Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Five week break and back in to the foray...

The Belgian Grand Prix started with a big smash, a common occurrance at the hugely exciting Spa Francorchamps circuit. Controversy surrounded the blame game, regarding the crash at the first corner, which saw two of the main title fighters prematurely taken out of the running. I think that after all had been said and done, and all angles had been looked at, the accident should have been put down to a racing incident. However, that wasn't the view of the officials, who have now penalised Grosjean, far too harshly in my opinion, by banning him from the next race. The resultant pile up was massive, but the original contact was fairly innocuous and was arguably a complete accident. I can't help thinking that drivers like Lewis Hamilton, who feel that they deserve to be at the front of the field, are often reluctant to ease off and concede position and in this instance it led to two cars making significant contact.

The main thing was that nobody was injured and, once again, Formula One safety regulations kept all the drivers out of harm's way. As somebody who knows a few F1 drivers personally, my heart is always in my throat when an incident like this occurs and I find myself praying, as the cars spin through the air and bounce over each other, that they don't flip over or catch a driver's head as they leap over a nose cone. Safety prevailed and we have to be thankful for that and, I have to admit, it's difficult to deny the excitement of an incident of this nature.

As to the victory, Jenson Button ran a fantastic race; faultless and composed. Sebastien Vettel also ran a splendid race, to take second place, coming from all the way down in ninth and driving a Red Bull car that looked completely unbalanced in the opening stages. In fact, both Mark Webber and Vettel looked unfeasibly good in the corners, whilst being incomprehensibly slow in a straight line. Webber seemed unable to pass the Williams of Bruno Senna, even with DRS, despite catching up at a scary rate in the winding parts of the circuit. Michael Schumacher was up to his old tricks again. He has a knack of taking his racing right up to the edge of the rule boundaries, whilst being well over the line of sportsmanship. In a situation where I felt Michael should have eased off and allowed Sebastien Vettel to pass him at the bus stop chicane, since Michael himself was pitting, he instead managed to get himself the wrong side of Vettel and nearly caused an accident. Sebastien was forced to drive almost straight through Schuey's Mercedes.

Interestingly, tyre wear didn't play as much of a part this weekend as at other Grands Prix. Perhaps during the five week break the teams used their opportunity to research and look in to the existing telemetry regarding the tyres, to try to improve their approach to dealing with the issues. Some of the drivers were able to preserve their tyres and utilise a one stop strategy, without finding themselves falling back in to the clutches of drivers on fresher rubber. Is this a sign that teams are truly coming to terms with the difficult Pirellis, or was it just the circuit and we can expect to see things becoming chaotic and unpredictable again in the remaining races?

Alonso's early exit meant he was unable to protect his World Championship lead. Fortunately for him, it still remains, however Vettel was able to eat in to that lead in Belgium and Button made steps towards keeping in touch with the fight at the top.

I think I speak for everyone when I say "welcome back to our Sundays, Formula One!"