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Hamilton produces 'perfect' display

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Andrew Benson | 16:31 UK time, Sunday, 29 August 2010

Lewis Hamilton produced a drive worthy of the greatest race track in the world to win the Belgian Grand Prix and reclaim the championship lead just one race after losing it.

The spectacular Spa-Francorchamps circuit in the Ardennes mountains tests Formula 1 drivers to the limit, and never more so than in the sort of changeable conditions in which Sunday's race took place.

Two of Hamilton's title rivals, Fernando Alonso and Sebastian Vettel, failed the examination. Hamilton, by contrast, was virtually flawless all weekend and this win will surely come to be ranked among his very best.

"Perfect," was the judgement of three-time world champion Niki Lauda, which seemed about right.

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The foundation for the victory was a quite brilliant final lap in qualifying, with which Hamilton clinched second place on the grid despite a light shower of rain.

From there, he was in the ideal position to benefit from a slow start by pole-position man Mark Webber, and his team-mate Jenson Button, slowed by minor damage to his front wing, backing up the pack while Hamilton built his winning margin.

Rain late in the race, though, meant it was far from an easy cruise to the finish and Hamilton survived an off-course moment at Rivage, when running in the rain on dry-weather 'slick' tyres, and the tension of a re-start after a safety car intervention to win his third race of the season.

His reward is to leapfrog Webber to the top of the drivers' standings after falling behind the Australian following Webber's win in Hungary before F1's summer break.

Hamilton's advantage is only three points but there is every chance it will increase at the next race in Italy in two weeks' time. Monza is a low-downforce track dominated by straights and chicanes - just like Canada, where McLaren finished one-two - and Hamilton will head there as favourite.

Webber, by contrast, will be viewing the trip to another of F1's iconic tracks as an exercise in damage limitation before F1 heads east to Singapore, South Korea and Japan, three circuits which will suit the Red Bull far better.

After that, only Brazil and Abu Dhabi will remain.

Webber - who celebrated his 34th birthday on Friday, and knows this could be his last chance to win the title - will be a little disappointed to have finished second after starting from pole. But far more important for him is the lead he has now established over Vettel.

He is 28 points - more than a win - ahead of his team-mate with only six races remaining. It is still too early for the team to start backing one driver over another, not least because of their massive emotional and financial investment in the German, but they will have no choice if Vettel does not make up some serious ground over the next two or three races.

Spa was yet another example of Vettel's propensity to make critical - and very costly - errors. They cost him the title last year, and are looking like doing so again in 2010.

After crashing into Webber in Turkey and costing the team a victory, Vettel made a beginners' error in Hungary by slipping back too far behind the safety car, earning himself a drive-through penalty and costing himself an easy win.

In Belgium, it was a catastrophic error of judgement by Vettel behind Button that cost him and his rival dear.

With the frustration of following a slower car building inside him, Vettel was closer than ever to Button as they steamed through Blanchimont on lap 16. He had a look down the inside approaching the Bus Stop chicane, but it was soon clear that Button was defending that line, so Vettel switched to the outside. But he did it too late and too violently.

Initially, the suspicion was that his error might have been provoked by the fact that it had just started to drizzle, but Button said during the BBC F1 Forum that the track was "bone dry" at that point.

Either way, Vettel lost the rear of his car and speared into the side of Button's McLaren, taking the world champion out and ending his own hopes of victory as well. A later collision with the front wing of Vitantonio Liuzzi's Force India punctured one of Vettel's rear tyres and put paid to any remaining faint hope of points.

A driver who is chasing the world championship can normally get away with one - or possibly two - such major errors in the course of a season, but any more than that and you are making life very difficult for yourself.

Sebastian Vettel and Jenson ButtonVettel closes on Button's McLaren shortly before their crash at Spa. Photo: Reuters

As Lauda told BBC F1 pit-lane reporter Ted Kravitz after the race, Vettel is "too aggressive - he has to get his act together". BBC F1 analysts David Coulthard and Anthony Davidson pointed out quite rightly that Vettel is still young and has time, in terms of his career, to iron out these rough edges. They may have already ended his hopes of winning Red Bull's first world title this year, though.

Both he and Button, who is four points adrift of Vettel, have now slipped back significantly in the championship and, as Button acknowledged, this result was a "massive blow" to their hopes. They need a big result pretty soon to ensure Hamilton and Webber do not get too far ahead.

The same applies to Alonso, the third contender whose hopes suffered a major setback at Spa.

Unlike Vettel, Alonso entered this season with a reputation for incredible consistency and making very few mistakes. Yet in his first year with Ferrari he has made almost as many errors as he had in his entire career.

Knowing he needed to score heavily in Belgium and with the car to do so, there were a number. Alonso and the team chose the wrong tyre strategy in qualifying, making his first run in the top-10 shoot-out on used tyres, and setting only 10th fastest time. He expected to move up to the front with his final run on new tyres, but a mistake and the rain shower cost him dearly.

In the race, he was blameless when Rubens Barrichello crashed into him on a slippery track at the end of lap one - although when you qualify in the midfield that is the sort of thing that can happen, as Hamilton and Button discovered at Spa last year, when they were taken out on the first lap.

But his gamble in coming in to fit intermediate tyres immediately after that failed to pay off, and he had to come in again two laps later to put on dry tyres. He chose the harder 'prime' tyres, hoping to pick up some places by not having to stop again, but that throw of the dice also failed to come off thanks to the late-race rain, in which he crashed.

Just as with Vettel and Button, it is not yet too late for Alonso to get back into the thick of the title fight but, also like them, it is beginning to feel as if this might well not be his year.

Comments

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  • Comment number 1.

    I still think Webber should be favourite; I think the Red Bulls can do better on tracks that don't quite suit them than McLaren can vice versa.

    But a tremendous win for Hamilton all the same.

  • Comment number 2.

    I'm hoping, somehow McLaren can sort out their speed differences to the RBR on the high downforce circuits by the time we get to Singapore and then Lewis will have a great chance of winning the WDC. This is assuming Monza goes without a hitch. Lewis did indeed drive an incredible race today - and with that heart-stopping moment, made the victory sweeter, as he managed to get away with it...phew! Still a 150 points available so any 5 could still make it I guess...

  • Comment number 3.

    Don't disagree with Andrew's assessment of the situation.

