Delayed Race Notes: Belgian Grand Prix 2009

[Preface – Due to studies I fell behind with the editing of these posts. They were written live as usual, but needed a lot of work to make readable. Anything in italics in square brackets was written during the edit, just like this paragraph.]

2009 Formula 1 ING Belgian Grand Prix
Date: 30 August 2009
Circuit: Spa-Franchorchamps (PF) (GC)
Location: Francorchamps, Belgium
Distance: 44 laps
Tyre choices (red): SS / S / M / H

Coverage: BBC One / BBC Radio 5 Live[*]
Anchor: Jake Humphrey
Analysts in the paddock: David Coulthard (DC) and Eddie Jordan (EJ)

R5 commentary[*]: David Croft (Crofty) and Anthony Davidson (Ant)
R5 pitlane[*]: Holly Samos

[*for many years the BBC has held the UK radio rights to F1. In ’09 they also picked up the TV rights and they now offer an alternate feed on digital television, combining TV pics with radio commentary. I tend to use this feed.]

Coverage begins at 12.10pm.

DVR Notes

Spa. They’ve been racing here for 80 years. Need balls to be fast here. DC and EJ walk down memory lane recalling classic moments they were involved in during their careers – DC’s ’98 crashes, Jordan’s 1-2 in the same race which he calls the greatest day in his sporting history. Brundle says it rewards you if you attack it and respect it.

This is the longest lap of the year.

Points recap:
Button leads Barrichello by 18.
Brawn ahead of Red Bull by 27.5 but the battle for 3rd is worth watching.

Jake says Spa is what Formula 1 is all about.

Ted’s Qual Report:
Spa is more kebab and chips than champagne and canapes. Fans bought tickets expecting to see Schumacher.

Badoer qualifed last for the 2nd race in a row: LB “the last lap was a lot of traffic, everybody was waiting, one Toro Rosso overtake me when I was waiting” (for space).

Button – couldn’t get grip on the soft tyre, says he had oversteer.

Ted says Spa isn’t as reliant on aero as many circuits, so it favours teams used to making their tyres work to make up for their aero package, like Force India.
Hamilton says he’s losing a lot of time in the middle sector.

Barrichello only has fuel for 9 laps but could only get 4th. (If 9 laps doesn’t sound like much, just remember how long this place is.) Rubens says he’s looking for great overtaking.

Fisichella was by no means the lightest car on the grid, so it was a genuine surprise for pole.

Fisi: “Guys in the factory did a fantastic job, with our limited budget.”

Grid:
Fisichella (pole), Trulli
Heidfeld, Barrichello
Kubica, Raikkonen
Glock, Vettel
Webber, Rosberg
Sutil, Hamilton
Alonso, Button
Kovalainen, Buemi
Alguersuari, Nakajima
Grosjean, Badoer

Proper chat with Fisichella now. His last pole was in 2006! Says a pole with a good car is fantastic for sure – to do it with a small team, limited budget, is amazing.
Expected top fifteen, difficult to get to top ten, and got pole!
Says the Ferrari stories are just rumours and they haven’t called him, and even if they did he’d have to think about it.

Back to Jake and David who rubbish that – he’d jump at it, they say.

They waffle on for a bit, then we go to a package with EJ and Rubens meeting at a big house in Portugal. Is it his? Rubens brought wine!
Rubens says if he cries on the podium, so what? It’s for him. Valencia was like he was reading a book, very consistent that weekend.

EJ is only wearing shorts, my eyes, my eyes!
They go for a round of golf. Seemingly lots of man-love between EJ and Rubens.
Qualifying means a lot, JB has been qualifying well all season. Says he loves JB as a man but hates him as a driver..

OK this feature is way too long.

This is better. Lewis Hamilton walking the circuit with Martin Brundle
Eau Rouge. Compression, can only see the sky! They are breaking a sweat just walking up it.

Pouhon, downhill, just drop a gear, wait for car to settle and power on. No braking at 170mph with the wall outside.

Feature on tyres. Not BBC graphics, maybe supplied by Bridgestone and then voiced by DC? Completely ripping off that Sony ad with things bouncing down hills – tyres bouncing to the same (or similar) song.
This isn’t being presented well for TV, very dry. Four different dry tyre types. Graphs of optimum tyre temps and bumpiness of circuits.

Back to the guys. Eddie Jordan very proud of his old team for getting pole position.

Gridwalk
Brundle is talking conspiracies. First 7 drivers on the grid don’t have a drive next year. BMW leaving, Toyota threatening, Force India low on money – he says it is rubbish, they all just happen to be working very well.

