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Featured Belgian GP Debrief: Rosberg Cruises as Mayhem Ensues at Spa

Discussion in 'Formula 1' started by Ben Stevens, Aug 29, 2016.

  1. Ben Stevens

    Ben Stevens

    A chaotic start brought his teammate back to the podium, but Nico Rosberg was simply untouchable in Belgium

    If there’s a lesson to be learnt from Nico Rosberg’s victory on the Sunday, it’s that the best way to survive the chaos is to never be amongst it in the first place.

    With teammate Lewis Hamilton starting at the other end of the grid, Rosberg was able to keep one step ahead of a pack that resumed the F1 season in chaotic fashion. Five cars exited the race in the first six laps, including Renault’s Kevin Magnussen, whose heavy crash into the barriers at Eau Rouge eventually red-flagged the race on lap 10. A race flying in stark contrast to Rosberg’s, the German enjoyed a leisurely drive en route to his sixth win of the season.

    Kicking things off with a three-car collision between Kimi Raikkonen, Sebastian Vettel and Max Verstappen at the first corner, the tone was set for what would be a high-attrition start to the race, with Marcus Ericsson, Jenson Button, Carlos Sainz and Pascal Wehrlein all preceding Magnussen’s exit. Unfortunately for Rosberg, one of the biggest beneficiaries of the first-half carnage was Hamilton, with the Brit eventually making his way to third behind Rosberg and Daniel Ricciardo, all the way from his back-row start.

    All in all, Sunday’s race was a welcome return after four weeks away – there’s only so much dressage or rhythmic gymnastics a revhead can take – so read on for a look at all the big talking points from the 2016 Belgian Grand Prix.

    belpodium.JPG Rosberg wins… but so does Hamilton

    It may not have been true of your under-sevens rec soccer league, but as far as Mercedes are concerned, everyone was a winner on Sunday.

    That might seem like a strange notion given Nico Rosberg was the man hoisting the trophy, but in this season-long war between himself and Lewis Hamilton, it was a strategic win for the latter as much as it was a tactical one for the former.

    With Hamilton forced to take multiple engine penalties and start from the back, this was the weekend Rosberg could hope to take a serious chunk – if not the whole enchilada – out of his teammate’s championship lead. And certainly, the German did his part, putting the car on pole and getting away cleanly at the start, he was able to cruise to the chequered flag. However, F1 has a way of throwing even the most straightforward of scenarios out the window, and Sunday was no exception, as the aforementioned incidents gave Hamilton the boost he needed to climb back onto the podium. Now Rosberg heads to Monza still nine points behind his teammate, with two engines left to Hamilton’s three – as well-earned a win as that was for Rosberg, through no fault of his own, it could hardly be less acceptable.

    For all the misfortune Hamilton has endured to put him in such a spot at Spa, this is about as fortunate as he’s had it in 2016. It seemed all Rosberg had to do was perform to the level of the car that was given to him – which is exactly what he did – and he’d find himself level after the summer break. Luck can work both ways – it just so happened on Sunday it was decidedly in Hamilton’s favour.

    verstappenspa.jpg The Verstappening Continues

    Ah, the Summer holidays. An ideal time to relax, reflect, and clear your head – unless you’re Max Verstappen, that is.

    Getting right back to his confrontational best, it all kicked off at the first corner with Verstappen getting caught trying to go up the inside of familiar foe Kimi Raikkonen while the Finn was being pushed inwards by Sebastian Vettel, an incident the Dutchman claimed “screwed up my entire race”. Adding to the animosity, Verstappen and Raikkonen later engaged in a duel that culminated on lap 13 with the Dutchman employing a move down the Kemmel straight that was at best “late” defending and at worst, obvious blocking – in either case, it was extremely fortunate not to have the Finn’s front wing end up in his cockpit.

