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HindustanTimes Mon,22 Sep 2014

Columns

Yet another 'crazy' Spa entertainer
Narain Karthikeyan
August 29, 2011
First Published: 23:05 IST(29/8/2011)
Last Updated: 16:53 IST(14/10/2011)

The Spa F1 weekend turned out another one of those crazy races the circuit is famous for dishing out. The unpredictable weather made decisions on the pitwall tough. Michael Schumacher's hopes of a dream 20th anniversary weekend seemed to come to a grinding halt as he lost a rear wheel and slammed against the barriers even before he could do a single qualifying lap, leaving him to start from the back of the grid!

A pre-race controversy also developed as Red Bull in particular faced incessant blistering on their front tyres and lobbied to have them replaced before race start on safety grounds. However, their appeal was turned down as it was deemed a result of the extreme suspension set-up on part of the Milton-Keynes outfit.

McLaren's race pace has been good of late and thus I expected Lewis to challenge the Red Bulls from the front row. However, as the lights went out, Mercedes' Rosberg got a sterling start from fifth and passed Vettel for the lead by Les Combes. Schumacher was the other one on the move, climbing to 15th by the end of the opening lap.

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Just when Hamilton looked like recovering from his bad start, he was out of the race after a misjudged slash across the track into Les Combes saw him careering into the Armco. Having DRS'd Kobayashi just before, he did not realise that the Sauber had kept up; the incident bringing out the safety car.

Keen tussle
Amidst the melee, a determined Button was also on the move from 13th - lying sixth at the half way point of the race. His alternative tyre strategy (starting with harder mediums) like Schumacher's (who was running in the top 10) - seemed to be paying off. After another round of pitstops, Vettel determinedly took the lead from Button, who finally made his way to the podium after passing a struggling Alonso three laps from the flag followed by an immensely feisty Schumacher in fifth.

Red Bull dealt a great blow to those who said that things would be difficult for them after post the summer break. Spa isn't one of their strong circuits and despite far from ideal pre-race conditions, they displayed what a world championship winning outfit is made of. McLaren, on the other hand, have been making errors strategic, and on track - weakening their championship challenge further.

One thing is for sure though, it would need a 'disastrous' miracle to take drivers and constructor titles away from Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull.


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