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Photo by: www.kymillman.com/f1

The question heading into the Belgian Grand Prix was, can Lewis Hamilton convert his record-equaling 68th pole position into a win? Taking the lead of the race from the start was a great way to start his charge in Belgium but could he hold off the Ferrari of Sebastian Vettel who seemed to have similar pace?

The longest track on the calendar always means that any deltas between car pace is exaggerated due to the long laps but could Hamilton hold off Vettel in the waning laps as a Safety Car period put Lewis on Soft tires and Sebastian on ultrasoft? The initial challenge on the restart was close but it seemed that the remaining 10 laps were not as quick as you would have thought for the Ferrari on Ultras. Was Vettel biding his time for a final charge? Regardless, Hamilton was doing a good job of making his harder compounds competitive in the waning laps.

Photo by: www.kymillman.com/f1

Lewis took the win in fine fashion and converted his pole to a victory holding off a Ferrari that just didn’t have the shove it needed to challenge for the win. In the end, the Ferrari race pace just wasn’t enough but it was a respectable performance on a track that favored the Mercedes.

 

Win

A big win for Lewis and Mercedes who were the favorites heading into the power circuit, Spa Francorchamps. It would have been a big fail had they lost the race and that notion holds true for next week at Monza, Ferrari’s home turf. The title is now just 7 points between Vettel and Hamilton heading into another circuit that should favor the Mercs.

A win for Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo who managed to avoid the mechanical failures his teammate has had this season and beat a Ferrari and a Mercedes and make it to the podium in third. A great result and quiet march to the steps. The Safety Car certainly helped him but you have to be there to take advantage and Daniel was.

Photo by: www.kymillman.com/f1

A win for Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg running in the top 10 all day but his teammate, Jolyon Palmer, had a grid penalty and he couldn’t recover to give Renault a dual-points finish leaving Nico to do all the heavy lifting.

A win for Haas F1’s Romain Grosjean who produced a terrific 7th place result while his teammate was at the back of the pack. The team needed the points and Romain delivered.

Fail

A big fail for Red Bull with another DNF for Max Verstappen bringing his retirement rate to 50% for the season. No wonder the young star is looking for another ride and at some level, you have to appreciate that thousands of fans came to Spa to see him race just eight laps. Something F1 will have to take into account if they want to keep the Verstappen crowd coming to races. Bernie Ecclestone would recognize this wave of fandom and try to capitalize on it by negotiating a move to a reliable car.

A tough day in the office for both Fins, Kimi Raikkonen and Valtteri Bottas, who managed to get beat to the podium by Daniel Ricciardo.

Photo by: www.kymillman.com/f1

A fail for Pascal Wehrleing who suffered a suspension issue and left him sitting in the garage watching a race on lap 3.

Kimi Raikkonen was trying to make well on his typical Spa Francorchamps pace but ignored yellow flags for Verstappen’s stalled car and had a 10s stop/go penalty. The FIA takes their double-yellow flag rules very seriously and so they should but Kimi failed to slow down properly in that zone.

Photo by: www.kymillman.com/f1

The Force India’s hit each other on the exit of La Source on the opening lap and again on lap 30 that caused a flat tire for Perez and a damaged wing for Occon. The team called for both drivers to stop the intra-team battle but they didn’t get the message and the incident brought out the Safety Car on lap 31.

A tough day in the office for both McLaren’s and both Williams F1 cars. The power circuit just didn’t flatter either team and it not only made for a frustrating day for Fernando Alonso but relegated local hero, Stoffel Vandoorne, to the back of the grid for his home race. For Williams, Felipe Massa recovered from his vertigo, managed to manhandle his car into the top 10 which was a relatively respective recovery from 16th on the grid.

A big win for F1 when Michael Schumacher’s son, Mick, took his dad’s Benetton car for a spin at Spa and it brought some emotion and moist eyes to the paddock.

Photo by: www.kymillman.com/f1

A tough day for Toro Rosso who struggled at the back but Carlos Sainz managed to score the final point in tenth.

WTH

Fernando Alonso is frustrated and so much so that he asked McLaren to stop any radio messages for the rest of the race. Now that’s frustration and it comes after he said to team that this is “embarrassing”.

An interesting digital short that NBC Sports ran during the broadcast comparing Indycar to Formula 1 and it touts the fact that they are less expensive and don’t have electric motors. Zing!