Trulli (P2): “To win you need a good start, good first lap, avoid trouble.” Says he will win the race.

Fisi (P1): “I was saving fuel so I didn’t push (going to grid). GOnna be difficult to keep the pace of the other people, good for us to score points and go for podium. We are on pole, that means something very important.” He’s looking for Rubens, Kimi and Jarno to come up from behind.

Heidfeld (P3), surprised?: “Yeah definitely, thought we’d have a good result but thought P5 would be maximum. The view is a bit unusual for me this season, we usually have better starts than the Toyotas and will try to get by Fisi with a longer strategy.”

Rubens (P4): “Crucial for strategy to have a good gap when I comes out of the first pitstop. You gotta go and try to win the race, if you’re too cautious it isn’t going to work.”

Running after Jenson!
Button, (P12): “Difficult qualifying. Tough position around Spa. We got a Force India on pole so I’m sure we could have a good race here. Couldn’t get radio working, might need that this race, it’s all good now.”

National Anthem
Jake introduces the anthem as the Spanish National Anthem. We are in Belgium, Jake. I don’t believe I’ve ever heard it before. They are doing it in the style of a jazz club? Nice.

Fuel weights to the tune of Can’t Touch This by MC Hammer!! Ha!! Gotta love Ted Kravitz.
If you equalise the weights it was Jarno Trulli who was fastest, with Vettel 2nd then Heidfeld. Fisi would be 4th. Barrichello the lightest car on the grid, stopping on lap 9. Many front-runners are stopping on lap 12.

Lee with unknown FIFI man: “[Fisi] is in good shape. We’ve been on the pace all weekend, we took a good aero package to Valencia but it wasn’t a circuit where we could show it. We came here expecting top six and that’s where we’re hoping to end up in the race.”

Howett, Toyota: “All year our car is more competitive than our qualifying results have shown.”

Mario T! “We are confident of our race performance, anything can happen, we hope we can put one car on the podium today. We need some luck, maybe we have it.”

Ted with Christian Horner, RBR: “Glitch with front wing, reset electronics and its looking good. Good opportunity to score points, key is to survive first lap, we’re heavier on fuel, Kimi is a factor.”

Chris Dyer, Ferrari: “If we get a good first lap we’re in with a chance.”

Pundit tips?
Eddie Jordan says Kimi is strong but wants an ex-Jordan driver to win, doesn’t matter which.
David Coulthard goes for Kimi to win.

Live Notes

GRID

Fisichella, Trulli
Heidfeld, Barrichello
Kubica, Raikkonen
Glock, Vettel
Webber, Rosberg
Sutil, Hamilton
Alonso, Button
Kovalainen, Buemi
Alguersuari, Nakajima
Grosjean, Badoer

FORMATION LAP

Radio 5Live audio with BBC1 pictures.

1.2.3.4.5..GO!

Great start from Fisi, all tangled at the start and one car tagged.. Fisi great lead up the hill!

Les Combes – BIG accident!
3 or 4 cars in the wall. Button spins. Grosjean and Hamilton and an STR are in the wall, suspension damaged.
Toyota wing damage, continues.

Replays: Someone tagged Button from behind and sent him into the pack.

Safety Car – first one since Barcelona! Trulli pits for repairs, it was his front wing.

Button, Grosjean, Hamilton and Alguersuari are out of the race.

Replays: Barrichello slow at the start. Sutil tagged someone and suffered damage at La Source.

Kimi had somehow made it from 6th to 2nd in that.
Order:
Fisi, Kimi, Kubica, Glock, Webber, Heid, Ros, Vet, Alo, Kov, Bue, Nak, Bad, Tru, Bar, Sut

Lap 4 (3 complete, we’re on 4) – SC in at the end of this lap.

L5 RESTART

LOVE that onboard with Kimi as we chase Fisi! Kimi makes the pass on the Kemmel straight. KERS in action.

L6 Barrichello took Trulli on the restart, now a replay of taking Badoer at the Bus Stop, 13th now..

Webber is ahead of Heidfeld now. This is a great opportunity for Button’s rivals to take points off him in the title race!

L7 Barrichello passes Nakajima with a great run through Eau Rouge and Raidillon to take him with momentum on the straight.

L8 Holly with Lewis: “What can you do? We got off to a bad start, when it goes bad it goes bad. No biggie, not challenging for the championship so not the end of the world.”

Sutil passes Badoer around the outside, off the circuit to pass him. Might get a penalty for passing him?

Sutil just clears Nakajima in the same way Barrichello did, really easy pass. Kaz just sits there and lets it happen, doesn’t react at all.. Is Naka really heavy or is he not bothered?