    This has been a remarkably tough, competitive season where all the drivers of the top 3 teams have faced a lot of pressure and controversy. What have we learned? In my view that Hamilton is the real deal, performing over and above already high expectations alongside a very strong teammate. Webber has shown himself to be better than we thought. Vettel very talented but very flawed. Alonso's huge reputation under the spotlight after several poor performances. Massa lacking in some killer instinct, but after a poor first half starting to show his talent and speed again.

  • Comment number 4.

    Unless he makes a huge mistake, Lewis will run away with the victory in Monza. How couldn't he with that brilliantly developed F-Duct and those long straights? I think he showed today that he is definetely the better of the McLaren drivers, although Jensen was very unlucky to be taken out by Vettel.

    I also expect Sutil to be on the podium behind HAM and BUT at Monza...that Force India is frighteningly fast in a straight line.

  • Comment number 5.

    I have a feeling that McLaren will be there or there abouts for the remainder of the season, the real question is which drivers can best deal with the pressure and make the least mistakes and that to me leaves 2/3 drivers in contention for winning the championship: Lewis has the most poise and is fabulously talented, Mark seems to be in better control of his frustration and since Silverstone has impressed me with his cool under pressure and has the faster car, and then there is Jenson lagging a bit behind those 2.

    Vettel is lacking on race craft and Alonso seems to out of control to be considered as contenders in such a close race.

  • Comment number 6.

    I just can't stop thinking that until Vettel learns how to actually overtake, he won't be winning the World Championship!

    It will all come down to the updates Mclaren take to Singapore I think, and whether they work! Whatever happens though, Hamilton has to be driver of the season!

  • Comment number 7.

    Hold on! You can't say Singapore favors the Red Bulls.Who won Singapore last year? If I remember it was Hamilton. So saying that the Red Bull's will win there is invalid. Let's face it, Lewis is bound to, at some point in his career, win a 2nd WDC.

  • Comment number 8.

    A terrific race. Lewis Hamilton drove masterfully today, and himself and McLaren fully deserve the team's 5th victory of the year.

    Bitter blow for Jenson Button, whose already damaged car was totally wiped out by Vettel, who once again proved his tendancy to make catastrophic amateur mistakes in the heat of combat. He's got some learning still to do, but I'm sure his day will come sometime in the future.

    This is not the case for Mark Webber, one feels, and this is a great opportunity for him to clinch a title. He deserves it by now. I am a big McLaren fan, but I confess I would still be very happy to see Webber win the title in 2010. Both himself and Hamilton deserve it this year.

    Ferrari made balls-ups again, in qualifying, and Alonso compounded that with another silly mistake.

    I cannot wait for Monza - another classic venue. I expect McLaren to be strong there again, as will be the Red Bulls. But for this season, Vettel and Alonso have not done enough to deserve championship honours.

  • Comment number 9.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 10.

    @Crimson764 : The thing is, it's a street circuit with some high-speed turns, and overall outright speed is not the deciding factor, hence RedBull will most probably blow the opposition away, like they did in Monaco, Hungary and to a certain extent in Valencia.

    The key will be whether McLaren can actually exploit all the benefits of the blown diffuser to its full extent, and from Singapore. Their engineers have tons of work ahead of them, but at least today Lewis has given his team and himself something to look forward to.

  • Comment number 11.

    If a Brit can't win it, then I would like Webber to. I think, generally speaking, he has held himself with an awful lot of dignity. He has doggedly beaten the entire red bull team into submission to allow him to be in this position with amazing performances.

    I was impressed with Vettel actually apologising about the Button incident, I fully expected him not to - so maybe there's hope for him yet in terms of sportsmanship.

  • Comment number 12.

    As expected with the f-duct and the best engine in F1, McLaren was the fastest car at Spa. Hamilton was extremely lucky not to damage his front wing when he drove off track.
    Webber drove excellently with his engine disadvtange compared to McLaren.
    Vettel and Rubens should get a 5 place grid penalty for causing an avoidable collision. Barrichello's was the worst, he was 20 meters behind Alonso and smashed straight in to him at 100km/h. Alonso was lucky he only had diffuser and floor damage.

  • Comment number 13.

    Great drive from Hamilton in difficult conditions. Almost threw it away going off and through the gravel when the rain came but just managed to keep it going and avoid the tyre wall. He garnered the benefit of the big lead he'd built up to that point and managed to stay ahead of Kubica.

    Big fuss about Vettel's mistake - and it was a major error - but he is a naturally gifted driver and will win a WDC some day once he has refined his racecraft but maybe not this year.

    Shame for Jenson who was an innocent bystander in the accident but he was losing time every lap and would never have got near Hamilton. McLaren need to back Hamilton for the WDC this year as he has proven time and again he is better than Button in this years car - particularly in qualifying.

    Webber would be a worthy champion - he has paid his dues coming up the hard way with no favours granted. He was lucky today though after a shocking start to be gifted 3 places courtesy of Vettel and Button's collision and Kubicas pitlane mistake.

    Ferrari are out of it IMO. They looked pacy since Valencia but were very poor this weekend.

    My money is on Hamilton - I know the majority of the remaining circuits favour Red Bull but I think the new floor-test from Monza onwards will have a measurable negative impact on their car's speed advantage.

  • Comment number 14.

    just watched the race as i had to work as it was said vettel is ok if his leading but he can't overtake he should be given a ten place fine for what he did to jenson

  • Comment number 15.

    If you Goggle "vettel incidents" there is a string of overtaking collisions for each of his F1 years. You will have seen him jink violently on starts to block another. I read Horner has now given an excuse for his accident , blaming Buttons early braking for causing the problem.

    Why is is that Shummi gets a 10 place penalty for jinking towards Barrichello which could have caused an incident yet Vetel did the same to Weber in Turkey and did cause an incident and now has done the same again and got a drive through.

    Double standards for the Wunderkid

  • Comment number 16.

    Vettel is just one of the young 'hotheads' in F1 at the moment. He needs to be given a good taking to with a threat to loosing his Super licence.

    It is only a matter of time until someone is seriously injured or killed.

  • Comment number 17.

    I expect McLaren and Force India to be dominant in Monza, with Ferrari and Red Bull to be a bit behind. For Singapore, I see Red Bull walking it there with Kubica and Ferrai behind. After that, it's probably 50/50. Suzuka and Interlargos is fairly neutral, and Abu Dhabi possibly favouring Red Bull. and Korea is an unknown entity.