Romain Grosjean made his radio faster than his car and helped secure a 5s penalty for Perez for cutting chicanes and gaining advantage.

Photo by: www.kymillman.com/f1

Race result

POS DRIVER CAR LAPS GAP
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 44 1h24m42.820s
2 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 44 2.358s
3 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull/Renault 44 10.791s
4 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 44 14.471s
5 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 44 16.456s
6 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 44 28.087s
7 Romain Grosjean Haas/Ferrari 44 23h35m17.s
8 Felipe Massa Williams/Mercedes 44 23h35m17.s
9 Esteban Ocon Force India/Mercedes 44 23h35m17.s
10 Carlos Sainz Toro Rosso/Renault 44 23h35m17.s
11 Lance Stroll Williams/Mercedes 44 23h35m17.s
12 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso/Renault 44 23h35m17.s
13 Jolyon Palmer Renault 44 23h35m17.s
14 Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren/Honda 44 23h35m17.s
15 Kevin Magnussen Haas/Ferrari 44 23h35m17.s
16 Marcus Ericsson Sauber/Ferrari 44 23h35m17.s
17 Sergio Perez Force India/Mercedes 42 Not running
Fernando Alonso McLaren/Honda 25 Retirement
Max Verstappen Red Bull/Renault 7 Retirement
Pascal Wehrlein Sauber/Ferrari 2 Retirement

Drivers’ Championship

POS DRIVER POINTS
1 Sebastian Vettel 220
2 Lewis Hamilton 213
3 Valtteri Bottas 179
4 Daniel Ricciardo 132
5 Kimi Raikkonen 128
6 Max Verstappen 67
7 Sergio Perez 56
8 Esteban Ocon 47
9 Carlos Sainz 36
10 Nico Hulkenberg 34
11 Felipe Massa 27
12 Romain Grosjean 24
13 Lance Stroll 18
14 Kevin Magnussen 11
15 Fernando Alonso 10
16 Pascal Wehrlein 5
17 Daniil Kvyat 4
18 Stoffel Vandoorne 1
19 Jolyon Palmer 0
20 Marcus Ericsson 0
21 Antonio Giovinazzi 0

Constructors’ Championship

POS CONSTRUCTOR POINTS
1 Mercedes 392
2 Ferrari 348
3 Red Bull/Renault 199
4 Force India/Mercedes 103
5 Williams/Mercedes 45
6 Toro Rosso/Renault 40
7 Haas/Ferrari 35
8 Renault 34
9 McLaren/Honda 11
10 Sauber/Ferrari 5
REVIEW OVERVIEW
Overall Race
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An F1 fan since 1972, NC has spent over 25 years in the technology industry focusing on technology integration, AV systems integration, digital media strategies, technology planning, consulting, speaking, presenting, sales, content strategy, marketing and brand building.
  • jakobusvdl

    Aero dynamics and horsepower win the day!
    The faster driver of the fastest car wins, ahead of the faster driver of the second fastest car, ahead of the second fastest driver of the third fastest car, phew!
    It certainly seems that 1.4 sec is as close as any of the leading teams can follow at Spa, even on ‘faster tyres’. (Except Hamilton on Raikonnen after the first tyre stop, wth Kimi???).
    Fantastic work by Ricciardo and Raikonnen in mugging Bottas after the safety car, that turned the outcome of the race on its ear.
    It was amazinging to see Hamilton and Vettel hold such a high pace throughout the race. Judging by the rate it caught up after the tyre stop, it looked like the Ferrari had more pace, but the aero forcefield stopped the advance at 1.4 sec gap. It made for an enthralling race, who’d blink first? Neither of them as it turned out.
    WTF for Perez (too serious for a WTH). Twice contacting Ocon, both times trying to put him in the wall. The scrapping between those two is getting way out of control. As the team won’t act, with the FIA driver standards team apply sanctions on Perez before someone gets hurt?
    WTH – RBR, used to win championships by having the fewest failures, this year they can only make one reliable car, “its like ‘someone’ doesn’t want Max to finish”……who are those five mechanics with aussie accents?????
    Many great drives today, just brilliant to see Alonso snatch the chance to get from 10th to 7th off the start and fight off Hulkenberg for a lap or two, frustrated to see him go backwards and out after that.
    Massa, gaining 8 places, and getting one Williams into the points. Obviously getting over his vertigo issues, but not ready to climb on a podium, yet.
    Hulkenberg scoring 6th again, showing what the Renault is capable of.
    Ocon, surviving two attacks from his team ‘mate’ to keep one F.I in the points.
    Its been interesting watching the race with an Austrian commentary (Alex Wurtz).
    I paid a lot more attention to the progress of the race, passes, pit stops, gaps etc. And didn’t get frustrated by a partisan commentary team. As far as I could tell apart from interviewing Franz Tost after the race, there was no particular focus on RBR.
    SKY and BBC could learn a bit there.
    Tot sienz Spa, a presto Monza :-)

