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Hamilton Takes Win in Incident-Filled Belgian Grand Prix

August 29, 2010

Lewis Hamilton was all smiles this afternoon after he took an early lead and a seemingly easy win in Spa, while three of his title challengers failed to score following an incident-filled race.

Pole-sitter, Mark Webber got bogged down at the start, allowing second-placed starter, Hamilton, to shoot off into the lead. Robert Kubica found himself up to second, with Jenson Button up to third. Sebastian Vettel retained fourth, with Felipe Massa and Adrian Sutil up a place each to fifth and sixth, while Webber slipped back to seventh.

The rain started to fall, and by the end of the lap the drivers were struggling to make it round the Bus Stop chicane. Fernando Alonso, who made it up to eighth on the first lap, after starting tenth, was sent spinning after Rubens Barrichello was caught out under braking in the wet, and collected the Ferrari. The incident caused several other drivers to run wide through the chicane to avoid getting caught up in the collision, and it saw the end of Barrichello’s race, his 300th of his career. Alonso was able to get going again, heading into the pits for an early stop and a change to intermediate tyres.

Vettel made a move on Button into turn one on the second lap, but the McLaren driver was able to use his straightline speed advantage through Eau Rouge to keep the Red Bull at bay. Kubica found himself running wide on the exit of Eau Rouge, allowing the McLaren to take second. Vettel fancied his chances, but nearly lost control of his Red Bull as he was forced to take to the grass along the straight down to turn five, allowing Kubica to retain third. Webber was then making moves, and having passed Sutil, made a move on Massa for fifth into turn eight.

By lap three, the safety car had been deployed, and at the restart a lap later, Hamilton was forced to go defensive after running wide into turn one. Button saw his chances, but Hamilton wasn’t going to let him past.

As the track started to dry out, Alonso who had opted for intermediate tyres during his early pitstop, was forced to pit for fresh slicks on lap five, and it became apparent his gamble hadn’t paid off, as the track became considerably drier. By the end of the lap Hamilton was leading, from Button and Vettel, who had managed to pass Kubica at the restart, with Webber in fifth, Massa, Sutil, Nico Hulkenberg, Vitantonio Liuzzi and Nico Rosberg in sixth to tenth, respectively, and Vitaly Petrov and Michael Schumacher, who after starting from 23rd and 21st, had made their way up to 11th and 12th.

On lap 11, Petrov was piling the pressure on Rosberg, and after a good tow down the long straight from Eau Rouge, he was able to make a move stick through Les Combes, at turn five. Rosberg went defensive and ended up running wide, leaving Schumacher room to try and squeeze through. The pair made contact, causing Rosberg to lose a piece of his front-left end plate, as well as P10 and P11.

As Hamilton pulled out a comfortable lead from teammate Button at a rate of around eight tenths of a second in the middle sector alone on each lap, the reigning champion was finding himself under pressure from Vettel, with the latter unable to make a move due to the raw pace of the McLaren in a straight line. Vettel seemed to have no answer, but on lap 17 he found himself a lot closer to Button heading down towards the Bus Stop chicane, and he fancied his chances. The move was set to be disasterous, and Vettel found himself weaving around Button, and appeared to lose control, causing his wing to go head first into the side of the McLaren, seeing the end to Jenson’s race. Vettel was able to find his way back to the pits, cutting across the track from the runoff area at the Bus Stop, for a new nose and a set of fresh tyres. After coming back out in 12th, Vettel then found himself under investigation by the stewards for causing a collision. On lap 20, he passed Liuzzi for 11th, only to have the Force India snatch it back, and as he tried to find a way around, he was issued with a drive through, which he came in to serve at the end of the lap.

On lap 22, Sutil became the first of the front runners to pit for the harder compound tyre, rejoining the track in eighth. Webber stopped a lap later and rejoined in fourth, leaving Renault with no choice but to pit Kubica to try and keep him ahead of the Red Bull. The move worked and Kubica maintained second, while Massa, who pitted on the same lap, on lap 24, rejoined back in fourth, with Webber back in third. Hamilton came in next on lap 25 and maintained his lead.

