Hamilton wins wet-weather thriller in Spa (Belgian Grand Prix race review)

Lewis Hamilton won his third race of the year in Spa to take back the lead of the drivers’ championship.

He passed Mark Webber at the start and clung on to win as a series of showers hit the track causing an action-packed race.

They were the only two of the top five championship runners to score points as Fernando Alonso, Sebastian Vettel and Jenson Button all hit trouble

Barrichello crashes out of 300th race

Having started from pole position Webber was down to sixth by the first corner, as he bogged down badly. Hamilton seized the lead followed by Robert Kubica and Button.

But within a few moments the first of the rain showers had hit the tracks. It wasn’t very heavy, but enough to make the braking zone for the chicane treacherous. Several cars failed to get around it including Hamilton and Button, who was trying to pass Kubica.

Rubens Barrichello also got it wrong and crashed heavily into Fernando Alonso’s Ferrari. The impact was enough to tear a wheel off the Williams, ending Barrichello’s 300th race, but Alonso astonishingly was able to keep going.

That brought the safety car out, but not before Button had taken advantage of a mistake by Kubica at the top of Eau Rouge to claim second. Vettel almost followed him through but had to take to the grass to avoid the Renault.

Vettel hits Button

Hamilton stayed ahead of Button at the restart while Vettel moved ahead of Kubica. The Red Bull driver now set about attacking Button, whose McLaren had a damaged front wing.

Hamilton had stretched his lead to ten seconds by the time the rain returned and Vettel began pursuing Button more aggressively. On lap 16 Vettel tried to pass Button at the chicane, lost control of his car and ploughed into the side of the McLaren.

Steam billowed from the side of the MP4-25, indicating it was terminally damaged. But Vettel was able to continue after a stop in the pits for a new front wing. Meanwhile Kubica moved up to second ahead of Webber.

As another shower passed over the track teams turned their attention to making their mandatory dry-tyre pit stops. Adrian Sutil came in early to ensure he stayed ahead of Alonso.

The Ferrari driver had already been in after his collision to try intermediate tyres before switching back to the hard compound. He picked off the new teams’ cars and then spent several laps trying to get past Liuzzi, who he eventually edged aside at the chicane for 13th place.

After Sutil pitted the others began to react. First Webber, then Felipe Massa and Kubica together on the next lap. Webber fell short of getting ahead of Kubica with his pit stop, trying to slipstream by at Kemmel but unable to get by.

Hamilton finally came in on lap 24 and got away again still in the lead. But it wouldn’t be his last stop.

Scare for Hamilton

The biggest shower of the race arrived with around ten laps to go. As before Hamilton and the rest tried to tough it out on slicks to begin with. Others gambled: Timo Glock switched to full wet tyres right away, but it never got quite wet enough for that.

Hamilton, Kubica, Webber and Massa came by the pits still on their slicks as the rain hammered down, but the cars further behind them had seen enough and all began to peel in, most for intermediates.

Hamilton found out why at Rivage, as he understeered off through the gravel. He gave the barrier the merest of kisses and managed to re-join the circuit. But his lead had now been slashed.

This time the lead quartet all pitted. Kubica failed to stop his R30 on his marks and knocked several of his pit crew over, and the time lost allowed Webber by into second place.

Crash ends Alonso’s race

By now Alonso had made it up to eighth by Kamui Kobayashi. But as he came out of turn seven on lap 37 he ran too high on the kerb and spun into the barrier.

This finally brought the apparently indestructible Ferrari to a halt and the safety car was summoned again. At this point the rain was falling most heavily, potentially robbing the drivers who’d tried full wets of their best chance to make up places.

The race re-started with four laps to go and Hamilton held his lead over Webber and Kubica to the flag – the McLaren driver finally claiming the win that was taken from him two years earlier. Webber was the only other driver in the top five of the championship to score points.

Massa had a quiet run to fourth, with Adrian Sutil less than a second behind him at the flag.

Nico Rosberg took sixth ahead of Michael Schumacher, the pair swapping places twice during the race. Schumacher passed Rosberg – and gave his front wing a knock – after his team mate was taken by Vitaly Petrov. But Rosberg fought back later in the race, edging his team mate aside at Les Combes.

