F1 2011

Belgium F1 GP: 1-2 victory for Red Bull’s Vettel and Webber, 3rd for Vodafone-McLaren’s Button !

2010 Formula1 World Champion and Red Bull driver Sebastian Vettel and his team mate Mark Webber turned the tables ardently on McLaren and Ferrari to score a dominant Red Bull one-two in a breathtaking Grand Prix in Belgium on Sunday.

The race began with slow-starting Jaime Alguersuari (starting from P6) in the Toro Rosso being hit at La Source by Bruno Senna’s Renault (starting from P7) , who later received a drive-through penalty. A similar scenario was repeated when Timo Glock hit Paul Di Resta’s Force India, the Virgin driver also receiving the same penalty.

Up front, German Red Bull driver Sebastian Vettel coined his hard-earned pole position into a lead, but he and Webber (whose anti-stall ruined his start for the second year in succession) and Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso had taken a lot out of their Pirelli tires in qualifying and were aware that their life was limited. There had been pre-race negotiations held by the Italian company to supply teams with new front tyres, but the FIA would not allow that, nor for any team to make changes to their front camber angles associated with a mandatory starting from the pit lane.

Mercedes GP driver Nico Rosberg put the cat among the pigeons by a perfectly timed launch to grab the lead after a turbulent start for two laps before the German Red Bull driver Sebastian Vettel passed the Mercedes GP. Australian Red bull driver Mark Webber was the first to pit, on lap three, with Vettel coming in from the lead two laps later. That put Mercedes GP driver Nico Rosberg ahead again until Spanish Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso led for two laps to perform his first pit stop on lap eight. All the aforementioned series of pit stops put Vodafone McLaren Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton into the lead after a slow start, but the McLaren was also in for a set of fresh tires by lap 10.

At this stage there was more overtaking up and down the field than any spectator and motorsport enthusiast could handle, while a fierce battle between the Ferraris and Hamilton particularly brightening the fifth lap as they raced wheel-to-wheel and Vodafone McLaren Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton followed Fernando Alonso’s lead in squeezing by Brazilian Scuderia Ferrari driver Massa in a amazingly brave move down to Pouhon.

As a matter of fact, the adrenalin rush causing serious palpations for all spectators erupted, when at the ninth lap Australian Red Bull driver Mark Webber pulled a spectacular pass on Scuderia Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso on the uphill run to Eau Rouge, as the latter was exiting the pit-lane and both using KERS and going full throttle. One lap later, Red Bull driver SebastianVettel went round the outside of Mercedes GP driver Nico Rosberg at Blanchimont. This was Grand Prix racing at its finest, without any influence from DRS.

The world champion was back in the lead by lap 10, but pitted again when the safety car came out on lap 13. 2008 Formula 1 World Champion and Vodafone McLaren Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton had been pushing back up after his stop and had climbed to fifth, chasing Sebastian Vettel, Nico Rosberg, Mark Webber and Sauber’s Kamui Kobayashi who had yet to make their pit stops.
Vodafone McLaren Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton overlooked the Sauber of Kamui Kobayashi after overtaking it, which was a bit closer than Lewis Hamilton had expected at Les Combes and as the latter moved over too much to take the racing line, his left rear wheel caught on Kobayashi’s right front.

The contact spun the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes anti-clockwise into a very heavy shunt with the barriers, and triggering the safety car intervention. Adrian Sutil, Rubens Barrichello, Michael Schumacher, Jenson Button, Daniel Ricciardo, Jarno Trulli and Jerome D’Ambrosio also pitted like Sebastian Vettel, and by the time the race resumed the order on lap 18 was Sebastian Vettel (who had passed Fernando Alonso going up Kemmel on lap 17), Alonso, Mark Webber, Nico Rosberg and Felipe Massa.

Behind them, Force India driver Adrian Sutil fended off 7 times Formula 1 World Champion Michael Schumacher, who had piled up from his back-row start to gain 10 places in the opening lap of the Belgium Grand Prix, Button, whose rear wing had been face-lifted by Paul Di Resta in the opening lap brawl, Vitaly Petrov and Sergio Perez.

Sebastian Vettel steadily pulled away from the Ferrari, and now clearly owned the race. Slowly but surely it became a matter of whether the Ferrari could hang on in second place or not. Australian Red Bull driver Mark Webber began to pull it after a long stint on the medium Pirelli tire, and after the final stops around the 30-lap mark the Australian slashed a four-second deficit and overtook the red car with DRS on the 37th lap at the end of the Kemmel straight.

By this stage Vodafone McLaren Mercedes driver Jenson Button’s race had finally started to come alive, and a strong drive saw him taking his opponents down until he was Scuderia Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso's big threat over the final laps. He eliminated a 6.8s gap to the Ferrari and dived past it at Les Combes on the 42nd lap. After Hamilton’s accident, that was a big boost for McLaren in a race they had expected to win.

In the end Michael Schumacher took fifth for Mercedes after team mate Nico Rosberg was instructed to �save fuel’, whereas the other decisive factor was that Michael was on the soft tires at the end while Nico was on the medium ones, which was around a second a lap slower. Adrian Sutil got some relief when the challenging Vitaly Petrov also had to go into fuel conservation mode and was passed by Felipe Massa, who had to make a third pit stop after picking up a puncture. Vitaly Petrov hung on for ninth ahead of Pastor Maldonado who took the final point - his first in F1 - for Williams ahead of Paul Di Resta and Kamui Kobayashi.

Bruno Senna recovered from his drive-through penalty to take a disappointed 13th after starting from P7, leading home the Lotuses of Jarno Trulli and Heikki Kovalainen both of which lost ground when they were forced to a halt in the first-corner havoc.

Barrichello was 16th after an unscheduled late stop became necessary due to a damaged front wing on the back of Kobayashi while challenging him going into the chicane, as D’Ambrosio brought his Virgin home ahead of team mate Glock.

Tonio Liuzzi was the final finisher, with everyone from Trulli downwards a lap behind. The HRT driver’s team mate Ricciardo retired, as did Perez after a drive-through for an incident with Toro Rosso's Sebastien Buemi and a series of pit stops. Besides Lewis Hamilton and Jaime Alguersuari, whose steering and front suspension were damaged when Bruno Senna hit him, Sebastian Buemi also failed to make it home after running as high as sixth on the opening lap and being a strong points contender until damage to his rear wing sustained early on caused it to completely to collapse after six laps.

In the drivers’ championship standings, Sebatian Vettel leads with 259 points, ahead of his team mate Mark Webber on 167, Fernando Alonso on 157, Jenson Button on 149 and Lewis Hamilton on 146. Felipe Massa remains sixth with 74. In the constructors standings, Red Bull added 43 points this week end to bring their leading score to 426 ahead of McLaren Mercedes on 295 and Scuderia Ferrari on 231.


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