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

Posted on | Author Keith Collantine

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

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

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  1. 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.

    1. 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

    2. 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?

  2. 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

  3. 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?

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

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  6. 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……….

    1. Haha, made my day. brilliant

  7. 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

    1. 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…

  8. 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.

  9. There is a difference between


    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……. stop it guys….

    1. Yes there is. A chicane is a section of track with back-to-back turns. The Runoff Area is a hilarious motorsports satire website.

    2. So what do you call the run off area at the final chicane then? ;)

  10. 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”

    1. 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.

  11. Could anyone please explain how come that Fisi stopped on lap 14 (prediction here 12) together with Kimi, Mark and Nick (equal weights, prediction 14).

    Fuel consumption on a lap of Spa is 3,15 kilo, did he save(!) around 6 kilos? How?

    1. that wondered myself too.

      the only explanation that i have is:
      fisi was always close behind kimi. so due slipstreamhe was able to save some fuel.

    2. Raikkonen suggested he’d burned more fuel on the way to the grid trying to get heat into his tyres.

      It’s possible the Mercedes uses less fuel than the Ferrari. Or it’s something to do with KERS.

      And Fisichella might have saved more fuel behind the safety car.

      1. in my opinion its probably something about mercedes using less fuel and profit from slipstream.

      2. i bet using KERS absolutely burns up fuel.

  12. i believe i saw vettel overtake rosberg after the safety car came in (after Eau Rouge i think), he wasn’t ‘allowed past’ as you say Keith.

  13. it was may be saved because of safety car

  14. Did anyone else notice how, just after the start on the run down to Eau Rouge, Barrichello almost got hit by flying debris? It looks like a piece of carbon-fibre, probably from the Heidfeld-Trulli contact. The object is clearly visible on his onboard footage: take a look at the video and watch closely around 00:20.

  15. Good to see plenty of mature, well thought out responses to anyone questioning Kimi’s move at la source.

    For the record, I’m not “hating on” Ferrari or Kimi, nor was I slitting my wrists when Hamilton crashed out.

    I was just asking the question about the legality of Kimi’s move. The FACT of the matter is when he left the track he was in 4th place (not alongside but fully behind) and when he rejoined he was in 3rd. Is this deemed a legal move because he went wide?

    Drivers cut corners to avoid accidents but if they gain a place they have to give it back. Fair enough. So why is it different for running wide? That’s all I’m asking.

    1. That’s exactly it. The rules make no distinction between “cutting” and “running wide”, they just say you have to use the track.

      BMW don’t seem in the least bit bothered that their drivers were overtaken in this fashion – I’ve had an email back from them about it which rather gives the impression it never occurred to them Raikkonen might have done something wrong.

      I have to wonder whether it this was another team who were overtaken in this fashion (like Red Bull, who got straight on Jenson Button’s case at Valencia last week), they might have kicked up a fuss. They don’t seem to have the no-quarter-given instincts you expect from an F1 team.

  16. as far i understood it. running wide on that specifically corner was legal.

  17. I am glad that Force India have finaly got there first points, and on merit too. If it hadn’t been for Raikkonen using KERS at the restart to overtake Fisichella, then Fisichella probably would have won.

    On the podium the first thing the drivers do is usually spray the champagne then have a drink, but Raikkonen did it the other way round he had a drink first then sprayed the champagne.

  18. Kimi didn’t do anything wrong, if he would have done then he would have got a penalty for it. Maybe he got some advantage out of it, but it’s not his fault that others didn’t use that possibility. It wasn’t illegal to do so, then why shouldn’t it be used? Remember that everyone could have done that, and still wouldn’t have got any penalty.

  19. “It wasn’t illegal to do so, then why shouldn’t it be used?”

    Because the racing should be contained on the track?? I understand your comment about the legality of it (which I question), it’s the logic that escapes me.

    Any driver can attempt a pass on the outside of another car, carrying way too much speed, then run wide, and flat out accelerate up the run off area and complete the pass? Under the pretext of avoiding a collision?

    Something entirely wrong with that concept. Leave the track to protect your car (and others), but no one should gain track position by that maneuver.

  20. It’s really fun reading expert comments about Kimi’s
    extravagant use of KERS and grip/no grip analysis on the outside of that firt corner.Give your playstation
    a rest! {and give the man a break.)

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