That headline sounds so clichéd but that was exactly how the race panned out at the Belgian Grand Prix. Jenson Button took victory from pole position as he was rarely troubled at the front by anyone else and finished a good 14 seconds ahead of Sebastian Vettel in second place. Kimi Raikkonen finished in third place as he continued his & Lotus’ consistent season.
Nico Hulkenberg finished in fourth place in what has been a good hunting ground for Force India in the past with Felipe Massa fifth, Mark Webber sixth and Michael Schumacher finishing seventh in his 300th Grand Prix start. The two Toro Rossos of Jean Eric Vergne & Daniel Ricciardo finished eighth and ninth ahead the second Force India of Paul Di Resta in tenth.
Yet, the talking point of the race would be the first lap action at the first corner which saw not one, not two but four cars come together in a horrific-looking pileup – the Lotus of Romain Grosjean, the McLaren of Lewis Hamilton, the Sauber of Sergio Perez and most importantly, the Ferrari of championship leader Fernando Alonso! Grosjean swiped into Hamilton and sent them both careening into the back of Alonso’s Ferrari, with the Lotus launching into the air and flying inches away from Alonso’s head in the cockpit. Perez was on the outside of it all but was hit by the out of control McLaren, thereby ending all four drivers’ race prematurely.
The Formula One season is back after its summer break and the second half of the season started off in earnest at the much loved Spa Francorchamps circuit for the Belgian Grand Prix. And it was Jenson Button who scored his first pole position for McLaren and his first since 2009 as he clocked the fastest qualifying time in Q3. Starting from P2 on the grid would be the Sauber of Kamui Kobayashi with the Williams of Pastor Maldonado in P3.
Race favourite and four-time winner Kimi Raikkonen was fourth fastest ahead of Sergio Perez in fifth and Fernando Alonso on sixth. Red Bull’s Mark Webber was seventh fastest but will drop down five places due to a gearbox change. Lewis Hamilton was eighth, Romain Grosjean ninth and Paul Di Resta tenth.
With Friday’s practice sessions affected by rain, most teams did not have enough mileage on the cars to get the perfect setup and Lotus, who were expected to run their upgraded DRS system opted not to do so. McLaren had to choose whether to run a new rear wing or not and in the end Jenson rode with it & Hamilton without. Other teams had tyre choice concerns as well as gearbox issues – Rosberg & Webber specifically.
It was a lights-to-flag victory for Fernando Alonso at Hockenheim for the German Grand Prix as he continued Ferrari’s resurgence in the past few races and score the maximum points once gain. Red Bull sorta remained in the hunt with Sebastian Vettel finishing in second position ahead of Jenson Button in third. But that is not a foregone conclusion as his late race overtaking move over Button is under investigation by the stewards for having done so outside the track!
Kimi Raikkonen was a fine fourth for Lotus ahead of the two Saubers of Kamui Kobayashi and Sergio Perez in fifth and sixth, Michael Schumacher in seventh, Mark Webber in eighth, Nico Hulkenberg ninth and Nico Rosberg in the last point scoring position in tenth.
Alonso controlled the race from the start and remained ahead all through except for the pit stops as Ferrari called the perfect two-stop strategy and chose the right set of tyres this time around for the second and third stints. The second Ferrari of Felipe Massa suffered a lost rear wing at the start and the debris from that ultimately ended Lewis Hamilton’s race causing a right rear puncture. It was a better result for the second McLaren of Jenson Button as he steadily moved up the order as the updates and the dry race worked well for McLaren.
Fernando Alonso continued his & Ferrari’s upturn in form as he grabbed pole position for the German Grand Prix at Hockenheim in a wet n’ thrilling qualifying session. The two Red Bulls of Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber were second and third fastest. Webber though has a five place grid penalty for a gearbox change so Michael Schumacher will inherit third place for tomorrow’s race.
All the action came at the fag end of the session as a drying track meant it was best until the very end and it was Ferrari & Alonso who elected to strap on a fresh set of warmed up wet weather tyres and set his two fastest laps right at the very end. Though the Red Bulls were fast enough, it seemed Vettel was held up by his own teammate Webber as he set his fastest time.
Michael Schumacher was fourth fastest for Mercedes with Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg fifth, Williams’ Pastor Maldonado in sixth, the McLarens of Jenson Button & Lewis Hamilton in seventh and eighth, Paul Di Resta ninth and Kimi Raikkonen in tenth.
The German Grand Prix returned to Hockenheim after a year and it was a wet welcome for the drivers as the practice and qualifying sessions were affected by rain. The first session started off in the dry but the rain came during the second session but though it eased off, there still was enough water on the track to force the teams to set their lap times on the full wets.
Red Bullwere back to winning ways as Mark Webber took victory at the British Grand Prix at Silverstone in what turned out to be a dry race after Friday and Saturday’s wet sessions. Much of the race was led by the pole-starting Ferrari of Fernando Alonso but fading grip on the softer tyres towards the end of the race meant Alonso could not fend off Webber’s attack and could only manage to finish second. The second Red Bull of Sebastian Vettel finished third.
