Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Belgian GP Comments

This race was far from "uneventful".

Spa lived up to it's reputation as a very tough track as neither Renault, BAR-Honda nor Williams-BMW were able to even finish the race. Jarno Trulli had his Renault on the poll but wasn't able to keep it in the race. Kimi Räikkönen started his McLaren-Mercedes in 10th but was able to power up into the lead and fend off Michael Schumacher and his Ferrari for his first win of the season. It was the first time this year that Michael didn't win a race he finished. But that didn't bother the German to much. With this 2nd place finish he clinched the drivers championship, the 7th of his career. This was also Ferrari's 700 GP race and it would have been Michael's 7 win at Spa, if he'd won.

The race had a number of really spectacular crashes starting with the first curve of the first lap. Throughout the race there were a number of crashes, bringing out the safety car 4 times. But every time it looked like Michael would have a shot at Kimi during the restart the Fin just blew him off the line and kept him in second place. This could have partially been helped by the fact that Kimi had his car set for a dry track and Michael's Ferrari was set a bit more for wet driving (the qualifying was held in a fairly big downpour).

One very bright bit of racing was turned in by Rubens Barrichello. He started 6th but was involved in the first turn melee and had to come into the pit to have his entire rear wing assembly replaced. This put him dead last far behind the next car. But with some skillful driving and good luck he worked his way up to 3rd and was able to capture his 11th podium of the season.

All in all it was an exciting race to watch. It was great to see McLaren looking very strong these last few races with their "new" MP4-19B. After the complete disaster that was the first half o f the season maybe they can make a good showing over the next four races. But even with the non-win at Spa, there's still no certainty that anyone has really climbed up to match Ferrari this year. These last four races should be quite enjoyable.

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