Lewis Hamilton is now back in contention with his win at the rather dramatic and wet Belgian GP. The McLaren driver who now takes the Driver’s Championship lead crossed the finish line ahead of Mark Webber, who started from pole position. Robert Kubica of Renault managed to convert his qualifying position to a race result after finishing third. Fourth place went to Felipe Massa in his scarlet Ferrari while fifth was taken up by Adrian Sutil giving another achievement to the Force India team.
Despite a not-so-impressive qualifying session yesterday and after receiving grid penalties, both the Mercedes drivers managed to score good results today. Nico Rosberg finished in sixth after starting from 14th and after overtaking teammate Michael Schumacher at the final moments of the race. The 7-times World Champion managed seventh after starting way down from 21st place. Kamui Kobayashi drove a respectable race and secured eight place ahead of Renault’s Vitaly Petrov and Toro Rosso’s Jaime Alguersuari. Further down the grid, Heikki Kovalainen of Lotus finished in 16th place followed by both the Virgin drivers, led by Lucas di Grassi.
Jarno Trulli in the other Lotus could have finished higher up than 19th if he did not suffer from a spin at the dying minutes of the race. Sakon Yamamoto from Hispania was the last driver to cross the finish line. Four drivers made up the retirement’s list today and they were Fernando Alonso from Ferrari, Jenson Button from McLaren, Bruno Senna from Hispania and finally Williams’ Rubens Barrichello who retired on his 300th start. Alonso, Button and Barrichello suffered from crashes while the reason behind Senna’s retirement is unknown at this point.
As expected the race at the Spa-Franchorchamps turned out as an exciting one. The opening lap was pretty much incident free as pole-man Webber lost his lead to Hamilton no thanks to a slow start. Just minutes later light rain started to pour and a number of drivers including a top runners spun out at the final corner. Barrichello crashed into Alonso at the time and was forced to retire right away. Alonso rejoined but entered the pits for intermediate tires while the front runners did not. The safety car was momentarily deployed.
Unfortunately for Alonso and fortunately for rest, the rain clouds moved away as soon as it arrived. Alonso had to pit again for slicks. Dry weather dominated most of the race as Hamilton extended his lead. A couple of interesting incidents occurred including some overtaking moves. Alonso was charging up the field while Schumacher overtook Rosberg while he was negotiating with Petrov. Another interesting event was the accident involving Button and Vettel. The latter was trying to overtake Button for second place but lost his traction and pushed Button into retirement. This indecent heavily affects Button’s chances of winning the Driver’s Championship.
Vettel managed to continue but was later given a drive-through penalty which he served at around Lap 21 during the 44-lap race. Vettel’s luck wasn’t getting any better as he suffered from a left-rear puncture after hitting Liuzzi. Rain clouds visited the circuit again at about Lap 33. This time the rain lasted longer and was even heavier. Race leader Hamilton went off-track at the final corner and narrowly missed losing his front wing. He along with second place man Kubica and third place Webber continued on for another lap, fearing that the rain might stop right away while others made their stops for wet tires.
At the end of the lap the top runners also pitted and Webber was able to overtake Kubica for second place as the Renault driver overshot his pit box. The safety car had to be deployed for the second time as Alonso spun and stalled his car on the middle of the race track on Lap 38, with just six laps to go. The race restarted with wet conditions and Hamilton managed to fend off Webber. Webber tried to take on Hamilton with just a few laps to go but the performance of the McLaren race car was unmatched by the Red Bull.
As mentioned earlier Hamilton has taken over the lead in the Driver’s Championship with 182 points. Webber is still a strong contender with 179 points in second, just 3 points behind. Today’s result suggests a two-driver battle for the championship as Vettel, Button and Alonso failed to score any point. But who knows? With six races remaining, the championship battle should go down to the wire. Formula 1 now heads to the legendary Monza circuit for the Italian GP on Sept 12th.
You can view the full results here.