    • Wayne Rentoul

      Perez even made the comment post race that he held his line for the second incident. I could have sworn he moved over!
      This incident should have been investigated by the Stewards (far more dangerous than Raikonnen not lifting and he got a 10s Stop-Go), yet more inconsistency!!
      To me, Perez is in survival mode, his rookie team mate is driving around him, and he is desperately trying to salvage what is left of his F1 career as it starts spiraling down the toilet…

      • jakobusvdl

        I think you’re right Wayne. Perez isn’t dealing with the challenge from Ocon at all well, which must be harming any chances he had of signing for a top team.
        I wonder if he thinks back to the days when he was the ‘Mexican wunderkind’, promoted to McLaren and showing no respect to his more experienced team mate by colliding with him (and a few others) in 2013……he lost out in that situation, perhaps he thinks Ocon will lose out in this one?

  • charlie white

    Someone at Force India needs to sit down with a calculator and crunch the numbers. How many viable Constructor Points dollars were lost by its drivers against the sponsorship dollars brought in by said drivers?

    • Wayne Rentoul

      I dare say Otmar Szafnauer would be bringing this to the driver’s attention during the post race debrief.
      Sky had Otmar miked up and questioned him live after each incident (very opportune). His responses were very measured, but you could sense his underlying rage.
      He intimated that if this happens again, either Perez or Ocon would leave the team to drive further down the grid…
      I do feel for Perez, he has been in F1 for 7 years, Ocon (a rookie) is developing extremely fast and is at least his equal. He must feel his F1 career (and any chance to move up the grid) is on the line…

  • The Captain

    “F1 will have to take into account if they want to keep the Verstappen
    crowd coming to races. Bernie Ecclestone would recognize this wave of
    fandom and try to capitalize on it by negotiating a move to a reliable
    car.”

    Wait! NC, did you really just advocate for F1 to adopt a contractual version of “fan-boost”?

    Also the WTF had to be NBC actually showing some of the formula 1 grand prix during breaks of their almost non-stop commercial block they ran this morning.

    • LOL…no, but Mr. E had a way of making sure the right drivers were at the right teams to win and continue to bring the massive crowds. :)

      • The Captain

        But think about how crazy silly season could be! I mean just imagine if Reddit had a say over who goes to what team. Maldonado at Mercedes confirmed!

        (An that’s one of the things many I hated about Mr. E. I don’t want my sports management picking the winners and losers. This is F1 not the NBA.)

  • Schumi Toronto

    Hey NC ,,, I realize that you have to do some pretty quick typing to get this out so soon after the race, but slow down a little bit dude! A few times, I had to insert or correct a word here and there. But when I read “A big win for F1 when Michael Schumacher took his dad’s Benetton car for a spin” I had to stop and re-read it!

    As for the race, yes the stewards need to strictly enforce yellow flags, but Kimi did have a point about the car being half-way behind the barrier and when a driver gets half the penalty that he did for cutting the track and gaining an advantage, you have to give your head a shake!

    THEN when a driver puts his teammate into the wall at high-speed (twice!) and the stewards declare “no further action”, you have to say the stewards need to go back to steward’s school! In my opinion, Perez (who I rate highly) should receive a ONE RACE BAN! Talk about WTH!!! If I were Ocon, I would have punched his lights out, after the race! I wanna hear what Paul has to say about this!

    • LOL…thanks for pointing that out. Yeah, I make abbreviated notes during the race under each heading and then fill it in after race but I do seem to attract typos for a living. I’ll go back and proof it again, I was going too quickly.

      • Schumi Toronto

        Hey … I got a kick out of the picture in my head of Michael’s dad, the retired bricklayer (probably about 90 years old now) driving Michael’s Benneton! LOL!
        So Todd, what did you think of Perez, especially the second incident? I really think that deserved a one race ban! Sure Michael closed Berrichello towards the wall in Hungary, but not INTO IT! If the stewards weren’t going to do it, then Force India should! Put there reserve driver in for a race and he’ll get the message! That was friggin’ dangerous!

