Hamilton survives chaotic Belgian Grand Prix to lead championship

Lewis Hamilton takes his third Grand Prix victory of the season at Spa-Francorchamps following an incident-packed race.

The McLaren driver made a great start and despite running off the track during the shower period twice – at the Bus Stop chicane and at Rivage – this victory proved crucial to his championship prospects. He now leads the standings with 182 points, three ahead of Mark Webber, who recovered from a poor getaway to finish in second.

Robert Kubica took an excellent third for Renault but it could have been second. During his final pitstop, the Polish driver slid in the wet pitlane and that mistake cost him three championship points.

At the start, Mark Webber’s anti-stall system kicked-in and that brief moment allowed Lewis Hamilton to take the lead. The Red Bull started in pole position but even before the first corner – La Source – Webber was down to sixth position.

Once in the lead, Lewis Hamilton was never challenged at the front – despite a brief burst of rain that caused him to run off the track at the Bus Stop chicane on the opening lap.

Lewis pulled away from the rest at a rate of more than half a second per lap as the track quickly dried early on. He had an advantage of eleven seconds over Robert Kubica until the heavens open again on lap 35.

Pushing a little too hard on the slicks when the track was wet, the 2008 Formula One world champion slid wide at Rivage and it looked like he was about to retire in the gravel, but luckily he avoided the tyre barrier and was able to drive back on the track.

Lewis pitted for intermediates at the end of that lap, as did the second-placed Renault of Kubica and Webber, who was in third.

Webber emerged in second following a mistake by Kubica. The Renault driver overshot his pitbox and that mistake cost him a handful of seconds while his mechanics attempted to change his tyres.

After a second safety car period – which began on lap 38 when Fernando Alonso crashed out exiting Malmedy – Hamilton was able to pull away from Webber to the chequered flag.

By crashing out, Alonso’s title ambitions has hit a major blow and following his disastrous start to the race in which Rubens Barrichello smashed his Williams on the opening lap, it was unfortunate for the Ferrari driver to retire after fighting his way back up to seventh.

Taking part in his 300th Grand Prix, Rubens Barrichello didn’t even finish the first lap at Spa, after losing control under braking at the Bus Stop chicane and crashing into Alonso.

Both Jenson Button and Sebastian Vettel also had their championship hopes dashed, with the former suffering with front wing damage on the opening lap. That lost in downforce meant Button held a four-car train.

Seeking the opportunity to pass the McLaren, Sebastian Vettel got a run on the reigning world champion exiting Blanchimont on lap 16, but lost control of his Red Bull under braking and slammed into the side of his rival at the Bus Stop chicane – putting Button out of the race.

The young German broke his front wing and had to pit for repairs. He then received a drive-through penalty for causing the incident and later suffered a puncture after colliding with Vitantonio Liuzzi’s Force India on his way to a lapped P15. Not a great result for Sebastian Vettel with five trips to the pits as well…

Through the mayhem came Felipe Massa to take fourth in his Ferrari and Adrian Sutil – after pulling off a superb pass on Michael Schumacher – to fifth in his Force India.

Nico Rosberg was sixth for Mercedes GP after forcing his way by team-mate Michael Schumacher at Les Combes with three laps to the flag. The pair actually made contact in the same corner in the opening part of the Grand Prix.

Sauber’s Kamui Kobayashi, Vitaly Petrov (Renault) and Vitantonio (Force India) completed the top ten.

So heading into the Spa weekend, five drivers were separated by twenty points. After 44 chaotic laps, Lewis Hamilton and Mark Webber took advantage and with six races left, it will be fascinating who will have upper hand with the pair split by three championship points.

Race results from Spa-Francorchamps, 44 laps:

1.  Hamilton      McLaren-Mercedes           1h29m04.268s
2.  Webber        Red Bull-Renault           +1.571
3.  Kubica        Renault                    +3.493
4.  Massa         Ferrari                    +8.264
5.  Sutil         Force India-Mercedes       +9.094
6.  Rosberg       Mercedes                   +12.359
7.  Schumacher    Mercedes                   +15.548
8.  Kobayashi     Sauber-Ferrari             +16.678
9.   Petrov        Renault                    +23.851
10.  Liuzzi        Force India-Mercedes      +34.831
11.  De la Rosa    Sauber-Ferrari            +36.019
12.  Buemi         Toro Rosso-Ferrari        +39.895
13.  Alguersuari   Toro Rosso-Ferrari        +49.457*
14.  Hulkenberg    Williams-Cosworth         +1 lap
15.  Vettel        Red Bull-Renault          +1 lap
16.  Kovalainen    Lotus-Cosworth            +1 lap
17.  Di Grassi     Virgin-Cosworth           +1 lap
18.  Glock         Virgin-Cosworth           +1 lap
19.  Trulli        Lotus-Cosworth            +1 lap
20.  Yamamoto      HRT-Cosworth              +2 laps

