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Spa Francorchamp is a circuit like no other and even though rain is a steady mistress to the track, Sunday’s race was a dry affair. The length of the circuit is one of those anomalies given the recent spate of short tracks where mistakes aren’t amplified but the Belgian track exposes errors and exacerbates the slightest bumble due to it’s nearly 4-mile length.

There was no error or mistakes to expose from Red Bull Racing’s Daniel Ricciardo who secured his third victory of the season and inched his way closer to second in the driver’s championship as Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton failed to finish the race.

The race had its moments up and down the grid with terrific battle for 5th in the waning laps of the race as well as some crafty pit stop work from all the teams. Mercedes secured second place while Williams F1’s Valtteri Bottas completed the podium in 3rd place which is his fourth visit to the steps this year.

Win

 

Win

Spa is usually a terrific race and this year there was no lack of excitement with Red Bull’s Ricciardo completely poised to take advantage of any bobble between the Mercedes drivers. His pace was certainly helped by an aggressive low-downforce setup on his car and even his teammate, Sebastian Vettel, was a factor for the first half of the race.

Red Bull has to be proud of what they’ve accomplished as beating Mercedes was not a likely expectation but sometimes taking opportunities at others misfortunes in F1 is part of the game and Daniel Ricciardo drove a brilliant race to hold off a recovering Nico Rosberg so we can’t marginalize his drive in the least. While still beat by his race-winning teammate, Vettel did have a better showing than what he’s experienced of late with a 5th place finish.

A big win for Daniel Ricciardo who has now beaten his 4-time champion teammate 10-2 in races and 7-5 in qualifying. The man is having the best season of his life and deserves every accolade he is given.

Also a win for Williams F1 and Valtteri Bottas with yet another podium. I chuckle when commentators are stunned as they felt Felipe Mass would be the team leader in 2014 and wonder if I am the only person who never suffered from that delusion? Bottas is the real deal and given the car, he’s going to win.

Bottas’s fortune spoiled Ferrari driver Kimi Raikkonen’s chance for a podium but it is still a win for the 2007 champion as this was the best race all season for the struggling champ.

The race was a win for some of the strategy that was deployed by the teams including Mercedes and Nico Rosberg who took a late pit stop to fit fresh option tires and scythed his way back through the field to close the gap to Ricciardo to a handful of seconds at the end. It was a gamble but an interesting strategy.

McLaren and Force India had decent showings as well in Belgium. McLaren duo of Kevin Magnussen and Jenson Button brought the cars home in 6th and 7th respectively while Force India’s Sergio Perez secured 9th for his efforts and his teammate Nico Hulkenberg inherited 10th place after a penalized Kevin Magnussen dropped down to 11th.

Fail

 

Fail

Ferrari has to be upset with the result for Fernando Alonso in 8th place as the Spanish two-time champion incurred a penalty for a formation lap debacle and then got stuck behind McLaren’s Kevin Magnussen who was assessed to have driven too defensively and was handed a post-race 20-second penalty which moved Alonso to 7th and Magnussen back to 11th.

Alonso played down the issue but the stewards felt Magnussen didn’t leave enough room at turns 4 and 5 and thus he suffered the penalty leaving his teammate, Jenson Button, the only points-scoring McLaren.

Ferrari also has to be slightly disappointed with their formation lap incident that incurred a 5-second stop/go penalty. The regulations stipulate that no team members can be on the grid within 15-seconds of the start of the formation lap and clearly the team were having issues with Alonso car as it was still on jack as the formation lap rolled off.

I have to offer a fail to Williams F1 driver Felipe Mass who finished in 13th while his teammate, Bottas, was on the podium. Again, Massa isn’t scoring the points—just like when he was at Ferrari—which the team desperately need.

A fail for Caterham who had Andre Lotterer in for a one-off race and actually out-qualified his teammate, Marcus Ericsson, but was let down by the car which simply shut off after running over a curb (kerb). Unfortunate as we all would have liked to see Lotterer finish the race to see how well he may have done.

A big fail for Lotus F1 who had no cars finish the race and for Mercedes who parked Lewis Hamilton with a mystery aero issue—nudge, nudge, wink, wink.

WTH

The big WTH moment of the race came with the attempted pass of Ncio Rosberg on teammate Lewis Hamilton on lap number two as Rosberg tried to pass Hamilton for the lead on the outside at Les Combes.

It appeared as if Rosberg lifted and attempted to tuck back behind Hamilton but clipped Lewis’s left rear tire causing a flat and ending Hamilton’s hope for a win or even points.

fans boo

The aftermath was a rash of jeers from the crowd during the podium ceremony and this time it wasn’t due to Greenpeace hanging from the rafters above the heads of fans. No, the crowd felt Nico had purposely taken Lewis out of the race.

