Belgian Grand Prix 2011 – Race Report

After an exciting start and opening half the race simmered down to a more even pace although there was still some excitement with the top drivers passing each other.

Race direction: Okay

Once again the race directing could and should have been much better. However, it was still a slight improvement from the last two races. I’m not penalizing the race director for ignoring most of the pit-stops since there seemed to be such an over-abundance of them. Trying to show every single one of them would have probably drawn the attention away from the excitement on-track. There were plenty of ignored yellow-flags but at least the most prudent ones got caught on replay. And at least the director had the decency to inform us of Ricciardo and Perez’s retirements which also helped.

The Top-10:

Sebastian Vettel drove to an almost unchallenged victory with the Ferrari’s and McLaren’s struggling to keep up with him. Mark Webber recovered from a blundered start to finish second. Jenson Button hit his stride on the latter half of the race and took on several drivers to finally finish third.

Fernando Alonso was able to recover from a surprisingly weak qualifying although he failed to defend his position from both the Red Bulls and Button. Ferrari also fumbled on Felipe Massa’s pitstops which landed him eighth. Another mediocre weekend for Ferrari.

Michael Schumacher also recovered from his crash in the first qualifying, which started him from all the way back to finally finishing fifth behind Alonso, overtaking his team-mate in the process. Nico Rosberg can at least be proud of his overtake of Vettel at the start of the race and Rosberg held the position for a long time, eventually finishing sixth. Over-all, a good day for Mercedes GP.

Adrian Sutil and Vitaly Petrov both improved their positions, finishing seventh and ninth respectively, and ensuring that Force India and Renault would not leave the track empty-handed. Finally Pastor Maldonado of Williams took his first Championship point. His achievement is notable in light of the penalty he received for intentional bumping into Lewis Hamilton at the end of Q2 yesterday (as revenge for Hamilton over-taking and making contact with him in the final corner).

Golden Pineapple Award

Paul Di Resta drove a pathetically bad qualifying yesterday in uneven conditions and wasn’t able to improve his standings significantly. Let’s see if the Scottish rookie can improve himself for the Italian Grand Prix.

Drop-out count: 5

There were plenty of collisions that ruined certain drivers’ results, but somewhat surprisingly on two drivers had to retire because of it. Jaime Alguersuari and Bruno Senna bumped heads together leading to the former’s retirement. Sebastian Buemi’s rear-wing also broke which is probably the reason for his retirement. The retirements were most unfortunate in light of Toro Rosso’s impressive speed in the qualifying, especially Alguersuari’s.

On lap-13, Kamui Kobayashi bumped the back of Lewis Hamilton’s car, sending him spinning to the edge of the track. Kobayashi unfortunately ruined his own impressive drive as a result.

Finally, Hispania’s Daniel Ricciardo and Sauber’s Sergio Perez were forced to retire, most likely due to technical difficulties. Perez drove a good qualifying so it’s unfortunate he couldn’t finish the race.

Back of the Lot News:

Lots of drivers lost good standings in the qualifying to crashes in the first turn of the Spa Circuit. Particularly Bruno Senna, who replaced Nick Heidfeld at Renault, drove an impressive qualifying but due to ramming into Alguersuari’s Toro Rosso fell to the back of the lot and only managed a weak 13th place. Kamui Kobayashi made an impressive rise from the back of the lot and even drove in the top-5 at one point, until he rammed Hamilton off-road and had to make an extra pit-stop. Rubens Barrichello was also driving for points but something happened that dropped him to 16th behind the Lotus cars.

Heikki Kovalainen had his best qualifying of the season by making it to Q2 yesterday, but like many others lost positions at the start. However, Kovalainen eventually passed the Hispanias and the Virgins but couldn’t beat his team-mate who also finished his highest position this year at 14th, with Kovalainen right behind him.

Virgin and HRT had a lousy time in Spa. Both team’s failed to pass the 107% rule, although had good enough times in practice to allow them to compete. Liuzzi was last with D’Ambrosio and Glock ahead of him. Glock finished behind D’Ambrosio due to a drive-through penalty at the start.