*Twenty-second penalty for cutting the chicane

Fastest lap: Hamilton, 1m49.069s

Not classified/retirements:
Alonso        Ferrari                   38 laps
Button        McLaren-Mercedes          16 laps
Senna         HRT-Cosworth               6 laps
Barrichello   Williams-Cosworth          1 lap

World Championship standings, round 13:

1.  Hamilton     182
2.  Webber       179
3.  Vettel       151
4.  Button       147
5.  Alonso       141
6.  Massa        109
7.  Kubica       104
8.  Rosberg      102
9.  Sutil         45
10. Schumacher    44
11. Barrichello   30
12. Kobayashi     21
13. Petrov        19
14. Liuzzi        12
15. Hulkenberg    10
16. Buemi          7
17. De la Rosa     6
18. Alguersuari    4

1. Red Bull-Renault          330
2. McLaren-Mercedes          329
3. Ferrari                   250
4. Mercedes                  146
5. Renault                   123
6. Force India-Mercedes       57
7. Williams-Cosworth          40
8. Sauber-Ferrari             27
9. Toro Rosso-Ferrari         11

Next race: Italian Grand Prix, Monza. September 10-12.

16 thoughts to “Hamilton survives chaotic Belgian Grand Prix to lead championship”

  1. The top three drivers’ views on the Belgian Grand Prix, as taken from Autosport.com.

    Lewis Hamilton declared himself ‘ecstatic’ after taking a dominant Belgian Grand Prix win at Spa-Francorchamps.

    The McLaren driver won for the third time in 2010, moving himself into a three-point championship lead over Mark Webber, who finished second, after a dominant drive in changeable weather conditions.

    “I am so happy, so grateful to be in this position,” said Hamilton. “If you have things like that in a race like that it can be a lottery.

    “To come out on top, even facing a difficult situation – and one I was blessed to get away with, I am so happy, so ecstatic.”

    Hamilton said that he had feared the worst when he slid off the track at Rivage on slick tyres on lap 35, just after a second rain shower of the race had begun.

    Fortunately for him, he kept his car moving, just skimming the tyre wall on the edge of the gravel trap without doing his McLaren any damage.

    “The conditions were really tricky when it started to rain,” he added. “I was losing temperature in the tyres and not knowing how hard to push. I braked late and locked a wheel and went wide in Turn 8.

    “I made it all the way out to the wall and just clipped it with the edge of my wing. I was fortunate to get away with that, it was so slippery out there – there was nothing you could do, just tip-toe around.

    “Overall the team did a remarkable job this weekend, constantly pushing. In some places we were not as fast as these guys [Webber and Robert Kubica], but it’s great that when we are close we can maximise it. I am so happy to be up here.”

    Hamilton had hoped to finish the race behind the safety car, so as to preserve his lead during the latter stages. He said that the final few laps required a huge amount of concentration.

    “I was hoping the safety car would stay out longer. Fortunately though, it stopped raining and the track got better.

    “In the end I was nursing car home, bringing it home in one piece, and just concentrating on keeping small gap between myself and Mark. It’s good.”

    Mark Webber has hinted that it will soon be time for Red Bull to put its weight behind a single driver in the championship battle, as he pulled further clear of team-mate Sebastian Vettel in the standings by finishing second at Spa.

    Lewis Hamilton and Webber have made a break in the title chase by finishing first and second in Belgium today. They are three points apart at the head of the standings, with their team-mates Vettel and Jenson Button respectively 31 and 35 points behind Hamilton with six races to go.

    When asked if he felt Red Bull should now favour him over Vettel, Webber suggested that the team might have to adopt such a stance if it was serious about beating McLaren to the crown.

    “McLaren have won many championships and have a good trophy cabinet, Red Bull have a good trophy cabinet but not as good,” said Webber. “I think it depends on how hungry we are to try and do that.

    “I think it is too early at the moment to say that [one driver should be prioritised], but maybe there is a different strategy compared to McLaren.

    “It’s still too early at the moment but not too far away.”

    However Hamilton believes that his McLaren team is not yet considering favouring either of its drivers despite the changing points situation.

    “I think today Jenson was very unfortunate,” said Hamilton.

    “I get the same treatment as Jenson and vice versa, and that enables us to both score maximum points, so I don’t feel there should be any preferential treatment. The team do their best, the maximum for each of us so no more they could do.”

    He also denied that the title battle was shaping into a straight fight between him and Webber.

    “You have seen in the last few races how quickly things can change so we still have a long way to go, and many points to be grabbed by any of us drivers fighting for the championship,” said Hamilton.

