#F1 Race Report: Spa #BelgianGP – Vettel storms to victory

Brought to you by TheJudge13 contributor James Parker

 

Belgium Grand Prix Sebastian Vettel 2

Under warm sunshine in the Ardennes, Sebastian Vettel took a dominant victory by 17 seconds from the Ferrari of Fernando Alonso. After his 5th pole position of the season, Lewis Hamilton was left helpless to fight both the Red Bull and Ferrari on race day and thus had to settle for a frustrating 3rd place and the final place on the podium.

The Race

In one of the shortest runs down to the first corner on the calendar, it was always going to be claustrophobic off the start. Both Hamilton and Vettel held position going into La Source, whilst further down Alonso made yet another lightning getaway to jump up to 5th place while Button came from 6th to 3rd.

Vettel however made his move on Hamilton going into Les Combes. Getting a fantastic run up Eau Rouge and utilising all his KERS up the hill he breezed past Hamilton for 1st place.

Typically, Webber made a sluggish getaway and lost out to both Alonso and Button going down into Eau Rouge, whilst the two Lotus cars in 8th and 9th were squabbling between each other with Raikkonen being forced out by Grosjean and dropped down to 10th.

By lap 2 however, Kimi, not wanting to lose any time behind his teammate, made no mistake and took Grosjean into Les Combes – but this was to be the start of a very frustrating Grand Prix for the Finn. Up front Vettel had already stretched his advantage out to 2.8 seconds over Hamilton and it was a true signal of intent by the German as to his race pace come Sunday.

A man on the move too was Alonso. Up to 5th after his brilliant start, he made small work of others and by lap 6 he had passed not only Button for 4th but also Rosberg for 3rd place, both moves utilising the DRS advantage at the top of the hill going into Les Combes.

During the early laps, the struggling Raikkonen was tucked up behind 8th place Hulkenberg, and it was here that we got to see excessive black brake dust coming out of the Lotus drivers front left hand side for the first time. The team quickly radioed in to ask him to manage the situation – much to the annoyance of Kimi – and it was the first signs of worse things to come later on in the race.

Belgium Grand Prix Jenson ButtonHis teammate Grosjean was not faring any better, and on lap 8 he was subject to a very aggressive move by the McLaren of Perez into Les Combes. Being forced wide and off the track he also lost out to the Ferrari of Massa behind.

The stewards though did not see the move as fair and by lap 11 had handed Perez a drive-through penalty for not leaving a car’s width when overtaking, a decision that seemed extremely harsh and something Martin Whitmarsh post-race was very unhappy about.

By lap 12, the front runners were starting to come into the pits for their first stops. Hamilton was first to blink, followed by Rosberg, Webber, Alonso and Vettel on lap 13,14 and 15. It was here Webber looked to try something different and opted to run the hard compound tyres, and looked quick too.

After the first stops had been completed, the top 5 held position, but Hamilton was severely compromised by the longer running Grosjean, and was held up for 2 laps as the lotus driver defended hard. By lap 15 Alonso had capitalised on this and had cruised right up on the back of the Mercedes thanks to a fine overtake into Rivage on Grosjean.

It was here that the Spaniard leapt on a mistake by Hamilton into La Source. With the Mercedes man running wide, Alonso took a tight line, gained better traction on the exit and then jumped into 2nd place – fighting Hamilton off at the top of the hill into Les Combes as the Briton looked to respond immediately.

The race at this point settled down into a steady rhythm. After pitting on lap 18 for hard tyres, Button was making his way back through the longer runners and by lap 22 he was back in 6th place as he took Grosjean into the bus stop chicane.

The Lotus team’s day was to get a lot worse however, and on lap 26 disaster struck. Lining up a pass on the Ferrari of Massa for 7th, Raikkonen jumped up the inside into the Bus Stop, only to press the brake pedal and get nothing back. Running off track, he recovered and headed straight into the pits retiring with a suspected front brake failure – meaning his record of 27 consecutive points finishes was over.

Elsewhere, there was further drama down the field, the Bus Stop chicane yet again the scene of the incident. On lap 28 Gutierrez ran a wide line on the outside of Maldonado through Blanchimont taking the Williams driver into the chicane. As Maldonado then tried to recover to the pitlane, he clipped the rear of the Force India of Adrian Sutil, the contact then forcing the Williams across the track where he collected Paul Di Resta, forcing the Force India man to retire.

This incident was deemed dangerous by the stewards and Maldonado was given a 10 second stop go penalty for his troubles, whilst the Sauber of Gutierrez was also given a drive-through for leaving the track limits around Blanchimont when initially passing the Williams car before the chaos ensued.