L10 Kimi had set some fast laps to get a gap, Fisi is now holding him at 1.8sec. Kubica a similar gap back to Fisi.

L11 Button: “Alongside Kovalainen into the corner and got whacked in the rear wheel. Was an avoidable accident, I think it was braking too late. Made up places at the start, I wasn’t too far behind Webber, 5 positions, now I’m out no points. At least it happened here not somewhere where we’re competitive.”

L12 Kova radio: “Fuel-corrected your pace is as good as the leaders, keep it up you’re in contention for 6th place.”
He’s now 10th.

Kubica and Glock pit.

13 laps gone. Heidfeld sets fastest lap in 1:47.738.
Alonso is being told to push to stop Fisi coming out ahead of them after the stops.

Replay of Glock stop: Slow stop, the original fuel hose did not work, had to use backup.

L15 Raikkonen, Fisi, Webber and Heidfeld all pit!!
Kimi out first, Fisi 2nd, Webber JUST beats Heidfeld who has to brake hard. Red Bull get could penalised for that, you’re not supposed to release into the path of another car.

Heidfeld passes Webber at Les Combes!
Rubens takes Mark around the outside at Blannchimont!

L17 Webber has been given a drive-thru penalty. Vettel pits. He’s out ahead of Heidfeld cleanly.

L19 Rosberg pits from his temporary lead. Webber is in for his drive-thru.
The accident on lap one will be investigated after the race.

Crofty says Toyota told him they are aware their engine is not as good as some others, they knew they’d be c30 horsepower down on Merc and Ferrari which hurts on the long uphill straight here.

L21 Trulli stops again and is last due to his earlier wing change.
ALonso (3rd) and Kova (5th) still need to stop, so do Naka and Badoer at the back.

L22 Kimi radio: “Fisi could be same lap or one lap longer so we need to open a gap.”
Ahh, Jarno Trulli is out of the race. He’s parked it in the garage.

L24 Fisi radio: Needs a tenth per lap, Raikkonen has been told to push.
Alonso has been told they will fit the softer option tyre. He pits now.
Problem! Left front wheel fairing is not engaging. STUPID devices. They are banned next year, Crofty calls for them to be banned immediately.

Replay, onboard Alonso: Sutil spinning on the first corner, his nose hit Alonso’s left front wheel and damaged the fairing thing.
L26 Alonso’s spinner fairing is now flailing around, he’s having to drive slowly to the pits to get it fixed.

L27 Kovalainen pits. He’s out alongside Vettel and beats up up the hill.

L28 Alonso makes it back. He’s out of the race. Barrichello in from 6th. He beats Nakajima out, Kazuki still hasn’t stopped – so Rubens made up an entire stop length on him!
Nakajima stops a lap later.

L29 Kimi and Fisi are just a tenth or so different lap to lap. If Fisi wins this, he’s earned it.

L30 Kubica pits from 3rd and rejoins 5th, ahead of Glock and Webber.

L31 Kimi and Fisi pit together! Prime tyre for Fisi. Option for Kimi. They rejoin in the same order, Kimi may win this on the better tyre.

L32 Heidfeld pits from 2nd, this’ll drop him back behind Kimi/Fisi. Vettel leads with a stop to make, he is projected by 5LIve to beat Kubica.

L34 The harder tyre seems to work for Fisi – he is catching Kimi!! It WAS the quicker tyre in qualifying though…

Fastest lap from Heidfeld: 1:47.541
Webber pits and he’s out between Rosberg and Glock.

L36 Vettel pits. Does he beat Kubica?? Yes!

More quick laps from Nick. Quick Nick, gradually catching Kubica. Next lap Vettel goes quickest, 1:47.3361 and 0.7s faster than Kimi and Fisi and only 6sec behind them.

L39 Sutil tries it on Glock – no.

L41 Onboard with Vettel as he catches the leaders… homing in.. not quite within sight but it won’t be long. Play the Jaws music!

L42 Cut to Barrichello who is chasing Kovalainen. Rubens’ car is a bit smokey yet he’s still catching Heikki. More smoke now, he has to lift, he’s backing off to make the final two laps. He does not pit, can he make it last and get a point or two?

Penultimate lap. He’s still running, has been told to look after the engine.. Vettel seems to have backed off.

L44 Final lap. Rubens is told it is an oil leak, telemetry is fine.

FLAG – KIMI RAIKKONEN WINS!!
Fisichella 2nd!
Vettel 3rd
Kubica, Heidfeld, Kovalainen, Barrichello makes it back, and Rosberg rounds out the points positions.

