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Belgian Grand Prix – Who was your driver of the day?
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Posted By: James Allen  |  02 Sep 2012   |  11:20 pm GMT  |  153 comments

Jenson Button avoided the first lap carnage to take a dominant victory from pole position at Spa, but there were plenty of impressive drives elsewhere. Who was your Driver of the Day?

Jenson Button

Decided on a low downforce set-up after final practice and it appeared to be the right choice as he nailed a brilliant lap in the second part of qualifying. Two more scintillating laps in the top 10 shoot-out sealed his first pole position since the 2009 Monaco Grand Prix. A perfect start saw him escape the carnage behind him and though Sebastian Vettel looked quick in the second half of the race, Button responded with a flurry of fast laps before coasting to his second win of the season and retain hopes of fighting for the world title.

Sebastian Vettel

Was a shock absentee from the top 10 shoot-out in qualifying after making a mistake in the third sector of his final run in Q2. Qualified 11th but started 10th after a five-place grid penalty for Red Bull teammate Mark Webber. Avoided the first corner pile up but lost a few places as he negotiated the debris. Showed good race pace and pulled of a series of bold moves, including one over Webber at the Bus Stop chicane to rise up through the field. A one-stop strategy proved to be the right choice as he rose to second before easing off when he realised he could not catch Button. Climbed to second in the drivers’ standings, 24 points off leader Fernando Alonso.

Kimi Raikkonen

Considered one of the favourites for victory going into the weekend having won the race four times before. Looked strong in third practice but couldn’t get a lap together in qualifying and finished fourth fastest, which became third on the grid following Pastor Maldonado’s three-place grid penalty. Fortunate to avoid the crash at the start, but struggled for pace early on and lost a number of places. Unlucky to come out in traffic after both his two stops, but showed good pace in the final stint to pass Michael Schumacher among others and rise up to third. A sixth podium of the season keeps him in the title hunt, 31 points of the lead.

Nico Hulkenberg

Failed to make it into Q2 and started 12th while his teammate Paul di Resta started two places further up. Avoided the first corner melee to run as high as second early on, battling with Kimi Raikkonen and then Michael Schumacher. Decided on a two-stop strategy which he made work to finish fourth. It was the his best result of the season and lifted him above his teammate in the drivers’ standings while also helping his Force India team rise to seventh in the constructors’.

Felipe Massa

Looked out of sorts in practice and admitted struggling to get the car hooked up in the middle sector in qualifying. Started 14th on the grid and passed both Red Bulls before having to back off due to the first corner crash. That left him 11th after the first lap, but he used his car’s good pace and DRS, and cut out the mistakes, to rise through the field and ensure Ferrari left the weekend with some points after Alonso crashed out on the first lap. It was the Brazilian’s sixth points scoring finish of the season and second in succession.

Jean-Eric Vergne

Struggled for pace in qualifying to finish 15th fastest, one place ahead of his Toro Rosso teammate Daniel Ricciardo. Made a slow getaway, but that meant he was well away from trouble when the first corner crash happened and was therefore able to sneak through down the inside and make up some positions. Showed good race pace which combined with slick pit stops helped the Frenchman rise up the field to equal his best finish of the season and help his team score their first double points finish of 2012.


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1

I have always followed Formula 1 since the early 90`s but the last 2, 3 years i have found F1 boring.

But now Kimi is back and that makes Formula 1 fun again!

The most talented driver ever. He also have some kind of speed that comes natural to him.

Kimi never does mistakes. You never see Kimi on the way back to the pits to change a broken front wing.

The driver that is most like Kimi, having that smooth drive must be Jenson Button.

Well, thanks to Kimi for making F1 worth watching again!

MrShades

2

DOTD = Race Winner (unless winner is Vettel)

Ridiculous.

3

* Anyone who disagrees with it *

4

Even though Button dominated and Sebastian was brilliant. Both deserves every vote they are getting and rightfully so.

Having said that, from the perspective of who combated adversities and drove beyond the car was Kimi Raikkonen. You could see he was struggling to match the Mercedes powered cars. He also two brilliant moves of Schumacher and the second of the two being the most spectacular of the year so far. He has been consistently been providing the spectacle unlike any driver in 2012. His moves in Australia on Kobayashi, and moves on Massa, Webber, Button in Bahrain, and in Germany the moves on Di Riesta, Hulkenberg, Michael were simply spectacular. His burst of speed in Hungary and his aggressive defending of his team mate. In this race him going through Pouhon even when behind Schumacher was simply breathtaking.

So, for that, he is definitely the most spectacular driver of 2012 and fastest by far.