That was the assessment of Lewis Hamilton as well who told the press:

“We just had a meeting about it and he basically said he did it on purpose,” said Hamilton.

“He said he could have avoided it. He said ‘I did it to prove a point’. He basically said I did it to prove a point.

“And you don’t have to just rely on me. Go and ask Toto [Wolff] and Paddy [Lowe] who are not happy with him as well.”

The team have been yo-yoing over the season about team orders, no team order, letting them race and now not letting them race. Toto Wolff has stated that Nico will receive harsh punishment for his role in the incident telling the press:

“Today we’ve seen the limits of the slap on the wrist,” he said. “Maybe the slap on the wrist is not enough.

“If Lewis has said that it’s going to be a slap on the wrist, and that there’s going to be no consequence, then he’s not aware of what consequences we can implement.”

At this point the team are looking rather silly in their micromanagement of the driver situation and regardless of who’s fault it was, the team said they feel comfortable in their position for the constructor’s championship so they were going to let the lads race for the balance of the season. Now they are handing out spankings or some sort of punitive punishment for this? It’s now official…we have NICOGATE!

We know the stewards were watching for penalties as they gave one to Magnussen for his not leaving room for Alonso. WE could possible deduce, then, that they didn’t feel Lewis was in error of not leaving room but we also that Nico didn’t do anything that was penalty-worthy either.

I’ve seen decades of this type of racing incident and to be honest, if you’re going to let them race—which is what Mercedes said they were going to do for the rest of the season—then you’ll get some opportunistic moves and clashes. Senna and Prost taught us that. Lewis himself has taught us that and it is what I love about Lewis, he goes for it and it doesn’t always work but as McLaren said at the time, Hamilton is a racer and they wouldn’t want to change that.

This type of incident happens a lot in F1 and in case you have forgotten some of these, I’ll include a video to remind you that trying to overtake is a tough proposition…just ask Felipe Mass who has had his share of incidents with Lewis and you’ll see at the 1:00 mark what can happen when a wing clips a tire. I don’t recall any booing during this race.

[vsw id=”L8eYGbSALYY” source=”youtube” width=”600″ height=”400″ autoplay=”no”]

I find Toto Wolff’s comments a WTH as well. While Lewis is telling the press that Nico did it deliberately, Wolff is also telling the press that Nico is going to be harshly punished. I suspect we’ll have to wait and see what Niki Lauda says about it and I suspect I know…”it’s total bulls*%t!”

I agree, it happens in racing and if Nico tried to tuck back in and misjudged the situation, well, that’s the way racing can be sometimes. They’ve all misjudged things while at the wheel as life moves in fractions of a second at that speed.

I feel bad for Lewis but in the end he’s a driven guy and will fight back. He’s not out of it yet and with double-Dhabi, he has everything to play for. Let’s hope the team doesn’t do anything stupid in the mean time as they try to micromanage the situation.

A big WTH has to go to the road kill tire carcass piece that got stuck on Nico’s aerial during the race and was flapping in his face for several laps. I’ll be honest, that’s not something I would want fluttering and slapping my visor at 180mph! It reminded me of the time that Lewis got a piece of AstroTurf stuck on his car for several laps.

Results

Pos Driver                Team                    Time/Gap    
 1. Daniel Ricciardo      Red Bull-Renault        1h24m36.556s
 2. Nico Rosberg          Mercedes                +3.383s     
 3. Valtteri Bottas       Williams-Mercedes       +28.032s    
 4. Kimi Raikkonen        Ferrari                 +36.815s    
 5. Sebastian Vettel      Red Bull-Renault        +52.196s    
 6. Jenson Button         McLaren-Mercedes        +54.580s    
 7. Fernando Alonso       Ferrari                 +1m01.162s  
 8. Sergio Perez          Force India-Mercedes    +1m04.293s  
 9. Daniil Kvyat          Toro Rosso-Renault      +1m05.347s  
10. Nico Hulkenberg       Force India-Mercedes    +1m05.697s  
11. Jean-Eric Vergne      Toro Rosso-Renault      +1m11.920s  
12. Kevin Magnussen       McLaren-Mercedes        +1m14.262s  
13. Felipe Massa          Williams-Mercedes       +1m15.975s  
14. Adrian Sutil          Sauber-Ferrari          +1m22.447s  
15. Esteban Gutierrez     Sauber-Ferrari          +1m30.825s  
16. Max Chilton           Marussia-Ferrari        -1 lap      
17. Marcus Ericsson       Caterham-Renault        -1 lap      
18. Jules Bianchi         Marussia-Ferrari        -5 laps     
                                                              
Retirements                                                   
                                                              
    Lewis Hamilton        Mercedes                 38 laps    
    Romain Grosjean       Lotus-Renault            33 laps    
    Pastor Maldonado      Lotus-Renault            1 lap      
    Andre Lotterer        Caterham-Renault         1 lap

 

 

 

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An F1 fan since 1972, NC has spent over 25 years in the technology industry and as a CTO, he focuses on technology integration in commercial workspace design, AV systems integration, digital media strategies, technology planning, consulting, speaking, presenting, sales, content strategy, marketing and brand building.
  • RickB

    I think Hamilton needs to look at his part in what happened, He was blocking Nico and did not leave enough room, and suffered the consequences.