6 winners in 6 races. And F1 is boring is it?

No cooldown lap at Spa because it would take too long, drive back up pitlane the wrong way into Parc Ferme.

Fire!! Barrichello’s car has caught fire. We cut away and don’t see it get extinguished..

Fisi doesn’t know where to go!

PODIUM

Finnish anthem (has been a while), Italian anthem.
Nice anthem combo.

Trophies.

BIG cheer for Fisichella’s 2nd place trophy.

Champaggnee!!!

What a great result for Fisichella and Force India. The rumour is Giancarlo will be in a Ferrari for Monza in a fortnight – is that true, or will he prefer to drive the improved Force India?

The team manager for FIFI is on the BBC, he says they are here to stay now, they are very quick in a straight line so look for them to do well at Monza. Excellent, bring it on!

Conference:

Kimi Raikkonen, winner:

Hasn’t been easy year for us, behind straight away at first race, then made a big step in Barcelona. Long time since I last won, it was perfect, my aim was to win at least one race and keep 3rd in the championship. We probably were not the fastest in laptimes but overall we were fast and managed to keep everyone behind. Hopefully we get good results after this race.

Giancarlo Fisichella, 2nd:

Great result for us. A great day, I was quicker than Kimi he could overtake me just because of KERS after the restart, I’m a little bit sad for that, I was quicker than him, keeping his pace. We did exactly the same strategy, its great to have second, actually we could have won the race.

Sebastian Vettel, 3rd

If you look at the championship it was a very good result. Not an easy place to start from in the middel of the pack, first lap was a little conservative when I saw Nick off track, I lost position to Nico which I got back on restart. I was pushing every lap like qualifying, it was a pleasure to drive the car, was very nice. Strong pace, quicker than the guys in front.

Result


Driver Gap Pts
1 Räikkönen 44 laps 10
2 Fisichella 0.9sec 8
3 Vettel 3.8sec 6
4 Kubica 9.9sec 5
5 Heidfeld 11.2sec 4
6 Kovalainen 32.7sec 3
7 Barrichello 35.4sec 2
8 Rosberg 36.2sec 1
9 Webber 36.9sec
10 Glock 41.4sec
11 Sutil 42.6sec
12 Buemi 46.1sec
13 Nakajima 54.2sec
14 Badoer 102.1sec
DNF Alonso retired
DNF Trulli brakes
DNF Button accident
DNF Grosjean accident
DNF Hamilton accident
DNS Alguersuari accident

An interesting podium and a good result for BMW!

Drivers’ Championship


Driver Prev BEL Total
1 Button 72
72
2 Barrichello 54 2 56
3 Vettel 47 6 53
4 Webber 51.5
51.5
5 Räikkönen 24 10 34
6 Rosberg 29.5 1 30.5
7 Hamilton 27
27
8 Trulli 22.5
22.5
9 Massa 22
22
10 Kovalainen 14 3 17
11 Glock 16
16
12 Alonso 16
16
13 Heidfeld 6 4 10
14 Kubica 3 5 8
15 Fisichella 0 8 8
16 Buemi 3
3
17 Bourdais 2
2

Despite Button’s non-score he retains a large lead over his team-mate, while the lower positioned Red Bull driver prior to this race was the one to pick up points, Vettel overtaking Webber once again in the standings.
Raikkonen is really making great strides forward now – can he bridge the gap to the leading four?
Fisichella picks up his first points of the year with his 2nd position (I probably should have reversed his position with Kubica’s on the ‘quality of results’ rule).

Constructors’ Championship


Constructor Prev BEL Total
1 Brawn 126 2 128
2 Red Bull 98.5 6 104.5
3 Ferrari 46 10 56
4 McLaren 41 3 44
5 Toyota 38.5
38.5
6 Williams 29.5 1 30.5
7 BMW 9 9 18
8 Renault 16
16
9 Force India 0 8 8
10 Toro Rosso 5
5

Red Bull claw back a small amount of the deficit to Brawn, it isn’t enough to make the fight interesting though.
Ferrari are solidifying their 3rd position. Realistically they will not catch those ahead of them, they can only reduce the gap. McLaren are in a similar position, it will be interesting to see which team emerges in 3rd position at the end of the year!
BMW’s haul form this race doubles their score for the season to date and jumps them over Renault, while Force India’s score means every team has now registered a score.

That’s all from the fantastic Spa-Francorchamps, one of the highlights of the year. Next up is the historic circuit of Monza on 13th September for which notes will be up as soon as I can do them.

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