Petrov came home ninth behind Kobayashi – a useful recovery having started 23rd. Jaime Alguersuari claimed the final point for tenth but the stewards are investigating whether he gained an advantage by cutting the chicane late in the race while battling with Liuzzi.

The Force India driver was 11th ahead of Pedro de la Rosa, Sebastien Buemi and Nico H?â??lkenberg who spun late in the race on wet tyres.

Vettel ended the race out of the points in 15th. Liuzzi made contact with his left-rear tyre after Vettel passed him at the chicane, leaving Vettel with a puncture which he had to drag around an entire lap. An extra stop for a second set of full wet tyres meant he made a total of five trips to the pit lane, including his drive-through penalty for hitting Button.

Heikki Kovalainen was first among the new teams, followed by Lucas di Grassi, Timo Glock, Jarno Trulli and Sakon Yamamoto.

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149 comments on Hamilton wins wet-weather thriller in Spa (Belgian Grand Prix race review)

  1. bobo_the_legend said on 29th August 2010, 22:02

    Great race today probably the best of the season Lewis had a perfect race handled the safety car periods brilliantly and the rain he also did well not to get stuck in gravel trap…. well done kubica POOR OLD RUBENS LOL

  2. JUGNU said on 29th August 2010, 22:10

    Great race by Hamilton. He encountered all situations. Little rain than dry and than heavier rain at the end but still led every lap with only one scary moment.
    He dominated maybe not in terms of time because of two safety cars but for me he was the driver of the day and season so far.
    The title of most complete driver should be taken from Alonso and given to Lewis.

  3. Looks like Webber vs Hamilton on the WDC. Can the other 3 still catch-up on the 6 remaining races?

    Keith, can you do an article on how many points (min) does each driver need to take the WDC?

  4. drezone said on 30th August 2010, 0:56

    I’ll say it again for those that didn’t hear it the first time. Championship is between Webber & Hamilton and the sooner Vettel & Red Bull realise it the sooner Webber has a better chance at beating Hanilton to the flag. Vettel can’t be champion this year with all the impatient, agressive spoilt brat tactics he employs. Nobody wins championships with DNF’s & drive through penalties on a regular basis through the season.
    Deserved win for Lewis to make up for 2008. Kubica again showing when the car’s up fot it, he’s on the podium.

  5. Shaun Field said on 30th August 2010, 1:40

    I have to wonder what race-control’s excuse for massa being outside his start-box and not getting a penalty. I’ve never seen anyone get away with this before, and he didn’t lose any advantage into the first corner that might make me think he didnt need one.

  6. kallan said on 30th August 2010, 6:56

    Did anyone else notice on the replays Button was the only driver that ran wide at the chicane to get back on the track to make the corner? He lost several places, it then looked as though Alonso yielded and the cameras caught his overtake on Kubica. I assume that was the reason for the investigation that was dropped. Just a bit of action that was missed by the coverage/commentators.

  7. It was a good race to Spa standard. It was awesome to see that many drivers were caught out in the last corner in the opening lap.Sad day for Ruben as I understand he had no were to go. Feel bad for Button & I think nothing ca Vettel do at that moment as the condition didn’t helped him but once again it seems like he is cracking under pressure. Mark had a bad start but he kept things cool which Vettel failed to do.Alonso race was ruined by his switch to inter-tyres very beginning of the race but Massa raced well.The battle between the Mercedes driver was the highlights of the race & both alone with Kobayashi & Petrov raced well to come from the back to the front. To me Sutil was the surprise as I didn’t expected them to be in the points for this race & for Kubica’s hard work are paying off.

    Now thew question remains will this be only a two horse race between Hamilton & Webber? Red Bull proved today that dispite not been the favourite they have a car which can challenge for the podium where Mclaren’s domination may only remain until the next race in Monza. With Button going with no points in this race I think Mclaren may switch their attention toward Hamilton who seems to be the only one from their team to challenge for the championship. Alonso with his best don’t think will live up with the pace of the Red Bulls once the European rounds are over so he & the team needs to do something very special in Monza & also hope that the people in front of him have a very bad day.

    Last thing what would have happened if Ferrari didn’t ask Massa to give up his victory to Alonso in Germany?
    Alonso – 134 instead of 141
    Massa- 116 instead of 109
    He could have had a good lead over Kubica!