    Unsurprisingly, Verstappen has drawn a sizable amount of ire from across the paddock for his performance on Sunday, albeit not from the one source that has some the power to actually discipline him – the race stewards. At this point, it seems pretty unlikely the stewards are going to clamp down on Verstappen’s style of defending, as he’s done it consistently enough now that a precedent has been set, at least under their current methodology. Whether he begins to accept the sport’s “unwritten rules” of wheel-to-wheel racing is another question entirely, but given his defiant stance post-race, that seems unlikely to happen anytime soon. Perhaps the biggest cause for concern is Verstappen’s reasoning behind his behaviour being due to Vettel and Raikkonen running into him at the start, suggesting that such an incident is justification alone for what transpired on lap 13. Not only is that erroneous (If either Ferrari driver was to blame at the first corner, it was Vettel) but incredibly dangerous when a driver is thinking about revenge in future engagements. F1 has a storied history of drivers gesticulating, arguing and passive-aggressive water-drinking, and that is how personal disputes should always be settled.

    Nine races into his Red Bull career, Verstappen has thrilled and infuriated in equal measure. Speaking post-race, Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff described Verstappen as “refreshing but dangerous”, which is a perfect summation of the Dutchman in his current state. The inverse of all this criticism is that we as F1 fans want drivers who show such fearlessness – what Verstappen needs is not necessarily a greater sense of self-preservation as it is forethought, both for how such incidents can affect his race, and how they influence the way other drivers race with him in the future. Right now, it doesn’t seem like he’s learned anything, and the unfortunate reality may very well be (as Wolff himself suggested) that the only teacher who can reach him might be a wall.

    fispa.jpg Force India Leapfrog Williams in Battle of the Customers

    Watch out Williams, Force India is coming for you.

    Leading 51-8 just four races into the season, Williams now find themselves two points back of Force India after the Silverstone outfit enjoyed another impressive Sunday, with Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez finishing P4 and 5 respectively.

    Undoubtedly helped by the early carnage, there’s no denying Force India’s pace relative to Williams is completely legit – with their points gain on Sunday just making it official. Force India has now had the highest-finisher of the two teams at three races running, both on Saturday and Sunday, and in Hulkenberg and Perez, they have a pair that has been more consistently impressive than their counterparts at Williams, all of which has to have the nine-time constructor’s champions at least a little nervous.

    Given the financial situations at both teams, the battle for fourth is shaping up to be the most interesting constructor battle of the 2016 season. Judging by their current progress fourth will be a realistic target for McLaren in 2017, meaning that for Force India and Williams, any extra dollars won now could be the difference in staying on-top of the inevitable three-way fight next year. Who finishes fifth this year could be sixth the next, and that would be a tough pill to swallow for two teams that have at different times, showed so much promise. Eight races left, millions on the line, it’s certainly a battle to keep an eye on.

    Who was the bigger “winner” at Mercedes? Does Verstappen need to spend some time in the corner? Have Force India got the upper hand on Williams? Sound off in the comments below.
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  2. ARG1980

    Copenhagen APEX Premium

    Good to see K-Mag limp off - it was a close one. I am bit gutted that it happened, it was his opportunity to distance Palmer for good. He was 0,5 sec faster in quali and he was in DRS on the couple of laps before the crash. I am sure he would have scored some points for Renault. Such a shame when his is fighting for a seat in 2017. Looking forward to Monza - FORZA K-Mag.
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  3. Hamilton will be pleased. He could have lost a lot more points but instead of losing nearly 17, staying out of trouble lost him only 10 points. However, he can't get any upgraded parts now to the end of the season without further penalty, and he isn't out of the woods yet with reprimands. Good weekend for Hamilton and it's looking good for his championship as well, just a few little problems this has caused.

    Force India have well and truly overtaken Williams, no question asked at all. Williams remind me of Ferrari a bit at the moment. So much talk of doing well but we aren't actually seeing it.