    I think that barring some major problems, the title is now between Hamilton and Webber, Button and Vettel are now far enough behind that they will have to become no.2 driver sooner or later, and Alonso's repeated mistakes need to be sorted now, or else he'll be out of the running.

  • Comment number 18.

    Certainly a very good result for Hamilton but his rivals made it easy for him and none more so than Vettel, who continues to drive like a bird-brain.
    If Red Bull are determined to continue backing both drivers, the powers that be, need to sit him down and give him a real talking to, explaining you need to drive with your brain as well as your hands and feet.
    This guy has done more damage to their championship hopes than all their rivals combined and if, after having so much advantage all season, they lose the title, it will have to be the biggest let down in the history of the sport.

  • Comment number 19.

    @12

    why should rubens be punished... it was wet... everyone near enough over shot the braking point due to the weather, plus u cannot say it was avoidable... when you dont know that for sure. if he tok his foot off the break and turned left he may well of swiped a mercedes car. he did wat was natural and breaked hard but unfortunately for him and alonso he locked up and theres noting u can do in that situation.

    poor button, best drive of teh day considering the problems he was having just to control the car! Webber for WDC in my opinion

  • Comment number 20.

    Vettel will never win the title with Red Bull, the management is too poor. They have the best designer, the fastest slinky, and two of the seven best drivers, but they lack the manegerial nous to mount a serious title challenge. Hamilton, button or alonso for the title. Webber as well, since Red Bull hate him.

  • Comment number 21.

    Vettel needs to be punish severely! This is becoming his trademark to ruined other driver's race time and time again. Can't understand why some claim here that Vettel has talent but needs to grow up in terms of overtaking etc.... How long will it take him to grow up? He's been around for a while i presumed. Give the current Red bull car to some of the current F1 drivers, let say Sutil, Kubica And Rosberg they'll do a far better job than him.

  • Comment number 22.

    Why does Vettel need punishing? Anyone who thinks that needs to consider that driving an F1 car is REALLY difficult, and you have less than a second to react to differing aspects of the race and circuit. I thoroughly stand by Vettel (I have all season - including Webber's mistake in Turkey) and am adamant her will win the championship. Hamilton is prone to just as many mistakes - Monza '09 anyone? 'Nuff said!

  • Comment number 23.

    Vettel - all he needed to do to overtake was pull to the left normally. Instead he jinked the car so violently he lost the back end and then over-corrected the resulting oversteer and hit Jenson. It was similar in Turkey - again a wildly violent move gave Mark Webber no time to react.

    Massa had a good race but barely gets a mention. Did he reverse into correct position at the start as MB and JL said he was 2m over his start position. We heard no more on this during the race.

    I see Lewis' drive is described as 'perfect'. Not so. Although brilliant he was incredibly lucky no to be out when he went into the gravel. Must have seemed like China 2007 for a moment!

  • Comment number 24.

    @22 The difference between dropping it when going all-out with nothing to lose and taking out another car in an impetuous move twice in one season? Being world champion material, that's what. But blaming Webber for Turkey doesn't exactly strengthen your argument anyway.

  • Comment number 25.

    Congratulations to Hamilton for - well not a faultless performance - but one that he can be very proud of. If the fireproof underwear doesn't come clean after his rallycrossing experience, at least he can get some new ones from his win bonus.
    I am sure that on Saturday night Webber would have dreamt of hearing the Aussie national anthem being played as he stood on the top step of the podium, but half way round La Source for the first time, I am sure that if he was offered a P2 finish, he would have taken that quicker than a Pakistani bowler accepts a bung - oops pretend I didn't say that.
    Another solid drive from Kubica, if he isn't kicking himself for the pitstop incident, maybe the guy he knocked over is! Apart from that Renault have once again added new technology and seen it work first time.
    After Hungary, I was looking forward to Schumacher's 2nd retirement from the sport. However, today he did seem to show some flashes of his former skills. His opportune pass on Rosberg could have been from 5 or 6 years ago, especially the luck of not cutting a tyre. However, good on Rosberg for getting his own back and passing Schumi at Les Coombs.
    Congratulations to Alonso and Vettel for ruining their own races, just a pity that Vettel ruined Button's at the same time. Incidently, how did Alonso's Ferrari survive Barrichello's impact?
    I am surprised no one here or in commentary mentioned that Red Bull's and Ferrari's fromt wings were not flexing anywhere near as much as the past few races. Could this been due to a redesign to pass the new tests? And did the suffer as a result? If we see a similar situation after Monza due to the more stringent floor tests, maybe the up coming circuits seen as favouring Red Bull may see McLaren be more competitive.
    Although I would have liked to see Button in the mix till the end, maybe he is out of the race now. If so that means Alonso and Vettel are too - shame - not.
    I think that even if they do not win all the remaining races between them, Hamilton and Webber will be able to pick up enough points to keep themselves clear of the rest. I would love Hamilton to win the championship, I love watching him drive. However if Webber wins, I would not be at all disappointed.

  • Comment number 26.

    Yes a great win for Lewis at Spa just when he and the team needed it, pity about Button though as a Mclaren 1-2 was on the cards. Monza is low downforce circuit so they should do well there. McLaren really do need to get their act together on bringing more downforce to the car for the higher downforce circuits otherwise Red Bull will seize the initiative with some margin. It will of course be interesting to see what impact the FIA rule changes and more stringent tests have on their performance overall. - I think it's most likely going to go to the wire this year, but it's looking like Webber or Hamilton. - And my money's on Hamilton!

  • Comment number 27.

    @22 - Webber's mistake in Turkey? What mistake? He drove a straight line and gave enough space for Vettel, who for some reason jinked into the side of Webber. Personally I think Vettel was probably a bit hard done by with his penalty today (not that I am saying the stewards were wrong to penalise him, just that on another day he might have gotten away with it).

    Vettel has shown over and over again that he struggles to overtake (and that he isn't good at taking pressure from quicker cars behind), he is in his 3rd full season in the sport and my feeling is that he has had long enough to get to grips with the finer points of racing. I really don't understand you comment about how 'difficult' it is to drive an F1 car, he is an exceptionally quick driver and having watched some of his quali laps he has been awesome... his problem is that he can't overtake so it seems to me he is the new Schumacher... Ralf Schumacher that is.

