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Have McLaren fixed themselves?

There was a strange bit of footage from Friday practice that the BBC showed during the opening moments. When asked by reporters what his expectations for Belgium were, Jenson Button responded with “a podium”, which led the man with the microphone to blurt back, surprised, with “a PODIUM?”. That’s how far everyone’s expectations of the team, and Button, have fallen in 2012.

Qualifying could have gone better, but 6th was still a good result for the Brit. The real fun came in the race.

Did anyone really think that we’d see him fighting for 3rd early on in the race? Or to finish only 13 seconds off 3rd-placed-man Lewis Hamilton at the end?

McLaren have made improvements and it’s paying off. Despite Sergio Perez’s troubles in the race – a penalty? Really? – Jenson is still staying positive, and started and finishing 6th in Spa will only build on that.

It’s been a tough season, but there’s light at the end of the tunnel. Roll on 2014.

Photo: Vodafone McLaren Mercedes
Photo: Vodafone McLaren Mercedes

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Greenpeace steal some of the spotlight.

A lot of fuss was made at the podium ceremony of Greenpeace’s little display of anti-Shell propaganda. And rightly so – Sebastian Vettel didn’t know whether he was being booed or not.

Any statement made through appearing on a F1 broadcast (there’s been a few throughout the years) shouldn’t be taken lightly, obviously, but also it’s worth saying there’s a time and a place.

Banners, abseilers, remote-controlled everything, did the task in hand. It embarrassed Shell on a grand stage. But it was equivalent of a streaker at a football match, if you look at it objectively.

Lets all just leave the political arguments to those who do it best; everyone involved with Formula One.

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This picture

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That is all.

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Silly season rumbles on

Can anyone remember a driver market full of rumour like this current one? Every driver without an iron-clad contract for 2014 has been linked with any and every team. The man with the most focus has to be Kimi Raikkonen though. It’s insane.

It’s ironic that the Finn, whose consistency in the Lotus is the reason why he’s in so high a demand, retired from the race on Sunday. It was the icing on the cake of a weekend where talk of his future dominated anything he achieved on track.

Let’s just recap the last few weeks in regards where Kimi might be driving in 2014, shall we?

Firstly it came to light from his manager that talks with Red Bull had broken down. Then he was sensationally linked with a return to Ferrari. Then Christian Horner stated he wasn’t out of the Red Bull running, while Lotus are more than confident that he’ll stay. Not to mention the fact that McLaren were in talks with him for a seat last season too.

Got that all?

We all love the rumours, but it’s getting a bit silly now. Let’s get some signatures on contracts and be done with it all. And stop leading Daniel Ricciardo on – he’ll lose his smile.

Raikkonen was a man in demand at Spa - Photo: Lotus F1/LAT
Raikkonen was a man in demand at Spa – Photo: Lotus F1/LAT

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Vettel and Alonso showed their class.

Yes, we know the race was boring from start to finish, and most of that was down to the fact Sebastian Vettel ran away with it with ease. But let’s look at it from another perspective – he showed just how much talent he has when it comes to driving when out in front.

He’s been doing it years and has three World Titles because of it, and while some of it can be attributed to him being in the best car on the grid for 4-and-a-half seasons, so has Mark Webber. And he’s only won 9 races (insert all conspiracy theories here).

Put Vettel in clean air and he strings a set of laps together that are awesome. Both himself and the team knew that the first section of the circuit – out of La Source and all the way to Les Combes – was the key to securing the best lap time. Saving all the KERS for that point of the lap gave him the edge needed straight away to jump Hamilton and from then Seb put a stint that put him firmly in the driving seat for the rest of the afternoon. The German drives at maximum speed not only on Saturday, but for the first quarter of a Sunday too.

Then there’s the other side of the scale, and how to drive with obstacles in the way. That’s where Fernando Alonso is strongest. The first lap at Spa may have been one of his best, because it gave him the track position needed to move himself up the grid through pitstops. The data the Spaniard processes while trying to drive an F1 car at over 180mph – while taking it in through no less than three languages – is simply outstanding, all in a car that is always regarded as being adequate at best.

And that’s what makes them such great rivals – they’re opposite ends of a spectrum. Each have their critics and perceived weaknesses, but they are providing the fascinating narrative through the season.

Awesome stuff.

Photo: Red Bull Racing Media
Photo: Red Bull Racing Media