    Now onto my Verstappen rant. I never thought I would dislike a driver more than Hamilton but now I do! Let's start with that turn one incident. Max could have avoided that, and there was no need to make a late lunge down the inside. However he is complaining how that ruined his race, but his lack of patience put him in that position in the first place. Vettel was to blame in my opinion, but Max should have avoided that comfortably. However, that's not where my problem lies. The problem lies with his defence. His defence is so ****ing dangerous. First of all, why the hell did he feel the need to push Raikkonen of the track. That's just against the point of racing. And because of that, Raikkonen has to let him back through? That's a stupid rule. Then there was the block down the Kemmel straight. That was the dirtiest bit of driving I've ever seen. Kimi had to slow down to avoid a huge incident. You should never, ever, block someone like that who has such a speed advantage. Max was lucky Kimi with the experience he has was behind him, otherwise this could be a completely different story with someone being injured or maybe even killed. This is a very high speed with speeds above 200MPH, you should never block like that. But Max is so far up on his high horse that he has become completely delusional. He thinks he is some sort of racing God that can do no wrong, which is bloody scary. Think about it, Max won't change if he can't accept that his defence is dangerous, and that means that someone still could be likely to be seriously hurt. Raikkonen said it perfectly, Max is going to cause a huge crash one day. What's even worse is the stewards are kissing his arse. He is the "Golden Boy" now, and the stewards are allowing him to get away with this which is ridiculous. That huge crash is waiting to happen because the stewards are not taking any action, so Max thinks what he is doing is right. Doesn't help he has such a fanbase that almost blindly support him and they can't see what he is doing wrong. You get the stupid "he is a real racing driver and drivers should just stop whinging." I mean come on! Putting people at risk is not being a real racing driver. And what makes this even worse is Max was being dangerous out of anger at what happened at turn one. This isn't the first time we've seen how hot headed Verstappen can get, we saw it against Sainz Jr in Australia. The guy has been promoted way too early, he simply isn't ready. His race craft is flawed, and that's because of a lack of experience in junior formula and his stubbornness that he does no wrong. The guy doesn't seem to be learning. We saw him in Monaco last year try to blame Grosjean for that crash, and he hasn't changed at all. At the current rate, I don't see him learning and I don't see him becoming a world champion like he currently is.
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  4. Milos

    Had things gone my way, who knows..

    Just have to hope that doesn't happen :/

    At that speed, the car would've no doubt went up in the air, so it could've been one of 3 things:
    1) The car would roll across the track
    2) The car would've gone into the trees
    3) The car would've went steaming into his diehard fanbase

    And to all of those comparing Max's driving to that of Schumacher or Senna - Kimi has raced drivers such as Schumacher himself and Montoya in the past, and I mean Schumi in his golden era, not his less-impressive Mercedes comeback. And when he says he has not had to do such things with any other driver, with the said driver being involved in at least one incident in the last 3 races, you may want to start considering there is something wrong with the driver instead.

    It's time to stop.
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  5. Rob

    XBO: OctoberDusk06 Premium

    I could not have said it better than the two previous posters. As much as I want to hate on Max, his sort of foolishness can be mostly laid at the feet of F1 and his team. The drivers have tried to talk to him, both in private and now through the media. Andy, that first lap lunge was a textbook example of how not to try and "win the race in the first turn."

    Max's Dad has well documented anger issues, and this probably was passed on to Max.

    I hope he stops before he really hurts someone. This is not a video game.
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  6. kedy89


    Stewards will only realize that they should've given some penalties when it's too late, see double-yellow.
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  7. Sharjeel

    Being 2nd is to be the 1st of the ones who lose.

    The kid is still caught up between real world and rfactor. Bloody eejit!
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  8. Fairbanks_ABGF

    Is that gasoline I smell? Premium

    Bit of a shame. He is talented and quick. I cannot judge that Kemmel Straight incident harshly, but I do believe that the rules which are currently in place should discourage people from getting in the way of someone who is literally zooming in on you with almost 30 kph of surplus speed and practically no rear downforce at the latest possible moment. I don't like the concept, but DRS is a reality.