    “The closest rival to me at the moment in terms of points is Mark but I still think the championship is open. We want to make sure that is not the case after another few races.”

    Robert Kubica said he was lucky to finish the Belgian Grand Prix after a nervy moment on the second lap of the race.

    The Renault driver finished in third place after a superb drive in changeable weather conditions. However, he had held second place at the end of the first lap and had a major moment at Eau Rouge next time round, losing second place to Jenson Button’s McLaren in the process.

    “On the second lap through Eau Rouge I saw Lewis [Hamilton] going wide, so I was very wide also and tried to make apex in order to not lose speed,” said the Polish driver.

    “But then I lost the car completely; first to the left and then to the right. I was lucky to continue, and I lost a position to Jenson too.

    “Then on the restart [after the first safety car period] I had poor grip, locked my wheels; fronts and then rears.”

    Kubica was passed by Sebastian Vettel for third at La Source on lap four after sliding wide through the corner, but was handed back second after the pair ahead of him came together.

    He then fell to third again when pitting for wets late on as he overshot his pit box and ceded a place to Mark Webber’s Red Bull.

    But he believes he could have been easily clear of Webber had he not been bottled up behind Button early on.

    “We were struck behind Jenson, I think with better pace [than him] and we then managed quite good speed and car felt quite good,” he added.

  2. Jenson Button labelled his exit from the Belgian Grand Prix as a ‘massive blow’ to his title ambitions, after saying he did not know what know Sebastian Vettel was up to.

    The reigning world champion was forced to retire from the race on lap 16 after he was sideswiped by Vettel under braking for the Bus Stop chicane when his Red Bull Racing rival lost control in their fight for second place.

    A deeply disappointed Button, who had been nursing damage to his front wing before the incident, said the situation was hard to accept.

    “I don’t know what happened with Sebastian,” Button told reporters after his exit. “All I felt was a big bang in the sidepod. It ripped the radiator out I think and I lost drive completely.

    “It was a very strange incident. I don’t know what he was doing really. It’s a massive blow – a massive blow. It hurts quite a bit really.”

    Although slowed by the damage to his front wing, Button reckoned he was still on course for a good result as he held up his pursing drivers.

    “It was looking really good,” he explained. “I had a good start and had a good fight in wet conditions. I was able to find grip better than other people in wet conditions.

    “I had a damaged front wing which meant I had to put maximum front wing angle in the car, which made the rear twitchy but didn’t give me any more front really.

    “It was tricky to keep them behind, but I was doing a pretty good job I thought. We were going to change the front wing at the stop.”

    Vettel was given a drive-thorugh penalty by the race stewards for causing the accident.

    Source: Autosport.com

  3. Red Bull Racing’s Sebastian Vettel has apologises for taking out Jenson Button in the Belgian Grand Prix with an incident at the Bus Stop chicane. Autosport.com has the full story below:

    Sebastian Vettel took full responsibility for his collision with Jenson Button in the Belgian Grand Prix, and apologised for taking the world champion out of the race.

    Red Bull driver Vettel was trying to overtake Button into the final chicane on lap 16 at Spa when he lost control and slewed into the side of the McLaren. While Vettel was able to continue with a new front wing, Button’s car suffered terminal damage and was out.

    “First of all, I’m sorry,” Vettel told television reporters. “Obviously it was not my intention to destroy his race or mine.

    “I was close, I was faster than him. The moment Robert [Kubica] got close behind I knew that he could pass us on the straight because we are not the fastest on the straight. I was very close a couple of times, unfortunately never really close enough.

    “I tried to out-brake him on the outside. When I changed from the inside to the outside, I lost the car under braking on the bump and then I then I couldn’t really control it anymore and unfortunately crashed into him.”

    Vettel’s race went from bad to worse as he received a drivethrough penalty for the Button incident, sustained a puncture in a later brush with Tonio Liuzzi’s Force India and chose the wrong tyres in the final rain shower. Having made five pitstops in the end, he could only finish 15th.

    “I think looking back with the rain at the end we could’ve still managed to get some decent points,” Vettel said.

    “There were some easy points for us to pick up today – at least second or third. But now we have none for today. Let’s see what we can do at the next race.”

    The German said the brush with Liuzzi had been particularly costly, as he had to complete nearly a full lap at reduced speed with a puncture.

    “I was already past him and then he destroyed my left rear tyre,” Vettel said. “I had all the way to come back – it was probably the worst spot for it to happen, and that was it.”

  4. Taking part in his 300th Grand Prix, Rubens Barrichello was upset to retire so early in the race following his crash at the Bus Stop chicane. The Brazilian later apologised to the Williams team. Autosport.com has the details.

