By Erica Southey - Motorsport.com The start of the Belgian GP was all but satisfactory for some drivers. Heinz-Herald Frentzen who qualified in an amazing fourth, stalled his engine after the warm up lap. Juan Pablo Montoya was constantly ...
By Erica Southey - Motorsport.com
The start of the Belgian GP was all but satisfactory for some drivers. Heinz-Herald Frentzen who qualified in an amazing fourth, stalled his engine after the warm up lap. Juan Pablo Montoya was constantly signaling that something was wrong but that went unnoticed. The long wait on the grid was too much for the BMW engine to handle resulting in Montoya's car also stalling. The result; both Montoya and Frentzen started from the back of the grid.
Just two Grand Prix ago, Luciano Burti found himself flying into the tyre barriers after hitting the stationary Ferrari of Michael Schumacher. Fortunately for him he escaped unharmed and ran back to the pits to join the restart of the race. This time around, Burti didn't get off so lightly. Burti was on the outside while Eddie Irivine in the Jaguar defended the racing line. The two touched and both spun off into the gravel losing car parts as they slid across the gravel trap. Irvine came to a halt, but Burti's Prost kept going at high speed, crashing into the tyre barrier and ending up under a pile of tyres.
Medical personnel came to the scene promptly while Irvine assisted marshals to remove the tyres from the stricken Prost. The fact that they were holding up blankets to obscure the view of Burti was not very encouraging. The strange quietness surrounding the accident scene while there was a hive of activity to clear Burti was very disconcerting. Was he alright? A worried Alain Prost was seen walking up and down the pitlane waiting for news on his driver. Irvine dashed straight into the Jaguar garage and briefly exchanged a few words with Niki Lauda. Lauda only said that Irvine reported that Burti was conscious but he wouldn't volunteer any more details as to the accident.
While the drama was unfolding around Burti's evacuation, the safety car lead the way for the rest of the field. It didn't go on for long when the red flag came out indicating the end of the race. Kimi Raikkonen was seen running back to the pits after abandoning his car that stopped due to gearbox failure. Sadly for him, he was not allowed to take part in the restart.
As the minutes ticked by, drivers were back on the grid lining up for the second start. The tyres literally came off at Williams - off the ground that is; when the pitcrew left Ralf Schumacher hanging midair with nowhere to go. Some Ferrari pitcrew whistled at the Williams team to draw their attention to Ralf's predicament, but that clearly fell on deaf ears and Ralf had to start from the back.
Blown engines were not an uncommon sight. Jarno Trulli and Montoya had to succumb to failing engines that put an end to a race that could have had good results for them. Trulli banged his head on his arms in sheer frustration while Montoya sauntered off with his body language communicating his disappointment.
A misfortune of another kind struck Rubens Barrichello and Jenson Button. First one to lose his front wing over a curb was Barrichello, who successfully had his front wing replaced while Button retired. Spa Franchorchamps claimed a lot of casualties with each lap while the remainder hung on for dear life.
A driver that can be very proud of his achievement is Giancarlo Fisichella who finished third after two brilliant starts of which the first was aborted. Fisichella attacked from the word go, and held on to his spot, not making it easy for anyone to pass him. Towards the end David Coulthard in the McLaren got the better of him, though, and took second place only half a dozen laps before the checkered flag.
In front, Michael Schumacher was in a class of his own, taking every lap in his stride driving to yet another victory showing that he isn't a four times World Champion for nothing. The victory was his 52nd, moving him past Alain Prost to the top of the list of all-time Grand Prix winners.
Meanwhile, the likes of Jean Alesi and brother Ralf fought for sixth position with Alesi emerging the victor. Barrichello, however, capitalized on a mistake by Alesi and shot past him to secure two World Championship points. Talk about shooting past!
The BMW Williams clearly demonstrated their straight-line speed, but today we saw the Ferrari of Michael and later the McLaren of Häkkinen sliding past. Ralf was advised to short shift in order to spare the engine.
Finally, good news on Burti after so many wondered how he was doing. He is in a stable condition and has not broken anything, according to reports coming through -- a good report for safety standards in Formula 1.
Next we move to Monza the home of Ferrari. Will the tifosi be treated to a number one and two finish or will another constructor paint Monza red?