Life certainly isn’t a box of Belgian chocolates for the likes of Jenson Button, Fernando Alonso, and Sebastian Vettel after the Belgian grand prix at the sublime Spa circuit. Three championship contenders came home with nothing, whereas Lewis Hamilton and Mark Webber were only too happy to lap up the points as they head up this year’s championship.
At number 1 it has to be the one and only, Spa. It certainly lived up to its name yesterday as the rain intermittently drenched the famous Belgian circuit. Emerging from the month-long August F1-holiday, you can always rely on the cold, wet, brilliant Spa circuit to product some pure racing “magic”, in the words of BBC pundit Eddie Jordan.
Sure, there were occasional lulls in the race, but the track itself is stunning, so who cares? Plus it’s a handy moment for putting the kettle on. It’s the longest circuit on the calendar, and therefore the least repetitive. The many undulations and elevations in the track are what make Spa so good. Television simply doesn’t do justice to this gem of a circuit.
Unfortunately, however, this provided BBC commentator Jonathan Legard the opportunity to come out with some of his favourite Legardisms: “Up the hill!” “Down the hill!” Where’s the mute button when you need it?
The top step on the podium, and number 2 on the Badgerometer for Lewis Hamilton! Despite all the odds, and 44 long laps, Lewis took a decisive win at Spa. There aren’t many drivers who can retain the lead when the conditions are so changeable, the other cars are spinning and crashing around you, there are two safety cars, very little grip in the wet … and then end up leading the Drivers’ Championship. Not bad for a day’s work.
At three it’s the McLaren pit crew! Faultlessly-fast pit stops for the winning driver Lewis Hamilton, and an amusingly intimidating moment in the pit lane during Sebastian Vettel’s drive-through penalty. As Vettel served his punishment the McLaren crew were waiting for him in the pit lane, arms crossed, lined up outside Jenson’s pit garage, just giving him the evils.
It serves as a reminder of the gravity of the consequences for Jenson Button, who was looking good for a 2nd place finish, but now walks away with ‘nil points’.
At four it’s Robert Kubica, or Bobby K as we fondly refer to him here at Badger. A place on the podium after a so-so start, a solid drive, and a pit lane incident. “I got distracted” Bobby said of the pit-stop mistake which saw him over-shooting the pit box. With Kubica finishing 3rd, and Petrov 9th, perhaps it’s a Renault-Renaissance as we plough towards the end of the season?
At 5 it’s poor old Jenson Button. A great opening lap despite Mark Webber’s slug-like start just ahead, and Button started to settle down into a slightly precarious 2nd place. Then BAM!, CRASH!, out of nowhere comes Sebastian Vettel to dash all hope of a McLaren 1-2. On the upside, the current World Champion’s vocabulary is suddenly burgeoning as his fortunes in this year’s championship begin to slide.
In the post-race BBC forum Jenson used the words “languishing”, and “forte”. Who knew drivers could be so eloquent in the face of defeat? How very British.
Somewhat predictably, I’m pretty miffed with Sebastian Vettel. With an incident count of at least 3 during the race, it cannot be just coincidence and poor weather to blame. Everyone in the paddock sees him as ‘boy wonder’, but perhaps that’s actually a bad thing? Under pressure Vettel seems to revert to reckless childish driving. The lad’s got some growing up to do before he dashes anymore championship hopes. “He’s still learning” admitted Red Bull boss Christian Horner, somewhat tellingly.