  • Comment number 28.

    @22
    Well good on you for nailing your colours to the mast and sticking with it in your support of Vettel. However blaming the Turkey incident on Webber makes me picture an ostrich with it's head stuck in a hole trying to ignore the obvious.
    Vettel may win a champoinship some time, but if he can't do it when his car is so superior, he will have to up his game to do it in a car without such an advantage.
    And yes, before you say about the points dropped by reliability in Bahrain and Australia, he is not the only one to suffer that. You mention Hamilton, so remember Barcelona and Hungary that cost him roughly as many points than Vettel lost in the first two races of the year

  • Comment number 29.

    Often have my posts deleted and I have no idea why. But anyway here goes!

    Yes, a brilliant drive by Hamilton today along with both the other drivers on the podium. Tricky conditions and Hamilton showed why he's possibly the best driver of today's crop of F1 championship contenders.
    Vettel's incident though was a disgrace and I'm glad he's apologised to Button. I was half expecting him to do the same responsibility shirking malarkey he did when shoving into Webber a few races ago. I know he's young but he could get someone killed the way he's going and he needs to be brought down a peg or two - for his own sake as well as the other drivers. Unfortunately he's with a team where he's going to get his ego massaged rather than the reality check he should really be getting, which I think is counter-productive - both for him and his team - because the F1 World Championship isn't an entitlement. I know Red Bull have invested a lot in Vettel but Christian Horner should be taking a longer term view with regard to that investment. Webber has easily been the better performer of the two Red Bull drivers on race days, and the most humble and dignified. I think Webber would be a very popular champion if he wins it, which I don't think could be said for Vettel this year.

  • Comment number 30.

    In his first two years, I was very critical of Lewis. His attitude was wrong, and he appeared to just be one of the more average guys in the championship, just in a good car, very much like Vettel appears to be right now. He had the talent, but was not complete.

    However, 2009 was different. The australia scandal was where I believe his attitude changed. He decided to stop being arrogant, and came of age. He knuckled down with a absolute stinker of a car and managed, with determination, to improve it and his relations with the team so that it was fighting for race victories at the end of the season, with some truly great drives, vastly outperforming the car in the process.

    He proved to me that he was the real deal.

    And 2010 he has been imperious. Consistent, fast, accurate, precise, determined. A tough 2009 meant he had to fight for everything, and the skills and attitude he developed/tuned to do that has stuck with him.

    He is now the perfect driver out there. Right now, he is the best in F1. Others are close, but he is THE BEST.

  • Comment number 31.

    Just to add, 2nd drive of the day to Schumacher. I don't know how he did it, but he ghosted up somehow to 7th and was running higher than that at some points. It is probably a one off in a fairly terrible year for himself and Mercedes, but still, credit is due.

    Plus, there were no mistakes, great falls off of cliffs in terms of pace and no crazy driving (a la Hungary)

  • Comment number 32.

    Lewis deserved to win. Mark for champion(sorry Lewis but you will have many more chances) Seb needs driving lessons, Rubens a passenger. Nico underrated. Robert also underrated, as is Adrian. Force India can be scary when the track suits the car. Alonso has lost his pram now! Massa quietly reminding people he is still there. What a race! Spa rarely disappoints, and usually proves the coolest heads win, both in and out of the driving seat. Unluckiest? Jenson. Better luck at Monza. Sorry to repeat, but WHAT A RACE!

  • Comment number 33.

    Those who criticise Button should not do so so harshly. He did have a damaged front wing (to what degree we do not know) but I remember Martin Whitmarsh saying that they were going to change it at Button's first pit stop, so it must have been quite badly damaged if they were prepared to waste a few seconds changing it (although not damaged enough to pit him early? Probably the weather for strategy and also track position came into that decision) but of course, it never came to fruition because he got punted off.

    I do say though that Button does appear to be slightly losing touch to Lewis as the year goes on. Only by the smallest margins, but in my opinion he still is. He is the new one in the team, so he is still less adapted and fitted than Lewis. May take until next year for Jenson to get dug in fully. But, that is no excuse, just a possible reason. Simple fact is that he appears to be 2nd best to Lewis this year, currently.

  • Comment number 34.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 35.

    Apart from the first race, this has been the best season for years. Can Bernie orangize a few more races between November and March. I am sure I am not the only one not wanting this season to end.

  • Comment number 36.

    @34 - Rubens didn't need glasses, he needed an anchor.

  • Comment number 37.

    @36 On the overhead shot Rosberg was side by side with Rubens and had no problem stopping and taking the turn.

  • Comment number 38.

    Did I hear a rumour that today was all part of Red Bull's masterplan? Apparently Vettel had agreed he doesn't deserve this year's WDC so he is now driving as the number 2. It was part of this commitment that he took Jenson out of today's race. In Monza we should expect him to do much the same to Lewis as he makes another attempt to help his teammate.

    It has been agrees he won't need to do the same to Alonso as he can do that all by himself...

  • Comment number 39.

    "13. At 7:49pm on 29 Aug 2010, Derek Saynor wrote:

    Big fuss about Vettel's mistake - and it was a major error - but he is a naturally gifted driver and will win a WDC some day once he has refined his racecraft but maybe not this year."

    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

    For the love of God stop repeating the lazy "Vettel future WDC" nonsense! I have been arguing against this glib cliche since this time last year.

    Vettel made enough mistakes in 2009 to throw serious doubts on such predictions. And it reached absurd levels when from late last season to the beginnning of this one where many rated Vettel above actual WDC such as Alonso, Hamilton and Button.

    In 2009 Vettel demonstrated that he can deliver good qualifying laps in a quick car but lacked real race craft, overtaking ability and a racer's instinct. And the this trend has continued in 2010 but amazingly with even more mistakes in 2009!

    But here comes my real annoyance. Vettel is now verging on the dangerous. He seems to have lost his head and arguably needs some time out before he seriously injures another driver. He is hot headed, petulant and still rather juvenile. He has little natural authority on the racetrack, hence he is overcompensating in pulling aggressive moves in an attempt to intimidate more talented drivers. In sum, a dangerous blend for F1.

    The best solution would be a race ban for Monza given the amount of incidents he has caused this season alone - but three in one race is crazy. If he carries on with this trend - when mentally he appears to have gone - then he'll put someone in hospital. Or worse.

