Kimi Raikkonen edges Giancarlo Fisichella for win (Belgian Grand Prix review)

Kimi Raikkonen had Giancarlo Fisichella in his mirrors for most of the race

Kimi Raikkonen had Giancarlo Fisichella in his mirrors for most of the race

Kimi Raikkonen ended a 26-race losing streak by winning the Belgian Grand Prix for the fourth time in his career.

Surprisingly Raikkonen’s closest contender wasn’t in a Brawn or a Red Bull or even a McLaren – he was chased around every lap of Spa by Giancarlo Fisichella.

The Italian, now tipped to join Raikkonen in Ferrari at Monza, finished second for Force India.

If Fisichella’s pole position on Saturday was a shock, his consistent race pace on Sunday was utterly incredible – and very timely.

Ferrari’s Luca Badoer brought up the rear of the field, finishing 47 seconds behind the next finisher. It inconceivable Ferrari could tolerate another race with this kind of performance, and Italian television channel RAI is already claiming Fisichella will be in the car at Monza.

First-lap shunt eliminates Button

As the race got started Fisichella preserved the lead and didn’t look like losing it. From sixth on the grid Raikkonen elected to use the tarmac run-off area on the outside of turn one to avoid getting held up by other cars. He re-joined the track in third, sprinted through Eau Rouge and picked off Robert Kubica at the top of the hill.

He arrived at Les Combes going quickly he couldn’t stop in time, and bumped along the kerbing around the outside of the track. Kubica took evasive action but couldn’t avoid tagging the back of the Ferrari, breaking his front wing end plate.

Jarno Trulli, who started second, also damaged his front wing, but the real carnage kicked off behind them.

Jenson Button made a clean start from 14th and took a look at the outside of Heikki Kovalainen heading into the corner. Suddenly Renault’s Romain Grosjean charged in, tipping Button into a spin.

As their cars headed for the barriers Lewis Hamilton – who had started slowly and picked up some damage at La Source – slowed down to avoid the wrecked cars and got hit by Jaime Alguersuari. All four cars were eliminated.

After the race the stewards consulted the video replays but elected not to punish anyone.

Read more: Belgian Grand Prix start crash (Video)

Raikkonen seizes the initiative

The crash also had repercussions for the leaders. Fisichella had enough of a lead over Raikkonen not to be troubled by the Ferrari’s KERS – but the arrival of the safety car wiped it away.

Sure enough, Fisichella was a sitting duck at the restart on lap four. Raikkonen, one of few drivers to have started on soft tyres, breezed past him on the straight.

Fisichella lost little ground to Raikkonen in the opening stint. Behind them came Kubica, battling on despite his front wing damage, Timo Glock, Mark Webber and Nick Heidfeld.

Sebastian Vettel appeared in seventh shortly after the safety car came in, after apparently being allowed past by Nico Rosberg. Vettel had complained Rosberg had passed him illegally under yellow flags. Had race control got involved again as they did at Valencia?

Barrichello battles through the field

Rubens Barrichello began his recovery from a disastrous start. Just like at Melbourne and Istanbul, the brawn had bogged down badly at the start and he was lucky to avoid being hit. As the race resumed he moved up to 13th by passing Luca Badoer.

The second Ferrari was, once again, a long way off the pace. Adrian Sutil, who’d been to the pits after the first lap, went clean off the track in order to get around Badoer on lap eight.

Robert Kubica and Timo Glock were the first of the leaders to pit on lap 12. Toyota brimmed Glock up with enough fuel for 20 of Spa’s long laps, keeping him in the pits five seconds longer than Kubica. After that Glock plummeted down the order and never looked like making it back into the points.

Jarno Trulli retired a few laps later – and so, having qualified second and seventh, Toyota contrived to get absolutely nothing out of the Belgian Grand Prix.

Raikkonen and Fisichella came in together on lap 14 – Raikkonen had started with more fuel, so either Ferrair had chosen to bring him in early (unlikely) or Fisichella had done a better job of saving fuel during the safety car period. The Force India driver switched onto the soft tyres, and continued his pursuit.

