2010 Belgian GP – Thursday Pt.2

This post is part of my recap of the Belgian Grand Prix weekend and is about the Thursday before the race. Please see Tues/Weds here and Thursday Pt.1 here. Once again, I apologise for the lengthy delay.

Pitwalk!

This was all good fun but we were now missing the pitwalk, it was about 5.15pm so it was already halfway through and we had drivers and cars to try and see. We moved our cars out of the way and walked as quickly as possible past the various vendors, in through the La Source gate – and on to the track itself.

Wow! This came as a minor shock, I suppose I expected to be diverted over a bridge or under a tunnel to get to the infield but no, we were walking across La Source corner itself and into the pitlane exit! The place was bustling, La Source was packed with people and you could see hundreds on the main straight and yet more in the pitlane.


Gavin heading to the pitwalk / The famous house! / La Source exit

At this stage it was everyone for themselves, we instintively split up because we each knew we were running out of time and it was important to see as much as you could manage, plus we all had different interests. Some went rushing down pitlane, some checked out the new teams nearer our entrance. I hung around La Source for a little bit, looked at the steeper-than-expected run down the hill past the support paddock, and then walked into the pitlane where I found Lukeh and Lou had spotted David Croft and Anthony Davidson of BBC Radio 5 Live, in their trackies ready for their run (at every GP they run a lap of the track). I missed the conversation but was relayed it later, it seems Crofty remembered the pair having met at Goodwood earlier in the year! Lou had made a banner especially for them.

Here are a selection of photos from the pitwalk:



I also got a small amount of video:

Alternative link at Picasa in case the YouTube version is pulled (I can’t embed Picasa videos).

Somehow, and I still have no idea how they did it among all these people, Kathi and Emma appeared in front of us and started talking to us, and knew who we were. It took me a few moments to register that it was them! I think they must have found Lou or one of the others a few moments before? They been there since the pitlane opened and told us they’d managed to meet Bruno Senna and Rubens Barrichello, who’d come out of the pits to give signatures and meet the fans. Pretty cool! It was nearing 6pm and at the far end of pitlane security were getting a bit pushy, so Kathi and Emma were heading out. Since we’d only been there a short time we weren’t having that! I for one wasn’t planning to leave until I physically couldn’t stay any more.

That’s pretty much what happened. The guards worked their way down from pit in, and then split pitlane in half so those of us who hadn’t got that far were out of luck. Those with the ‘big teams’ were led out on to the main straight, the rest of us were trapped and had to return from whence we came, to pit exit. We took some more pics as we made our way slowly out.



There are a few more photos in my Spa Thursday album.

We soaked up the great atmosphere at La Source for a short while before making our way up the steep hill towards Franchorchamps village and our cars.

Evening

Next on the agenda was to book into the luxury mobile homes at the campsite, and unload all our bags. After working around the lanes with a short detour down a steep gravel track, we did just that! We were pleasantly surprised to find the homes were quite spacious, the bedrooms were a bit tight but we only needed them as somewhere to crash overnight and store clothes. The main living space was nice and open with a comfy seating area. A good choice and very well found by Kathi!

We were still one member short. Guille (pronounced sort of like ‘Geeche’) from Argentina was making his way to us from Paris via a train which had been delayed. The group split up, I and a couple of others went to pick up a bit of shopping and collect Guille, Bassano took Emma and Kathi to collect their bags from another town and a few stayed back at the site. We would rendezvous for steaks at the campsite restaurant.

Guille’s train seemed even more delayed than even he’d expected, the 3 of us meeting him were sat in the dark and wet station near some dodgy-looking taxi drivers! Eventually he arrived, I think quite tired after the journey from home including long flights, buses and trains, I think he appreciated that we’d put in orders for steak!

It really was a very good steak, I ate mine quickly enough that most of it was gone by the time I’d got a photo. I had to get a photo. For some reason they served it with melon and orange, really weird. The frites were disappointing, we’d been promised much but they were bog standard thin chips really. Beer was had. Steak and a glass of Hoegaarden is a nice combo.

We wanted to stay and make a night of it, but after the travelling and pitlane excitement were all so tired we had to retire to the homes for a chat in quieter surroundings – the site restaurant/pub got very loud and we wanted to be sociable especially with Guille, Emma and Kathi who we’d barely met. We all went back to one of the homes, talked, and tried to get the wifi to work so that we could comment at Sidepodcast, send tweets and perhaps put up some little blog posts. This didn’t really work, it was a real shame the wifi was unreliable in the girls’ home and was barely functional in the boys’ home. My plans for little blog updates over the weekend went out of the window there and then, and it was a struggle to get connected long enough for even the most basic message. Some people fared better than others, some could get on reasonably well all weekend whereas I had terrible trouble with it. Not to worry, blogs and social media could wait, we were being social in real life with fellow F1 and racing fans, and for us that was even more important.