Him having not won a race so far is strictly down to a combination of things, like qualifying and steering issues, bad strategy calls, deferential issues, and in Spa the mediums were a disaster on his first stint and had to pit early to compromise on that.

So, irrelevant to who wins the WDC. Kimi Raikkonen wins the Most Spectacular Driver of the year… Anyone with it is simply being biased.

5

JB – his weekend and great to see.

Vettel also had a classic-Vettel-type aggressive drive using his undoubted rapid reflexes to the limit. Clearly a man on a mission early in the race. His aggressive approach worked out this time but it was edgy at times and could so easily have ended in tears. Also had the benefit of the Webber early stop so the team would know his tyres could last.

Give Massa a score – he had a good race especially towards the end – maybe enough to dial him back in? Hope so.

6

Vettel or Button – almost impossible to separate. Both got the best out of their car and themselves. Vettel was more entertaining because he was racing other cars all day. Vettel’s drive was also very important in championship terms.

Button was sublime to watch, though – so fast and so smooth. Vastly different from the last few races. It’ll be interesting to see whether this heralds a breakthrough for him in using the tyres well, or whether it’s a one-off.

7

Voted JB. Can’t penalise someone for having an “easy race”, he did everything right and deserves my vote.

Kudos to LH and FA for the maturity they showed on their comments post race – lets not mention twitter 😉

James: is it a record for a driver to be penalized 3 times on the same weekend or has it happened before?

8

Must be a record, right?

9

I can’t believe Romain Grosjean didn’t make this list?!! lol

10

Sorry – thought this was driver of the day, not JB fan club poll! Last year so many of you were refusing to vote for Vettel as driver of day with the reasoning that he just led from lights to finish, yet JB did exactly that this weekend and leads the poll. Be real, although JB had a well deserved win, Vettel had a better drive and deserves driver of the day, followed by Hulkenberg.

12

Probably Vettel. Made some amazing overtakes to earn his spot, while Button was pretty much cruising and still had enough of a buffer that he could have pitted once more and come out first.

But I have to mention Kobayashi. I was going to say Sauber probably aren’t too pleased with his start (they still may not be). But given he did have a bad start and what happened to those around him, he made an epic save to allow him at least a chance of finishing the race, huge gaping hole in his sidepod and all:

http://imgur.com/a/ETPea

13

To be honest it’s a tough choice between Vettel and Button. Vettel did make up all those places however the dominance shown by Button who had every response ready for any move made by anyone else along with his consistency makes his drive just as good as Vettel’s. People forget how hard it is to keep consistency up at spa. For racing’s sake it was Vettel’s day, for driving’s sake it was Button.

And for shear outperformance of the car – Hulkenberg. For making the best of a bad situation – Massa. He always seemed to be put at the wrong end of any line of cars all GP and he managed to overtake Webber

14

[mod] he drove superbly in a car that was clearly hamstrung on the straights to take second second after coming out 11th/12th after the restart.

Take nothing away from Button, he drove supremely; however, he happaned to have that bit of luck with the right car, with the right setup, at the right track.

Vettel, on the other hand, grafted and pulled off a truly great drive

15

Well done button another contender to the mix. It going to the wire, the makings of yet another classic season.

Good to see every team and driver in with a chance this season. Vettle was expecting to be like Shumacher and I felt his attitude changed from when he one his first Championship.

All the drivers are philosophical about their chances and Spa is a case in point. You never know when you can get taken out.

Some times you need a little bit of luck.

16

Defintely Vettel DOTD-he did awesome to come back from 11th and make the 1 stop work. His passes on Webber and Michael were brilliant- not to mention others.

Next would be Hulkenberg who really put in a great performance the whole race.

Kimi drove fantastic in a Lotus that struggled with its KERS again and balance which was surprising for this circuit.His move on Schumacher was epic! I think the cars deficiencies masked a first class drive ( probably his best in2012)

Jenson drove faultless but was in a car that was 1 sec faster than everyone. Hope this post makes it through!

17

Kimi… for saying “Give me more power” on the team radio in the final stages of the race. That WAS the quote of the day, ha, ha, ha.

18

Hilarious indeed… Brilliant performance… but the Quote of the Decade “Why all the time they are showing me blue flags” – Kimi “The blue flags are for the cars behind Kimi and not for you” – Team Lotus.

19

Vettel by far the best out there & i dont like him ! it was a championship winning drive which i actually havnt seen him do much of !

20

Has to be Vettel this time.

A blistering pace, some very good overtaking, and very mature racing. If he would have been at places 2-3 after the start, I’m sure he would have raced Jenson for all it’s worth.

21

Not a Vettel fan by any stretch but he was fantastic. That drive has gone a long way to dispelling my doubts about his racecraft when in amongst the pack.

