04/09/2012

Belgian GP, Spa- Back with a bang

Oh yeah!! F1 is back and with a bang really. A great start at Spa for the second half and now 8 interesting races to look forward to. The weekend gave us all action both on-track & off-track. Button started from pole to win his maiden GP of Belgium. Vettel started lowly P10 to finish behind Button and Kimi rounding off at P3.

Details of the weekend right here:

Practice Sessions, FP1:


A rainy welcome to F1 after a long break and straightaway we were at home with the disrupted session and limited running. Still the teams managed to do some running on full wets as it was drivable on those tyres but times would mean nothing. Kobayashi ended P1 as he completed the most number of laps with 20, Maldonado at P2 & Ricciardo at P3. Rain session can give us such results. Di Resta ended at P11 & Hülkenberg at P13 as they chose to run at max 11 laps. Karthikeyan sat out for Clos in the session.

FP2:

What to write here? This session was as good as washed out session, only 10 cars with times which came right at the end of the session. No one wanted to risk going out in such situations, we can understand their plight and the biggest losers the fans. Anyhow Pic ended with P1, yeah rarest of rare time when Marussia is on top. Ricciardo ended at P2 & Alonso at P3. For SFI, Di Resta ended at P4 & Hülkenberg at P9 which mattered less. Karthikeyan & HRT chose not to run.

FP3:

Finally some much needed sunshine and the teams wasted no time as all the teams headed out to gather as much data possible for qualifying and race tomorrow. And as usual times were closer in the session. It was a crucial dry session in hand with teams doing more than 20 laps. Alonso ended at P1, Kimi at P2 and Perez at P3, the usual suspects. SFI had a fruitful session as Di Resta ended at P10 & Hülkenberg at P14 running for about 22 laps each gathering much needed data. Karthikeyan ended P23, very close to his teammate as Pedro had said the team will be having a bigger upgrade in Singapore and till then it results will somewhat similar to previous races.

Due to lack of running, it was very difficult to predict anything but then the usual suspects were on the cards to get the pole with Hamilton, Kimi, Alonso, Vettel the front runners. I was expecting both the Force India’s in Q3 due to the nature of the track. Karthikeyan was expecting to beat his teammate or come thousands of a second close to him.

Qualifying, Q1:

It began slowly as teams took to track for the first session of qualifying post break. With only FP3 as a benchmark, qualifying could have turned into a lottery. As the session ended Maldonado was P1, Button P2 & Hülkenberg P3. Both SFI made it safely to Q2. Unfortunately, Rosberg bowed out with the usual suspects making his weekend start a poor one. Karthikeyan qualified P24 but he was far off from his team mate, certainly not the best run from him.

Q2:

Things started getting serious in Q2 as there were more than 10 contenders who could make it to Top 10 easily. And something unexpected happened as Vettel bowed out in Q2 with only 11th fastest, along with him Schumacher & Massa were out too. Hülkenberg ended P12, he was disappointed because he knew he could have done a lot better. He lost sometime time in the middle sector. Di Resta on the other hand made it safely to Q3, he must have felt good beating his team mate after a while. Button was P1, Perez P2 & Kimi P3.

Q3:

 Before Q3 had started, I bet no one would have predicted the line-up we saw after the session. Button clinched pole with an astonishing lap, his first pole since Monaco 2009 and behind him was Kobayashi at P2 & Maldonado at P3. Alonso was only P6 7 Hamilton a lowly P8. Di Resta ended P10 after what was a bit slow lap than his Q2. He said he lost a bit of time but he was happy with the performance overall.

A crazy qualifying session but it gave me a relief that nothing has changed and it is 2012 season still. Button did an awesome 3 laps and clinch pole with Kobayashi, Perez, Maldonado surprise package. Both Di Resta & Hülkenberg were to move up one place due to other penalties and thus a double point finish was looking bright and surely I was hoping for a big haul of points.

Raceday:

The weather in Spa was very sunny and hot, there was no sign of rain and for once in many times the weather prediction was right with Friday being rainy and the rest two days dry and sunny. With weather out of equation, it was all down to the speed, tyre strategies. The starting grid was interesting as Button would start alongside Kobayashi & Perez while Kimi behind them. The most interesting was Alonso, Grosjean, Maldonado & Hamilton all together and boy o boy anything was possible. Everyone was expecting something from Maldonado but the drama was provided by Grosjean this time though Maldonado did have a jump start.

As Grosjean started he hit Hamilton who lost control and both Hamilton & Grosjean hit Alonso. Grosjean also hit Perez who lost his rear wing. Kobayashi & Maldonado were caught in the accident but they didn’t suffer DNF’s. I was relieved to see all the drivers were OK. Grosjean was to be blamed for this and he duly apologised. In all the melee, the order changed as Button headed with Kimi behind and the biggest gainers Hülkenberg, Di Resta & Schumacher followed the leaders. SC was called right away and stayed for about 5-6 laps. Karthikeyan also gained positions as he was running P14.

As the SC went in, quickly Hülkenberg overtook Kimi to take the P2 position as Di Resta lost ground and Schumacher gained places. Vergne & Ricciardo were in Top 10 as well, the STR guys gaining good ground. Vettel who didn’t gain any position due to the incident started making a move and was really charging up through the field. He quickly overtook Webber, Senna & Massa to come up the field as high as P2. He had a gritty fight with Schumi after he jumped Kimi & Hülkenberg in the pit stops. Behind the top 10, there was a real fight going on between Caterham, Marussia & HRT.

Force India’s Hülkenberg & Di Resta had a dream of starts. After first round of pit stops, Hülkenberg was well within the top 5 but he lost a place to Kimi. His pace was quite good out there keeping up with Schumacher, Kimi ahead of him. Di Resta on the other hand was way down just outside the top 10 fighting with the Toro Rosso’s & Rosberg. It was only after the race we came to know that his pace was down because of KERS failure before the start of the race. Karthikeyan meanwhile was looking pretty good staying ahead of Pedro, Heikki but after his second pit stop due to lose wheel nut, he lost control and shunted suffering a DNF. He was having a great race, shame to end in such a way.

Button meanwhile was having a lonely race in the front and was comfortable to win without much hassle which he did in the end. His first win since Australia 2012 which seemed a long time ago. Vettel ended a well deserved P2 after a tight battle all the way up, his 1 pit stop strategy worked well. Behind the duo, there was a real battle for the P3 position as Kimi, Schumacher, Hülkenberg, Webber were all fighting hard. Kimi & Schumi were going back and forth but Kimi managed to stick a move to get ahead. Hülkenberg was fending off Webber well and fighting with Schumi but as Schumi went for a late pit stop, Hulk got the P4 position a career best for him and season’s best for the team. Di Resta ended P10 after Senna & Rosberg’s late pit stop, he drove a fantastic race without KERS.

A great started to the second half of the season. Though everyone say that SFI got lucky with incidents but we forget the fact that it’s F1 and when an opportunity comes by, teams have to be there to take it and fight it out. Nico sure did that, he had the pace to stay on with Kimi, Schumi and fight for his P4. SFI have scored 13 points and have gone up to P7 position beating Williams. Next up is Monza now, only few days to go. I hope it will be another cracker of a race, till then it’s me signing off.

Note: Due to internet connectivity issues, I am posting the blog on behalf of Darshan Chokhani. The blog is written by him only.

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