  8. F1Fan said on 30th August 2010, 7:51

    Well, if Webber wins the WDC this year, I will never say ‘never’ again when it comes to F1. I hope Lewis wins it, but I can see how RBR’s superiority in most remaining circuits can give him the title.

  9. Hamish said on 30th August 2010, 8:44

    Lewis Hamilton is leading the championship as he’s the only genuine contender Vettel hasn’t smashed into yet.

  10. Mel Hutchinson said on 30th August 2010, 9:01

    I’ve stated this before and I’ll say it again, the posters on this forum are the most passionate, observant, and informed Formula 1 fans anywhere. In the posts leading up to mine many important aspects of a fantastic 2010 Belgian Grand Prix have been addressed. I would like to add my two cents to the mix. The combination of the greatest racing circuit in the world along with Belgium’s unpredictable weather continues to teach us something new each and every season.
    The realization I had to come to grips with this year is, while Sebastian Vettel is an exceptionally fast driver, his overtaking skills are subpar for a Formula 1 driver. We have seen examples of this deficiency multiple times this season including his poor ability to overtake lapped drivers. Today the light bulb finally went on for me and I realized that Sebastian is a very fast and talented driver but he is not a very good racer. I still have never been convinced that Mark Webber was at fault for the crash in Turkey. As I recall, a poll on this site shows that quite a few of you feel the same way.
    I however disagree with the stewards interfering with the race under today’s circumstances. Penalties should only be applied to drivers who break a rule or intentionally drive dangerously. I think what we saw today was poor racing judgment and not intentional. If Vettel was a good racer he wouldn’t have attempted a pass under those circumstances. Christian Horner and Vettel’s mentor Helmut Marko need to address the situation and coach their driver better. Maybe the FIA should fine the teams when their drivers crash out other teams cars. Would that make more impact without affecting the outcome of the race than the inconsistent penalties we continue to see?
    Speaking of coaching, McLaren did a horrible job again today. I was reminded of the 2007 Chinese Grand Prix. Had McLaren called Lewis into the pits before the cords were visible on his rear tires, he might be a two time world driving champion. Today they got lucky. Hamilton handled the sand trap far better that I do on the golf course. If he had hit the wall and thrown away the win, Martin Whitmarsh should have resigned on the spot. The drivers have to concentrate on racing and the team has to coach them.
    Mark Webber recovered from a nearly disastrous start and drove an excellent race. He was in position to capitalize whenever he had the opportunity and was rewarded with second place. The final races of the season will prove to be exciting. I can’t wait for Monza.

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 30th August 2010, 9:37

      I’ve stated this before and I’ll say it again, the posters on this forum are the most passionate, observant, and informed Formula 1 fans anywhere.

      Couldn’t agree more :-)

  11. Sulman said on 31st August 2010, 9:12

    Before crucifying Vettel it’s worth remembering that most of these incidents are youthful exhuberance. He believes he is the fastest driver, in the fastest car.

    Reminds me a little of Schumacher in ’92. He kept crashing into people too.

  12. One interesting point I haven’t seen made – isn’t it funny that not a single driver felt the need to take to the tarmac run-off outside La Source at the start? The threat of punishment obviously worked.

  13. jonrob said on 31st August 2010, 19:08

    The Red Bulls were undergeared so their top speed was too low when they reached the rev limiter.
    But someone please tell me, by how much is the adjustable differential able to alter the effective final drive ratio?

    • Adjusting the differential only affects the point at which torque is transferred between the two rear wheels (from left to right or vice-versa) to stop the unloaded wheel spinning up. The physical gear teeth aren’t altered so there is no effect on straight-line speed.

      I think the differential gear ratio is probably fixed for the year. The teams nominated 30 gear-pairs before the season started, which form their possible ratios for the gearbox.

      Red Bull clearly chose too short a 7th gear on Saturday morning – Jenson Button said after the race that there was a tail-wind down the straight after Eau Rouge, which probably made the difference when combined with Vettel sitting in Button’s tow. I don’t think SV was on the rev limiter going up to the bus stop chicane, because there wasn’t a tail-wind at that point on the track.

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