    Rubens Barrichello apologised to his Williams team and Fernando Alonso after his 300th grand prix ended in a crash before the first lap was even over.

    Celebrations for the veteran Brazilian’s milestone start dominated the build-up to the Spa race, but Barrichello became the event’s first retirement when he ploughed into Alonso’s Ferrari under braking for the Bus Stop as the field encountered the first rain shower of the afternoon.

    “Despite my experience, it was very difficult to know how wet the track was on the opening lap, but it was fully wet when I came into Blanchimont,” said Barrichello.

    “I was closing the door on [Nico] 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.”

    He admitted that the retirement was particularly disappointing given the excitement of his 300th Formula 1 start.

    “It’s also sad for the team,” Barrichello said. “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.”

    Nico Hulkenberg also failed to score in the second Williams, finishing only 14th as his race was marred by a throttle control problem.

  5. Pedro de la Rosa was angry with himself for throwing away a points finish with just a handful of laps remaining in the Belgian Grand Prix.

    The Spaniard was lying 10th in his Sauber after choosing to fit wet tyres rather than intermediates when the rain hit with nine laps to go. However, this proved to be the wrong decision as the track was not wet enough for them all the way round and caused the Spaniard to overheat the rubber.

    He understeered off at Stavelot, driving through the gravel before rejoining the track in 12th place, which was where he finished.

    “After I had to start near the back I should not complain about finishing 12th, but two laps before the end I was 10th and just in the points,” said de la Rosa.

    “I was on full wet tyres, the rain was not heavy enough and there was not enough water on the track to stop destroying them. They went off quite quickly and when I tried to catch Vitaly Petrov I made a mistake. I went into the gravel and lost two places.

    “Nevertheless for me it was the right move to go for full wet tyres. We had to take our chances today. It was more or less the same at my first pit stop when we fitted intermediates, but then had to change back to slicks. But, as I said, we had to take our chances.”

    De la Rosa’s Japanese team-mate Kamui Kobayashi finished eighth after an entertaining scrap late on with the Mercedes cars of Nico Rosberg and Michael Schumacher.

    Source: Autosport.com

  6. Force India’s Vitantonio Liuzzi has moved up from 11th to 10th place in the Belgian Grand Prix results after Toro Rosso’s Jaime Alguersuari had 20 seconds added to his race time by the Spa stewards.

    Alguersuari was penalised for cutting the final chicane on lap 42, whilst defending from Liuzzi during their late-race battle. The Spaniard failed to surrender his position following his mistake and was deemed to have gained an advantage. He drops to 13th as a result of the penalty.

    With Liuzzi’s team mate Adrian Sutil coming home fifth, it means both Force Indias scored points in Belgium.

    Source: Formula1.com

  7. During the opening part of the Belgian Grand Prix, Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button were running first and second. But on lap 16, Red Bull Racing’s Sebastian Vettel attempted to overtake Jenson but made a mistake underbraking which resulting in a non-finish for the reigning world champion. McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh was not amused and slammed Vettel over the incident. Read the full story below as taken from Autosport.com.

    McLaren boss Martin Whitmarsh has blasted Sebastian Vettel for the crash that put Jenson Button out of the Belgian Grand Prix – suggesting that such driving was not up to the standards expected in Formula 1.

    Vettel lost control of his Red Bull Racing car on lap 16, as he was battling Button for second place. After misjudging Button’s braking for the final chicane, Vettel spun to take avoiding action and then turned back into the side of his McLaren rival.

    And, with Vettel getting handed a drive-through penalty for the incident, Whitmarsh reckoned that the young German’s actions were not good enough.

    “It was not what you would expect to see in F1 – more reminiscent of junior formulae,” Whitmarsh said immediately after the race. “A drive-through seemed a pretty light punishment to me.”

    Whitmarsh said he did not understand why Vettel put himself in such a position on the track as he fought Button – who was struggling with a damaged front wing.

    “It was a bit of a strange mistake I have to say,” continued Whitmarsh. “I realise it was not intentional but it was a pretty strange one really.

    “If he was going for the inside he had three inches to sneak down there, so God knows what he thought he was doing. That was frustrating. But that is motor racing; we’ve got to move on now.”

    He added: “He [Vettel] is a nice guy and he didn’t need to do it, but when you keep doing these things you have to reflect on what is on your mind on this occasion. It looked like he was trying to go for an inside gap where, as I said, there were a few inches. What he thought he was doing there, I don’t know. And he lost it. I would rather he did it with his team-mates rather than do it with us!”

    Vettel apologised for the incident after the race, and said he had been caught out by Button braking earlier than he had expected because of damp conditions on the track.

  8. Even though Fernando Alonso crashed out in the Belgian Grand Prix, the double world champion still believes he has a chance in winning the drivers’ title this season. Autosport.com has the details.