As Hamilton rejoined the track, Sutil passed Schumacher, who was yet to pit, for fifth. By lap 27, Vettel, who was up to 12th, found himself in another scrap, clipping the front wing of Liuzzi, as he made a pass into the Bus Stop chicane. The Force India was forced to pit, but Vettel continued, only to find himself with a puncture later in the lap, and he had to limp back to the pits for more tyres, only to find himself in 20th upon rejoining the track.

The rain made its return on lap 35, and the mid field pitted for new tyres, the majority opting for the extreme wet tyres as opposed to the intermediates, in fear that the rain would worsen. As the pitlane filled up with cars coming in to make their stops, Alonso and Vettel very nearly made contact as the exited their pitboxes. On lap 36, as the rain indeed started to get heavier, Hamilton’s superb run was nearly ruined, as he failed to slow his McLaren down going into turn eight, and he very nearly found himself in the wall. Luckily, he was able to get out of the gravel and back on the road, and into the pits in the lead at the end of the lap. Kubica and Webber  joined him in coming into the pits, and while Hamilton was able to retain the lead after a successful switch to intermediates, Kubica overshot his pitbox, gifting second to Webber.

On lap 38, Vettel pitted for the fifth time for another set of full wet tyres, after his rear tyres from the previous set were shredded. As it became apparent it wasn’t wet enough for full wets, Alonso found himself in a spin and out of the race between turns seven and eight, as he hit the grass. The safety car was deployed while the marshals removed the Ferrari, which was halfway across the track, and returned to the pits at the end of lap 40. Hamilton tentatively led the pack through turn one at the restart, and he kept his cool from there for the remaining four laps, to take the win, with Webber second, Kubica third, and Massa, Sutil, Rosberg, Schumacher, Kobayashi, Petrov and Alguersuari in fourth to tenth, respectively.

Following the race, Alguersuari was then penalised for cutting the Bus Stop chicane at the restart after locking his wheel. He gained a position from Pedro de la Rosa for doing so, and having failed to give it back, the stewards demoted him of the position, gifting the last points-paying position to Liuzzi.

Hamilton’s victory puts him back in the lead of the drivers’ championship on 182 points, with Webber second on 179. Vettel’s scraps left him down in 15th as he crossed the line, and a failure to score leaves him 31 points off the lead in the race for the title, on 151 points. Failure to finish the race on both Button and Alonso’s parts, gives Hamilton and Webber the advantage, as the pair now sit further down the standings on 147 and 141, respectively. Massa’s fourth place finish puts him on 109 points, with Kubica on 104.

In the constructors’ standings, Red Bull remain in the lead on 330 points, while McLaren are hot on their heels on 329. Ferrari trail further behind on 250.

As ever, the changeable conditions of Spa have left a lot to be talked about, particularly in the Red Bull camp, as Vettel proved the pressure is starting to get to him after finding himself amongst the majority of incidents the race had to offer. Hamilton however, bounded onto the podium with a grin on his face after scoring his third victory of the season.

While Hamilton and Webber extend their lead to Vettel, Button and Alonso, it’s still a five-horse race as F1 heads into the final six rounds of the 2010 season. There are still a maximum of 150 points left up for grabs, but the pair will leave Spa with a spring in their step, knowing they stand a good chance of winning the title if things stay as they are.

The next race takes place in Italy, for the final round of the European leg of the season, in two weeks time, with qualifying on Saturday 11th September, and the race live on BBC1 at 1pm on Sunday 12th.

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One comment

  1. […] Pole-sitter, Mark Webber got bogged down at the start, allowing second-placed starter, Hamilton, to shoot off into the lead. Robert Kubica found himself up to second, with Jenson Button up to third. Sebastian Vettel retained fourth, with Felipe Massa and Adrian Sutil up a place each to fifth and sixth, while Webber slipped back to seventh… More […]



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