In hindsight, if Force India had given him a splash more fuel than Raikkonen at this point, Fisichella could have won the race. But it wasn’t to be.

Problems in the pits

Heidfeld and Webber came in on the same lap, and for the second race in a row Red Bull cut it very fine when releasing Webber from his pit box. This time Heidfeld had to get off the throttle to avoid contact, and the stewards wasted no time in handing down a drive-through penalty.

But Heidfeld took care of matters himself, passing Webber at Les Combes. The Red Bull driver then fell into the clutches of Barrichello, who bravely blasted around the outside of Webber and Blanchimont.

Webber served his drive-through penalty on lap 18, just as Rosberg was making his first pit stop and surrendering the lead he’d inherited.

Another team having trouble in the pits was Renault – again. They struggled to replace Fernando Alonso’s front-left wheel as the fairing had been damaged in contact on lap one. Not wishing to incur a repeat of their Hungary penalty, the team kept Alonso back while they made sure the wheel went on, and shortly summoned him back to the pits after letting him out. He was the sixth and last retirement of the day.

On lap 31 the two leaders came into the pits together for the final time – and once again left with Raikkonen ahead of Fisichella. Though he surely could have lapped quicker than the Ferrari had he been ahead, Raikkonen was able to use his KERS button at the start of the straights to ensure Fisichella couldn’t get close.

Vettel made his final stop on lap 35, leap-frogging Kubica for third – and then began closing on the leaders. But once it became clear he wasn’t going to catch them he prudently turned the revs down, as he’s already on his seventh unit out of eight.

Barrichello’s Brawn blows

That decided the podium, and the BMWs of Kubica and Heidfeld behind were settled in fourth and fifth. Kovalainen briefly came under threat from Barrichello, until the Brawn’s Mercedes engine began spewing oil. Barrichello backed off and managed to coax the car to the chequered flag, impressively without losing a place – although his engine cover caught fire after he got back to the pits.

Rosberg held onto eighth ahead of Webber, who finished a point-less ninth for the second race in a row. He has fallen back behind his team mate in the drivers’ championship and lies fourth.

Glock finished tenth ahead of Sutil, 42 seconds behind team mate Fisichella, after his early pit stop plus a spin at Fagnes.

The final classified runners were Sebastien Buemi, Kazuki Nakajima and Badoer – the latter 47.9s behind the rest of the field, and surely not likely to reappear in a Ferrari in two weeks’ time.

Who will be Raikkonen’s team mate at Monza? Ferrari are expected to decide tomorrow.

Read more: Belgian Grand Prix race result

Driver of the day

I can’t pick anyone other than Giancarlo Fisichella for driver of the day. He thrived on the new-found pace of the Force India, reminding us all of those days when everyone thought of him as the great up-and-comer with so much untapped potential. A win only passed him by because of the safety car period at the start, after which he was never going to keep Raikkonen at bay.

Raikkonen and Rosberg must get honourable mentions, however. Both are in excellent veins of form – particularly Rosberg, who dragged his car into Q3 and rode his luck to grab a point. Here’s who you picked on Twitter:

lacanta – If you haven’t gathered from my twitters so far this afternoon, I’m nominating Fisichella as Driver of the Day! Yippee!
hashsport – Vettel
GittleBos – Giancarlo Fisichella. Of course. Time to eat a potato pizza in his honour (that’s his favourite)!
BaburM – kimmmmaayyyyy!
MarkF1 – Fisichella as it is the best race he as driven in years.
reeley – Giancarlo Fisichella the driver of the race for me.
therealtopper – probably fisichella
alboreto – Fisi of course.
fwon – I do think Fisichella was the driver of the race. Perhaps he should of won, but he competed with Kimi for the whole race
mum_zee – can only be one driver – Fisico
formula1fran – I think I have to say Fisi. Thrilled Kimi won, but Fisi worked harder I think. Never felt so sorry for 2nd place finisher!
Mikee87 – Driver of the race has got to be Bernd Mayl?â?ńnder. They should put him in the Ferrari instead of Badoer.
asynadak – Kimi!
randomflowers – I’m going to say Seb V, simply because he started 8th and finished 3rd! (and Kimi… and Fisichella!)
fissijo – fisichella… But then he is my driver of the race most races!
planetf1 – FISI
primaveron – Kimi Raikkonen and Fisichella!

