Belgium is famous for two things; their waffles and the 14 Formula-1 car pile up in 1998.
After a one year hiatus the Belgium grand prix is back.
On the final leg of the European race circuit, Scuderia-Ferrari’s number one driver just closed up to the silver devils of Mclaren-Mercedes. Kimi can very well call Belgium his home Grand prix after winning the last three races held at the motorway.
Qualifying on pole, the Finn led the way from start to finish. The Ferraris enjoyed the technical race, coming out to be the fastest car on the track by out pacing all the others by 1 second.
The race started off explosively with the Ferraris making a clean break. Fresh from controversy, the Mclarens played the perfect part of being the cynosure of the event with Ron Dennis looking subdued. But the bitter rivalry between Alonso and Hamilton almost set the track ablaze. The first hairpin, notorious for being the most expensive “car park in F1” saw Alonso and Hamilton come wheel to wheel. Hamilton tried to push Alonso into Rosberg and Massa, and in retaliation Alonso pushed Hamilton on to the tarmac, almost taking the Brit out of the race. The reigning champ and the rookie of the year had their daggers drawn out!
The first half saw Kimi Raikkonen pulling ahead of teammate Filipe Massa and the two Mclarens with relative ease. It seemed as if the Finn was in a race by himself, proving to the world again that he was comfortable in the scarlet car. While Alonso struggled to keep up pace, on the back of the field Heidfeld pulled of a text book slingshot to overtake the very heavy Heikki Kovalainen. A resurgent Kubica, coming out from an engine penalty in the very quick BMW struggled then to overtake the sole Renault, with Fisichella retiring on the very first lap despite of using the team’s spare car.
David Coulthard, driving a very heavily fueled car, retired, and parking the car neatly between the escape barriers managed to block five overtaking attempts by a fast Spyker.
The first half of the race had its fair share of excitement. With just three more races to go, one could almost get a peek into the future – like Sutil in the Spyker piped to take over from the veteran David Coulthard in 2009, and also dominating the Hondas and the Toyota of the very talented Trulli.
The drama came to a screeching halt as the pit stops shook themselves out and a neat order of a Ferrari 1-2 and a Mclaren 3-4 controlled the pace of the race.
Hamilton did take a long time at the pit taking in extra kilos of fuel and looked very weak in a car which was heavy with hard tires. He almost flat spotted his front and rear tyre while losing momentum on the camel straight a lot of times.
As the second pit stop window opened up, Kimi turned on the heat by putting in not one but four fastest laps of the race to put pressure on Massa, who at one point of time was almost 8 seconds behind.
Kimi came out of the pits just 1.3 seconds behind Alonso and 1 second ahead of Hamilton, ruining the Brit’s chances of leap forging the Ferraris on pit strategy; the long pit stop did not allow him to get ahead of his own teammate either.
After the second pit stop the cars seemed to have settled on their option tires. Driving almost 5 seconds ahead, Hamilton tried to catch up with his team mate but kept making mistakes, and was flat spotting his tyres to a point where he kept going on to the tarmac on every fast turn. The Brit, it seemed, had lost the plot completely.
Massa in the last few laps tried to take on a cruising Raikkonen, but the Finn was just too good for any one in this race. Comments of Kimi from the previous race kept ringing in everyone’s ears. Kimi had commented that at Monza he suddenly put in five fast laps to close up on Hamilton because he was simply bored! Raikkonen teased the Brazilian till the final lap before suddenly pulling ahead and winning the race in style!
With only one BMW in the top eight Kubica again made a move on a very resilient Renault of Kovalainen who refused to give way to secure the last and lone point for Renault.
Nick Heidfeld for BMW , Nico Rosberg for Williams , Mark Webber for Red Bull and Heikki Kovalainen for Renault wrapped up the top 8 with all of them almost a minute behind Raikkonen.
The Ferrari driver then spun his car around and drove it wrong way into the pits waving to his engineer Chris Dier; showing the Iceman’s lighter side for the second time in five years!!
The race cuts down Hamilton’s lead to two points over Alonso and three points to Raikkonen.
The Finn is now just a win and a half away on winning the Drivers Championship for the very first time.