There was first corner carnage at the Belgian GP- has the summer break made the drivers a tad rusty?
I’d have put good money on Max Verstappen leading into Turn 1.
Instead, he looked as though he was in reverse in the run down to the first corner, and found himself alongside Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel. Some clumsy moves from Verstappen and Vettel resulted in race-ruining damage and spins.
Jenson Button made a good start, as did Pascal Wehrlein on the back of another spectacular qualifying effort. However the young German rear-ended the Brit in the opening stages of the race, and both subsequently retired.
All this played nicely into the hands of Hamilton and Alonso, who started on the last row of the grid thanks to their 60-place grid penalties. Hamilton said prior to the race he’d be happy to make it into the top-ten, so he must have been ecstatic to be in 5th when the race was red-flagged on lap 10.
Max Verstappen – over the maximum?
Rumour has it there was a recent GPDA meeting where Verstappen’s race craft was discussed at length.
The young Dutchman is capable of pulling off spectacular overtaking moves, however recently his defensive driving has been called into question.
Though Nico Rosberg was found to be at fault in Hungary, some said that Verstappen moved under braking – a big no-no in the drivers’ code of conduct.
He found himself in more controversy on Sunday in Belgium with stalwart Kimi Raikkonen, changing his line at the top of blind corner, Eau Rouge.
Team boss Christian Horner told Channel 4, “For me that was on the limit. The stewards were happy with that so that’s fine with us.”
However Kimi Raikkonen saw it differently.
“I’m all up for a fair battle and close racing but when I have to back off and break to not hit him, that is not correct. I was close to a big accident,” he told Sky Sports.
“If I have to break with full speed, I don’t have that with any other driver so something is not correct.
Strong shows from Force India and Alonso
Nico Hulkenberg was running in second and third early on in the race, and had the race not been neutralised by the red flag might have had a better shot of finally claiming his first F1 podium finish. Ultimately he matched his best ever finish in 4th, with teammate Perez just behind in 5th.
The result today moves them a point ahead of Williams in the Constructors’ Championship and into fourth place.
Fernando Alonso started in 21st and was still ahead of Hamilton in 4th place by lap 10. He held off many other stronger cars for much of the race and finished in 7th place.
It’s difficult to choose a driver of the day, but for my money it’s between Hulkenberg and Alonso for some spectacular drives.
Incredible debut by Esteban Ocon
He was outshined by his teammate in qualifying but Esteban Ocon kept his head down and his nose clean in a race filled with carnage.
The future of F1 is certainly bright – the upcoming Ocon/Wehrlein/Vandoorne battle may well go down in history as one of the greats.
2016 Belgian GP results
- Nico Rosberg MERCEDES AMG
- Daniel Ricciardo RED BULL
- Lewis Hamilton MERCEDES AMG
- Nico Hulkenberg FORCE INDIA
- Sergio Perez FORCE INDIA
- Sebastian Vettel FERRARI
- Fernando Alonso MCLAREN
- Valtteri Bottas WILLIAMS
- Kimi Raikkonen FERRARI
- Felipe Massa WILLIAMS
- Max Verstappen RED BULL
- Esteban Gutierrez HAAS
- Romain Grosjean HAAS
- Danill Kvyat TORO ROSSO
- Jolyon Palmer RENAULT
- Esteban Ocon MANOR
- Felipe Nasr SAUBER
Retired: Kevin Magnussen RENAULT, Marcus Ericsson SAUBER, Carlos Sainz TORO ROSSO, Jenson Button MCLAREN, Pascal Wehrlein MANOR
The Italian GP takes place on 5th September.