Time for part two of our look through of who was hot, and who was not, at Spa Francorchamps – focusing on the midfield pack, known as the Chasing Dogs.

Force India

  • Adrian Sutil – Quali: 15th, Race: 7th
  • Paul di Resta – Quali: 18th, Race: 11th

Probably now the fastest mid-grid team, Force India were in the points again at Spa, where Adrian Sutil recorded his fifth top-ten finish of the season.

sutilCredit where it’s due, the German has risen to the early-season challenge posed by Paul di Resta with real quality and is making Nico Hulkenberg’s expected progression to a race seat with the team look less likely by the weekend. Okay, so he shunted in Q2 – meaning it was not a perfect performance – but he drove a steady race to seventh, upping his championship tally to 24 – 16 more than his young team-mate.

Paul meanwhile had a weekend to forget. Out in Q1, his race was wrecked at turn one by Timo Glock’s Mario Kart-style driving. With a damaged car he was never going to have an easy day and actually did rather well to make it home just one place outside the points. Di Resta still doing a solid job and he’s still learning, but there’s little doubt that Sutil has reclaimed Top Dog status at Force India.

As for the team, they must be feeling a bit sick about their slow start to the campaign: if they’d performed better from the off they’d probably be challenging Renault for fifth in the constructors’ championship by now. Ah well.

Badger’s Best: Sutil

Renault

  • Bruno Senna – Quali: 7th, Race: 13th
  • Vitaly Petrov – Quali: 10th, Race 9th

Odd times at Renault, who rocked up in Belgium with two pay drivers as if there was nothing strange at all about it. Meanwhile the sacked Nick Heidfeld was hanging around in his Renault team gear. We half expected him to start serenading Eric Boullier outside the Frenchman’s window like a lovelorn youth, perhaps even hiring a mariachi band to aide his efforts. You’d pay to see that, wouldn’t you?

petrovIn came Bruno Senna, who did an admirable job in qualifying to start seventh on the grid. Hats doffed, we were suitably impressed. However that all went carbon-fibre-crunchingly wrong just a few seconds in to the race when he decided that slamming in to Jaime Alguersuari was a better way to slow for La Source than using his brakes. Next time we reckon he’ll choose to engage his left foot. Anyway, that ruined his grand prix as crash damage and a subsequent drive-through put him too far down the order to fight for points. Promise has been shown, but in Monza he needs to finish in the top ten.

Meanwhile Vitaly Petrov is still on board, despite having scored less points pre-Belgium than the departed Heidfeld. If we weren’t so cynical we’d wonder how that had happened. More worryingly than that Petrov is now effective team leader at Renault. Twilight Zone stuff.

In the event Vitaly was out-qualified by Senna, which is a poor reflection on the Russian. In the race he seemed to escape unscathed but hardly displayed what you’d call stellar pace, coming home ninth. Yes he’s the pick of the pair by dint of not hammering people in turn one, but he’s also no Robert Kubica. Worse than that: he’s not even an Adrian Sutil.

Badger’s Best: Petrov

Williams

  • Rubens Barrichello – Quali: 14th, Race: 16th
  • Pastor Maldonado – Quali: 16th, Race: 10th

maldano

It’s hard to know what’s happening with Rubens this year, being as the team have turned him in to some sort of mad, over-worked guinea pig for the 2012 car. He qualified an average 14th but endured something of an incident-packed race, clashing with Kamui Kobayashi at the final chicane to eventually finish down in 16th, behind both Lotus cars. Ouch.

Ah, Pastor Maldonado. We’ve always know the Venezuelan was a bit mad, but he proved beyond all doubt that he is certifiably bonkers by veering at Lewis Hamilton in qualifying. We weren’t massively surprised by his behaviour, just disappointed. We’d have preferred he’d attempted to clout Hamilton, not because Lewis deserved it but because that would have been a far more responsible way to air his grievances. And there’s not much responsible about clouting people.

From the stupid to the solid, Pastor then pulled his best result (but not drive – that was Monaco) of the season out of the bag on Sunday with a steady run to tenth. Duck broken, qualifying madness behind him, Maldonado needs to get a few more of these in before the season’s out. Not that he’d lose his drive if he didn’t but, y’know, it’d be good for keeping him calm.

Badger’s Best: Maldonado

Sauber

  • Kamui Kobayashi – Quali: 12th, Race: 12th
  • Sergio Perez – Quali: 9th, Race: DNF

Belgium became another pointless race for Sauber, despite plenty of promise in qualifying and during the early stages of the race.

perezSergio Perez out-qualified Kamui Kobayashi again, the Mexican lining up an impressive P9 whilst Kamui was a muted 12th. One-lap pace is still an area in need of work for the Japanese racer.

Perez’s race was ruined when he slammed in to the back of Buemi’s Toro Rosso, an incident for which both men have blamed each other. The Mexican later took a drive-through, ran around mid-pack and eventually called it a day on lap 27. Not the finest display of his rookie career.

We’re not going to get in to a debate about the Kobayashi-Hamilton incident but it was, frankly, a bit thick on the part of both men and Kamui was lucky he didn’t end up in the wall too. It’s always the case when racing drivers overtake – one is right, one is wrong, both don’t want to admit who’s the latter. But looking at KK’s track record, he was a problem for cars in Hungary, and in Spa he was hit by Barrichello and Hamilton in the same afternoon’s racing. All he managed to do this weekend was tarnish his reputation as a promising driver.

Badger’s Best: Perez

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