  • Comment number 40.

    @37 - On a different part of the track, if you watch the vid you put up you can see Rubens trying to brake and the wheels locking... I suspect that if Rosberg hadn't been alongside him he would have gone wide..... but there was no room. At The end of the day Rubens messed up but it was nothing more than a racing incident on the 1st lap going into a corner that was wet.... Stuff happens.

    When comparing it to the Vettel incident it is different because Vettel caused his accident by his erratic driving, although I think he was unlucky to get a drive through... its far less dangerous than some of his other stunts this season, I think he got it as much because no one seems to understand what he did or what he did what he did.

  • Comment number 41.

    Can everyone now re-assess what Vettel did to Webber at Istanbul ring now? At the time, it was just a racing incident, Vettel was passing, thought he had enough, Webber should have backed off etc. Or was he just plain stupid?

    Now he did a similar thing to Button, its making me think its just Vettel being stupid. He really needs to cool down. I think there should be a rule where if you take someone out of the race, you are black flagged. What if this was the final race and the title was between Vettel and Button? I know Vettel didn't mean to take Button out of the race, but he did. And he nearly did it to Webber before. Just like Hamilton in China in 2008, going a little bit mental in defence mode.

    I hope something happens here. He is a wreckless driver and needs to be sorted out. Now Webber is the clear leader, Vettel is either going throw all his toys out of the pram and sulk, or he will go on a banzai attack all at all costs. If he is this mad when he is still in contention, i would hate to see him when he has nothing to lose, and only his ego to extend.

    Same goes to Rubens on Alonso. You can argue he had no grip and there was nothing he could do. But watch the replays, Rubens has gone through the bus stop chicane thousands of times, and even I could when he was over 100m away he wasnt making that corner. He should have steered to the left and re-applied his brakes. Why not? Because he was attacking, and it was ruthless.

    Now the championship battle has become boring in the space of 44 laps. Before, it was Vettel, Webber, Hamilton and Alonso launching a late charge. Alonso is over 40pts off the lead now, with engine worries. I'd say he's probably on his way out of contention. Button wasn't really ever in it for me. Vettel hasn't helped himself one bit. Surely RedBull will go with Webber now. They've leaned towards Vettel, but they've given him his chances. Mclaren surely will publicly favour Hamilton now aswell.
    So because Button and Alonso are so far out of it, if they win, they won't really effect the standings. The only upsets that can occur are from Vettel. Otherwise its a straight fight between Webber and Hamilton. But it seems that RedBull still have the upper hand and there is nothing Mclaren can do.

    What a shame. All because of Rubens, and Vettel.

  • Comment number 42.

    "That is ludicrous, it is worse than Vettel racing hard against Button in the slipstream.
    Rubens needs glasses".

    All that is ludicrous is a "punter" considering he has ANY idea what its like to touch the brakes at 190mph+ in an F1 car on slicks in the wet! When slicks don't stick in the wet, the only way you know is that the car doesn't slow down even One per cent, just a moment before you spot that your front tyres aren't turning! :-0 One foot of difference on line/braking point can mean that you don't get ANY braking, yet the guy in front/behind/beside you does! You carry on driving your massively handling assisted road car (they ALL are nowadays), and watch in awe at what these guys were doing on a fantastic circuit in Classic Spa conditions today! ...and yes, I've raced for 30+ years! :-)

  • Comment number 43.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 44.

    I'm only watching the race now. Very happy for Hamilton, especially as it has seemed like the Red Bulls have the edge over McClaren. So LH is likely to have a hard time ahead of him still.

    If Button was angry to go out through no fault of his own, that should be a lesson that he cannot always rely on those ahead of him to make mistakes for him to profit from - he should just make sure he gets on the front row & takes the lead. He's a clever driver, but is he really the best?

  • Comment number 45.

    This was a race where drivers needed a lot of skill and a fair bit of luck. Of course, that did not stop Spanish TV from suggesting that the Safety Car was staying out at the end to ensure that Lewis Hamilton won! However, they have also been accusing McLaren of using "Fuel situation critical" warnings as team orders to their drivers to fix races all season.

    The last two seasons Lewis Hamilton has shown how a good driver can get the best out of an inferior car. Poor Jenson Button seems to be having all the bad luck that a driver can suffer, but he is taking it with great dignity.

    Not sure about the comments about Schumaker getting back to his best. Nico Rosberg took the place back later, easy as you like and finished ahead of him... again. He is now almost certainly out of the Championship race, but has been so consistent this season that even with an uncompetitive car he has stayed remarkably close. I don't know what to make of Vettel and Alonso: Alonso has a great car, but is getting remarkably little out of it; Vettel just seems to have a death wish.

  • Comment number 46.

    A couple of years ago whenever Hamilton transgressed he seemed to attract Webber's ire via the drivers association.

    If Webber felt justified to criticise Hamilton he must surely do the same of Vettel, not as a rival driver or as Vettel's team mate but, as the drivers rep.

    Of course this is difficult for Webber as he then leaves himself open to accusations of playing mindgames with a championship rival. However these incidents are not just becoming more frequent over the series but in individual races to the extent that, unless he changes his attitude, it is surely only a matter of time before Vettel causes a serious accident which leaves another driver injured.

    I felt even the tone of his teams very deliberate instructions re the drive through suggested they are becoming frustrated with his attitude.

    Pity as I feel Vettel could be a champion if he could just get his emotions in control.

    As for the championship battle being over, I disagree. All it takes is for Hamilton and Webber to not finish any of the next few races and the points are close again.

  • Comment number 47.

    Firstly; I am a massive JB fan and as such am bitterly disappointed about how his race finished. However, Lewis did a great job and now i can see JB falling further off in Italy, leaving LH as McLarens title favourite, rightly i would suggest on the displays Lewis has put it since Valencia.

