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Vodafone McLaren's Lewis Hamilton in full control of Spa thriller

Vodafone McLaren and 2008 Formula 1 World Champion Lewis Hamilton regained the lead in the F1 World Championship with an almost error-free drive, leading from the first corner to the finish line in an incident filled Grand Prix at Spa-Francorchamps.

Red Bull driver Mark Webber arrived in second place, with Renault's Robert Kubica completing the podium finishing third, while Felipe Massa took the chequered flag for the Scuderia Ferrari in a strong fourth place.
Jenson Button and Fernando Alonso crashed out, with Sebastian Vettel failing to score a single point.
Force India's German driver Adrian Sutil arrived in fifth, with Nico Rosberg in sixth for Mercedes GP Petronas.

Rosberg's team-mate Michael Schumacher finished in a superb seventh after starting from P21, Kamui Kobayashi eighth for Sauber, Renault's Vitaly Petrov ninth and Force India's Tonio Liuzzi tenth after Toro Rosso's Jaime Alguersuari-who crossed the line ahead of Liuzzi-was handed a post-race 20 second penalty.
"I'm ecstatic, it was a great weekend," said Lewis Hamilton, whose driving was praised by his team principal Martin Whitmarsh. "A race like that can be a lottery, so I'm so happy and grateful to come out on top."
With the drivers having been clearly warned they would be punished if they used the run-off area at the opening corner, La Source, to gain any kind of advantage on the first lap, the probability of collisions appeared to be augmented.
What was not predicted was that pole-sitter Webber would make an inexcusable start, to such an extent that he reached the corner in sixth thus losing five vital places in the first 100 meters of the race.
As Hamilton pulled ahead, Kubica weaved around the Australian, and just managed to hold off the charging Button, but rain was already beginning to drop.

By the time the cars got to the Bus Stop chicane, the track was damp enough for at least nine cars to have to use the run-off area. Rubens Barrichello, who was celebrating his 300th Grand Prix at Spa, was the biggest loser, torpedoing the back of Fernando Alonso's Ferrari, a collision which put the Brazilian driver out of the race, while the Spanish Ferrari driver headed for the pits, to rejoin the race.

With the safety car out, the choice was now whether to switch to intermediates or stay on slicks, and most, including the leaders choose to stay on their smooth rubber.

It proved to be the right choice as the rain immediately eased off and as Hamilton stretched his lead after the safety car was recalled after two laps, Jenson Button and Sebastian Vettel passed Roberto Kubica, while Alonso began the long climb through the field after pitting for fresh slicks.

Button had picked up some minor front-wing damage as he fought head to head with Kubica into the first corner and struggled with the balance of his car, but while he could not keep up with the speed of team-mate Hamilton, the 2009 world champion had enough in hand to keep German Red Bull driver Sebastian Vettel at distance.

By lap 15, Hamilton had 11 seconds in hand but at the end of the next lap, the rain came again and indirectly caused disaster for Button as Vettel-who apparently decided to abandon his career as Formula 1 driver and work as fighter interceptor in the Red Bull army- lost control under braking on the damp track and lanced into the side pods of the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes of the 2009 World Champion.

Incredibly, The German Red Bull driver Sebastian Vettel was able to recover just in time to steer his car in a daring action across the track and into the pit lane, from where he rejoined the race after a quick front wing change.

Button, on the other hand, who was unable to continue and not to blame for any accusations of causing this crash, was entitled to be furious.

"All I felt was a really big bang in the sidepod and I lost drive immediately, I don't know what he was playing at really. From the point of view of the championship, it's a massive blow," he said.
The stewards immediately announced the incident would be investigated, and Vettel was handed a drive through penalty for causing an avoidable collision.

The incident left Hamilton clear of Kubica, Webber, Felipe Massa, Adrian Sutil, and remarkably, Schumacher, who had started from P21.

At the half-way point, Sutil was the first of the leading pack to change his slick tires followed by Webber, who was trying to get the jump on Kubica. Vettel, meanwhile, was down in 14th after serving his penalty, but lapping more quickly than any other driver in the field.

Hamilton stopped two laps later, and while the track stayed dry, it was looking good for the Briton. Behind him, poetic justice awaited Vettel while attempting to pass Tonio Liuzzi for 11th, as the German Rambo sliced open a tire by crossing on the Italian's front wing. Once again, he was able to limp back to the pitlane, but he rejoined in 20th.

At the three-quarter point Hamilton was maintaining a comfortable 10-second gap to Kubica, but rain was clearly on its way. As it began falling, Hamilton and Webber stayed out - and Hamilton could not stay on the damp track at Rivage-but somehow he kept his car away from the barriers, and was back on track before Webber could exploit the situation.

Immediately, Vodafone McLaren Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton came in to switch to intermediates. Webber did likewise, as did Kubica - but the Pole overshot his pitlane box and damaged the right front wing endplate of the Renault- a mistake that enabled Webber to leap-frog the pole and rejoin the race in second place. Still third was a great result for Renault on a weekend when the F-duct made the R30 very competitive.

There was more drama to come, however. On lap 39, Alonso spun out at the exit to Les Combes, leaving the Ferrari in the middle of the track, initiating another safety car period.

Being aware of the deteriorating grip levels, Hamilton nailed the restart to keep Webber at distance. The inevitable concertina effect behind him ensured plenty of incidents in the closing laps, with Mercedes GP Petronas driver Nico Rosberg overtaking his team mate and 7-times world champion Michael Schumacher in a swift and unexpected move.

Lewis Hamilton maintained his nerves of steel in superb style to score a crucial victory and give the 2010 Formula 1 World Championship a surge of Adrenalin.

With this thrilling and heard-earned victory, Vodafone McLaren Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton moved back into the lead of the world championship with 182 points to Webber’s 179. Vettel remains third on 151 ahead of Button on 147 and Alonso on 141.

In the constructors’ stakes, Red Bull still leads Vodafone McLaren Mercedes with 330 points to 329, with the Scuderia Ferrari third on 250.

I hope the upcoming Italy F1 GP in Monza on the 12th of September will be as spectacular and thrilling as this one.


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