Kimi Räikkönen & Sebastian Vettel

Kimi Räikkönen & Sebastian Vettel

sunnuntai 24. elokuuta 2014

Belgian GP: Brilliant Ricciardo snatched victory from Rosberg!

I don´t wonder why all racing drivers love the circuit of Spa Francorchamps: it never fails to produce thrilling, entertaining and eventful races. The Belgian GP didn´t let us down this year, either. What a colourful and dramatic race!

The first dramatic turn took place already before the lights went out. Alonso´s race was compromised already before the start as mechanics were still working on his Ferrari when the grid formation lap began. This meant only one thing: there was inevitably penalty on the way. The race got underway in dry conditions as predicted and the start was absolutely staggering: Hamilton managed to snatch the lead from his team-mate Rosberg and Vettel jumped second past Rosberg as well! Vettel was even trying to challenge Hamilton for the lead but the German went wide and lost the second place for Rosberg.

On the second lap there was more drama: Rosberg made a move on Hamilton and attempted to go round the outside heading into Les Combes. This lead into contact between the team-mates with Rosberg´s front wing endplate slashing into Hamilton´s left rear tyre. This instantaneously caused Hamilton a puncture and the Briton had to limp back to the pits, which dropped him down to P19. Rosberg took the lead but reported aero damage to his front wing. This incident must have been Toto Wolff´s and Niki Lauda´s worst nightmare! What was Rosberg thinking at that point? It was only the second lap of the race and the Mercedes duo had double lead! The clash ruined Hamilton´s race.

The Red Bull duo was having a battle of their own. Sebastian was second right ahead of his team-mate Ricciardo but suddenly Sebastian made a mistake and almost lost the rear of his RB10. Ricciardo didn´t hesitate to get past his team-mate and instantly it seemed that Ricciardo´s pace was much better than Sebastian´s. Definitely not something that I would have wanted to see... Rosberg was the first top driver to pit for a fresh set of tyres and a new front wing on lap 9. Kimi pitted a lap later, which turned out to be the right call. Kimi seemed to be flying on the new set of soft compound tyres and he jumped several positions when his rivals pitted some laps later.

We saw a bizarre-looking incident on lap 10 when some strange debris got attached to the nose of Rosberg´s car. The German tried to get rid of the distraction but that didn´t turn out to be an easy task. It took several laps before Rosberg got rid of the distracting debris. Alonso was handed a 5-second stop-and-go penalty due to the incident before the formation lap. After the first pit stops Ricciardo was leading the race with Kimi 2nd, Vettel 3rd, Rosberg 4th and Bottas 5th.

By the time that the top drivers had completed their second pit stops, Rosberg had already made his way up to P2. Ricciardo was still leading the race impressively, Kimi was 3rd and Sebastian 4th. At this stage everything was looking very promising and I could already imagine both my favourite drivers standing on the podium... This image, however, was very premature! On lap 31 Bottas at the wheel of his FW36 made an impressive overtaking move on Sebastian and got past the German Red Bull ace. This was such a contradictory moment for me: of course I was happy to see Bottas doing well but still part of me hurt really badly when I saw it was Sebastian, who got overtaken by the flying Williams ace... Another contradictory moment occurred a few laps later when Bottas was significantly closing the gap to Kimi in P3. Kimi has such a special place in my heart, I really would have wanted to see the Iceman on the podium at Spa! Though Bottas thoroughly deserves his success and it´s absolutely great to see him performing in this outstanding way. There was no way Kimi could prevent Bottas from overtaking him, Ferrari was going nowhere on the straights! In addition to that Kimi also had several laps older tyres than his compatriot.

On lap 35 both Rosberg and Sebastian pitted for the third time. With 6 laps to go there was a 15-second gap between the race leader Ricciardo and Rosberg. Hamilton had been struggling badly the entire race and we heard several team radio messages by Hamilton complaining about all kinds of problems. The Briton had clearly given up and he wanted to retire the race to save engine. In my opinion this mental side has always been an Achilles heel for Hamilton. He seems to have difficulties to hold his head together at difficult times. And that affects his driving impressively. Finally the Briton was told to bring the car to the pits when there were 5 laps to go.

On the closing laps of the race there was a thrilling battle for the 5th place between Magnussen, Alonso, Button and Vettel. One lap from the finish Alonso attacked on Magnussen along the Kemmel straight but the Spaniard was edged onto the grass by Magnussen. This incident earned the Dane a post-race penalty of 20 seconds added to his time. Sebastian managed to overtake both the McLaren duo and Alonso due to the fresh set of option tyres and snatched the 5th place. Ricciardo crossed the finish line as the winner and Rosberg finished 2nd some 3 seconds behind the Australian. Bottas completed podium finishing 3rd. Kimi finished 4th, Vettel 5th, Magnussen 6th, Button 7th and Alonso 8th. Magnussen´s time penalty, however, dropped the Dane from 6th to 12th.

This was already the 3rd win of the season for Ricciardo. I really appreciate his work and the sympathetic Aussie really deserves the success but I would be lying if I said I didn´t hope to see Sebastian on the podium instead of Ricciardo. Once again, this was a tough race for Sebastian in spite of his great starting position on the grid. But still, finishing 5th is a very decent achievement. Kimi, too drove a fantastic race although he didn´t quite make it on the podium today. Ferrari clearly seem to be on the right track at improving their car.

Things between the Mercedes team-mates are getting boiling hot. I´m sure they will have a loooong meeting tonight discussing today´s clash between Hamilton and Rosberg... Somehow I get a flashback of the season 2010 when things heated up between Vettel and Webber at Red Bull. I have a very clear memory especially of what happened at Turkey that year when the team-mates collided with each other. These kind of things can either ruin your dreams about the championship or make you emerge as a better driver. So this definitely is a crossroad for Rosberg and Hamilton. They have to learn from this and take a step forward as better drivers. In my opinion Mercedes are facing another threat as well: their attitude. It´s vital for success to have confidence in what you do but when the attitude turns into arrogance towards your rivals you´re in dangerous waters. Victories mustn´t be taken for granted and you must never underestimate your rivals. Mercedes´ triumph has been so dominant and so superior that every GP weekend Rosberg says he´s expecting Mercedes to take 1-2 in the race. This attitude may well come home to roost! There´s a gossamer line between confidence and arrogance but it´s vital for the outcome in the championship, which one Mercedes GP chooses. Although Rosberg has a 29-point lead over his team-mate at the moment, Ricciardo is quietly sneaking towards Hamilton in the championship standings...

Spa was supposed to be one of the weakest circuits in terms of Red Bull´s performance. So I was actually stunned to see both drivers performing in such a fantastic way! Can´t wait for Monza in a fortnight. Hope to see such performance on the Italian soil as well!

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