All embedded photos and videos were taken by me (Patrick Wotton), I haven’t set up anything officially but you can consider them available for use under Creative Commons. Some of the linked media may be copyright, check details on the relevant pages.

Read on with the first part of Friday’s fun!

2010 Belgian GP – Thursday Pt.1

This post is part of my recap of the Belgian Grand Prix weekend and is about the Thursday before the race. Please see Tues/Weds here. Once again, I apologise for the lengthy delay.

The Road Trip

Following the Tuesday and Wednesday meetups I was still in London, to cut 3 hours off the journey time on Road Trip Day. From the hotel I was to cross South London to meet the others, we’d head to Kent to pick up two more, than take the EuroTunnel train to France for the drive to Belgium. A slight problem though, the week prior to the Grand Prix the organisers announced there would be a pitlane walkabout on Thursday – and if we stuck to our planned schedule there was no way we’d make it.

Cue urgent discussions in the pubs on Tuesday and Wednesday as we attempted to estimate the total journey time. Our original plan merely called for us to aim at the campsite near Spa and we’d get there whenever we got there, with no hurry the tunnel tickets were accordingly booked for lunchtime. Despite none of us having ever driven from London to Folkestone or from Calais to the other side of Belgium we came up with an estimated journey time with the use of Google Maps. We were to leave a couple of hours earlier than planned and push on as best as we could with as few stops as possible. We decided to aim directly for the racetrack, we could drop bags and pick up mobile home keys afterwards. Handily the standard EuroTunnel ticket allows you to be up to two hours early (or late) with no penalty. It was agreed if we got more than halfway there and it became clear there wasn’t a chance, we’d just follow the original plan, back down the speed and cruise on to the campsite. The pitlane walk started at 4.30pm. Our ETA was between 4 and 5pm. It was on.

We’re Off!

I departed the hotel only ten minutes later than planned, not bad for me on a non-work morning. ‘Not a problem,’ thinks I when I reach my car. ‘My sat-nav tells me it will only take 30 minutes and not the 50 I’d thought.’ Nnno. It took an hour! The traffic was heavy but not horrendous by London standards, though hitting every red light was extremely frustrating. Parts of London operate a ‘wave’ system so if you catch a green light you can ‘ride the wave’ of greens all the way. I caught reds. I’ve never known lights stay red for so long, or encountered so many in one run. Road closures did nothing to improve either my arrival time or my mood, and conspired to get me lost near the rendezvous point, not helped when the infernal sat-nav (voiced by Juan Pablo Montoya!) told me the destination was in a residential backroad some half mile away from the real location.

The others kindly agreed to come find me as I was lost and a little flustered by this stage, especially after the stellar efforts made by Chris and Pamela to get to the meeting point extra early from a distance away, it was silly to be even later when all I had to do was drive over and it really annoyed me! However, while I waiting for the others to get to me I decided this would be our hiccup for the day, I reckoned we were always going to have one, this would be it and I was relieved we’d got it out of the way so soon. It would be plain sailing from here.

Chris transferred to my car, then at about 8.20 (an hour late – sorry!) we set off down the A20 and M20 to Ashford to pick up Lou and Luke who were also riding in my car. The other car consisted of Bassano (driving), Gavin/Rubbergoat, Amy and Pamela.

We were very pleased to find we’d overestimated the journey time down to Kent – we’d allowed two hours including London traffic, and it only took us one hour. Bonus! Turns out the traffic was between me and the others, not between the meeting place and the motorway, useful to know if there’s a next time. So we picked up the others pretty much when we said we would, cue a huge relief from us all and me in particular. Both cars fully loaded, the road trip was on, we were set to go to Belgium!

Tunnel

The EuroTunnel shuttle was easy and hassle-free. It was quite spooky driving up to the unmanned check-in screen and have your name appear on the screen before you’ve even done anything – it scanned the car number plate! After a quick pitstop in the terminal we passed through passport control, the UK guys waved us straight through and the French just had a glance at our passports, nice and easy. The other car was delayed briefly as Amy and Pamela are from outside the EU, but no problems there either. For those not familiar with the tunnel, you have the curiosity of passing French customs while in the UK, legally you are then in France while physically still being in Kent. I’m not sure why this is still the case because travel between two EU countries is supposed to be unrestricted, border controls across the continent have been dismantled.

Then on to the train! Many people would find this unremarkable, it’s fair to say most of us are quite geeky and we were quite excited by it.

As each car slowly boarded, we were directed to the ramp to the upper floor. It had been drizzling so the ramp was wet, I left a gap to the car ahead so I wouldn’t have to stop on the ramp, went to put the power on and got a nice dose of wheelspin! Wheelspin on a train, a first for all of us in the car.

The train, once it gets going after all the safety announcements, only takes 35 minutes to travel under the Channel to Calais. Pretty sure it took us as long to get through security and the queues between the terminal and the train! When on the train we got out of the cars for a chat and a leg-stretch before the longer driving stint ahead.

Road Trip!

