As predicted by most F1 pundits and fans alike, Mercedes claimed a 1 – 2 finish at Spa Francorchamps with Lewis Hamilton leading the duo home; again as expected by most, Nico Rosberg is most definitely #2 in the Mercedes camp. Meanwhile Romain Grosjean claimed the final podium position for cash-strapped Lotus, a great result for everyone back at Enstone, even with Maldonado retiring with clutch failure.
Although it didn’t go all Mercedes way, Rosberg had an issue with his clutch overheating off the start dropping him back to as far as sixth place behind Sergio Perez, Daniel Ricciardo, Valteri Bottas and Sebastian Vettel before recovering to fourth by the end of the lap. Despite his good start, Bottas found himself moving backwards, first being overtaken by Rosberg, then Vettel and Grosjean before lap 10.
Toro Rosso’s Max Vestappen once again added some excitement to the race with a spectacular overtake around the outside of Blanchimont on lap 11, completing the move on the brakes into the chicane to demote Ericsson a place. And again on the final lap, making a challenge for seventh place into Les Combes against Kimi Raikkonen, but couldn’t quite make the apex of the corner to make the move stick.
Williams had a poor race overall, I believe they went too conservative on the wing configuration which made the FW37 slower than the Red Bull, Lotus and Ferrari on the straights and fast sweeping turns. Then Williams made a bizare mistake putting 3 prime tyres and 1 option tyre on Bottas’ car in the first stop, which cost him and Williams points as the Finn served a drive-through penalty for the infraction.
Ferrari gambled with a one stop strategy while other teams ran two or three stop strategies and it almost paid off; but Vettel’s right rear tyre failed coming out of Eau Rogue onto the Kemmel Straight on the penultimate lap. This failure gifted Lotus their first podium of the season with Grosjean right there to take advantage. Vettel eventually finished the race out of the points after recovering to the pits for new tyres.
Red Bull had a mixed race, Ricciardo was looking good for fourth, which would have become third with Vettel’s issues, but his car ground to a halt with an electrical failure on the main straight. Meanwhile Red Bull choose to gamble on changing Kvyat to a brand new set of soft tyres with 14 laps remaining and the Russian finished the race in 4th place after several overtakes while also benefited from Vettel’s blowout!
Force India will be ruing missed opportunities as Nico Hulkenberg failed to take the start with power unit issues. But Perez made the best of it claiming fifth place and ran as high as second place in the first stint before being jumped by Vettel in the pit-stops and later being overtaken by the faster Lotus and Red Bull.
Jenson Button called McLaren Honda “Embarrassing” and no-one could disagree. Honda promised a big boost in performance at Spa and it failed to deliver. I believe Ron Dennis made a poor decision in reuniting with Honda who had been out of the sport for many years and bringing Honda back into F1 a year earlier than originally planned has embarrassed McLaren and Honda, Dennis has to take the blame.
After the race, Ferrari’s Vettel went on a tirade against Pirelli. Going onto say “…if this accident happens 200 meters earlier I certainly would have hit the wall.” Bottom line here is that Ferrari gambled on a one stop strategy, it didn’t work. Pirelli’s Paul Hembury said that he believes Ferrari pushed the tyre too hard.
In my view, Vettel needs to stop bleating about the safety of the tyre, grow a set of balls and go about his business. F1 is a dangerous sport and frankly F1 is at it’s safest right now, but any form of motorsport has it’s inherent dangers. If Vettel can not deal with that danger, maybe it’s time he took his leave from F1?
Overall, the race went as expected with another Mercedes 1 – 2 finish, but many would never have predicted that Lotus would be on the podium, not to say seeing “RoGro” on the podium displeased me. Most would have expected it to be Williams that were best of the rest given their normally slippery car, but today, they changed tack going for a higher downforce setup and made yet another pit-stop blunder.
2015 Belgian Grand Prix Results
1. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) 1:23:40.387
2. Nico Rosberg (Mercedes) +0:02.058
3. Romain Grosjean (Lotus) +0:37.988
4. Daniil Kvyat (Red Bull) +0:45.692
5. Sergio Perez (Force India) +0:53.997
6. Felipe Massa (Williams) +0:55.283
7. Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari) +0:55.703
8. Max Vestappen (Toro Rosso) +0:56.076
9. Valteri Bottas (Williams) +1:01.040
10. Marcus Ericsson (Sauber) +1:31.234