Who was your driver of the day? Name them in the comments.

Read more

Images (C) Ferrari spa, Brawn GP, Renault/LAT, Williams/LAT, Bridgestone, Getty Images/Red Bull, Force India F1 Team, Toyota F1 World, BMW ag

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113 comments on Kimi Raikkonen edges Giancarlo Fisichella for win (Belgian Grand Prix review)

  1. Kimi!
    Started at 6th and finished at 1st.

  2. From the comfort of my sunday night armchair, it is clear what Fisi had to do to win. Obviously, he had the pace to pull away from Raikkonen. So ,at the first stop, having come in behind the Ferrari, he should have simply taken only as much fuel as he needed to leave first. He would have come in earlier next time, but with a lead. Alternatively, he should have fueled for a significantly longer stint and attemped the second stop leapfrog. As it was, leaving behind Kimi at the first stop with what they would have seen was the same fuel delivery, sealed his fate. Kimi is not the guy to go off under pressure, and with KERS, Fisi had no chance of passing him on the track.

    Add me to those who found Kimi’s first corner move unsporting. He wasn’t forced off. He saw that the track was blocked ahead with competitor’s cars accellerating too slowly for his taste, and simply pointed for the run-off area and floored it. He used the runoff to facilitate an alternative and advantageous line to great advantage. This is exactly the description of the delict set against Hamilton last year. I’m not taking David Coulthard as an expert on how not to stuff it in the wall. If there were a wall or gravel there he would have used the other pedal, end of story. I wonder if Ferrari checked with Charlie…

    • William Wilgus said on 31st August 2009, 0:39

      I like your comment that they should have fueled Fisi short to get him out first. However, maybe one reason why Kimi didn’t back off is because of traffic behind him. Not having seen Kimi’s wide excursion, I submit this as only a possibility. Remember the old adage: `To finish first, you must first finish.’ Being rear-ended would certainly have lessened the chance of him not only finishing first, but finishing at all.

    • So instead of swerving to avoid hitting Trulli, he should have stopped his car altogether? He couldn’t go to the right of Trulli as Kubica was coming up there. Yes he could have hit the brakes, but he would have had either Heidfeld or Glock hit him somewhere in the rear half of his car. Or, you know, they would have been forced off-track. If he did gain anything, and I maintain he didn’t as he was past Kubica already and coming up on Trulli, it was not because he intended to by going off the track.

      I’m only bringing up Brundle and Coulthard because last year nobody seemed to mind Kimi going off the track there while arguably in those conditions (ie. no traction anywhere at all on- or off-track) he might have had more of an advantage. This year Brundle comments on it and all of a sudden everyone is all over it.

      If it’s because of consistency with Hamilton’s incident last year, then yeah, I can’t really say anything about that. Except the way the FIA ignored this instant seems a fairer way to judge these matters than what happened to Hamilton last year. But therein lies the crux doesn’t it? Everyone seems happy to accept Kimi should be punished for this move as it was “unsporting”, while Hamilton’s move last year was somehow fair because they were fighting. Because Kimi wasn’t trying to take the fight to the Toyota in front of him or anything, that had nothing to do with him carrying more speed into the corner than Trulli at all…

      If your problem is that the FIA judged both instances differently, you think you’re impartial and there was nothing wrong with either, but Kimi should get punished to have consistency, then I very well think you’re all intelligent enough to formulate your thoughts accordingly. But it’s all “Hamilton’s move was fair and was punished” and “Kimi’s move was unfair and should have been punished.”. They were the same moves (or the comparison is invalid to begin with), so choose which one it was: either there was nothing wrong both times, or both were unfair moves and Kimi got away lucky and Hamilton justly had his win taken away from him.

      • It’s simple. It’s one thing to go off to avoid a wreck (see, e.g., Sutil and Badoer). Quite another to exploit going off to pass several cars on the trot. The issue is the advantage gained through doing what others are able to but don’t because it would be “unsporting.” The Hamilton Rule should have worked to require Kimi to yield any positions gained until after the next corner, Les Combes.

