One thing you can be sure of at the Belgian Grand Prix; it’s never going to be a boring race.
After a mixed starting grid, a spectacular crash determined much of Sunday’s Grand Prix. If you’ve been reading the British or Italian newspapers then you’ll have already seen a call for Romain Grosjean’s head.
In the opening seconds of the race the Lotus driver made contact with Lewis Hamilton, causing a chain reaction that saw Fernando Alonso, Sergio Perez and Kamui Kobayashi as part of the collateral damage. Alonso’s weekend was over, as were Sauber’s and Hamilton’s, who was already dealing with more heavy criticism.
Shortly before the race Hamilton posted telemetry charts of his and Jenson Button’s cars to his Twitter account. This was after a Saturday evening spent Tweeting his frustrations about a bad qualifying session earlier. Many of the Tweets were quickly deleted with Hamilton left to explain himself. It’s obvious the McLaren contract negotiations are far from complete and the weekend’s events certainly haven’t given him any advantage.
After the crash, the race carried on and despite the lack of Hamilton or Alonso on track, it ended up being a fantastic one to watch. Jenson Button was the star of the show in his MP4-27, which clearly outpaced the rest of the grid. Button maintained the lead for every lap from start to finish and secured his second win of the season. This came after his first pole since 2009 and a long stint of bad drives in 2012.
Sebastian Vettel also had one of his best drives of the season. After qualifying 11th, Vettel managed to secure second place after battling with both Kimi Raikkonen and Michael Schumacher. Despite all the excitement of the day, the highlight was some pristine racing between Raikkonen and Schumacher.
It was F1 wheel-to-wheel at its best as the drivers battled for 3rd, ending in a spectacular pass by Raikkonen in Eau Rouge.
The talk following the race was how the FIA would handle Grosjean’s punishment and the driver was eventually handed a race suspension. A lot of people have varying opinions on the matter and while I think Grosjean’s driving was overly aggressive and at times moronic, he should not have been suspended for a race. This event marks more inconsistent governing by the FIA who seem to enjoy making examples out of drivers, rather than making fair calls. They explicitly said in their report that the crash “eliminated leading championship contenders from the race”. If this isn’t playing favorites, I don’t know what is. Something also tells me that had it been back marker drivers involved and not the championship leader, Grosjean would still be racing at Monza.
Understandably, the backlash from the British and Italian presses have been harsh, putting additional pressure on the FIA to make the situation “right”. At the end of the day, crashing is part of professional motor sports and it’s something all the drivers understand. If the FIA wants to single out a driver, why not go after Pastor Maldonado? The Williams driver has had more incidents this year and evaded the kind of harsh punishment that Grosjean was handed.
Always leave it to Spa for a great race each and every year. It’s no wonder it’s one of the most popular tracks on the F1 calendar. The talk is already shifting to the Italian Grand Prix, which is now less than a week away. The circus will be at Monza this Friday with the Tifosi in full swing!
Photos courtesy of F1 Fanatic.