The second half of the 2018 Formula 1 season started with a whimper, the only bang was Fernando Alonso’s McLaren banging on the top of Sauber driver, Charles LeClerc’s HALO. But, we can take some positives from the race, Ferrari looks to be a match for Mercedes in terms of speed and handling, so we could be on for a real title fight to the end of the season, barring any Ferrari ‘tactical’ errors.
Speaking of Ferrari ‘tactical’ errors, seriously, why the hell did the Maranello based team not have Kimi Raikkonen on track in the last three minutes of qualifying? The last-minute shuffle in a rain-hit qualifying session cost Ferrari and Raikkonen dear, starting from the third row instead of the first or second row.
The start of the race was spectacular, Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg got his braking all wrong into La Source, rear-ending Alonso’s McLaren, which in turn went flying over the top of LeClerc’s Sauber, knocking off Daniel Ricciardo’s rear wing in the process, which caused Ricciardo to puncture Raikkonen’s right rear tire. This incident caused a safety car period, but before the SC was on track, Sebastian Vettel got better drive out of Raidillon, getting alongside pole sitter Hamilton to make the pass for the lead into Les Combes.
The first corner incident resulted in five drivers being out of the race, Hulkenberg, Alonso, and LeClerc were immediately out, with Ricciardo and Raikkonen out of the race later due to damage sustained in the incident. Although I think that Red Bull elected to save the power unit as Ricciardo was trundling around at the back almost two laps down, due to the time it took to replace his rear wing in the pit garage.
Then snoredom kicked in as the race died on its arse, the only upsides were Valtteri Bottas recovering to 4th from the back of the grid after taking some pain for a power unit change and Max Verstappen battling to 3rd place, passing the new entry, Racing Point Force India duo, who took advantage of Ferrari and Red Bull sleeping in qualifying, making it an all pink second row on the grid. Hamilton never looked like he could challenge the Ferrari of Vettel, eventually settling for 2nd place and 18 points, minimizing the pain.
When you go to Spa Francorchamps and the racing is this dull, questions have to be asked. The DRS zone down the Kemmel Straight made overtakes like a highway pass, the pass was done way before the corner, with the overtaking car back on the racing line before the braking zone. I would give the Belgian GP 2018 a 4/10 and that’s being generous, Bottas’ and Verstappen’s overtakes made it bearable.
It could have been more interesting if we had Danny Ric and the Iceman in the mix, but Red Bull and Ferrari took the pain of DNF’s because they stayed in the pits while others were out on a drying track in qualifying 3, bettering their times, putting them in harms way when kamikaze pilot Hulkenberg launched himself into the pack at turn 1. But, we have to give credit to Hulkenberg for holding his hands up and squarely taking the blame earning himself a 10 place grid drop for Monza this upcoming weekend.
The gap between Hamilton and Vettel in the drivers championship has been reduced to 17 points, but due to Ferrari’s brain fade in Q3, Ferrari fall a further five points adrift in the constructors championship.
Belgian Grand Prix 2018 Results
|1. Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari) 1:26:50.253
2. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) +11.061
3. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) +31.372
4. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) +68.605
5. Sergio Perez (Force India) +71.023
|6. Esteban Ocon (Force India) +79.520
7. Romain Grosjean (HAAS) +85.953
8. Kevin Magnussen (HAAS) +87.639
9. Pierre Gasly (Toro Rosso) +105.892
10. Marcus Ericsson (Sauber) +1 LAP