Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen has won his first race of the season after a race-long duel with Giancarlo Fisichella’s Force India at Spa-Francorchamps. Sebastian Vettel finished in third for Red Bull Racing.
It’s been a whole year since the Iceman last won a race (his previous victory was at the Spanish Grand Prix) so this result, the first for the Scuderia this year was a great achievement. And yet the star of the Belgian Grand Prix was Fisichella. Not only did the Italian earned his first pole position for Force India but to finish in second (the team’s first podium) is an impressive performance.
The 2007 world champion was able to use his KERS system to gain extra positions in a chaotic opening lap which resulting in four cars retiring at the Les Combes corner.
Championship leader Jenson Button was caught out in the mayhem caused by the late braking of Romain Grosjean in the Renault. Button just passed the McLaren of Heikki Kovalainen and as he turned into the chicane, he was tagged behind by Grosjean and spun.
Lewis Hamilton was also caught out in this incident and in an attempt to avoid hitting the spinning Button, he backed off but was hit from behind by the Toro Rosso of Jaime Alguersuari.
Button rued afterwards that his poor qualifying position – P14 – left him vulnerable to this kind of accident. It ends his run of scoring points in every race this season and it might become highly significant in the world championship.
Not surprisingly, the Safety Car was called out to clean up the broken carbon fibre pieces at the chicane. At the restart, Kimi pressed the KERS button on his steering wheel to power pass race leader Fisichella on the run-up toward Les Combes. That key moment defined the Belgian Grand Prix as the race pace between the pair was close and super quick.
By finishing in third for Red Bull Racing, Vettel is slowly reducing the championship gap to the Brawn GP drivers of Button and Barrichello (who just managed to finish despite an oil leak in the closing stages of the race). The non-finish for Jenson means he still retains the lead in the drivers’ standings but he must be feeling quite anxious as the Formula One season reaches its conclusion.
The BMW Sauber pair of Robert Kubica and Nick Heidfeld finished in a solid fourth and fifth position. While the sole remaining McLaren of Kovalainen came home in sixth.
Rubens Barrichello was lucky to finish the Belgian Grand Prix in seventh despite stalling on the grid and then an oil leak in the final remaining laps. The winner of the European Grand Prix has reduced his team-mate’s lead in the championship to 16 points.
Taking the final point with eighth went to Nico Rosberg after a long first stint in the Williams, just holding off Mark Webber in the Red Bull.
Webber had a nightmare race at Spa. The Australian was running strong in the early part of the race but during the first pitstop, he was released into the path of Nick Heidfeld in the narrow pit lane. The two cars almost touched but that incident led to an immediate drive-through penalty. That moment cost Webber the opportunity of scoring points.
Timo Glock also had a moment in the pits, with a faulty fuel rig. The Toyota driver was running fourth in the early stages of the race but come the end, he finished tenth.
His Toyota team-mate Jarno Trulli had a difficult race. First, he was swallowed up by the fast-starting Raikkonen at the La Source hairpin. Then the two BMWs of Nick Heidfeld and Robert Kubica passed him with the latter overtaking the Toyota on the inside.
Somehow, Trulli clipped the back of Heidfeld’s car which ultimately led to the Italian’s later retirement.
Renault’s Fernando Alonso was another driver to retire with damage to his left-front tyre. Apparently the Spaniard broke his wheel-spinner aero device at La Source on the first lap against a rival and after a slow pitstop, the team called in Fernando a lap later to stop for good.
Yet again Luca Badoer struggled in the Ferrari despite racing on a circuit he knows. Finishing last almost a lap down compare to his team-mate (who won the race) is a frankly appalling result and questions are now being asked as to who will replace him in the following race at Monza. The rumours are Giancarlo Fisichella, who drove a fantastic race for Force India. That important phone call from Maranello can’t come soon enough for the popular Italian driver!
So a great result for Raikkonen. His 18th career Grand Prix victory and the fourth at the legendary Spa-Francorchamps circuit. Rumours of whether the Iceman will continue in Formula One next season is a major talking point but this latest triumph should restore his enthusiasm in driving a Ferrari. Let’s wait and see if Fisichella is his new team-mate at Monza in a fortnight.
Race results from Spa-Francorchamps. 44 laps:
1. Raikkonen Ferrari 1h23:50.995
2. Fisichella Force India-Mercedes +0.939
3. Vettel Red Bull-Renault +3.875
4. Kubica BMW Sauber +9.966
5. Heidfeld BMW Sauber +11.276
6. Kovalainen McLaren-Mercedes +32.763
7. Barrichello Brawn-Mercedes +35.461
8. Rosberg Williams-Toyota +36.208
9. Webber Red Bull-Renault +36.959
10. Glock Toyota +41.490
11. Sutil Force India-Mercedes +42.636
12. Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari +46.106
13. Nakajima Williams-Toyota +54.241
14. Badoer Ferrari +1:38.177
Fastest lap: Vettel, 1:47.263
Alonso Renault 27 laps
Trulli Toyota 22 laps
Button Brawn-Mercedes 1 lap
Grosjean Renault 1 lap
Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1 lap
Alguersuari Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1 lap
World Championship standings, round 12:
1. Button 72
2. Barrichello 56
3. Vettel 53
4. Webber 51.5
5. Raikkonen 34
6. Rosberg 30.5
7. Hamilton 27
8. Trulli 22.5
9. Massa 22
10. Kovalainen 17
11. Glock 16
12. Alonso 16
13. Heidfeld 10
14. Kubica 8
15. Fisichella 8
16. Buemi 3
17. Bourdais 2
1. Brawn-Mercedes 128
2. Red Bull-Renault 104.5
3. Ferrari 56
4. McLaren-Mercedes 44
5. Toyota 38.5
6. Williams-Toyota 30.5
7. BMW Sauber 18
8. Renault 16
9. Force India-Mercedes 8
10. Toro Rosso-Ferrari 5
Next race: Italian Grand Prix, Monza. September 11-13.