    Fernando Alonso has refused to concede defeat in the race for the Formula 1 world championship, despite a disastrous Belgian Grand Prix.

    The Spaniard crashed out of the race while the track was at its wettest and now lies 41 points behind winner Lewis Hamilton, who leads the championship with only six races remaining.

    However, the two time champion still believes he can take the fight to Hamilton and the McLaren driver’s chief title rival Mark Webber.

    “For us it is still a possibility,” Alonso said. “There are the same five drivers that can win and our chance is still 50/50, just as it was before the race.

    “As we said before this GP, there were seven races and now there are six where everything matters and who does the best job will be champion.

    “In the first of the seven we did not do well enough and some others did better. Jenson [Button], [Sebastian] Vettel and me, after this first race of seven. were not good enough. So for the remaining six we need to make up the ground that we lost here.”

    Alonso said that his crash, which came after he lost control on the kerbs exiting Les Combes on lap 38, had done nothing to affect his title momentum heading into Ferrari’s home race at Monza in two weeks’ time.

    “Only two of the five competitors for the championship scored points [in Belgium], and in the next race maybe it is the opposite and we’ll go back to the positions we had yesterday [Saturday] afternoon, where we were all close in the points,” he said.

    Ferrari’s constructors’ championship hopes also took a blow at Spa with Felipe Massa the team’s only finisher in fourth place. The Italian squad trails leader Red Bull by 80 points.

    Ferrari team boss Stefano Domineicali, however, echoed Alonso’s sentiments, and pointed to the 2007 season, in which Kimi Raikkonen made up 17 points on Lewis Hamilton in the final two races to become world champion, as proof of Alonso’s potential.

    “This weekend definitely did not end well for us and the situation in both championships is certainly more difficult, but it is still not impossible for us to reach our targets,” he said.

    “For those with short memories, I remember that three years ago, we found ourselves in a much worse situation and we all know how it went in the end.”

  9. Red Bull Racing and McLaren both insist it is too early to throw all their weight behind their leading drivers, despite Mark Webber and Lewis Hamilton breaking clear at the head of the championship standings after the Belgian Grand Prix.

    With just six races to go, Webber and Hamilton are more than a race win clear of their team-mates – which has prompted talk that now is the time for their outfits to start favouring one of their drivers if they are to nail their title hopes.

    Webber himself admitted after the Spa race that the time was close for Red Bull Racing to start concentrating more on his own title ambitions.

    But despite the points situation, and the fact that Ferrari’s leading contender Fernando Alonso failed to score, the two main title fighters insist that they are not yet thinking of supporting one of their drivers over the other.

    Red Bull Racing team principal Christian Horner said: “There are 150 points still available and the two guys have broken away a little bit from the rest of the pack – with the other three title protagonists not scoring today.

    “But I think it is still too early to be contemplating that [supporting one driver]. All five are still in this championship and, with the way the points scoring is, the gaps can look deceptive because, while they look quite large, in reality they can reduce dramatically very, very quickly. 150 points are still on the board, and it is a bit premature to be talking about that at the moment.”

    When asked by AUTOSPORT whether he expected Webber to start pushing for number one status soon – after the Australian said that the matter depends on ‘how hungry’ his team is to win – Horner replied: “No I don’t. Mark, he is a sportsman and a realist, and he knows the numbers better than anyone else.

    “He is realistic to know that things can change very, very quickly. But he is in a great position. If we can get through Monza in a similar situation then hopefully we can come back to tracks that we know will suit our package.”

    McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh was equally sure that Hamilton would still be treated on totally equal terms to Jenson Button.

    “I’ve been with both drivers tonight – and Jenson was saying to Lewis: ‘I’m 35 points behind but I still have to nail you’,” said Whitmarsh. “And that is how it should be.

    “It does fluctuate, but Jenson was very, very unlucky today in my opinion. I think that he should have scored points and he should have been right up there. It can change very quickly in the next few races.”

    Source: Autosport.com

  10. After winning the Belgian Grand Prix, the McLaren team believes that the championship battle between Ferrari and Red Bull Racing is still wide open with six races left. Autosport.com has the details.

    McLaren believes that Lewis Hamilton’s Belgian Grand Prix victory has put the momentum back in its world championship charge – but thinks the title fight is still wide open.

    Although Hamilton and Red Bull Racing rival Mark Webber pulled clear of their main opposition with strong results in Spa as other championship contenders hit trouble, the fluctuating form seen this year, allied to the new points system, means the season has not yet boiled down a simple two-way fight.

    McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh reckons there is still everything to play for, and that it is now vital his outfit keeps on delivering at each of the remaining six events.