    • I agree with you. it was 50/50 a racing accident

      • Rapierman

        I must disagree. Hamilton had the clear racing line and had the right-of-way. Rosberg should have backed off sooner.

        • Completely agree. Lewis had the line and if he were to be kind to leave room, it would’ve allowed Nico ultimately take the position.

    • I disagree, it was a racing incident, but still Rosbergs fault.
      Lewis is a chump for saying Nico did it on purpose.

  • Great race.
    Awards
    Pass Vettel on button coming into the bus stop. HM alsono on perez at turn 11
    Donkey Ferrari
    Drive Daniel Ricciardo solid race
    Shout out to Andre Lotterer out paced his teammate all weekend too bad his race lasted 1 lap

    • Rapierman

      I’d say:

      Drive: Bottas going from 6th to 3rd (honorable mentions to Ricciardo and Vettel)
      Pass: Ricciardo over Vettel and over Alonso before that, it set the tone.
      Donkey: I’m thinking that Rosberg when he clipped Hamilton and then later on nearly overshot the turn trying to pass Alonso, but definitely an honorable mention to the Ferrari pit crew for not getting off the track on time.

  • Rapierman

    It also reminds me of Vettel vs. Webber in their early years.

    Win: Definitely Ricciardo, Vettel for his better performance and Bottas.

    Fail: Caterham, they could have given Lotterer a better car; Magnussen for cutting Alonso off and forcing him off the track.

    WTH: Hamilton vs. Rosberg controversy, Ferrari not getting their pit crew off the track on time.

  • Andreas

    Top race – the whole weekend, in fact. Spa delivers again! Obviously, the Mercedes brass have reason to be upset when their drivers tangle like that, but I also feel it’s their job to keep things cool. Seeing Toto Wolff that upset as he was when Sky interviewed him made me wonder WTH was going on…

    Seeing the Ferrari mechanics run back on to the track just as the lights went out for the formation lap was a little scary, and the team should be glad they only got a 5 second penalty. James Allison mentioned that they’d gambled on the penalty being less harsh than starting from the pit lane, so they tried their best to get the car going before the last starters had gone past. A bit cynical, IMO.

    The car giving up on Lotterer that early was also a let-down – I’d wanted to see what he could do in traffic. Ted Kravitz mentioned in the notebook segment that Caterham was planning on selling that seat more times this season, and that teams are lining up to stick their junior drivers/prospects in the Caterham. Isn’t there a 4 drivers max per season and team, though? They’ve already had 3 in the car, and “we’re short on cash” hardly qualifies as force majeure, does it? Time will tell…

    Seeing the Red Bull with a top speed advantage was a new one… it seemed to work for them, though. Bring on Monza :-)

  • Fred

    Watched the race on Spanish tv because I don’t have cable. It looked like a great race, but with the pit stops it was hard to know what was going on. Thanks for the recap in English!

  • BadCaptain

    Did anyone else notice that Hamilton started the race from what esteemed to be outside of the front of the grid box? I have gone back and watched the start and Hamilton’s front wheels appear to be well in front of his box. For the first couple of laps I keep waiting to hear that race control would be investigating this but in the end I guess it did not matter.

    • I missed that, I’ll have to go check again.

    • Whoa! Just took a look. Wow, that’s nearly half a car length!

    • Andreas

      He did indeed stop about a metre long, but rolled back to the correct position before the start. The track is uphill at that point, but I don’t know for sure if he used reverse or simply let gravity do its thing.

    • Looks like he missed the mark, then reversed back into the spot before the start. I am assuming you can reverse on the grid during the formation lap.

      • Rapierman

        Sky Sports confirms that you can do that and not get penalized if you back into the box immediately.

  • I was impressed by Eddies efforts to get the crowd in check.

  • Not sure if anyone watched the video but at the 1:00 mark and then at the end, is this not what happened to Lewis today? Remember the Lewis and Felipe feud of 2011? They were like magnets to each other. When I saw today’s incident, I recalled 2011 when similar incidents happened. some penalized, some weren’t.

    • The Captain

      Yea, I saw it as a 50/50 racing incident like many others before it too.

      On a side note, I bet Charsley had a rather sleep deprived day with everything that happened in his hood. Hopefully his he didn’t have too much cleaning up of his house from the quake or the track from Dallara parts.