By lap 30 the top 5 had all made their second and last stops, with Vettel leading Alonso, and then the longer running Button in 3rd place ahead of Hamilton and Rosberg. Button and McLaren agreed over the radio to attempt “Plan A” which was perceived as a 1 stop strategy, but by lap 35 the tyres simply gave up and McLaren pitted Button for a fresh set of hard tyres – in a bit of strategy no mans land.

From there, the final 10 laps were intriguing but ultimately lacked action as track positions remained the same. Webber was unable to make an impression on 4th place man Rosberg and the medium tyre looked to be giving up on him in the final laps.

Up front though, it was all about Vettel. Since the very first lap he looked in total control, beautifully pacing himself at the head of the field and managed tyre wear to the deltas he needed. In a race where he passed 2000 laps led in his career (one of only five men to achieve such a feat) the Red Bull man went on to claim the 31st win of his career, equalling Nigel Mansell’s tally while laying down the gauntlet ahead of the remaining 9 races of the season – can anyone really catch him now? His advantage is now 46 points.

2nd was a magnificent Alonso who effortlessly made his way through the field. After starting 9th it was yet another race in which he proved his class. 3rd was a frustrated Hamilton who simply did not have the early race pace – holding station in front of his team-mate Rosberg in 4th.

5th was Webber who on another day could have possibly claimed a podium, but the Red Bull man just ran out of steam in the final laps.

Belgium Grand Prix Adrian Sutil6th was a solid Button who will surely be happy with the progress McLaren is making in terms of race pace, whilst Felipe Massa could only manage 7th on a hectic and rather anonymous afternoon. Grosjean managed to recover to 8th place, however that extra-long first stint on the medium tyres really compromised him in terms of track position. 9th was Sutil for a struggling Force India team who simply do not like this new construction Pirelli compound, whilst Ricciardo recovered from 19th to claim a single point for Torro Rosso.

On to Monza then……

Final Classification

Pos. No. Driver Constructor Laps Time/Retired Grid Points
1 1 Sebastian Vettel Red BullRenault 44 2 25
2 3 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 44 +16.8 9 18
3 10 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 44 +27.7 1 15
4 9 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 44 +29.8 4 12
5 2 Mark Webber Red BullRenault 44 +33.8 3 10
6 5 Jenson Button McLarenMercedes 44 +40.7 6 8
7 4 Felipe Massa Ferrari 44 +53.9 10 6
8 8 Romain Grosjean LotusRenault 44 +55.8 7 4
9 15 Adrian Sutil Force IndiaMercedes 44 +69.5 12 2
10 10 Daniel Ricciardo Toro RossoFerrari 44 +73.4 19 1
11 6 Sergio Pérez McLarenMercedes 44 +81.9 13
12 18 Jean-Éric Vergne Toro RossoFerrari 44 +86.7 18
13 11 Nico Hülkenberg SauberFerrari 44 +88.2 11
14 12 Esteban Gutiérrez SauberFerrari 44 21
15 17 Valtteri Bottas Williams F1Renault 44 20
16 21 Giedo van der Garde CaterhamRenault 43 +1 lap 14
17 16 Pastor Maldonado WilliamsRenault 43 +1 lap 17
18 22 Jules Bianchi MarussiaCosworth 43 +1 lap 15
19 23 Max Chilton MarussiaCosworth 42 +2 laps 16
Ret 14 Paul di Resta Force IndiaMercedes 31 Collision 5
Ret 7 Kimi Räikkönen LotusRenault 25 Brakes 8
Ret 20 Charles Pic CaterhamRenault 8 Oil leak 22

Drivers Championship

2013 Drivers' Championship post-Belgium jpeg

Constructors Championship

2013 Constructors' Championship post-Belgium jpeg

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15 responses to “#F1 Race Report: Spa #BelgianGP – Vettel storms to victory

  1. Conclusive evidence that the German cheats advantage from an illegal test has just about gone. The only races they’ll go well at are ones where it is almost impossible to overtake.

    9th to 2nd. I sure Ferrari can’t wait to get rid of him.

    • Hamiltons pace was overrated in qualifying. Red Bull and Ferrari had been ahead of them in most free practices. For a realistic picture you have to look at Nico. He started 4th and that’s where he finished, while Lewis went backwards. The Mercs also were running way too much rear wing.

      There was nothing wrong with Fernando’s race, but you have to keep in mind that Ferrari kicked out Prost, too back in the day. They’re just allergic to criticism. On the other hand, Alonsos slamming them seems to have worked. Ferrari hasn’t looked that competitive in a long time. Too bad that it is probably too little, too late.

