Well, not the most exciting of races really. But still a welcome return after five weeks off. The problem with races where the leader disappears off into the distance and is never challenged for the lead ...is well they are kind of dull. This is mainly because you never get to see the leader out there being made to work for it.
After Friday was washed out by torrential rain, the teams had to take a bit of a punt on the set up. Spa has three distinct sections starting with the first gear La Source hairpin into the run up the hill through the still frighteningly fast Eau Rouge and the Kemmel straight. Then it’s all a bit tippy toes through Les Combes at the top of the hill, dropping down round Pouhon and the double right at Stavelot. Before the ‘hang onto your conkers’ long sweeping Blanchimont straight to the chicane and the end of the lap.
So it’s either ‘some’ down force to make up time down the hill but lose time on the straight bits. Or balls out fast in a straight line ‘no’ down force and hope the tires hang together on the twisty bits. Too much and you be a sitting duck in a straight line, too little and you’ll chew your tires up in a handful of laps.
Jenson got the balance just right and was all over Spa like a bad rash. Qualifying looked easy with fastest laps all over the show, Koby and Maldonardo got it right too and lined up at the front for the race with Jenson. Lewis got the balance all wrong and threw a hissy fit on twitter on Saturday night about it all. Maldonado continued to draw the ire of the FIA commandants yet again and got a three place grid penalty for apparently blocking Hulkenberg. (Which did look harsh to me).
To make up for this, Maldonado decided he was going to take back those three places before the lights went out on Sunday. As everyone else waited for the race to actually start, Maldo went early and was up the front when all the trouble began. Lewis got an average start off the line and was joined on the run to the first corner by Grosjean. You may recall that Grosjean does not have an enviable record when it comes to making it round the first corner of the race this year.
And so it proved once again this time, like some 16 year old delinquent who has just stolen his first Renault Saxo he was pinballing up the road trying to escape the coppers, left, right, left and right bang into Lewis who was doing nothing wrong. As the Renault and McLaren became white knuckle rides for the two boys they collected first Perez and then Alonso, tagged Kobayshi who’d had a bad start and Maldonado who got held up by the carnage.
The view from Alonso’s onboard camera is chilling, as he turns into the corner and suddenly has the Renault smack into his right front wheel before pirouetting past his head. Whilst Lewis got out of his car when everything had come to a rest to explain to Grosjean just what he thought of the Renault driver, Alonso stayed in his car for several minutes as the doctor checked his head was still attached. Thankfully he was okay and walked away from the car back to the pits to watch the race.
We had a safety car for 4 laps or so as they cleared the mess away and the walking wounded got new nose wings and underwear. When everything was ready to go, Maldonado decided he hadn’t broken enough rules already so drove into the back of Glock, broke his front wing and retired from the race.
That was the end of the fun stuff and for the next 40 odd laps Jenson led the race whilst Kimi, Vettel and Hulkenberg tried to keep up with him. Schumacher got in the way a bit and made Kimi work hard for his third and Vettel pulled the rabbit from the bag and got second.
After the race the FIA Reich command had a field day with the ban hammer and the naughty step. First they felt that Grosjean had been this week’s biggest tool and throw the book at him. He’s been slapped in the face with a white glove and told not to bother booking a hotel in Italy for next week’s race at Monza, he has to sit on the naughty step all weekend and think about what he’s done. Maldonado got a five place penalty for the jump start and another five place penalty for driving into the back of Glock. Given Grosjean got a one race ban for being an idiot he should count himself lucky. Three penalties in one race weekend has to be some sort of record.
Caterham got a hefty fine for releasing Kovalainen into the path of a pitting HRT of Karthikeyan. The crash broke the Caterham’s nose off and something on the rear of the HRT, which subsequently pitched the Indian into the tire wall a couple of laps after being told to stop lifting off the throttle in Eau Rouge and be a proper racing driver.
The Redbull chaps got a stiff talking too for almost but not actually releasing Webber into the path of Massa in the pits, finally Schumacher got a stiff talking too for almost collecting Vettel when he went into the pits.
All in all it was a good day to be a race steward.
So then, Jenson wins and keeps the dream alive.
Vettel came second with a car that was out of puff up the hill and in a straight line.
Kimi was third at yet another race Lotus was targeting for a win.
Hulkenberg profited the most from Grosjean’s lunacy with fourth.
Massa in fifth showed the Ferrari was actually quite fast despite what Alonso says.
Webber in sixth, also struggled with a lack of top speed
Schumacher made a fist of his 300 Grand Prix, but the tires let him down again, to seventh.
Vergne get a nose bleed climbing to eighth.
Ricciardo is still the second best Torro Rosso driver in ninth.
And finally Di Resta in tenth doesn’t profit at all from the carnage like his team mate did.
Bizarrely, Senna gets the fastest lap after a late stop for new rubber and this week its De La Rosa’s turn to be the most rubbish HRT driver in last place.
Next up it's Monza, who do you think Maldonado will hit this time ?
It appear the FIA site is out of action this evening so results are unofficial at the moment, but i can't find anything to suggest they're going to change.