      • Rapierman

        Charsley said everything was okay.

    • Rapierman

      Never got to see that video, but I do recall a video where Vettel and Webber got together in their early years, and there were tears had by all.

  • Never did I think RBR had a chance here with their higher downforce-focused cars or their lower power engines. Granted, this has not stopped them before, but this year has been more extreme on the lack of power. Maybe Renault had it all fixed.

    I knew Bottas would be fast and he is doing a tremendous job. I think he would have been the revelation of the season if it were not for Ricciardo in the Red Bull.

    One more thing noticeable during the broadcast – we have moaned and complained about how the feed director has always shown a single car driving the final lap without a challenger. This time, they stayed with the 5th place battle of Button, Vettel, Alonso. Lee Diffy was calling for the producer to swap the camera but that didn’t happen, and I’m glad.

  • Julian

    I am wondering, is there a dark side to Nico Rosberg? Is he the kind of driver who will do anything to win even if it is unsporting? Like Schumacher ramming Damon Hill.
    There have been a couple of incidents now, it’s interesting to see Hamilton’s reaction to it all, remembering he knows Rosberg very well.
    Today’s incident was interesting, a bit like standing there with your foot out whilst someone trips over it. Not like an attacking move, more like I’ll just stay here and he might hit me.
    It seems that the crowd were thinking along those lines for sure.

    Happy to see Ricciardo win though, and the good showing from Kimi.

    • I don’t know Nico at all but I understand your question because I’ve seen some aggressive defense and other things that makes you think he’s a ruthless as any other driver out there including Fernando and Vettel. I also think Lewis is too. I think all champs have a strong desire to win and many skewered Seb for Multi 21 and other things but I think his point was, I’m not here to play wet nurse to anyone, I’m here to win. Senna thought that way too.

      • jiji the cat

        yuo, they are both agressive but in slightly beffering ways.

        My first reaction was that Nico just miss judged by about 4-6″.

        • jiji the cat

          edit: “you” and “differing”

  • dude

    Well I guess it wasn’t so bad for Kamui.

  • jiji the cat

    aussie, aussie, aussie!
    oi,oi,oi!

  • If Nico did it on purpose then it is very unprofessional and he should get punished.
    But to me it looked indeed like a racing incident.

  • I’m obviously not privy to the conversation, but Lewis said Nico did it to “prove a point”. If I were Nico, the point I’d be trying to prove is, “you’re not going to intimidate me, if you shut the door, you better be certain you’re far enough ahead to not get clipped, because I’m not backing off” Now, I AM a Nico fan, so obviously I have a bias, but to me that’s just smart. Lewis will think twice about not giving room next time, regardless of whether he’s obliged to or not. There’s not much the team can do to Nico, either, short of putting someone else in the car for a weekend, so they can get constructors points, but cost Nico Driver’s points (But of course that’s a lawsuit waiting to happen). So now Nico is in Lewis’ head AND Lewis is emotionally compromised. Nico is just better at the mind games than Lewis is — which makes him a lot like Niki.

  • JimmyClarkFan

    By the ‘right of way’ and ‘clear racing line’ you mean like what Lewis was respecting in all those incidents compiled in the video included above?

  • JimmyClarkFan

    Aren’t you sick of Lewis’ hypocrisy yet? In the incidents in the video he was always claiming ‘he didn’t leave me space’, implying that he was entitled to it, and when doing the same here he cries of being hit intentionally! There was far more obvious intention on Lewis’ part in all of those incidents than here. Lewis made a career out of ruining various competitor’s races by moves far more egregious than what happened here. Of course, for that he was never subject of any media criticism, rather it was always explained away as his ‘natural racer’s instinct’ at work!

    In incidents like this, his strategy has always been to immediately goes and plays the willing English-language media eager for the headlines to spin it further – just notice how Lewis’ claim about what Nico said is emphasized, both here and elsewhere, while Toto’s denial of that wording and interpretation de-emphasized, if mentioned at all.

    The only consistency you can expect from Lewis is that he’ll always cry bloody murder when he’s at the short end of incidents like this, and always claims innocence when the other guy suffers. What a pathetic, childish attitude, duly supported all along by the heavily biased British media desperate for another British F1 title.

    Racing incidents like this are dime and dozen every season, and no one is making that much fuss about it except when Lewis is on the receiving end.

    Nico took a chance and didn’t back out, just like Lewis has done far more often in the past and surely will in the future. He was lucky not to have his race destroyed by the wing damage but, rather, it turned out to spell the end of Lewis’ race. The infamous ‘point he wanted to make’ was that he will not be intimidated, forcing Lewis to either leave room or cut across and risk contact. Who’d come out better was a matter of luck.