Felipe Massa scored his best finish of the season in fourth place ahead of the two Lotuses of Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean. Mercedes had Michael Schumacher bring home some points in seventh place ahead of the McLaren of Lewis Hamilton in eighth. Williams’ Bruno Senna finished ninth and Jenson Button salvaged a sole point in tenth place in what has been a wretched run of form for him.
It was an exciting but kinda predictable race, the weather never threatened and the happenings might have spiced up a little if the rain did arrive. However it was the familiar story of tyre wear/management that proved to be the decisive factor. Having started on the harder tyre, Alonso managed to fend off Webber and the rest of the pack for the initial laps and even stayed out in front after the second round of pit stops – when Webber, having stopped earlier, was hoping to get the under-cut. But Ferrari’s gamble to have the soft tyre only for the last stint didn’t quite pay off as Alonso was powerless to fend off Webber on the harder rubber. Maybe if Ferrari had gotten the soft tyre out of the way in the middle stint, it would have translated into a second successive win for Alonso!
If the Brits were hoping for a home hero to shine at Silverstone after Murray’s semi final triumph at Wimbledon, they kinda expected the wrong kind as it was the fickle British weather that dictated much of the Qualifying session for the British Grand Prix at Silverstone. Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso took pole position in an extended session delayed due to heavy rain during Q2 as he rode his luck throughout and pulled out fast laps right at the fag end of the session. Red Bull’s Mark Webber was second fastest with Mercedes’ Michael Schumacher third fastest.
Sebastian Vettel will start from fourth on the grid ahead of Felipe Massa in fifth, Kimi Raikkonen in sixth, Pastor Maldonado in seventh, Lewis Hamilton in eighth and Nico Hulkenberg in ninth. Romain Grosjean didn’t set a time in Q3 and will start from tenth on the grid.
Heavy rains were falling throughout the UK and it was no different at Silverstone a it affected much of the free practice sessions and indeed the qualifying sessions. Q1 was wet but not enough to warrant full wet weather tyres and all of the teams fitted intermediate tyres for their runs. Getting temperature into the Pirellis for them to be in their optimum running zone was challenging and it caught out Jenson Button as the first big casualty in failing to make into Q2; he will start 18th. Others to drop out included the two Marussias, the two Caterhams and the two HRTs.
Sebastian Vettel stormed to pole position for the European Grand Prix at Valencia’s street track in a close but curious qualifying session which saw his Red Bull teammate Mark Webber fail to make it out of Q3. McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton was second fastest ahead of the Williams of Pastor Maldonado. It was a given that the Red Bull likes the twisty Valencia circuit and hence not totally surprising that the gap was 00.324 of a second between Vettel & Hamilton for the pole shootout.
Lotus were strong with Romain Grosjean starting fourth and Kimi Raikkonen fifth, with Nico Rosberg in sixth, Kamui Kobayashi in seventh. Force India also had a good qualifying with both their cars in the top ten – Nico Hulkenberg in eighth and Paul Di Resta tenth. Jenson Button, who had a forgetful Canadian GP, didn’t have the best of the sessions and starts ninth on the grid.
What was interesting to note that was how close the top teams were in terms of their timed runs. The fastest time in Q2 was Romain Grosjean’s 1:38.429 and though they clocked 1:38.7, Fernando Alonso, Michael Schumacher and Felipe Massa all failed to get through to Q3!
I got really bored by the last two races at Valencia and this time too have no hopes of an exciting race. Only thing remains to be seen is whether we will have an eighth different winner or someone will notch up their second win of the season. I’m tipping Kimi for the win!
Lewis Hamilton won the Canadian Grand Prix after having started from second on the grid as a two-stop strategy paid good dividends compared to an ultimately failing one-stop strategy for Fernando Alonso. Having led the race after the second pit stops, Alonso decided to stay on the same tyres and that allowed Hamilton as well as three other drivers to go past him on newer tyres towards the latter laps of the race. Alonso eventually finished fifth.
Renault’s Romain Grosjean was another one-stopper but his fresher tyres enabled him to overtake Alonso for second place and so did the Sauber of Sergio Perez who finished third. Sebastian Vettel also stayed out on his second set of tyres but after Hamilton passed him, he came in for his second stop and fresher tyres enabled him to pass Alonso into fourth place, dropping the Ferrari into fifth.
Nico Rosberg finished sixth for Mercedes ahead of Mark Webber in seventh, Kimi Raikkonen in eight, Kamui Kobayashi in ninth and Felipe Massa in tenth. Michael Schumacher had yet another disastrous race as a failed DRS wing forced him to retire after lap forty five. The Force Indias finished just outside the points as the race didn’t quite come to fruition for them.