Race Review - Belgian Grand Prix
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Caught your breath after last weekends action? Just about? Same here.
The F1 paddock is recovering from a stunning, dramatic and fantastic Belgian Grand Prix, where Jenson Button took an unchallenged victory.
In this weeks weekly column, I discuss that 1st corner accident, the resultant penalties and my thoughts on the winner.
Lets start with, well, that start. I was worried for Jenson Button because he is not the best starter, but he was clean away if not slightly unspectacular. My reaction next was “JUMP START!”. It was pretty obvious before watching the slow motion replay that Maldonado jumped the start, so the resultant 5 place grid penalty that he received for that was fully justified. What made it even funnier was the high obviousness on the slow motion replay (which was in super slow motion on my Sky TV). He said that the clutch slipped in his hands and lifted slightly, a rookie error then basically. Clutch pedal grip anyone?
Next up came first the squeeze, then the push, then the hit and then the stunned silence. Grosjean seemed to not look in his right mirror, but instead probably thought “oohhh a space on the inside” and went for that. The problem was that Hamilton currently occupied that space alongside, so the contact was inevitable. The swoop from Grosjean was WAY too severe for a first corner, leaving Lewis with no where to go. Basic error of judgement and lack of mirror use by Grosjean (something my driving instructor first said about me). Because Hamilton was then on to the grass and spinning, he had no way of stopping because the contact with Grosjean unfortunately happened right before the braking zone. This left Grosjean with no control either, with Perez and Alonso becoming innocent victims. Kobayashi was also in the wrong place at the wrong time, but I’m even more shocked that he managed to continue despite Ted Kravitz reporting an ever expanding hole in his sidepod as the race progressed.
Its a testimony to the sport that no one was injured in the accident, but obviously closed cockpit racing has now sprung up again due to the near miss suffered by Fernando. Formula 1 will always have a degree of danger, and the accident was 1 in a 1000. The nature of the first corner (the sharp direction change) meant that Fernando was side on when it happened. Yes, closed cockpits would increase safety by a huge amount but then we would lose the open cockpit era and it could also produce problems with drivers getting out of the car in the mandatory time limit.
The race itself was a brilliant one. Highlights? Raikkonen’s pass on Schumacher at Eau Rouge. Webber Vs. Vettel (where Mark lost) was also very exciting and the whole strategic thing was very interesting. Button drove such a controlled race, even though he was clueless on the strategy.
Talking of Button, didn’t he do well? At the start I was just praying for a good getaway. Fortunately his was better than those around him, so he was well clear of the pack behind. It just showed how close it got, because Maldonado entered Turn 1 vying for 2nd with Raikkonen and even he got collected. The Brit was awesome at the restart and pulled well clear of Raikkonen after he got by Hulkenberg. By the time he pitted for the one and only time, he had a 15 second lead over Vettel (who was also on the same strategy). It was calm, controlled and pretty lonely as Jenson expressed on the radio. One of his finest race wins in my opinion, just for the pure calmness. After the restart I counted the number of lap times that he did in the 1m57.4′s and it was 4 in a row, consistent or what?
So it was mixed fortunes for McLaren and Lotus. Grosjean was given a 1 race ban, so D’Ambrosio will presumably take his spot in Italy, and a £40,000 fine. I think it was 100% Grosjean’s fault but the penalty was a bit harsh, however I see the stewards views. They need to clamp down on the contact and the car positioning and this is a firm warning to the whole field. Maldonado was given 2 penalties, 5 place grid penalty for jump start and 5 place grid penalty for colliding with Glock. These were fair because he ended up retiring due to the unseen collision with Glock. The penalty given to Grosjean will also be a firm warning to Maldonado because he is often penalised for similar moves.
What a weekend of racing, with GP2 and GP3 also being exciting. We have it all over again for Monza in a short while, F1 2012 is back with a bang.
Author: Rick McCabe
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