    The crux of my post though is this: alot of the anti-Button brigade slated Jenson for only winning the WDC last year due to having the 'fastest car' for the first 7 races...forgive me, but why aren't those same people back off the fence screaming the same song about Webber or Schu-Vettel this season? That Red Bull is truly something else, flexing wings or not, 2 seconds a lap in Hungary is unreal, similar in Monaco and Valencia, likely to be around a second in Singapore, the Brawn had that kind of advantage for two races of the season last year...yet Button was denounced for it. Vettel cannot race. For me he's a slightly quicker, younger Trulli. Fast in qualifying, is fine in clear air, but can't overtake (as we've seen time and time again) and can't deal with pressure from a chasing car...this year though he's been in a car that's had, on average, about three quarters of a second a lap in it's pocket, and he's third in the WDC. I reckon, put LH or JB in that car, they wouldn't be languishing in 3rd, with as many poor finishes from pole as Seb, put Kubica or Alonso in that car and they'd be leading the WDC. yet not a whimper about Seb or Mark only being where they are due to having the 'best car'...Mark was pretty lucky today after the glitch at the start. Kubica's mistake, Seb smashing into JB and the opportunistic rain showers allowed him to take the best of a bad job, and with that Red Bull, the title still looks like either his or Vettels for the taking.

    I'd like Mark to win the WDC far more than the petulant Vettel, and this year has to be Red Bull's year, Neweys machine is awesome, but part of me, which still in a way resents the stick Button had for winning the WDC last year, really wants them to fail and for Lewis (or Jenson) to win it far more than I even wanted JB to come through last year.

    Here's looking forward to Monza and an Adrian Sutil victory! ;)

  • Comment number 48.

    Hamilton is just amazing. He has had the third best car most of the season (possibly second best on some tracks) and is leading the World Championship again. Webber still has a great chance of the title because of his car and the fact that he's a hard, fast driver that makes few mistakes. I'm glad to see that he's putting Vettel in the shade. At the monent, Vettel is overated. He's nowhere near Hamilton or Aonso class (although Alonso has made quite a few mistakes this season, as mentioned) and hasn't had anywhere near the pressure that Hamilton had in 2008, where over the season he won the title with a slightly inferior car to Massa's. Vettel can't escape the fact that he has the best car and probably won't win the title. That's not the mark of a world class driver. Alonso, Hamilton, Button and Kubica would be out of sight if they were driving that Red Bull.

  • Comment number 49.


    The Red Bull front wing swings, side-to-side, like the base of a rocking horse.

    It probably passes the FIA scrutineering because it doesn't need to flex to work.

    None of the commentators picked up on it, but the BBC Red-Button coverage (from friday afternoon, I think) had a beautiful slow-motion shot revealing it in action. The camera was facing Mark Webber as he turned right, into the Bus Stop chicane, hitting the inside kerb. The impact caused the normal swing to be exaggerated and become more clearly visible.

    As the car turns, g-forces cause the uprights which suspend the wing from the nose, to slue outwards as if in a centrifuge. The inside edge rises, while the outside edge dips, giving more down-force on that side. As the load transfers to the outside, the suspension compresses & the car body-rolls slightly in that direction, moving the wing even further away from the horizontal. This might give much greater traction on the exit of a corner.

    This mechanism may be susceptible to instability under sudden, aggressive, changes of direction. I imagine a violent turn of the wheel, right - left - right, would upset the airflow over the rest of the car. (Possibly causing the rear to suddenly step out while the nose goes into someone's sidepod...) I think this is what Adrian Newey alluded to when he said their car was not designed for Monaco. I'm also wondering if it's suffers more in turbulent air.

    As a final note, McLaren's uprights don't hang vertically from the sides of the nose box, so it may be difficult for them to copy.

    Well, that's my guess anyway (& no breaching of the rules, or allegation of misconduct should be inferred from it). Has anyone else come to the same conclusion?

  • Comment number 50.

    'Why is is that Shummi gets a 10 place penalty for jinking towards Barrichello which could have caused an incident yet Vetel did the same to Weber in Turkey and did cause an incident and now has done the same again and got a drive through.'

    Because Shummi did it 100% intentionally. Vettel seems unable to keep control of his car in the heat of an overtaking moment - twice now he has over-corrected to the extent of turning so sharply right he has speared the car alongside him. At least he seems to be learning a little bit of humility judging by his post-race interview, if not yet how to drive the car properly...... But he has talent, his time will come.

  • Comment number 51.

    Hi

    Good win for Hammy today, very well driven and was impressed by how calm he was on the radio (ok the safety car was out at the time but still, he sounded like he was sipping a cocktail by the pool) Good recovery by Webby also after a horrible start, 2nd was a great result for him. Personally i'd like Webby to win as he has had (and is having) to battle more than just his fellow competitors on the track.
    My thoughts (for whatever they are worth) on Vettel is that he isnt a true F1 driver but a playstation driver with the safety settings on... he just drives and it doesnt matter too much if another driver gets taken out. I was half expecting him to give the old twirly finger to forehead gesture in regard to Jenson having the audacity to be in the way of his out of control Red Bull.
    An enjoyable race in what has been one of the most exciting F1 seasons ever, the only thing that can be predicted is that no one can predict with certainty what will happen next :)

  • Comment number 52.

    @50 telnolies


    "Because Shummi did it 100% intentionally. Vettel seems unable to keep control of his car in the heat of an overtaking moment"


    hahaha i can only assume your joking- so the rules are if schumacher had "in the heat of the moment" speared his car into the side of barrichello and smashed him into the concrete wall that is alright?? what an obtuse statment, open your eyes mate barrichello had enough space to get through otherwise he wouldnt have....what would have senna of done?

    seems to me its not racing anymore, its more airyfairy kiss chase.

    and your defending vettle makes you look a little silly

  • Comment number 53.

    VettelManUtd09: Do you work for Red Bull? Because that sounds like PR comment.

    How many more mistakes, missed opportunities, poor decisions and examples of a terrible attitude do we need before we can all accept that Vettel is hugely overrated and a pretty average driver?

  • Comment number 54.

    Comment 39 is bang on. Vettel is a vastly overrated driver and a dangerous one at that. The sooner his team realise his petulance and punish him the better. Webber and Vettel could not be more different and thank god Red Bull have Webber in their team to add some much needed level-headedness and quality.

  • Comment number 55.

    On wet dank August day the dark clouds were dispersed by the spectacle of an inspiring driving display by the indomitable Lewis Hamilton. Man and machine in perfect harmony.

  • Comment number 56.

    Andrew you disappoint me, no shout out to Kubica finishing 3rd in the supposedly 4th fastest car? Would have been second but for being caught out by the damp pit lane. Another flawless drive from him. Vettel's been marked as a future champion but give Robert the Red Bull and he'd have sewn up the title by now. Fast, consistent and level-headed, he's already the complete package. He just needs the car to match his talent now and he'll be unstoppable.