22

I’m a JB fan but I would have to say Vettel. He was awesome in coming through the field.

23

James, just a few minutes before the Schum/Vettel “pas de danse” we heard Mercedes radio tell to Schumacher to pass to plan “B” which was obviously a second pit stop. apparently, Red Bull didn’t notify Vettel of that situation… imho, if they had told Vettel he would have waited rather than try to pass in that complex portion…

Jenson is my DOTD

24

I came so close to voting for Vettel. It was undeniably a good drive, but I think the six DNFs ahead of him on the grid flatter to deceive.

Jenson was my DOTD.

As an aside, the votes for Grojean here are a bit disturbing. There was a time that no race fan would joke about that incident, not even privately.

Every now and then there is an accident that has old school F1 fans holding their breath (Schumi at Abu Dhabi two years ago, Webber looping at Valencia etc).

Fate can be tempted for too long and too many times.

Sometimes a balancing event is required.

25

James, I’m baffled as to why my post was deleted ??

26

No idea, we’ve had 400+ in the last 18 hours. Must have broken the rules. What did it say?

27

Hi James, I don’t recall ever being rude to anyone

it said I knew Vettel and Kimi would come through, basically

BTW My friend and I sometimes post from the same lap top, and once or twice his posts didn’t appear, or both. Don’t know any reason for it.

28

Well this got through. We have some keywords that mean automatic deletion, swear words and also words to do with liking or disliking drivers which do not pass moderation automatically

29

I can’t believe I’m saying this, but Vettel was the most impressive driver of the day. The McLaren and Lotus were clearly quicker than the Red Bull, and Vettel made a one stopper work despite even the team thinking it wasn’t possible.

30

Before the race didn’t Gary Anderson say that RBR had asked the FIA to instigate every team having to do three stops, for safety reasons? (FIA said no) Was it just a feint, or did they get it so very wrong?

31

Schumacher! Gave the best entertainment throughout the race.

32

Button had it pretty easy during the race.

Vettel had a fiesty race, and climbed through the field to finish 2nd; the highest his car could probably achieve.

If this had been 2011, Button would be being hailed as heroic for such a drive that Vettel had today, whilst Vettel would be slated with ‘its just the car’ had he won like Button did.

Yet Button is winning this poll.

Where is the consistency in judgement..?

33

That would be because Vettel had by far and away the best car last year.

Since so few read through these comments thoroughly here is my response to another similar comment:

For this race Button had an improved car but had no idea how quick it really was. We should not forget this was a perfect drive from a driver who has struggled for much of the year.

Button delivered his first pole for 3 years and the first lights to flag victory of the year – all after having virtually no Friday running. Neither did any of the others but to make it look so easy was as if he had been driving the same perfect car all year.

34

The only real considerations that will affect the performance of a car before considering the driver, will be the speed/handling, and the reliability. The Red Bull was not the clear best on all 19 weekends of the season, even though it was the best on average across the year.

Yes, Button is worthy of DOTD for Sunday, but how can anyone prove that Vettel didn’t do the best job when he was the one pulling out incredible margins over the field, like on the same demanding Spa circuit last year, or leading every lap in Singapore and India (where he even pushed for fastest lap)? Even Webber gets more recognition for a comeback through the field, or a win from the front.

35

Here’s my response to your earlier comment:

It was hardly “far and away” the best in several races Vettel won last year- Belgium, Spain, Monaco, Italy, Korea and Malaysia for instance, were races where his rivals could easily have challenged or beat him, yet he didn’t win the poll. Button wins in the same manner, and wins the vote in a landslide.

And how about Bahrain this year as well? The Lotuses stormed past everyone, including Webber, but Vettel beat them. Kimi won the vote.

36

Not being the fastest car does not stop a car being the best. Last year Red Bull arrived at each circuit with massive confidence in their cars. This meant that, whilst at certain circuits other cars might have been slightly faster, Vettel knew practically everything there was to know about how to make his car work. He never had to think about changing his driving style in order to win a race and when he didn’t win it was never the same driver meaning his championship was never under threat. Earlier this year we heard about how much harder the RB mechanics were having to work to try and make their cars work.

As for Bahrain I don’t remember Kimi losing out from his grid position despite several cars in front crashing out. I don’t think a DOTD can ever be one that has slipped so far backwards without any external cause.

At spa Button’s first stint was incredible – every green flag lap was within 0.7s – amazing consistency over so many laps on a circuit known to be a severe test of a driver’s skill. To achieve such a dominant win without any worthwhile running on the Friday with a car that was largely untested was a remarkable feat from Button and, therefore, definitely worthy of DOTD.

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