  3. Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 30th August 2009, 22:44

    I’ve found out about the Rosberg/Vettel incident at the start from Williams.

    They believe Vettel was under the mistaken impression that Rosberg passed him under yellow flags at the start. The video below shows how Rosberg got through.

    At the restart, Vettel passed Rosberg under normal racing conditions – Rosberg didn’t give up the position voluntarily.

    • This also clearly shows the advantage the Ferrari got by redesigning the track. You see it exit screen left, then suddenly reenter and rocket into the distance as if Vettel is chained to a post. Not cricket.

      • al_amana said on 31st August 2009, 6:49

        sorry but all that shows is that because he went wide to avoid a collision, unless he was willing to lose even more position, if he had of braked and “slotted” in then Vettel would have collected him for sure.

  4. Sarah said on 31st August 2009, 0:46

    Guys get over it its not like hes the only one who has ever gotten away with it, stop beating up on kimi he cant do anything right in some peoples eyes. He would have caught up ta Fisichella with the Kers anyway.

    • Harv's said on 31st August 2009, 3:07

      it doesnt matter “if he would have caught up to fisi anyway”. thats not the piont the piont is is that kimi gained an unfair anvantage.

      he wouldnt have caught fisi either, thats why he didnt pull away from him over the rest of the race.

      to say that raikonen did not gain an advantage, what so ever, would be a lie, because its clear to everyone that he did,

      force india should appeal, they could not loose anything only gain a win

  5. “From sixth on the grid Raikkonen elected to use the tarmac run-off area on the outside of turn one to avoid getting held up by other cars. He re-joined the track in third…”

    I agree with Owen G on this score, Kimi gained an unfair advantage by going off track at the opening hairpin. No different than Lewis cutting the chicane last year!

    As soon as I saw him tear down the off track pavement I thought for sure he would be forced to give back the positions he gained. We get the SpeedTV version so I’m not aware of Brundle’s and DC’s comments.

    Not to take away from Kimi’s drive all day long, but that opening move should have been penalized. If only Force India had the balls to file an appeal, or question Charlie Whiting as soon as it happened.

  6. Snoopy said on 31st August 2009, 2:55

    Kimi said that somebody was ushing Trulli and Trulli went a little bit wide and that Kimi did not have no other place to go than drive out.

    But ofcourse nobody never listen him even we know after all these years thart he is one of most honest person you can imagine.

    BUT because he is driving Ferrari there HAS TO be something bad to say about him, right?

    Geesh guys, can you just let him be. He did brilliant job and his car was not even fastest and he still won.

    Evrybody talked about how he did gain advantege by going wide and that he only won because his KERS, well nobody did not talk about KERS when Lewis won….

    I allwasy tought that this F1 fanatic would be fair and not have any Ferrari and Kimi witch hunt. Unfortunatelly it seems that I was wrong.

    • Harv's said on 31st August 2009, 3:14

      the thing was with lewis’s win is that he dominated, no safty car to catch up with the leader, he finished 15s ahead on 2nd place, and it was the first kers win.

      something that kimi didnt do.

      there is only a kimi ferrari “witch hunt” because what kimi did was unfair, so if you came to f1fanatic because you wanted it to be fair, thats what you got. if you are still unhappy maybe you should become more openminded about f1, or go watch f1 in a italian bar

    • Owen G said on 31st August 2009, 3:45

      I resent the few comments that infer that any questioning of Kimi’s move at the start has something to do with being anti Kimi or Ferrari, or pro anyone else. For me, at least, it isn’t. And I’d have the same opinion if Brundle had said nothing too.

      Kimi gained a place by going off the track – he was 4th before la source and when he rejoined the track he was 3rd. So whether he did it to avoid a collision, was sliding all over the place off track with no traction or whatever other reason you give for it – he gained a position by going off track. It can’t be any clearer.

      Hamilton’s incident was different and more controversial because he went back behind Kimi then retook him. But it isn’t about that decision. How many times this year have drivers given places back they gained by going off track? Button and Webber on the 1st lap in Valencia springs to mind. So why is this situation any different? Is it purely because he went wide in the corner as opposed to cutting it?