    I think Schumacher also deserves a mention, he's taken alot of flak over the last few races but I think he gave an even better drive than Hamilton going from 21st to finish 7th. Proof that patience and intelligent driving are just as important as outright speed, Vettel should take note.

    Four more drivers I think have been overlooked: Sutil, Rosberg, Petrov and Kobayashi. All performed excellently, Sutil was flawless and Rosberg (14th to 6th), Petrov (24th to 9th) and Kobayashi (17th to 8th) produced three of the best salvage jobs I've seen for a long time.

  • Comment number 57.

    @ 28 and others.

    Yup. Indeed. I doubt Vettel will be in a car that is as dominant in any future championship years. Jenson had about 1/2 second per lap in the first several races of 2008 and took full advantage. The Red Bulls have been phenomenal all year. Depressingly so, in fact. The lack of in-season testing is probably hindering catch-up that we've seen in previous years, although Ferrari in particular seem to have done a decent job. McLaren are masters of the F-duct but the processional new circuits and pace reducing chicanes render this a slight advantage - and one that seems relatively easy to replicate - in comparison to exhaust ducting, floors, wings, etc..

  • Comment number 58.

    Fantastic drive,absolutely

  • Comment number 59.

    Another great weekend.

    Feel so sorry for Button. Yeah, he is not as fast as Hamilton overall, but really, on race day, it is not by much. At all. Hamilton's presence should do nothing to taint our view of his ability. He is an awesome talent, and had a second place robbed from him. He'd have pitted soon. Switched the nose over, fresh rubber, and away. Just like the rest had to do. Vettel is fast. But like Massa, he is only great from pole to the first corner, and has minimal race craft when up against others. His arrogance over his accident with Mark Webber was more his anger at himself. He just knows he is rushing it too much and that he really doesn't have the complete set of skills of actual racing required to win a WDC. And why should he? He is so young. But his expectation from himself that he is better than he thinks is what really rubs other up the wrong way. A little bit like the rush of tweenies who now want to sail around the world. So what? Who cares who was the youngest. It is the skill and experience, not the age that counts, and at some point, the experience at racing wheel to wheel really has to count.

    He needs to walk the walk before he talks the talk. Webber outshone him all weekend. He has for much of the season. It seems that Mark understands what is required, and is putting it into practice in a world class car. He recognizes the opportunity, and seems to want it. He relies on himself, and himself only. People like that are good team players, as they bring things to the table, rather than draw things from it. His team can rely on him. Vettel seems to want others to help him win it, over and above what they should or can do. It is no coincidence that this was how Schumacher made it look so easy for 5 years when Vettel was in the 6th grade. He needs to up his game. He needs to understand that he is responsible for himself and himself only. It is not something he is entitled to, and it really is something he is going to have to go out and win. On his own. When your wheel to wheel, it is a tense moment that needs balls. He seems to panic too much during those maneuvers. He knows he does. It worries him, and it is this which explains the pressure he feels. He really is up against a golden crop of drivers. He is not leading this season because he expected it to be given to him. He didn't prepare for the fight. But really, in that car, he should be.

    I think Red Bull will be thinking this. If Mark gets the best of it next race, then they may back him to the end. They want to win it badly. They know they will be blasted if they don't get either to the WDC. Like Ferrari, their culture is quickly becoming that of a team which needs a number 1 and 2 driver to squeeze the most points out of a season. McLaren on the other hand, have never functioned well by having that system. They operate better when they allow for no outward driver preference. Basically, Monza could be like the final race for Mark. If he beats his team mate, he may get the team to back his approach. I am sure Mark would be grateful, but I don't think he really needs it. I think he is more concerned about not getting substandard machinery or personnel.

    I hope Button can come back from this with a win at Monza.

    Hamilton was just amazing, as he generally is. But I would like to see some changes. I think the more variables, the better. But they should also be accompanied by driver skill. I think that being able to pit during the safety car is wrong. It gives unfair advantages. The safety car already takes away the time advantages, so to be able to also benefit from opportunistic stops seems a bit too rich and may skew results in a way which can be seen as unfair, rather than unlucky.

    Ross Brawn looked a sorry figure I thought. Good points, but terrible race.

  • Comment number 60.

    The sooner RBR will focus on Mark the better. For me it seems the start of the McLaren 2007 scenario when you know what happened. Seb is a great drivers but he lack of patience which is a great asset in F1 too.

  • Comment number 61.

    Like Robbio79 I too am fed up with the ‘Vettle is certainly a future world champion’ line that is trotted it time after time. Even more exasperating is the constant repetition of ‘he is young and needs time to mature’. David Coulthard went further with this, claiming that Vettel’s errors were only being brought to notice ‘because he is learning in the spotlight’ through being placed in a highly competitive team so early in his career.

    In the article Andrew attributes the ‘he is young and needs time to mature’ sentiment to both DC and Anthony Davidson. In fact, though Davidson may have agreed that Vettel was immature, he rightly, and tellingly, pointed out that Vettle’s poor performance put into context the achievement of Lewis Hamilton when coming straight into MacLaren as his first drive in F1. As I have said in other forums, I do not remember Hamilton’s supporter’s needing to constantly resort to the ‘he’s young and will learn’ defence in regard to his driving, and his critics certainly seemed to be more offended by his precocious talent than inclined to excuse any faults because of his youth.

    Vettel has had 3 years to learn the basics of F1 driving but has consistently failed to demonstrate any real degree of race craft or, even more fundamental to a driver, spatial judgement. After Sunday’s clash with Liuzzi we heard again his familiar claim “I was already passed and he hit me” that accompanies each of his clumsy, or disastrous, passing attempts. He seems to be unable to grasp that, contrary to his claim after Turkey, ‘half a car ahead’ does not constitute a completed pass.

    Couple that with his apparently instinctive reaction to the threatened loss of a position, swerving towards his opponent, and the recipe for disaster is complete.

    At first I saw his apology to Jensen as a sign of an awakening ability to take responsibility and learn from mistakes but then realised it contained no reference to the bizarre manoeuvres that sparked the incident, merely a rueful acknowledgement that “ I lost the braking”. I am convinced that the lad really doesn’t know, or refuses to accept, that he did anything wrong. In his head it was simply bad luck.

