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Raikkonen Takes Victory in Spa

August 30, 2009

Kimi Raikkonen won his first Grand Prix of 2009 in Spa this afternoon, just about managing to hold off the Force India of Giancarlo Fisichella.

Raikkonen, who started from sixth on the grid, got a clean getaway to get up to second on the first lap, but it appeared it was Fisichella, who despite losing the lead following the restart on lap five, who had the faster car, keeping the Finn pushing all the way to the end.

As usual, the Spa-Francorchamps circuit provided a thrilling race, and as always there was first lap carnage.

The La Source hairpin is usually renowned for its first corner collisions, but it was turn five, Les Combes, that saw a four-car pile-up involving championship leader Jenson Button, and current champion Lewis Hamilton. Button was tagged by Romain Grosjean, who out-breaked himself at the end of the straight going in to turn five, and Hamilton, who had been trying to keep clear of any contact, was tagged from behind by Jaime Alguersuari, resulting in the end of the race for the four drivers, and the safety car being deployed.

While pole sitter Fisichella got a clean getaway off the grid, leading behind the safety car after the first lap drama; at the restart, it was Kimi Raikkonen who claimed the lead, taking advantage of a good slipstream and his KERS button, passing Fisichella at the top of Eau Rouge.

Leading into the first round of pitstops, Raikkonen kept Fisichella behind him, but in the second round of pitstops, the pressure was on for Raikkonen to maintain the lead, with the Force India having maintained the gap in the second stint. Raikkonen maintained the lead on the exit of the pits, and finished less than a second ahead of Fisichella.

Sebastian Vettel, who started the race from eighth, came through to finish third, with Robert Kubica and Nick Heidfeld finishing fourth and fifth for BMW. Heikki Kovalainen, Rubens Barrichello and Nico Rosberg finished sixth, seventh and eighth, respectively, rounding off the points scorers. Mark Webber who went in to the race third in the drivers standings, finished just outside the points in ninth.

Aside from the four retiring in the first corner, Jarno Trulli and Fernando Alonso also failed to finish the race. Alonso, who was on a one stop strategy, and had been running well in the Renault, retired shortly after his pitstop, where there had been problems with securing his front-left wheel, which was a result of contact in the first corner. The decision to retire was made by the team, who it seemed were keen to avoid a repeat of the loose wheel incident in Hungary.

For Button, it was all down to damage-limitation, with closest championship rival and teammate Barrichello, scoring only two points, bringing the gap down to just 16 points in the championship. Vettel’s third place puts him back into third in the standings, 1.5 points ahead of Webber.

Raikkonen’s win elevates him to fifth in the standings, and Fisichella’s second place gets him and Force India their first points of the season.

 

The next race takes place in Monza in two weeks time, with qualifying on Saturday 12th September, and the race live on BBC One at 1pm on the 13th.

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