Brought to you by TJ13 contributor @F1TheaJ
Rate the Race reader score 7.28
Well, you thought this was one of the better races at Spa, scoring far higher than 2013 (4.92), marginally lower than 2014 (7.89) and quite a bit better than 2015 (6.32)
Spa 2014 was rated one of the better races that year: the spat between HAM and ROS intensified and a collision saw their relationship take a turn for the worse as their battle for the lead in the driver standings continued. This spat also led to Ricciardo taking his second win of that season. By 2015 the Mercedes cars had become so dominant that many people had lost interest as the outcome of each race had become ‘a little’ predictable.
Not so this year: the championship leader had taken a 60 place grid penalty and started from P21 and ROS in the other Merc had just managed to scrape pole ahead of the Wonder Kid Max Verstappen in P2 and the two Ferraris in P3 & 4 (Ferrari had used 3 tokens upgrading their engine for this race.)
The start didn’t disappoint: three of the front runners (VES, RAI, VET) collided on the entry to T1 (Le Source) damaging all three cars. Ferrari’s chances of a (double) podium went up in smoke (literally) as RAI’s plank was on fire and had to be extinguished in the pits.
A spectacular crash on L6 by KMag saw the race initially yellow flagged and then red flagged. The crash barriers were so badly damaged by the impact of the Renault it was considered too dangerous for the race to continue before they were properly repaired. Thankfully Kevin walked away with just a sore ankle (Reported fit to race next week in Monza.)
The scrap between RAI and VES didn’t end at T1 (its been ongoing for quite a while) as they came together again on L12 when RAI attempted to overtake VES and was ‘pushed off the track.’
Round three of RAI V VES came on the next lap when a late defensive move by VES at the Top of Eau Rouge saw RAI having to brake from full throttle to avoid rear ending VES. The air turned blue at this point as the censors were not quick enough to delete the expletives. Rai did manage to get ahead of VES and finish in the points before the end of the race.
HAM and ALO had been competing to see who could gain the most grid penalties this weekend and ended up in a dead heat with 60 each. However, ALO got the upper hand by not setting a lap time in qualifying and started behind HAM on the grid. BUT they were both outwitted by Marcus Ericson who, with a cheeky last minute cooling system failure, managed to start the race from the pits.
ALO and HAM managed to stay out of trouble at the start and took advantage of the safety car periods, ending up in P7 and P3 respectively. The same could not be said of ERI as he retired from the race after his 6th gear gave up the ghost.
All in all, a pretty good race.
DRIVER of the Weekend: Max Verstappen 48.71 % of reader vote
For the second year in a row, Max has won this award from our readers. Last year (with 37.7% of the reader vote) we began to see Max’s brilliance as he delivered a spectacular overtake on Fillipe Naser around the outside of Blanchimont, winning not only this award but the F1 ‘action of the year’ award as well.
This is the SIXTH time (out of 13 races) Max has been voted our Driver of the Weekend. It all started to come together for Max during qualifying, when (for the second time this season) he beat team mate Danniel Ricciardo in qualifying. He started from P2, which gave him not only his best qualifying position in his F1 career, buy yet another F1 ‘world record.’ This time he became the youngest ever driver to qualify on the front row of an F1 starting grid. This was even more impressive as he had missed FP3 due to a gear box problem.
I think he can also take the credit for the massive numbers of tickets sold for the GP: all the grandstands had sold out weeks beforehand and a further 9,000 sold after he took P2 in qualifying. The organisers were expecting huge numbers of Belgian and Dutch fans.
The race, however, did not quite go according to plan (see above) and Max finished in P11, just out of the points. (That didn’t stop him being the star of the show, though did it?)
Many people have voiced criticism of Max’s driving in this race, and some even called for him to be black flagged: one reader referred to him as a ‘Pile Driver’ (Device that bashes large blunt instruments into holes that don’t exist.) It would be interesting to hear YOUR opinions……please leave your comments below……………………