Monday, 30 August 2010

Spa: step by step

It was a thrilling, frantic and at times confusing Belgian Grand Prix as the 2010 season continued to deliver lots of dramatic action. Lets try and piece everything together...

The Start: First up, a few people were wondering about Felipe Massa after he apparently overshot his box. It seems that you can get away with this. Mark Webber did something similiar in Bahrain without penalty. What i do know is that the sensors for picking up jump starts are able to track cars even if they are not in the perfect position. For Webber it was a shocking start and he was quite lucky that he got going to be about 5th into turn 1 because he could have got caught in the midfield and that would have hurt his race even more. Meanwhile i was very impressed with Jenson Button and Robert Kubica who avoided contact at La Source and kept it clean just like the pair had done in Valencia. The top 4 stayed the same up to Les Combes but the slipstreaming between the cars was an spectatular sight

Rain (part 1): As the cars worked there way round to sector 3, Button was looking to pass Kubica but as he made his move at the bus stop they both followed Hamilton in goign straight on as the rain began to fall. Rubens Barrichello had a early finish to his 300th race, hitting Alonso hard. The Spaniard recovered to the pits and put on intermediate tyres. However the safety car came out on lap 2 so most drivers stayed out as they could survive the rainy spell at reduced speed. Alonso should have pitted on lap 2 but didn't and still stayed out on lap 3 even when it had stopped raining. Poor call from the Ferrari team.

Kubica/Vettel: As the drivers struggled up the hill, Kubica ran wide. Button passed and then Vettel tried but ran onto the grass. There was enough space for him though and Kubica moved when he seen him so the stewards took no action.

Vettel/Button: My take on this is that as Vettel got up behind Button he didn't wnat to go on the outside as he felt he wuldn't get past that way. He holds to the inside but Button covers it. What Vettel is hoping is that as they approach the braking zone Button will shift towards the racing line but he waits too long. What he should have done is either commit to the outside or duck left in the hope Button would try and squeeze him and dummy back accross up the inside. He got it all wrong and deserved his drive through penalty. Costly day for both drivers.

Rain (part 2): As the showers rolled in again the top 3 stayed out as it got tricky and Hamitlon survived a near miss with the barriers. I can understand Webber staying out with the McLaren as he has the championship to think about. Kubica maybe could have gambled more, he would have put his podium on the line but it may have got him a race victory. It was a tight call at the time though and one which is much easier with hindsight. On intermediates, Fernando Alonso dropped it as his ragged season continued. A title blow for him as well and with the WMSC hearing to come he could suffer more pain. I do feel he will keep his 25 points form Hockenheim though.

Jarno Trulli: The Italian will require new overalls after spinning at Pouhon amongst the pack...

Alguersuari/Liuzzi: The FOM director spent lap 42 watching these 2 battle away but cut away before the run to the Bus Stop chicane. When he did the Spaniard was ahead but cut the chicane and was deemed to have gained an advantage, meaning he lost a point which went to the Force India driver.

Pedro de la Rosa: Getting from last to 10th was a good effort. Dropping it with 3 laps to go wasn't. Peter Sauber unimpressed and the Spaniard under pressure.

This could yet be a massive turning point in the championship with 3 of the 5 contenders failing to score but it isn't over for Messers Alonso, Vettel and Button. They will all strong scores in Monza though. If the gap gets to the 50 point mark then that equates to two wins and i think then it becomes too much especially as you may need four guys in front of you to have bad run ins.

The feeling amongst some is that the Red Bull front wing is not the same but i think it was not as effective in a low downforce configuration. I feel it will be the Monza floor tests that may force more of a change and the results will be more evident in Singapore and Sukuza. I also think that McLaren have put their attention on the blown diffuser and have improved the workings of it. They have also sussed the overrun on the gases with the retarded ignition i believe. This could prove a key improvement at this stage of the season. With that and a revised front wing for Red Bull, McLaren could yet have enough pace to give Hamilton the opportunity to fight at all tracks for wins and could prove to be enough.

Credit to Webber as well. Vettel is young and quick but has failed to learn lessons. However the Australian stayed calm yesterday when it went wrong off the line unlike the panic of Valencia. He kept his cool and to score 18 points was a huge result. It wasn't a flat out display of speed but nonetheless was gritty and determined from the 34 year old.

Six races to go and Button and Alonso need big points now. The reigning world champion was an innocent victim yesterday but now finds himself with a decent sized gap to make up, against a team mate driving superbly.

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