamilton…. *sigh* He clearly never even saw Kobayashi there. At the moment of impact, Kamui is near the white line on the outside and Hamilton is moving towards it… I will never dispute that Hamilton is fast, but he is just reckless.

  28. DH says:

    Am certainly not a passionate LH fan but if Mansell were candid I wonder what he’d be saying about Sat. and Sunday had it been him in LH’s seat.

    Regardless, sure wish the stewards at all races were subject to questions like drivers and team managers are.

  29. John Starton says:

    Should Hamilton be punished more harshly this time – for example with two reprimands at once?

  30. JEVthebest says:

    Did you see Bianchi’s race, he remminds me of Hamilton, he is so talented it’s a joke. Let’s hope that he can be at Williams and replace Barrichello.

  31. Ed says:

    How can Jaime disappoint when he was taken out by Senna at the first corner? which in turn ripped his suspension against Alonso…

    1. I think most people were just disappointed that Jaime didn’t have a chance to prove what he could do… they weren’t disappointed with Jaime himself.

  32. AJH says:

    Yet again, Hamilton makes contact with someone. Time for a big change of approach to his racing. Of course we all love someone with balls the size of Mansell, but LH isn’t going to win another championship unless he drives with his head a bit more.

  33. Dave Aston says:

    Out on a limb… that race had the best collection of passing moves in any Spa GP I remember back to the early 80′s… Webber in Eau Rouge, good grief, and several moments at Blanchimont. I think that Mercedes, even though they finished 45 sec plus behind, must have been heartened by seeing Rosberg lead, albeit briefly, and Michael’s awesome drive. Maybe they’re turning the corner? Re the Kobayashi endplate, I don’t think it was such a big deal. Was it Hamilton (I think) with the floor hanging off at Albert park last year, or ’09? I thought that was heaps worse for example, and they didn’t black flag him. As for the incident with Hamilton, I think Kobayashi had a right to be on the outside, and he was running out of road. I was impressed Hamilton said it was his fault after seeing the video, rare for a racing driver to be so willing to take the blame. Anyhow, great race, and no rain needed to create the drama!

  34. Hunt The Shunt says:

    “I find, on a broader level, mainstream pop culture to be of the same superficial essence, appealing to the quickest and most accessible forms of pleasure and entertainment.”

    You are quite correct.

    When Rosberg is told to slow down so Schumacher the has-been can pass him near the end of the race, it is obvious that this is not a race but a show.

    Vettel has succeeded on the merit of his car more than his own driving ability. Vettel against Villeneuve or Senna would have resulted in Vettel being humbled in the extreme.

    If you want real racing, there is still MotoGP.

    I look forward to reading that Ecclestone, who has done so much to ruin F1, is no longer able to parasitically destroy that which he never had a hand in creating.

    1. Lalit says:

      the comment about the show and not a race.. i think you are not aware that before being told to ‘save fuel’ rosberg was being caught by schumi at almost a second a lap…. plus if you look at the fact that after 3 corners rosberg was in P1, and schumi was in the last 2 or 3.. you have to conceed that schumi was faster than rosber, no matter what transpired during the actual overtake…

      1. Lalit says:

        BTW – i do agree that DRS (especially) is making it a little artificial…

    2. Stuart says:

      Rosberg was interviewed after the race and said it was completely normal to have to turn his engine down at that point of the race. He had to push harder at the start and a stint in the middle which meant he used more fuel than Michael. Good to see there are still some decent anti-Schumi people about whatever he does! Great drive from a has-been, it is not often that a has-been is the first finisher behind the top teams on one of the most demanding tracks on the calender…

  35. ajay says:

    Why is every one so up in arms about DRS- I think it adds to the racing specatacle- if a car is really faster it can get further ahead than 1 sec at the appropriate time- I find it more boring to watch someone defending for lap after lap- when the car behind is compromised aerodynamically. Sure I would agree that DRS is not perfect- but it makes for a more interesting race than what we had before IMO.

    1. Lalit says:

      I think people don’t like it when its too obvious that DRS is helping them not just during the overtake, but even beyond sometimes..

      To be more precise.. DRS (ideally) should be like a draft, you get sucked in due to the ‘hole in air’ by the car in front, but when you pull out to overtake, you don’t have that extra “benefit”… then its up to you.. so DRS should be disabled as soon as the pursuer comes abreast the pursuee….

      Then i think everyone will be happy; although it would probably not be worth having a DRS at all in that case.. so take you pick :)

      It would be interesting though if DRS is only available on selective tracks like Hungary and Monacco where overtaking is notorious difficult.. but tracks like Monza and Spa .. they don’t need these stupid gimicks..

      1. Rodger says:

        I think to a great extent that is what happened today.
        A lot of the DRS assisted overtakes between cars with similar performance, weren’t consolidated until the overtaker got through La Combes well.

  36. drums says:

    I’m disappointed too that Senna dis-appointed Jaime (and almost Alonso by the same token) in no time. Was Senna just playing domino… or bowling?

    1. Lalit says:

      haha – i wish there was a ‘like’ button available here.. like facebook…. James?

  37. DanielS says:

    Rosberg was not told to slow, and James I would take slight issue with your suggesting that he was told to “save fuel” (emphasis on the inverted commas).

    Rosberg was running up at the front when, in truth, Mercedes probably never expected it. Like in China, I believe, they probably went faster than they thought they would and hence burned more fuel – less of an issue for Schumacher coming through the pack. The pass was DRS / tyre related no doubt, but cast your mind back to Canada and remember that Schumacher was on the sore end then. He might have had a chance at holding off at least one of Button and / or Webber if they hadn’t had DRS to drive right by him, so it’s all swings and roundabouts.