As you do all the passport checks before boarding, when leaving you drive straight off the train, along a service road and directly on to the autoroute – we were on our way! I’m not sure about Bassano but this was my first time driving outside the UK and on the right-hand side of the road. I’ve been a passenger many times, including a 10-hour run from the South of France to the tunnel. I found it really easy, I suppose because it was a two-lane motorway and the only thing to remember was the faster cars were on the left of the car not the right. It wasn’t like there were cars coming toward us on the opposite side.. not yet.

We quickly wound the cars up to pace, I was the lead car and I wanted to make the most of the 130km/h (80mph) speed limit in France and the 120km/h (75mph) limit in Belgium (and especially the higher French limit), but being careful not to stray over them because I’d been warned of hidden cameras along our route – French/Belgian examples aren’t as conspicuous as their UK equivalents and the fines are higher.

The French section was unremarkable, yet seemingly just as soon as we crossed into Belgium the driving standards changed completely. It was normal for drivers in the slow lane to pull into the fast lane no matter what was bearing down on them, no matter what speed they were doing, and only use their indicators when they were nearly across the gap, if at all. This isn’t ideal when you are pushing on. The pair of us each had to hit the brakes hard on many occasions including cars splitting us up. At home, slower traffic usually has enough sense to check the mirrors first!

There were plenty of near misses and not just with us but with a lot of traffic in the faster lane. It was just the same at slower speeds. In traffic such as the long 5mph Brussels jam, they thought nothing of cutting across two lanes of traffic in no more than 50 feet – not aided by some awful junction design which expected traffic to cross multiple lanes in well under a kilometre. A truck did that in front of me and I was worried he’d take out the nose of the car!

That traffic jam delayed us quite a bit, but after that despite the quirks of the locals we made really good progress, with just a couple of toilet/coffee/fuel stops which really were just quick stop-and-goes. I’d borrowed some radios, kids toys really and they weren’t great, but we managed to get messages to each other along the journey. Every time we stopped we called out “Box! Box! Box!” to tell the other car we were pitting!

Finding the Track

We arrived in the Ardennes area at about 4.30pm and got near the track at about 5pm. As we approached we had the slight problem of finding the right entrance, because this wasn’t a normal day for the public not all the gates were open. The maps provided with the tickets were very vague and were designed for Friday, Saturday and Sunday – there was no indication of where to go for the pit walk, or on the signs.

We followed our best guess at which of the 3 motorway exits to take and followed the signs to the track, when we heard a call over the radio from Gavin. We were on the old circuit! The main road meets it at a roundabout near the small town of Malmedy, we were heading ‘the wrong way’ along the classic circuit towards the modern circuit. It was surprisingly narrow for a race track (though for us it was a normal 2-lane country road) and surprisingly steep, I hadn’t realised just how steep this section was. It was barely recognisable as the old circuit as it had been kept up to modern road standards with smooth tarmac, painted lines, signs and the rest. Just before Les Combes it veered off to a bypass, the circuit has been permanent for some years now and the local roads have found a way around it.

After trying a gate or two we found our way to a roundabout near to La Source corner, we were just about to try our luck with the guards when someone shouted out – Jake and Martin!

Jake Humphrey and Martin Brundle from the BBC had driven over from London at the same time we did, in Martin’s classic Jaguar E-Type rigged with cameras for a special pre-race feature. They had parked up on the outside of this roundabout and were surrounded by people!

We quickly abandoned the cars, everyone grabbed cameras and went running over to them. I made sure the car was out of the way as best it could be, and locked, with all these people around I wasn’t keen to leave it unlocked and unattended when it had all our bags in it! I tried to find my camera but remembered I’d left it in my main bag, being the driver I assumed I wouldn’t need it until the paddock as I’d be too busy! Unfortunately I didn’t grab a photo, thankfully many of the rest of our group did. Martin with me and Lou; Jake and Martin with Pamela and Amy; So did Jake himself when he tweeted a photo of our group! We really had only been there ten minutes. Finally, Lou got a shot of that very same Twitpic moment from the other angle.

What a great welcome to Spa!

You can read Part 2 of Thursday’s adventures here.

Belgian Grand Prix – Audio

I had an utterly brilliant time in Belgium for the Grand Prix along with 10 fellow F1 fans loosely revolving around the Sidepodcast.com community. There will be plenty of blog write-ups across many sites from several of us over the coming days and I’ll do my best to point you to them. In the meantime, you should listen to this.

On Sunday night we came together and recorded our thoughts into a 26-minute podcast which is now available at Sidepodcast.

Between the group of us we covered:

– the rain

– the circuit

– the bumping into people

– the locals

..and much more besides.

LISTEN HERE

It really is a good listen and I think – I hope – we managed to capture our excitement at having attended the race, and having battled through the elements and won.

Hope you like it.

**

Apologies for those waiting for the TMR Game post, I’ve been too tired to catch up with it and will write it Thursday night. If you need to get an entry in beforehand please use last week’s post.

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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