Thursday, September 15, 2005

Comments on the Belguim GP

Ah Spa. There's nothing like it. Rain, rain and then, wait? No, just more rain. The weekend was like a scene from Noah's days as the teams did their best to qualify in a torrential downpour. Come race time the rain let up but the track was still quite wet. Just about everyone went out on intermediates and the changing climate conditions rule was put into effect so teams could change tired as needed/desired. This would cause some teams & drivers some heartburn later on.

The front row of the grid was all McLaren as JP and Kimi went 1 and 2. Giancarlo Fisichella qualified in P3, two positions ahead of Alonso but was docked the 10 places for an engine change. This put Trulli and Alonso on the second row. The third row was all Schumacher as Ralf nipped his big brother by 0.075s.

When the race started there was water all over the track but after a few laps the upper part started drying out quickly. This led to some teams trying a gamble and putting slicks on. It was disastrous. The lower part of the track was still quite flooded. Every car that tried the dry weather tires ended up sliding all over the place. They'd come back in after a lap or two to put the intermediates back on. Again, this would prove to be a crucial aspect of the race finish.

As the race went on the McLaren boys went away and opened a gap quite early, per norm. It wasn't a mega-gap due to conditions. Alonso got around Jarno and was happily tooling along in third. But Giancarlo was driving like nothing I'd seen in a while. Within a few laps he was up into 9th and pushing to get into the points. It all looked very good until he caught the curb at the top of Eau Rouge on lap 11. Bam! Into the wall. He was not a happy camper.

Later on Ralf had worked his way into 2nd place and was looking great ripping off fast lap after fast lap. But when he went in for his scheduled pit stop someone had the bright idea to try sending him back out on slicks. After sliding all over the place for one lap he came back for another tire change and that put him out of the running for the day.

The tire gamble would also cost Michael a finish. Taku was on slicks and lost it going into one of the S's. He plowed into the mack of Michael taking them both out. Michael was not pleased with this at all. He jumped out of his car and read the riot act to Taku ending up with a slap to Taku's helmet visor.

Towards the end of the race it was looking good for both McLaren and Alonso s they were running 1 & 2 (Kimi & JP) while he was happily in third. It would mean McLaren would take the lead in the constructors championship while keeping Kimi just a little farther away from catching Alonso for the drivers cup. But then another FUBAR on dries. Antonio Pizzonia was trying to keep from being lapped by JP when he lost it and took them both out with only three laps to go. This gave Alonso 2nd and fairly shut the door on Kimi's chances. Alonso could become the youngest F1 champion in history in Brazil. All he needs is 6 points over the last three races and it's done.

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