    “We have some momentum back,” said Whitmarsh after Hamilton’s success ended recent struggles. “We knew we had to come here and try for a win. We delivered that. And we are going to go to Monza now and see what we can do there.

    “Everyone keeps asking how important each race is. This is a tight championship so it doesn’t matter if it is here, Monza – Singapore whatever. It is a tough championship and the points swing backwards and forwards. They all count and we will be doing our best in all of them.”

    Although McLaren should maintain its strong form for the next race in Italy, the team knows the update package it has planned for Singapore will dictate how much it can challenge Red Bull on the final tracks that will likely favour the RB6.

    But Whitmarsh does not believe any single race is more or less vital than another.

    “I think it hinges all the way through,” he said. “Every race is important, we’ve got to continue to improve the car, we’ve got to not make mistakes and we’ve got to continue to race well. I am sure Red Bull Racing will not stand still, and it will be a tough season, which I am sure it will be.

    “People are saying that we are going to be very, very strong at Monza but I don’t know how they deduce that. We aim to be as strong as we can, but I don’t know how other people have such confidence. They have obviously got more information than me.”

    When asked for his response to Red Bull team principal Christian Horner’s view that Monza will be his team’s weakest track of the year, Whitmarsh said: “For once I really, really hope that Christian is right. We will see.”

  11. As for which driver can be a threat to the championship, according to McLaren it is Mark Webber. Autosport.com has the full story below.

    Mark Webber has been singled out by McLaren as its main rival for the world championship now – even though a number of other drivers remain in mathematical contention.

    With Lewis Hamilton and Webber moving clear of their rivals at the head of the championship standings after the Belgian Grand Prix, there is already talk that the title fight is on the verge of becoming a straight two-way contests

    Although McLaren says both its drivers will continue to have an equal chance of winning it, the Woking-based outfit concedes that Webber’s points position – and the fact he is the more consistent of the Red Bull Racing pair – makes him the main threat to its ambitions.

    “He is mathematically the closest,” said Whitmarsh. “He is a strong driver and he is driving well, so he has got to be the main opposition. But there are a lot of drivers still in it.

    “We’ve had a fantastic championship, we are past the middle now, and it is great to be leading the drivers’ championship. We feel we should have been leading the constructors’ championship too, but we are one point behind and it is all to race for now.”

    Although Webber is 28 points clear of struggling team-mate Sebastian Vettel, Whitmarsh does not expect Red Bull to begin throwing all its weight behind the Australian.

    “I don’t stop to think about it,” he said. “I think they quite like their younger driver, so I doubt they will put their weight behind Mark.”

    Webber himself thinks the Belgian Grand Prix has served to change the picture of this year’s world championship – but he is not yet getting too carried away by his position or the advantage he holds over team-mate Vettel.

    “I have 28 points more than Seb, with Jenson and Fernando further behind,” he told his own website. “The picture looks different to how it did 24 hours ago, but there are still six races/150 points available, so I’m not getting too excited. Roll on Monza.”

  12. Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali has urged his staff not to give up believing they can still be champions this year – despite a troubled Belgian Grand Prix denting its title ambitions.

    Fernando Alonso’s retirement for the Spa event has left Ferrari as outsiders for the championship this year, with McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton and Red Bull Racing’s Mark Webber edging clear at the head of the points standings.

    However, with memories of 2007 when Ferrari recovered a 17-point deficit over two races to claim the crown still fresh in his mind, Domenicali is far from ready to concede his team’s ambitions are over.

    “For sure it was not really a positive weekend for us,” he said. “From the points point of view for sure we lost ground, no doubt about it – and it is more difficult but it is not impossible. Up to now I remember in 2007 that we were 17 points behind with two races to go. More difficult than that – I don’t know.”

    Domenicali thinks that it is important his team keeps it ambitions focused on winning the title, because misfortune for its rivals in the next few races could quickly change the picture of the title battle.

    “For sure it is more difficult but we want to keep pushing because out of the top five drivers, we were one of the three that did not score a point,” he said. “Maybe in the next couple of races something will happen the other way around, so we just need to be there and to not give up.

    “We did not go out this weekend with the performance that we were expecting, and we need to understand why. We need to be very cautious because two races ago we saw one of our competitors, McLaren, seemed to be suffering and now it seems to be that they were very strong.

    “Race by race, the scenario is changing so quickly that it is difficult to predict something. It is important to be there because with these conditions anything can happen.”

    Source: Autosport.com

  13. Much criticism has been said to Sebastian Vettel following his crash with Jenson Button in the Belgian Grand Prix. Red Bull Racing team boss Christian Horner has high hopes that his young driver will bounce back from this disappointment and win the title. Read the story below as taken from Autosport.com.