    • German cheats Cav? Headed by two Austrians, a British Team Principal and based in UK with engines also manufactured in the UK. The only German thing(s) about Mercedes is … well the badge, name heritage and the anthem they play when they win 🙂

      • The team is actually run by AMG, which is a German company and Mercedes AMG High Performance Powertrains might be an English Plc, but is 100% owned by Daimler, too. So the team is not only German in name only. BTW they are not headed by two austrians. Toto is a Mercedes employee, like Haugg was and Lauda is just one member of the board of directors. 😉

        • My apologies good sir.. 🙂

          But can you really say a team is any nationality nowadays? With Globalisation so many different nationalities work together to get success…

          • True, that. Basically, the nationality of a team is determined by who owns the lot, which is why we get to hear the Austrian anthem when RB wins, even though most of it happens in her majesty’s empire

  2. I think it’s obvious that Vettel doesn’t have teammate this year and Alonso has 2. Pardon – servants. I think Webber should be booted from RB immediately for what he did in first lap Eau Rouge. Actually for what he didn’t.

    • Would you be happy driving for a team that sabotage your clutch for the start of the race if you qualify anywhere near your team mate? 🙂

      • Sabotaged by 56 thousands of second? What a precise sabotage! Or simple whining? If Webber truly believed that “markos” sabotage he’s car, he wouldn’t renew he’s contract year after year after year. And you do remember Webbers excellent relationship to Mateschitz, don’t you? At what point you believe Mateschitz would allow waste of he’s hundreds of millions and sabotaging he’s protégé?!?? Stop talking rubbish and admit that Webber simply couldn’t utilize opportunity given him.

        • But he always seem to finish strongly, regardless of where he starts. So if he were to be sabotaged he still get points…

          It’s just strange that Webber always seem to suffer the bad luck.

          • Strongly? As of going from second to fifth? Okay – actually – I know what you mean – Montreal, silverstone etc – this precisely proves my point that he’s machinery is same superb and this enables he’s strong recoveries after he’s *own* big f… mockup.
            What comes to technical problems of course there is always bad luck. But! Each man is master of he’s own luck (sorry English isn’t my mothers tongue) – I can give you example from other Motorsport area as I’m active rally pilot. We have other cars in our team too and sometimes one type of problem hits one pilot over and over again for no apparent reason. And no matter how much we think its really hard to understand why one plot is always troubled with problem X. Given that spare parts dash is common for us and same type of part is picked randomly from shelve. And it has been so for years already. Common assumption with no pragmatic reasoning in our team is that this comes down how one handles/drives/takes care of car… There are people who’s “carma” brakes car for no apparent reason – actually of course there are reasons – one just handles car too robustly, carelessly (even not knowingly). Also there might be other factors too – just one little bit less precise mechanic. Or too tired mechanic. Tired people Might not be case in f1 but people are people everywhere and some people just make more mistakes and this is not sabotage because he makes mistake he doesn’t want to do…
            So – I cannot explain Webbers bad luck and technical issues – but I’m confident it has nothing to do with sabotage. Lets drop these conspiracy theories, shall we.

          • Well reasoned sir. I have to say, I used to race single seaters myself and I saw the same thing, some people are just hard on cars… If the saying is true that men handle their cars the same as their women.. I feel sorry for the women.

            Regarding luck etc, Barrichello, same scenario won’t you say?

          • Sorry – it’s already late – I mean going from third to fifth of course.
            But let’s talk about Webber’s betrayal – letting friend Alonso pass in turn 2-3 without any effort. And webber was inside. We all remember Webbers superb pass in Eau Rouge couple of years ago – so we do know that he is able to master it! But not today – today it was revenge to RB and easy pass for Alonso.
            Well now it’s me who masters conspiracy theory but looking this moment over and over again I’m pretty sure that this was favor /gift to Alonso

          • Was Brazil not another gift to Alonso?

            Vettel has no teammate for the rest of this year.. Malaysia took care of that. As they say “revenge is a dish best served cold”.

            Vettel should still win the title though, like him or not, he has the best package and makes it work for him. Webber has the best package and cannot make it work that well for him.

            When you look at outright pace Vettel has it on Webber as well so it’s simple, qualify ahead of Webber and then do a couple of hot laps and away we go… Webber gets a poor start (70/30 odds on that) and Seb wins.

  3. Looking at the graph it is clear how badly McLaren are performing this year … Compared to the top four

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