  7. Sarah said on 31st August 2009, 4:14

    ok so if this is more about going off track and gaining positions then why arent you going on about Barichello aswell he did the same and gained points in the final result, BTW.. It is stated that you can overtake on the first lap on the outside, because the marshalls want safety it’s not against rules because he crosses the line from the outside not from the inside and he crosses more meters than the others. Also Lewis Hamilton did exactly the same thing last year and i bet you didnt all have a cry about that one, stop hating on ferrari and Kimi, anybody else and you would be fine with it. i agree with Snoopy

  8. Hotbottoms said on 31st August 2009, 6:33

    I like the fact how all the Brits here seem to ignore the fact that Button also went wide just like Raikkonen (even though his race ended on the same lap, he’s also a cheater if Kimi is). I can’t remember any occasion where a driver would have been punished because of going wide, it’s always because of cutting a corner. But of course, correct me if I’m wrong.

    I don’t think drivers should be punished for coming in front of someone on the pitlane, like Webber got punished in Spa. It’s too must asked for teams to say “hold on, you must let that driver go”. That will never happen and with this stupid rule we’ll only end up with some teams having bad luck. Wider pitlane could be the answer?

  9. F1Yankee said on 31st August 2009, 7:39

    this will easily be the best race of 2009, at the best track of 2009.

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  11. al_amana said on 31st August 2009, 7:44

    So here’s how it must have panned out:

    1. After a day and a half of mid range practice results Kimi and his crew realise that come Quali we’ll have to Qualify either 4,6,8 or at worst 10. Giving them the ultimate approach to the long short cut.
    2. Kimi claims 6th on the grid, perfect.
    3. Saturday night, Kimi and a couple of his henchmen bring out the oversize brooms and go to work on the run off clearing it of any rubbish that might hinder the most evil of moves known in F1, the accident avoiding wide run….
    4. But this is no fool proof plan so Ferrari have to come up with plan B. So they pay off Grosjean and Alguersuari to create a Safety Car scenario when required i.e. if Kimi doesn’t force himself into the lead after his lucky escape at turn one.

    Well allI can say is not since Michael Schumacher cheated his way to all those WDC have we seen a Mastermind Ferrari driver in F1!!!

    NB: This post is intended to be sarcastic for those who bought into it……….

  12. Great race, lads. I enjoyed Fisi and Kimi’s performances immensely though I was disappointed that Jenson and Lewis didn’t last.

    It makes me really happy though…to see so many Ferrari-bashers about. Kimi deserved the victory 100%. No rules were broken in using the outside line. Sure it may be a gray area, but FIA have had years to do something about it.

    If only I could see the look on your faces when Ham crashed out =P

    • Jorge H said on 31st August 2009, 14:41

      You would see some dissapointment.. because he didn’t had any run off area to escape the accident. It wasn´t his fault.

      If only you could see anything but red, you would agree that Kimi got advantage in running off the track. And that is unfair…

  13. Steph90 said on 31st August 2009, 13:05

    On the issue of Kimi gaining unfair advantage he said he never intended to take that route (when the question was put to him) and that it is a longer and bumpier so a disadvantage which of course why he got the advantage :P I think Kimi raced a blinding race, but I would as a Ferrari fan, but I just wish steward’s were consistent.

  14. Rahim said on 31st August 2009, 13:47

    There is a difference between
    Chicane/

    &

    Run off area/

    i imagine if we were the stewards…….i think all the cars who finished would have had to go atleast once for a drive through…..lol…. stop it guys….

  15. TheRedLion said on 31st August 2009, 15:00

    1st – If you see the onboard from Kimi, he turns the steering wheel 180 degrees, so not much more he could have done there. Button turned it 120Âş tops.

    2nd – Actual quote from the BBC broadcast:

    Jake – “How much of advantage is it to go wide there David?”
    David – “None at all”

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 31st August 2009, 23:07

      I thought that was a particularly odd comment given it was said while they were watching video of Raikkonen passing two cars while off the track, and using the momentum to pass a third. He was plainly wrong.

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