    Sebastian Vettel will take away valuable lessons from his disastrous Belgian Grand Prix clash with Jenson Button – and can still bounce back and win this year’s world championship.

    That is the view of his Red Bull Racing boss Christian Horner, who has jumped to the defence of his under-fire driver after the German caused an unnecessary accident when he lost control of his car while battling Button at Spa-Francorchamps.

    Vettel’s driving at Spa, on the back of other mistakes this season – including the costly one behind the safety car in Hungary, have cast fresh doubts about whether the young German is ready to put together a title campaign.

    But Horner thinks Vettel can recover from his current difficulties, as long as he remains calm and sorts out in his own head while things are not happening for him right now.

    “I think Sebastian, without a shadow of a doubt, is a very, very talented driver,” said Horner after the Belgian GP. “Here was one of those races where it just did not go his way. He needs to stay calm and focused – and eventually it will come his way.

    “It was difficult for him. You have to make split second decisions and I think he made one mistake when he was racing Jenson.

    “Jenson, braking where he did, just took him completely by surprise. In trying to avoid him he got himself into a spin that ultimately collected Jenson in very, very difficult conditions. He is a great racing driver, he is still a very young guy and it is easy to be very critical on somebody who is relatively inexperienced – but for sure he will learn a lot from what happened.”

    Horner thinks there is little he can do to try and help Vettel overcome his current problems – but reckons that the German is well aware himself that the situation has to be turned around.

    “Nobody knows that better than Sebastian, he is a pretty mature individual,” he said. “He analyses his own performance very, very carefully and I am sure he will bounce back from this. It would be foolish to write him off at the moment.”

    Vettel’s problems have handed team-mate Mark Webber the initiative in the title standings – with him now 28 points ahead of the German.

    Horner conceded the Australian is in good shape to emerge as Red Bull’s main hope for the crown, but reiterated it is too early to forget about Vettel’s chances.

    “Things can change so quickly,” said Horner. “Mark has won more races than any other driver at the moment, he has produced some great drives and he is definitely in the form of his career.

    “Based on the season to date you would have to say that he looks in great shape, but as we saw here things can change so quickly, it would be a foolish person to rule Sebastian out at the moment.”

  14. Interview with the race winner Lewis Hamilton, as taken from Formula1.com.

    After qualifying, McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton was cautiously optimistic the Belgian Grand Prix could work out well for him. And on Sunday the dream became a reality, as Hamilton clinched a formidable victory to move into the lead of the drivers’ standings. The British driver reviews his Spa race…

    Q: Lewis, how did it feel when you realised that it could be your race?
    Lewis Hamilton: It felt incredible! When I realized that I can control the pace – and the car was feeling better and better – it was awesome! I was able to pace myself and every time I saw that the guys behind me were closing the gap I always had an answer to it. It became a bit more difficult when the conditions changed. And then I had my wide moment! Oh boy, that was scary – and I think all the fans here and back home were at the edge of their seats. But I fortunately came out of that situation well. I then took myself back a bit and ‘carried’ the car over the finish line after that.

    Q: When the conditions worsened and you heard on the team radio that you should stay out, what went through your mind?
    LH: It is so slippery out on the prime tyres, so difficult to keep the car on the track and keep the temperature up that I was thinking that it is easy for them to say stay out. Because when you drive at that speed, you really don’t know at first if it is only spitting or raining heavily, you just realise water is running down your visor. You really have to go for pure balance in such a moment. I came through all that perfectly and I have to say that it was one of the most exciting races of all time for me.

    Q: You must be very pleased with the overall result of the race. Three of the five championship contenders didn’t score points and you now lead the standings with a three-point advantage over Mark Webber…
    LH: We are heading for a great battle for the title. That is for sure I feel really sorry for Jenson, though. He did a great job. I got around Turn One, looked in my mirrors, saw him picking up places, and thought, ‘That’s good, that’s good.’ Then he got up to second, and I thought, ‘that’s fantastic – another opportunity for a one-two.’ But unfortunately he was taken out by one of the Red Bulls.

    Q: After your retirement in Budapest, you must be pleased…
    LH: Yes, it was the perfect way to bounce back. I had a fantastic holiday and then to come back and do it again – it just felt perfect! I felt so blessed today! I was a bit nervous after qualifying, as we had made some changes that in technical terms meant a step back, but hey, it worked!

    Q: Would you say it just you and Webber in the running for the title now?
    LH: No, absolutely not! There is still a long way to go and we will race at so many different tracks up until the final race in Abu Dhabi that it just would be ridiculous to only count Mark and myself as candidates for the title.

    Q: Do you think this result – and your lead in the championship – will make you McLaren’s number one driver?
    LH: No. Our team gives both drivers exactly the same chances and in that way you have 200 percent moving forward.