  38. wendy says:

    well done michael…we can see after 3 years years out the tide is now turning…hope merc give you a good car next year…”””

  39. Geenimetsuri says:

    Schumacher and Button were the drivers of the day.

    They should revise the DRS rule a bit, now it’s auto-pass button (though there was passing elsewhere today as well), which sort of kills racing when drivers can just move into the position determined by the speed of their car, not the skill of driver.

    Perhaps something like you can use the DRS whenever you want…?

  40. Serrated_Edge says:

    Driver of the day…Jenson Button. Brilliant charge through the field.

  41. Drama Queen says:

    Webbers overtake at rouge on Alonso is one
    of the ballsiest moves ive seen.

  42. Alex says:

    James, the commentators said that Webber went on the harder tyres at the end of the race (i.e. the same as Alonso and Vettel). Was this not the case?

  43. PeteM says:

    Great race. Pitty about the start was really looking forward to Senna and seeing what he was capable of. I think in qualifying he put a lot of critics to rest.
    Ricciardo was going fanstastic until his car expired. My prediction is he will be outdriving the car by years end.
    Becoming more obvious Webber main role is to hold off opposing teams rather than win. Its the Schumaker/Barracello days revisited which is a shame and also takes away from Vettels wins if Webber is running behind him.

    1. Michael C says:

      “I think in qualifying [Senna] put a lot of critics to rest.”

      The critics are always happier with a driver who qualifies poorly and scores points than one who qualifies well and brings in zero.

      In truth, it’s too early to call. Senna’s case has yet to be seen.

  44. Josh says:

    Well Senna was definately worth the dollars. Following stats (and we know James likes using stats to justify ‘Renault’s’ decision to dump Heidfeld) we know Nick invariably finishes races ahead of Petrov…

    So clearly ‘Renault’ (or Genii if you prefer) lost points so they could pay their bills with a fake Senna in a fake Lotus.

  45. TimB says:

    I think Maldonado deserves some credit for a decent drive. He stuffed up big time on Saturday, but pulling the Williams up to 10th from where he started was a good effort.

  46. adi says:

    James please answer these questions….Is it just me or does it it seem that one of charlie whitings conditions for the deployment of the safety car is ‘will it ruin Alonso’s race?’ But in all seriousness is there any friction between the two since Valencia or possibly earlier? Thanks

    1. James Allen says:

      It is you! There was debris everywhere. Cut a tyre at 310km/h….nasty.

  47. Raymond says:

    Here’s the one thing that scares me after today; Vettel actually made some beautiful overtakes. None as beautiful as those who overtook in Eau Rouge , but he did some fantastic non-DRS overtakes. He overtook Webber out of La Source and before Eau Rouge (though FOM missed that) after the safety car period, he overtook Alonso without DRS on the Kemmel straight into Les Combes (I think it was without DRS, no?) and, something that smacked beautifully of Alonso in Suzuka. He passed Rosberg around the outside of Blanchimont; which I did not think was possible for any car on any car. Almost a carbon copy of Alonso on Schumacher in 130R corner in Suzuka.

    His defensive driver has stepped up a gear too methinks He doesn’t go up the inside to cover the entry to the corner, but he seems to have a way of beautifully reading the cars behind him; and “controls” their corner exits into the key parts. Spain is a case in point. Another is in Monaco. He was going through Portier and Anthony Noghes very slowly each time, and picking his moment to traction out of the corner beautifully, in a “safety car restart” style fashion, catching his pursuers out by sheer human response times.

    Absolutely remarkable.

    He hasn’t done much overtaking this year when on the same strategy; most of the ones he’s done this year are based on DRS; or on fresh vs old tyres. But this is the first race which really made me in awe of him. Clearly his overtaking skills are beginning to mature.

    Abso-fricking-lutely remarkable.

    Couple this with his (we know) superb clear-air race pace, and excellent qualifying skills, and… I’ll stop there

  48. f1a says:

    wow, Vettel overtook slower cars while he was in a much, much, much superior car.

    Big woop.

    1. This is probably a wasted reply as some people will never give Vettel any credit for anything but… he overtook Webber – in the same car. He overtook Alonso who was in a competitive Ferrari (he was only slow on the medium tyre). He overtook Rosberg round the outside of Blanchimont, which was a beautiful move. All three without DRS. You might not support him, but surely you can give him credit for some of these moves?

      1. KRB says:

        I’ll give him credit, though in all three cases he was on far fresher tires. He is a very good driver, very fast. He has a stellar car, and that’s helped him immensely, no doubt. He’s destroyed his teammate in points in the same car, and that’s all he can do.

        I would love to see him and Lewis go head-to-head in the same car, though I think Vettel wouldn’t be too thrilled. Lewis obviously wouldn’t mind, as shown by his meeting with Christian Horner.

        I just hope that the RB8 isn’t as dominant as the RB6 and RB7 were, especially out of the gate. Though it seems to me that McLaren owe more of their downforce to the EBD’s than either Red Bull or Ferrari. Hope I’m wrong on that, but we won’t know until February of next year.

  49. denis j says:

    James can you please explain whats going on with the Red Bulls anti-stall. It seems to be a chronic problem. Both cars had an issue with it at Spa though Webber again had it worse. With all their money and engineering expertise how could they not have fixed it by now. Would be more than a little interested to know the inside story.
    Thanks
    dj

    1. James Allen says:

      Don’t know, but aim to find out

  50. Fernando says:

    I am surprise that no one coments on Sebastian Vettel start, the guy was left then right then left, what? you can’t do that, I think it is call the “MS start” and there are rules in place so you are to take one move only.

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