Red Bull Racing’s Sebastian Vettel has clinched his second Belgian Grand Prix victory after a commanding display around the iconic Spa-Francorchamps circuit. The German driver lined up second on the grid but displaced pole-sitter Lewis Hamilton on the first lap, controlling the race and taking an easy victory.
Vettel – who debuted a new bleach blonde hairdo over the race weekend – continued to extend his championship lead as he guns for a fourth drivers’ championship. Fernando Alonso – who admitted that the race was “a bit boring” – finished second with Hamilton dropping to third by the chequered flag.
The sport returned after a lengthy summer break with teams and drivers feeling thoroughly refreshed by the summer shutdown. Alonso and Vettel shared the practice-topping honours, despite Vettel suffering a puncture in second practice, re-igniting concerns over tyre safety. Fortunately for Pirelli’s long suffering PR department, it was revealed that debris from Raikkonen’s Lotus was ‘most likely’ to blame.
Then came qualifying, a dramatic hour of on-track action that took place in ever-changing conditions. It was typical Spa: unpredictable weather that differed in severity at different points of the track.
Both Marussias and a Caterham made it through to the second qualifying – no, I’m not joking – after a gamble to fit slick tyres on a drying track. They took up the bottom 3 slots in the session but still, a good result for them. The top 10 shoot-out saw rain return after a brief dry spell.
Paul Di Resta held provisional pole for most of the session before being displaced by Webber, Vettel and finally Lewis Hamilton. The Hungarian Grand Prix race winner stormed to his fourth consecutive pole position.
Vettel took the lead on lap one, eking out a strong advantage from the get-go. Button made a strong start but soon dropped back due to the inferior pace of his McLaren. There were a number of high profile incidents throughout the race including a harsh penalty for Sergio Perez, after the Mexican was adjudged to have squeezed Romain Grosjean off the track.
Maldonado also had another facepalm moment after colliding with not one but two Force India cars in the space of one corner. It caused the end of Di Resta’s race and cost Maldonado a decent result after a stop for repairs and a 10 second stop/go penalty.
Our favourite F1 driver Kimi Raikkonen suffered his first retirement in 38 races after a brake failure. Sounds scary but the ‘Iceman’ was his usual cool, calm self. His record breaking run of consecutive point’s finishes – 27 – was also broken due to his mechanical failure.
Following podium finishers Alonso and Hamilton across the line was Rosberg and Webber – who we know to be the ultimate lad.
Button finished the race in sixth, admitting that he was “enjoying” driving the tricky McLaren MP4-27. Massa finished in seventh place after a terrible start and Grosjean went against the grain with a one-stop strategy, finishing in eighth. Sutil finished ninth with Daniel Ricciardo, who is hotly tipped to replace our favourite Aussie at Red Bull in 2014, took the final point in 10th.
Not the most exciting of races, but far from the bore-fests of old. Next up? The legendary Monza in Italy, an epically fast circuit that is full throttle for 83% of the lap. Home to the fanatic Tifosi, Alonso and Ferrari will be hoping to take the fight to Red Bull with a race win on home turf.