Grand Prix of Belgium – Race

There are quite a few penalties to apply after Qualifying, even after my attempt to calculate the grid! PAL has taken a 5 grid spot drop for a gearbox change [FIA] following his Q3 breakdown, pushing him down to P14.

Grid: HAM, VET, BOT, RAI, VER, RIC, HUL, PER, OCO, ALO, GRO, MAG, SAI, PAL, STR, MAS, ERI, WEH, KVY, VAN

Air temperature 23°C; track 33°C; it’s dry now but Spa is always changeable

Looks like most are starting on ultra-softs
HAM leads everyone away on the formation lap
Spa is the longest lap on the calendar, so HAM needs to be careful not to let them spread out too much
Grid forms up
PER has smoke from his brakes

01/44: RAI attacks BOT into Turn 1 but BOT keeps P3
ALO cut Turn 4 (Raidillon) and is up to P7

02: HAM, VET, BOT, RAI, VER, RIC, HUL, ALO, OCO, MAG
HUL passed ALO just out of the final turn but ALO fights back and reclaims P7 as the climb up Eau Rouge

03: VET fastest lap 1:50.613
DRS enabled
WEH pits; he’s pushed into the garage
HUL passes ALO for P7

04: HAM f/lap 1:50.328
VET just 1sec behind HAM
OCO passes ALO up the hill
Replay of the start shows OCO squeezed against the wall out of Turn 1

05/44: HAM, VET, BOT, RAI, VER, RIC, HUL, OCO, ALO, PER
HAM f/lap 1:49.926
ALO is now passed by PER – same place on 3 consecutive laps has dropped him from P7 to P10
WEH is out of his car – looks like they couldn’t fix the problem at the Sauber’s rear end

06: GRO now passes ALO for P10
Radio from ALO sounds very demotivated as he slides down the order thanks to the Honda engine; “embarrassing, really embarrassing”

08: VER has slowed and parked the Red Bull on the Kemmel straight

09: ERI and PAL pit

10/44: HAM, VET, BOT, RAI, RIC, HUL, OCO, PER, GRO, ALO
STR and MAG pit

11: PAL’s tracking device is unreliable – every so often the timing data shows him as P20 before jumping him back to the right place
VET f/lap 1:49.911
OCO and GRO pit

12: HUL pits from P6; 3.3sec stop; rejoins P8
MAS pit too

13: HAM pits; 2.3sec stop; softs going on; rejoins P4
PER pits too
OCO takes P8 from KVY
Incident involving car 7 (RAI) for failing to slow under yellow flags

14: BOT pits; 3.3sec stop; softs; rejoins P5
PER looks down the inside of GRO into Turn 1 but backs off
PER has another look; passes GRO but cuts the corner

15/44: VET pits from P1; 2.6sec stop; softs; rejoins P3
RIC pits too; rejoins P5
HAM f/lap 1:49.414
HAM passes RAI out of Eau Rouge, to be P1 again

16: RAI pits
BOT f/lap 1:48.676
Incident involving car 11 (PER) for leaving the track and gaining an advantage

17: 10-sec stop/go penalty for RAI for ignoring yellow flags
Radio for ALO with tyre updates; ALO snaps “no more radio for the rest of the race”

18: RAI serves his penalty; rejoins P8

19: Radio from GRO complaining PER cut another corner
5-sec penalty for PER for gaining an advantage after cutting a corner

20/44: HAM, VET, BOT, RIC, HUL, RAI, OCO, PER, SAI, GRO, MAG, MAS, ALO, PAL, STR, KVY, VAN, ERI; retirements: VER, WEH
SAI pits; serves penalty; rejoins P15

22: 5-sec penalty for PER for gaining an advantage after cutting a corner … I think that’s a 2nd penalty, because he’s already served the first one

23: HAM has only managed to open his lead to 1.7secs

24: BOT f/lap 1:48.616
RAI closing on HUL

25/44: HAM, VET, BOT, RIC, HUL, RAI, OCO, PER, GRO, MAG
RAI blasts past HUL to take P5

26: PER pits to serve his second 5-sec stop/go penalty; rejoins P12

27: ALO pits; pushed into the garage
Apparently ALO asked if there was going to be rain, and then decided to call it a day

28: PER f/lap 1:48.300
OCO pits

29: The two Force Indias are battling out of Turn 1
Contact was inevitable – OCO loses part of his front wing, and PER has a rear left puncture
PER has lost the carcass but he’s rushing to get back to the pits
Someone (PER) should get a big penalty – that was stupid!
Safety Car deployed

30/44 [SC]: Everyone diving into the pits

31[SC]: HAM, VET, BOT, RIC, RAI, HUL, GRO, MAS, MAG, OCO, SAI, STR, KVY, PER, PAL, VAN, ERI; retirements: ALO, VER, WEH
HAM is on softs; VET on ultra-softs

32[SC]: Radio from HAM, frustrated that the SC is still out
Lapped cars can pass the SC – that’s just ERI

33[SC]: Radio from HAM complaining that the SC is too slow (as usual)
Incident involving cars 11 and 31 (PER and OCO) noted – causing a collision
SC in at the end of this lap
HAM backs up the pack, ready for the restart

34: VET right on HAM’s tail as they go up Eau Rouge
HAM defends and holds on to P1
RIC makes a brave move on RAI and BOT, and jumps up to P3

35/44: HAM, VET, RIC, RAI, BOT, HUL, GRO, MAS, OCO, SAI
HAM f/lap 1:47.698
MAG pits

36: HAM f/lap 1:46.603
DRS enabled
Replay of the restart: MAG locked up into the final chicane, almost rear-ended someone

37: HAM just far enough ahead of VET to avoid the Ferrari getting DRS – 1.2sec

38: Radio for VET telling him he “can push, tyre-wise”
VET closes the gap to HAM

40/44: HAM, VET, RIC, RAI, BOT, HUL, GRO, MAS, OCO, SAI, STR, KVY, PER, PAL, VAN, ERI, MAG

41: HAM’s lead ~1.3sec
Radio for HAM telling him tyre temps have stabilised

42: VET f/lap 1:46.577
Radio for PER telling him to “box, box; we’re going to retire the car”

43: PER pits; retires
RIC has opened his gap over RAI and BOT

44 = final lap: Looks like HAM will win his 200th Grand Prix – it’ll be his 58th victory

HAM takes the chequered flag

The cars are sent into the pit lane exit, because the lap is so long

Provisional result: HAM, VET, RIC, RAI, BOT, HUL, GRO, MAS, OCO, SAI; STR, KVY, PAL, VAN, MAG, ERI
DNF: PER, ALO, VER, WEH

I think that means VET is just 7 points ahead of HAM, and Mercedes are 39 ahead of Ferrari.
Next weekend is the Grand Prix of Italy, so Ferrari will be hoping for another win.

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