Grand Prix of Belgium – Race

It’s warm in Spa, but not quite as hot as it was in Qualifying.

Provisional grid: ROS, VES, RAI, VET, RIC, PER, HUL, BOT, BUT, MAS, GRO, MAG, PAL, SAI, WEH, NAS, OCO, GUT*, KVY, ERI*, HAM*, ALO*.
*GUT was given a 5 grid spot penalty for impeding WEH; ERI, HAM and ALO all received penalties for engine changes.

There was briefly a suggestion HAM would have to start from the pit lane, but he will be starting from the back of the grid.

VES will start on super-soft tyres, as will PER, HUL, BOT, BUT & MAS; only ROS, RAI, VET & RIC from the top 10 will be on the soft compounds.

Air temperature 26°C; track 37°C; it’s cloudy but no chance of rain

Looks like ERI is starting from the pit lane
HAM and ALO starting on medium tyres! – Are they thinking of 2-stopping?

ROS leads the grid (except ERI) round on the formation lap
A puff of smoke from ROS as the Mercedes sets off

01/44: RAI and VET both path VES before Turn 1
But VES nudges his way down the inside of RAI; VET spins around
VET has a puncture
VES has front wing damage

02: ROS, HUL, RIC, MAS, GRO, BOT, SAI
VES pits; new nose
BUT in the pits too
SAI’s right rear tyre blows! Damages his rear wing; SAI spins but tries to keep going
VET has limped back to the pits; new nose
SAI

03: Virtual Safety Car deployed

04: VSC ended
BUT confirmed as retired, along with WEH and ERI
HAM up to P12

05/44: ROS, HUL, RIC, BOT, PER, GRO, PAL, MAG, GUT, ALO; HAM, OCO, MAS, KVY, VET, VES, NAS, RAI
Replay shows WEH run into the rear of BUT under braking

06: MAG off into the tyre wall at the top of Eau Rouge
Safety Car deployed
MAG’s out of the car but he’s hobbling
They ought to red flag it – they’ve got to rebuild that tyre wall

07[SC]: Lots of cars into the pits

10/44[SC]: Red flag – session suspended
ROS, RIC, HUL, ALO, HAM, MAS, PER, KVY, PAL, GRO, VET, BOT, GUT, VES, OCO, NAS, RAI; retirements: BUT, WEH, ERI, SAI, MAG

New rules mean the teams can’t make any adjustments or even change the tyres when the cars stop in the pit lane; they can just before the restart

Well the track workers seem to be done with rebuilding the tyre wall but the aerial shot doesn’t look like they’ve got the tyres strapped together – more like they’ve chucked all the loose tyres in a heap behind the tarp; hmmmm

Report of a Williams mechanic dislocating his knee after tripping over a cable out the back of their garage

10/44[SC]: Pit lane lights go green; cars head out behind the SC
Looks like most cars are now on soft tyres, but ROS, PER on mediums
SC in at the end of this lap

11: ALO looking to pass HUL into Turn 1 but HUL stays P3
RAI all over the tail of VES
HAM looks at ALO into the chicane

12: ROS, RIC, HUL, ALO, HAM, MAS, KVY, PER, PAL, GRO
HAM takes P4 from ALO
RAI passed VES, but VES outbrakes the Ferrari; contact; RAI has to cut the corner
RAI has to let VES pass

13: RAI all over VES again; VES makes a late defence – legal?

14: Little lock-up from HAM into T1
RAI pushing hard; runs wide out of Eau Rouge
BOT takes P11 from PAL

15/44: ROS, RIC, HUL, HAM, ALO, MAS, PER, KVY, GRO, VET, BOT, GUT
Radio for PAL telling him his front and rear tyres are too hot; frustrated
Medical centre says MAG has a left ankle injury

16: VET takes P9 from GRO

17: VES pits; clean stop
VET easily past KVY for P8
BOT past GRO for P10
HAM closing on HUL again

18: HAM safely past HUL; he’s moved from P21 to P3

19: RAI tries to pass GRO; doesn’t make the pass before the turn; GRO turns in and bangs wheel with RAI
Radio from RAI asking if he has a puncture; told pressure looks ok
BOT takes P9 from KVY

20/44: ROS, RIC, HAM, HUL, ALO, MAS, PER, VET, BOT, KVY, GUT, RAI, GRO, PAL, NAS, OCO, VES; retirements: BUT, WEH, ERI, SAI, MAG

21: MAS defends P6 from PER
Radio from HAM – “starting to slide a lot”

22/44 = half distance: HAM pits from P3; slow stop; rejoins P9 ahead of GUT
RAI past GUT for P10
Radio for ROS – “happy for you to push that tyre”

23: Race control: 5-sec penalty for NAS – leaving the track and gaining an advantage
GUT and PAL pit

24: MAS kicks up some dust as he passes GRO
VES past GRO too
ALO, HUL and VET pit, as does BOT
McLaren release ALO with HUL right alongside!!
HUL ahead but ALO not backing off; contact!

25/44: PER and RAI pit
VET all over VES

26: ROS, RIC, HAM, HUL, ALO, MAS, PER, VES, VET, BOT, RAI, KVY, GUT, PAL, GRO, OCO, NAS
VET makes the pass on VES before Eau Rouge
VES gets DRS and reclaims P8 from VET

27: ROS pits; clean stop; medium tyres
VET past VES again
BOT closing on VES

28: BOT passes VES just as VES heads into the pits

29: PER makes a strong move to take P6 from MAS

30/44: ROS, RIC, HAM, HUL, ALO, PER, MAS, VET, BOT, RAI; GUT, KVY, PAL, VES, GRO, OCO, NAS; retirements: BUT, WEH, ERI, SAI, MAG
HAM under 1sec behind RIC
VES past PAL for P13

32: PER has passed ALO
Radio for HAM – “pit window is almost clear”

33: HAM pits; mediums; better than his previous stop; rejoins between HUL and PER
VET takes P7 from MAS but runs wide and MAS reclaims position

34: HAM past HUL for P3
VET passes MAS again; clean pass this time

35/44: ROS 12sec ahead of RIC, who is 17.5sec ahead of HAM
VET catches ALO and blasts past for P6

39: HAM catching RIC slowly – probably not enough though

40/44: ROS, RIC, HAM, HUL, PER, VET, ALO, MAS, BOT, RAI, VES, GUT, GRO, KVY, PAL, OCO, NAS
HAM fastest lap 1:51.692

41: HAM f/lap 1:51.583
BOT takes P8 from his teammate, MAS

42: Radio for BOT – “if we can catch him [ALO] he’ll be a sitting duck”
RAI closing on MAS; takes P9

43: BOT closing in on ALO

44 = final lap: BOT still closing
ROS takes the chequered flag
RIC P2
HAM P3, having started P21

Provisional result: ROS, RIC, HAM, HUL, PER, VET, ALO, BOT, RAI, MAS; VES, GUT, GRO, KVY, PAL, OCO, NAS
DNF: MAG, ERI, SAI, BUT, WEH

ROS’s 50th F1 podium
HAM still leads the Drivers’ Championship, but his lead is reduced to 9 points

MAG said on Twitter that he had a ‘sore ankle’ but would be ready for Monza next weekend.
“Our first concern today was with Kevin after his big accident in Eau Rouge,” Renault team principal Fred Vassuer said. “He was able to leave the car unaided and was taken to the medical centre as a precaution. He was responsive throughout but had a cut on his ankle that required some further checks so was taken to hospital in Verviers.” [source: FIA]

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