    Q: The Spa racetrack is one of the iconic tracks of the season, and it is obviously one of your favourites – at least today…
    LH: This track gives us one of the most challenging Grand Prix of the calendar and I was so overwhelmed when I came out after Turn One as the race leader. Despite the 2008 race here today was the most ‘entertaining’ race for me, as it surprises at almost every corner. My lowlight today was getting into the gravel and the highlight was to come out unharmed. That was the ticket to my race win. When I touched the wall with the edge of my wing my heartbeat must have been around 220. It was going bang, bang, bang…

  15. Well, yet again Spa-Francorchamps gives us another thriller. Not only does do I never tire of seeing F1 cars fly round this huge track, but rain no matter how little of it, makes such a compelling meeting.

    Yes, it gives us a huge divide of the top teams to the bottom, but everyone love to drive it. Not since Monaco is such a thrill to watch the cock-pit view and the cars fly through Eau Rouge and down the Kemmel Straight, without so much as a lift off the go peddle for the cars that can handle it.

    Awesome stuff that I can easily watch without the rain or overtaking. Brilliant stuff, but it’s just a shame it’s in butt-*uck nowhere in Belgium?! Wonders never cease.

    Anyways, the race.

    Bloody shame Mark Webber’s car decided it knows best, and ruined his start. If it’s any consolation to him, even if he got a flyer, Lewis’ very much on form McLaren would have had him beat going into Les Combes I’m sure. Man that was one fine car that day. As good as 2008? Well not quite, but I think Lewis was glad he didn’t have the piece of crap that was 2009’s version.

    Was glad to see most avoided going wide at La Source which I assume was hammered into the drivers at their meeting with Mr Mansell. Good thing to cos, in a race, on a racing track, it’s always nice to see people sticking to, you know, the track? Purposely running wide there or any other first corner is deserving of punishment, just like it would on any other corner. So that was credit to the new track design and the moustached and eyebrowed one. Though minus the tash these days. ( well done Money Supermarket for sticking it back on in the latest advert ).

    So we had the usual close calls and scrapes in the first lap, but then we had Rubins warp speed entry into the Bus Stop, where he, well, stopped indeed with the help of the back of Alonso’s Ferrari. Just how the big red car kept going was quite unbelievable. It was a huge shunt ( Alonso may have spelt ‘shunt’ differently! ), so given how a slight tap can end a race, to see this smack and the car could carry on was amazing. It was a huge shame to see Rubino end his 300th race like this, but as he said, there’s 301 to come!

    So, onto the man I love to…not hate, but shake my head at, and this season, there’s been nothing but shaking of the head. Seb Vettel. Dear, oh dear, oh dear, my ‘cant overtake for shit, over rated’ friend. Not only taking out Button, but also not even know the dimensions of your car and giving yourself a puncture and Liuzzi a new wing by hitting him AFTER you overtook him. WTF are you doing this year!!? Yet again, you drive like a monkey with a thought not for others, but only for your aching pride. Mate you fully deserve to be the ‘second driver’ after your dismal performances. There is skill in that young body of yours, but boy, the brain needs to slooooooow down a bit.

    Like I said way back, Red Bull are ( still ) favouring you, and time and again, it’s being thrown in their face by Webber. It IS still effecting the team, and you ARE cursing him. I make no apologies for thinking this. It’s only because you can’t throw your toys out of the pram quite as far and loudly as Alonso, that this has gone as unnoticed as it has. Yes talent is there as I said, but you aint a Senna or as your moniker says ‘little Shuey’, so you cant back up the calamities. Oh you try and given the teams kiss assness to you, invincible you may feel, but as this season has gone on, everyone on your side of the team can take a deep reality breath for once. As for the teams comment about “it’s too early to back one driver”. Pft, we all know how absurd that statement is. Sorry Jenson, you got took out by an impatient imbecile.

    A great drive by Kubica, was only spoiled by having to push too many buttons on his steering wheel! Just goes to show how easily distracting it can be, being a modern day F1 driver. And that was at pit lane speed! Though I find it hard to imagine how they even manage to stop at the right garage at busy times.

    Even Merc gave a reasonable showing given their performance so far. And touché to Nico for pushing Shuey out the way for once! Just goes to show how having to focus all efforts on the car right up to the end of the season, has a HUGE effect on next years car. Last year it was Mclaren and to a slightly lesser extent, Ferrari after 2008’s final climatic race. Now it’s Mercs turn after winning in 2009, though Red Bull have of course strangely benefited it seems having pushed hard late in the season during Brawns dominating year.

    Anyway, it’s 8:30 in the morning and after working all night, it’s bedtime. Roll on yet another great circuit. Monza!

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