From the minute the lights went out at the start of the race, things seemed to work out in Lewis Hamilton's favour, which eventually led him to secure his first Belgian Grand Prix victory in Formula One. Lewis Hamilton, McLaren ...
From the minute the lights went out at the start of the race, things seemed to work out in Lewis Hamilton's favour, which eventually led him to secure his first Belgian Grand Prix victory in Formula One.
Throughout the weekend and building up to race day, the McLaren driver had impressed, in practice and securing second position on the grid in qualifying. From the beginning of the race, he got off to a great start as Webber's car went into anti-stall mode. This meant that the Red Bull driver went from first to sixth just before the rain began to fall at the end of lap one.
The Australian eventually finished 1.5s behind the race winner, who now leads the Drivers' Championship by three points. Robert Kubica secured the third and final podium place, with Felipe Massa for Ferrari in fourth position.
When Hamilton passed the chequered flag today, he recorded an extremely quick lap time of 1:29.04.268.
"Spa is always one of the most challenging races on the calendar, and I'm ecstatic that I'm now able to tick it off and say that I've won here," Hamilton said. "So to finally get a win here at Spa - in the trickiest of conditions - is fantastic. I couldn't have done it without the team though. Without them putting in such a great effort, we wouldn't be here today.It almost feels like this is my first win - it's just phenomenal!"
However, despite the positive end to the day, Hamilton nearly missed out on the win with a slight blip on lap thirty four, as the rain returned on the previous one and this caused him to run off into the gravel on Turn eight, but managed to recover himself and get back on track.
In today's race there were a mixture of cars running off the track, and changes in the weather, which caused problems for drivers. While Hamilton managed to get away from the rest of the field, several cars slid off the track towards the end of lap one.
Rubens Barrichello was one of the first to retire from the race, when he had contact with Fernando Alonso's Ferrari. This incident led to the safety car being deployed on lap two, and made a disappointing end for the Brazilian driver in his Williams, as he marked his 300th race start in Formula One. As a result of the collision, Alonso rapidly lost places and ended up in seventeenth place at one stage.
Rubens was very sad with the way his race ended, when he was hoping to commemorate the special day with a positive outcome.
"I was closing the door on Rosberg and when I touched the brakes, even though it was quite early, it wasn't sufficient to stop the car. The car went straight on into Alonso, for which I'm sorry. It's also sad for the team. We've had such a positive weekend that a good result would have been a nice conclusion. Despite not having a good outcome in my 300th race, I'm confident we will go well in the 301st!"
When the race was restarted at the end of lap three and the safety car went in, there was an in team battle between Hamilton and his McLaren team mate, Jenson Button. At times the defending World Champion got right behind the race leader, in an attempt to try and make a pass to grab the lead.
Both McLaren drivers continued to pull away from the rest of the pack, and it was looking quite promising, especially for Button, who hoped to pick up some points in the Drivers' Championship. It was Sebastian Vettel, Mark Webber and Robert Kubica who suddenly gained momentum, and tried to chase down Button for second place. He had suffered slight damage to his left front wing endplate, which allowed the others to close the gap on him. Disaster then struck for Button on lap fifteen, when Vettel got too close in his Red Bull.
A few drops of rain just started to fall as they came together, and Vettel slid into the side of Button's car, causing damage to the side pod and radiator, which led him off the track and out of the race. The race stewards were clearly not impressed with Vettel's manoeuvre, and the incident was under investigation for causing an avoidable accident.
The German driver was then forced to face the consequences of his actions, as the stewards issued him with a drive through penalty, which ruined the rest of his race and he finished in fifteenth place. This was not the only incident that Vettel was involved in today, as he was under investigation on another two occasions. He and Kubica were of interest to the stewards, for driving off the track to try and gain a place off each other early on in the race.
During one of the many pit stops that Vettel had, he and Alonso were making their way out of their pit boxes, when they had a near miss and just avoided coming together. This also meant that Vettel was under investigation by the stewards for a third time all in one race.
Just a short while later and Alonso's race came to a miserable end. On the exit to Les Combes, he spun his Ferrari and hit a barrier, which broke his suspension. This left the Spaniard out of the race and scoring no points for the team, or in the Drivers' Championship. The safety car took to the track for the second time, allowing the race marshals to move his car to safety.
Although Michael Schumacher started from twenty-first place, due to his ten pace grid drop following his incident, with Rubens Barrichello at the Hungarian Grand Prix, the Mercedes driver managed to work his way through the field in the race. He had mini battles with various drivers on his way through, including his own team mate Nico Rosberg. Schumacher had already passed him earlier in the race on lap ten when Vitaly Petrov for Renault ran him wide, allowing the seven times World Champion to overtake his team mate. However, Rosberg took advantage of an unexpected opportunity on lap forty one, when he managed to barge his way passed and grab sixth place, leaving Schumacher just behind in seventh.
As well as several of the key front-runners having an exciting race from the midfield, or nearer the front like Hamilton and Webber, the smaller teams also shared the limelight in today's eventful race.
In the early stages of the race, and around lap fifteen, Vitantonio Liuzzi began to show what he is made of. He was definitely not afraid of battling with the front-runners, and giving them a bit of a tough time, as they made their way to the front. His first battle was with Alonso, where he managed to maintain thirteenth position from the Ferrari driver.
Later on when the race was well under way, Liuzzi was racing for position with Vettel, who ended up with a left rear puncture, and had to nurse his Red Bull to the pits for a tyre change. It was the slight touch with the right front plate on Liuzzi's Force India, which gave Vettel another unexpected pit stop. The Italian's hard work during the race paid off, which secured him an eleventh place finish.
Due to Jaime Alguersuari being penalised for cutting the chicane just two laps before the end, Liuzzi is now promoted to tenth position, and is rewarded with the last point scoring position. The stewards declared that Alguersuari failed to give Liuzzi the position back, which gave him an unfair advantage over Liuzzi. The Toro Rosso driver will now drop to thirteenth place.
Liuzzi's team mate, Adrian Sutil also had a great drive round the Spa-Francorchamps circuit. He too battled with Michael Schumacher, and overtook him during the race. Sutil also managed to pick up some well deserved points, in the Drivers' and Constructors' Championship. He raced his way to secure a fifth place finish.
It was not only Force India that played a key part in the thrilling race, but the new teams fighting at the back were also a feature. At present it still seems that Lotus are the team to beat, and Heikki Kovalainen secured sixteenth place, ahead of the two Virgin cars of Lucas Di Grassi and Timo Glock. The Hispania drivers had a disappointing day, with Sakon Yamamoto coming last in twentieth, and Bruno Senna sadly retired from the race.
With such an eventful race day, the Drivers' Championship is getting very tight. Today's victory for Lewis Hamilton means that he is at the top, with Mark Webber just three points behind, Sebastian Vettel in third, and Jenson Button fourth.
The Constructors' Championships remains just as close, with only one point between Red Bull, who are currently leading from McLaren. Both titles are still very much up for grabs, as Formula One heads to Monza, for the Italian Grand Prix in two weeks time.