It was a busy weekend jam-packed full of motorsport action at the Spa-Francorchamps circuit. There was 44 laps worth of Formula 1 racing alongside the typically frantic GP2 and GP3 support races.
With so much action both on and off track, it could have been easy for you to miss some important moments from the race weekend. So here we are, giving you a handy round-up of stories that might’ve passed you by.
1. Greenpeace activists attempt protest. Fail.
Just prior to the start of the Belgian Grand Prix, Greenpeace activists took to the skies and grandstand roofs in protest of title sponsor Shell. They para-glided over the track with flags reading “Arctic Oil? Shell No!” and unfurled a banner across the main grandstand with the same tagline. It didn’t stop there, two protestors attempted to interrupt the podium celebrations as Sebastian Vettel lifted the trophy for first place. One was halted but the other could not be stopped, unfurling a banner that read: “Congratulations! Now help us save the Arctic.”
They also installed remote-control posters on the podium weeks earlier, creating fears over safety at Formula 1 events. It was a far more calculated protest in comparison to the last in the sport, when priest Neil Horan invaded the Silverstone track during the 2003 British Grand Prix dressed in a kilt. It’s fair to say though, F1 fans were not inspired despite the best efforts of Greenpeace.
2. Button without a 2014 contract?
Jenson Button was linked to a drive at Red Bull or Ferrari over the Belgian Grand Prix weekend after it emerged that McLaren had not yet exercised the option to extend his contract for 2014. The 33-year-old later denied reports of a move, saying that McLaren is the place for him and where he wants to complete his F1 career.
McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh revealed after the Belgian Grand Prix that McLaren aim to retain Button and team-mate Sergio Perez for 2014.
3. Maldonado seething after Sutil clash.
Formula 1′s favourite crash-magnet Pastor Maldonado has shared his frustration at Force India driver Adrian Sutil despite the Venezuelan clearly causing the clash between them during last weekend’s Belgian Grand Prix. Maldonado lost his front wing after contact with Sutil and in a bid to enter the pit lane, wiped out the German’s team-mate.
Speaking about the incident he said: “I think [Sutil] crossed my line in a very aggressive way, I didn’t defend, I didn’t do anything. I’ve been crashed [into] by him.” Sutil was similarly fuming, calling the 2012 Spanish Grand Prix race winner “stupid” after the crash.
4. Michelin set for F1 return?
Plenty of people would love to see Michelin take on Pirelli and return to the good old days of tyre wars, and it could become a reality with the French manufacturer expressing an interest in making a return to the sport.
Michelin competition director Pascal Couasnon confirmed that they are in talks with the FIA, motorsport’s governing body, despite Pirelli’s motorsport director Paul Hembery calling the attempt “farcical.”
5. Kimi’s record breaking run comes to a close.
Kimi Raikkonen, our favourite F1 driver for a number of reasons, had managed a record-breaking 27 consecutive points finishes and 38 consecutive race finishes prior to the Belgian Grand Prix. Whilst he has previously said that records don’t really matter to him, it was a shame to see both runs come to an end after he retired from the race.
The ‘Iceman’ – who was gunning for his fifth race win at Spa-Francorchamps – suffered with a brake problem which caused him to go straight on at the final chicane. We doubt Kimi was too worried but it was a pretty impressive run of points finishes, showcasing his consistency.
6. What not to do as a racing driver.
Young drivers are renowned for making mistakes, but crashing into your team-mate is one of the worst mistakes that you can make. This is exactly what happened during Saturday’s GP2 race – a support series to Formula 1. Carlin driver Felipe Nasr – a contender for the GP2 title – made a late lunge on team-mate Jolyon Palmer into La Source but the gap closed up and the two made contact.
Nasr was out on the spot with Palmer – who had been running in fifth place – dropping down the field. Take a gander at the video below to see the rather stupid mistake. Unfortunately for Nasr, it was a rather short walk back to the pits…
7. Suzuka extends F1 contract.
With all the gossip from the Spa-Francorchamps paddock, it was easy to miss the confirmation that the immensely challenging Suzuka circuit will remain on the Formula 1 calendar until 2018. It came after president Hiroshi Soda agreed terms with F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone.
The driver and fan favourite hosted Formula 1 races between 1987 and 2006 before the Japanese Grand Prix moved to Fuji for 2007 and 2008. The Honda-owned track returned to the F1 calendar in 2009, with Sebastian Vettel winning three of the last four races since its return.
8. Sebastian, are you ready for parenthood?
The pre-race driver press conference is a chance for Formula 1 journalists to quiz drivers on their expectations for the weekend ahead. The fact that Romain “do you even lift?” Grosjean became a father during the summer break, inspired a rather odd question: whether the drivers felt they were ready to become parents.
Their replies? Vettel was his typical laid-back self, admitting “it doesn’t take long to get the job done.” Giedo van der Garde joked that should Vettel have a kid, it would have bleached blonde hair, while Marussia’s Jules Bianchi admitted he was “practising.” Pic’s response was typically monotone, saying: “I’m focusing on my racing and my season.” His girlfriend is a lucky lady…
9. Huge GP3 crash detaches rear axle…
When racing in a feeder series like GP3, contact is inevitable. That’s exactly what happened during the first GP3 race of the Belgian Grand Prix weekend, with huge results. Jack Harvey and Carlos Sainz Junior – you guessed it, son of rally legend Carlos Sainz – were running side-by-side along the Kemmel Straight at over 150mph when the pair made contact, spinning Harvey into the barrier.
The Brit shot back across the circuit before taking another heavy hit with the Armco barrier. The force of the incident detached the rear axle of his GP3/13 car but fortunately he emerged unscathed. This wasn’t the only underwear-soiling incident in a support race this weekend – check out this similarly scary GP2 crash , as Daniel de Jong suffers a puncture at the worst possible moment.
10. Alonso’s epic Eau Rouge save.
The Spa circuit is a challenge for even the best of drivers and we saw plenty of epic saves throughout the race weekend. Fernando Alonso’s was by far the best after a huge snap of oversteer through Eau Rouge. The double world champion proved his worth with a fantastic save en route to second place in Sunday’s race.
Alonso was eager to boast about the save on Twitter, tweeting:
A bit of oversteer in eau rouge…;)) pic.twitter.com/NQu9hhC79R
— Fernando Alonso (@alo_oficial) August 26, 2013