    I would absolutely HATE to see another driver carry his politically motivated anger into the cockpit and pay the price for it. Spring 1982 is a horribly shining example of what such animosity can do to you.
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  9. snyperal


    He's fortunate that kimi hit the anchors, terrible piece of driving. I could understand a move like that for positions 5 and upwards, but not where they were, so far down the order with a damage car, there was little to be gained and an awful lot to lose.

    Turn one was a rash decision on his part too. I know seb squeezed them but I feel frankly he shouldn't have put his car there.
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  10. Really dissapointed with max his attitude. Shows that he hasn't reached the maturity yet that is expected of an f1 driver. I like watching him and believe in his talent but yesterday was a disgusting performance and quite terrifying reaction afterwards...
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  11. Loving Verstappen's aggression, he goes for the gap, defends his position. But I agree the move on the Kemmel straight was too dangerous. Time to bring back the Mansell dummy.
  12. Nox

    Staff Premium

    What is the difference now between Maldonado and Verstappen? The only difference is that Verstappen actually has raw talent. But forcing others off track? Blocking moves? Trying to get 'revenge' later in a race? You could have been talking about good 'ole Pastor.

    But the bigger issue here are, as usual, the F1 race stewards, who are inconsistent. How is he allowed to get away with forcing a driver off track? That is a basic rule, they didn't even investigate it. How can you get away with blocks - at Spa, and Hungary - basic rules. F1 is more interested in the controversy because it gets viewers and makes headlines, but frankly the stewarding is appalling. It's the same story with track limits, where the rules seem to change every session.
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  13. What the hell is wrong with F1 stewards? Verstappen is basically admitting that he's motivated to do things and that they're not just accidents or a mistake or whatever. I watch a lot of IMSA races and I never throw my arms up like this. F1 baffles me.

    Hard to respect the sport when they can't even keep their teenagers in line.
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  14. Maldonado did have raw talent. He's a GP2 champion and a race winner in F1 (at the same track Max won at the same point of their careers) Maldonado then probably went through a Kvyat phase and never really found the pace that had won him a Grand Prix. So there's even more similarities than just recklessness
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  15. Time will tell if the decision to move Max to big team was correct choice (i am not Max fan), also i don't know if anyone didn't see it but Max crossed the yellow line in the start and this is clearly a big mistake so making the start by cheating some cm, the TV showed it only once and the ignorance of stuards is really suspicious, if i remember correctly for the same issue Massa has been penalized and started from the pits last years in some race, after failling to put the car correctly twice.
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  16. Tim.E


    Coming from a Dutchie, I have to say I agree with the lot that has been said here. Max of course should've backed out into T1, once the move was made I think Vettel caused the loss of front wing. If Vettel wasn't there, then Kimi could've maybe reacted to Max' lunge. Anyways that's not the main point. I've been pretty generous in terms of supporting Max but this race showed he lacks consistency and responsibility. If he keeps up this act he might get punted off and live up to his dad's nickname as Jos Graveltrap.
  17. Probably not worth dragging-out this MV drama any longer.
    He got away with it, probably will learn from it - time to move on.

    Best story of the race for me was Mclaren. From last place to finish 7th... performance of the day :D

    Big race at Monza an Saturday - love that place.
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  18. As for Williams they should work more on the chassis because if they lose the 4th position from Force India well i imagine they will fall more back in 17 as Mclaren is getting better. Ferrari still can fight for 2nd but this year their luck (if they had any from the start) has vaporized as i see it. Also Renault showed some improvments and it's really encouraging to see this, as RBR with the same engine is way above.
  19. No. Red Bull have the better car and the better driver lineup. Ferrari should simply focus everything onto next season if they want to win the championship
  20. Yapci


    What about ALONSO doing a *****ng awesome race with that...let's say F1 car?????
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