        Ron

        • I understand the points most people are sharing but I need some time to recall some of the incidents. Lots of folks saying that forcing a driver into a lift or hit the wall scenario is very bad and while we can all agree on that, there have been many incidents like this with some of the fan favorite drivers and no one said a thing. I’ll think about that and bring it up on the show with Paul…maybe he can “talk us through it”

          • Schumi Toronto

            Excellent! Thanks as always Todd. Looking forward to the next cast, as usual. Hey – what’s Fake Charlie up to? I miss that guy’s point of view and I’d still like to buy him a beer here in Toronto. Are you guys still in touch? Maybe you could pass him my email address, if he’d be at all interested in meeting me and having an F1 chat sometime

            Ron

          • I’m not sure what he’s doing but I am sure it’s very important and tweet worthy. :)

      • I did just clean it up…that was bad. Sorry about that.

  • Max Johnson

    My opinion is Force India made the wrong call to take Ocon over Werhlein. You can argue it’s Perez’s fault today, but Ocon tend to put himself in these situation and it’s costing Force India.

    Perez didn’t became a crap driver all the sudden, and he didn’t have this issue with Kobayashi and Hulkenberg, who are both highly motivated.

  • Hanwi

    It was nice to see Martin Brundle healthy and back on Sky coverage, it’s so much better with his race commentary.

    I am impressed with Max’s maturity at such a young age, he behaves better than a lot of the older drivers. When he effs up he admits it and apologizes and this season with all of his mechanical issues he shows frustration in the car but pulls it together for the interviews which I find impressive. I can’t wait to see him drive a front runner. I think Red Bull has the best driver lineup and I love Daniel but I think Max is better.

  • Junipero Mariano

    I was pretty sure going into this race that it was going to be a straight flag to flag win for Hamilton. Would’ve preferred some position swapping between him and Vettel, still a good race!

  • jakobusvdl

    Aero dynamics and horsepower win the day!
    The faster driver of the fastest car wins, ahead of the faster driver of the second fastest car, ahead of the second fastest driver of the third fastest car, phew!
    It certainly seems that 1.4 sec is as close as any of the leading teams can follow at Spa, even on ‘faster tyres’. (Except Hamilton on Raikonnen after the first tyre stop, wth Kimi???).

  • jakobusvdl

    Fantastic work by Ricciardo and Raikonnen in mugging Bottas after the safety car, that turned the outcome of the race on its ear.

  • jakobusvdl

    It was amazinging to see Hamilton and Vettel hold such a high pace throughout the race. Judging by the rate it caught up after the tyre stop, it looked like the Ferrari may gave had more pace in clean air, but the aero forcefield stopped the advance at a 1.4 sec gap. It made for an enthralling race, who’d blink first? Neither of them as it turned out.

  • jakobusvdl

    WTH – RBR, used to win championships by having the fewest failures, this year they can only make one reliable car, “its like ‘someone’ doesn’t want Max to finish”……who are those five new mechanics with aussie accents?????

  • jakobusvdl

    Many great drives today, just brilliant to see Alonso snatch the chance to get from 10th to 7th off the start and fight off Hulkenberg for a lap or two, frustrated to see him go backwards and out after that.
    Massa, gaining 8 places, and getting one Williams into the points. Obviously getting over his vertigo issues, but not ready to climb on a podium, yet.
    Hulkenberg scoring 6th again, showing what the Renault is capable of.
    Ocon, surviving two attacks from his team ‘mate’ to keep one F.I in the points.

  • jakobusvdl

    Its been interesting watching the race with an Austrian commentary (Alex Wurtz).
    I speak no Austrian, so I paid a lot more attention to the progress of the race, passes, pit stops, gaps etc. And didn’t get frustrated by a partisan commentary team.
    As far as I could tell apart from interviewing Franz Tost after the race, there was no particular focus on RBR.
    SKY and BBC could learn a bit there. Me too, watch with the commentary off in future.
    Tot sienz Spa, a presto Monza :-)

  • jakobusvdl

    Someone else seriously excited about hybrid technology in F1, and LMP1,
    Guy Martin, top bloke!
    https://youtu.be/l5hCDuZr2hM