The epic Belgian GP is over for another year, and what a race it turned out to be! The front man may have run away with it, and very little was seen of Danny Ric during the afternoon, but after start line chaos, high-speed dicing, a helluva wreck at Raidillon and a red flag, there are plenty of talking points from the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps.
We thought it would be awful nice if someone compiled them (as we have done for several years, actually!) so here they are – our top talking points from Spa.
As you’re no doubt aware, we’re very fond of Max Verstappen here at Badger. So too were a great deal of the crowd in Belgium, as Daniel Ricciardo noted:
<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet” data-lang=”en-gb”><p lang=”en” dir=”ltr”>Managed to spot about 5 Aussie flags in the sea of Orange on the drivers parade. This ones for you 5 🇦🇺😜</p>— Daniel Ricciardo (@danielricciardo) <a href=”https://twitter.com/danielricciardo/status/769851315774222337″>28 August 2016</a></blockquote>
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Therefore it was a shame that he drove the way he did at the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps. The first corner collision can be forgiven a little because La Source is a notoriously tight corner, and starting on the side of the grid that puts you on the inside of the corner is not ideal because cars on the outside are aiming to sweep across the apex as if it’s a normal racing lap.
The short run to the first corner means that cars rarely get into single-file for turn 1. Contact is usually a foregone conclusion. However, Verstappen’s treatment of the situation, for once, shows his immaturity. He said over team radio that the Ferraris turned into him (which would be true, if he had renamed himself La Source) and that they ruined his race.
While I can understand the frustration of finishing 11th after such a sublime qualifying lap, his poor start put him in a position where he was in the melee at Turn 1. I can’t say for sure if he gave as much space as he could, because as mentioned, La Source is very tight, but three into one is never going to work there.
Damaged floor or not, his moves along the Kemmel Straight later in the race were absolutely unacceptable. Kimi Raikkonen quite rightly vented his frustration as he jinked his car around on the fastest part of the circuit, and I tensed up as I saw the move, fearing a colossal incident. He was overly-aggressive while defending (from Raikkonen again) in Hungary, which is a much slower track, so he had better change his ways for super-fast Monza.
In all probability, Max will take a day to reflect and come back with his race craft back intact, and we’re looking forward to that.
A crash of great MAGnitude
After the first lap chaos, Renault F1 Team found itself in the excellent position of being 7th and 8th, with big JP and K-Mag line astern, but on Lap 8 the latter bottomed out when cresting one of the most fearsome of all F1 corners; Raidillon.
The result was plain to see. As Magnussen counter-steered into the slide, the front tyres suddenly found a lot more grip than he was hoping to receive, and he obliterated the tyre barrier. The crash was so violent that it ripped the head restraint away from behind him, and once the car was extricated from the site it was barely recognisable.
Thanks to the strength of modern F1 cars, Kev was able to extract himself from the car unaided, although he was seen limping whilst escorted by the stewards. He was taken to the local hospital as a precaution, but it was revealed that he had suffered a cut to his ankle, and will be able to race in Monza.
It marked the second red flag of the year, and the first in Spa for 15 years when the 2001 race was suspended due to a hefty smash for Luciano Burti and Eddie Irvine at Blanchimont.
NB: we’re not putting this in our Top 5 because we think crashes are cool or anything like that; the Top 5 has always been the five things that got us talking!
Started from the bottom; now we here
Three new engines made for a 55 place grid penalty for Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton, and so he started from the very back of the grid. As too did Fernando Alonso, whose car gave up during Q1 before he could even set a time.
The former teammates were used to sharing the front row back in 2007, but the back row was a very rare sight for either.
Thanks to some solid driving, and some opportunism amid the first corner chaos and Magnussen’s huge shunt, both drivers were able to chew their way through the field at alarming rates. Hamilton actually only made five on-track overtaking manoeuvres, taking the edge off his 20th-3rd race (remember, ALO started behind HAM, and ERI started in the pits), but it’s a testament to the car and the driver that they were able to limit the damage to what could have been a much tougher race.
Fernando Alonso was the sole surviving McLaren after Jenson Button retired after just a handful of laps, so P7 was a colossal result considering the setbacks of the weekends. It’s also a great barometer of the team’s progress in the last 12 months; last year’s race included both cars getting lapped, this year, a good haul of points was the reward.
Shoey Part two(ey)
Mark Webber and Daniel Ricciardo proved for once and for all that F1 should never EVER be without an Aussie or two. What sets Danny Ric apart from the other drivers is that while he’s immensely quick, he’s also totally bonkers and loves to have a laugh.
Never has this been better demonstrated than when he casually filled up his Puma racing boot whilst podium interviewer Mark Webber was talking to race winner Nico Rosberg, so as to present it to his compatriot when he came over to talk to him.
Though reluctant at first, the C4F1 pundit took a hearty gulp of Ricciardo sweat and sparkling wine, providing perhaps the most fun (and slightly gross) photo opportunity of the season:
A Force to be reckoned with
The little team that could, Force India, proved itself capable of mixing it with the big boys back in 2009. Giancarlo Fisichella took an unthinkable pole position in Belgium and followed it up with a solid eight points after trailing Kimi Raikkonen for the entire race. The team still finished second-last in the constructors’ standings that year, but it laid down a marker for what was to come – serious speed on a budget.
Flash forward seven years, through five podiums, four fastest laps and six drivers, and the team has done something perhaps even more unthinkable; overtaken world-beating Williams F1 Team in the constructors’ championship.
When I first heard in 2007 that Jordan/Midland/Spyker had been sold to a fourth different owner in as many years, I initially thought that it would soon become a fifth, with the team changing hands faster than a professional glove tester.
Largely, the 2008 season did little to change my mind, but after that glimmer of speed in 2009 and some steady building years thereafter, I took an interest. I bloody love an underdog I do.
Now, Force India are THE up-and-coming team, with two of the best racing drivers on the planet. Sergio Perez has been hailed as the key to the driver market this year, but in all honesty, why would he move? Monza could prove a very real podium opportunity for the happy little team from Silverstone, and with other low-downforce tracks like Malaysia, Mexico and Brazil on the horizon, it could prove an excellent end to the season.
Much like the Jordan team that preceded it, Force India operate on a vastly smaller budget than many around them, but still deliver speed every now and then, as well as a bit of eccentricity and above all, fun. Can the team go one better in 2017 and clinch third, or maybe even win a race in the next few years? However unlikely it seems, always remember that Bernie Ecclestone was the son of a fisherman. Anything is possible!