    Some time ago many drivers and media pundits issued dire warnings about the dangers of bringing in rooky drivers without the benefit of testing to ready them for F1. Despite these fears the rookies in question have quickly adapted to F1 with very few, if any, major incidents. In contrast Vettle’s learning phase threatens to be an extremely lengthy one. Strangely however, even many who were most vocal on the issue seem to find it acceptable that because he is blindingly fast on a clear track Vettel should be allowed to continue compromising the careers, not to mention endangering the lives, of other, more competent drivers while struggling to attain the other essential attributes of his trade.

    His undeniable speed has brought him a car to exercise it but unfortunately for his competitors, and ultimately himself, he appears to lack the judgement to exercise it wisely nor does he show the self critical ability needed to develop that judgement.


  • Comment number 62.

    @59: ''But like Massa, he is only great from pole to the first corner.''
    What happened in Germany? Vettel lost out to both Ferraris (and that includes Massa).
    @61: Davidson did make a great point there. Totally agree with your post. Well put.

    About the race. Wow. Pretty exciting. Hamilton is a lucky boy though. He has a habit of giving the public heart-in-the-mouth action in the last few laps. Vettel isn't ready for a WDC yet. Yes, he is a talent, but he needs to calm down. Like last year, he's made too many mistakes. Webber or Hamilton for me. They really deserve it. Both of them are keeping calm heads which could be key. Button is as well though, but I can't see him winning it this year. Alonso doesn't deserve it this year. He's made almost as many (if not more) mistakes as Vettel. I mean jumping the start? When did that last happen?

    Alonso's car looked like it was invincible. Barrichello went into him quite hard (enough to take his own wheel off) and onto the right rear or Alonso's car, I thought. Unlucky for Rubens, he could have possibly got a fifth today. Shame.

    Looking forward to Monza. Force India 1-2 anyone? They are scarily fast in a straight line. Mclarens will be up there too.

  • Comment number 63.

    It wasn't Vettel's fault it was Webbers, never Vettel

  • Comment number 64.

    interesting that some put vettel's shortcomings down to inexperience. He started in F1 the same season as hamilton. The latter has clearly matured since his first season. Vettel on the other hand has not shown anywhere near the same rate of progress. I think poor management by red bull is partly to blame. Instead of wrapping him up in cotton wool and continually treating him like the golden boy, he needs serious talking to.

    Alonso has been a huge disappointment. He seems to have become increasingly dogmatic as the season's progressed that he will deliver this title, and the pressure he is applying to himself is showing in poor decisions. There's every chance that had ferrari kept Kimi and given him the same level of support, he would be performing to at least the level of alonso if not better.


  • Comment number 65.

    Hamilton: Driving Miss Daisy. Had the race sewn up by the first corner. After that he simply had to keep it on the track.

    Button: Unlucky. What could he do?

    Webber: Slightly lucky, should have finished 3rd.

    Vettel: ****! What were you thinking?

    Schummaker: Not particularly awesome. He was still beaten by his team mate. He started 21st. Obviously he will pass the 6 'b' team drivers. 3 other cars fell off the track. Vettel had 5 trips to pits. That puts Schuey into 11th by not doing anything.

  • Comment number 66.

    I am no fan of Vettel, but I am left gobsmacked by some of the criticism he has received in some of the more recent posts. The guy is a talented and extremely quick driver, he seems perfectly at ease with handling his car and understanding that must mean he understands how big his and others cars are.

    I just think he is lacking in 'race craft', to me this is much an inbuilt talent as it is a skill that can be learnt and it seems to me that this is just a talent that he doesn't have which puts him in a similar class to past drivers (and race winners) like Trulli and Ralf Schumacher, who were both brilliantly fast drivers but severely lacking when it came to the skills required to give and take pressure and to ultimately overtake.

    As for all the criticism of Red Bull and Horner, I am just confused as to where people are getting these insights into the team and what happens behind closed doors. Yes we have heard lots of speculation in the press about what happens behind those closed doors but seen very little evidence of it that stands up to the cold light of day, after the race weekend has finished. Of course there is tension in the team... they have 2 drivers that they are giving a 'roughly' equal billing to..... not as equal as McLaren but when compared to Ferrari and the Alonso/ Massa 'equality'...

    To me Seb seems to be living up to only one of his media gifted epithets, he is the new Schumacher... Ralf Schumacher that is not the more illustrious and 7 times world champion brother Michael.

  • Comment number 67.

    Andrew, good article, sums it everything up well, but it appears that you and all the other pundits have missed a key change in the front wing regulations.

    Every TV / written opinion has seemed to ignore the fact that the fundamental change to the front wing test is that the load is now applied midway along the end fence instead of at the front of the end fence. This means that the designers cannot now make the wing able to warp under aero load allowing the rear of the end fences to run closer to the ground than the front, if you study the attachment closely you will see the effect happening:

    http://alistairmilne.com/2010/08/02/new-f1-wing-tests/

    This was essentially the RBR / Ferrari trick and they can no longer do this because the load test is now applied to replicate nearer the torque exerted on the wing by the rearward extended aerofoils. This as distinct from the pure bending load exerted by the original test at the front of the wing.

    This being the case, it may well explain the surprisingly subdued demeanour of Mark Webber in the post race conference. You'd have thought he would be ecstatic at his 'save' of second place from a bad start, but his mind was probably on the fact that RBRs advantage on the slow circuits has been severely eroded by the new wing test.

  • Comment number 68.

    TITLE HOPES Webber has the edge!

    Apart from a poor start, which I note that both Vettel and Webber have suffered, Webber drove a quite brilliant race at Spa, without any hair raising moments such as Hamilton's gravel episode. Webber is however also not a driver without errors (Kovalainen episode). Red Bull seem to have more frequent poor starts than others and I would be treating that as an issue if I were at Red Bull. Spa made it obvious where Red Bulls weakness of top speed/ raw HP is. All other things considered I think Webber has the edge this year. Only 6 more races that will verify this assertion.

  • Comment number 69.

    How was it a perfect drive when he went off the track ?

  • Comment number 70.

    Vettel may be talented when it comes to setting fast laps when no-one else is there, but its starting to become clear that he just doesn't have what it takes to be the best. If you can't win when you have the best car...

    This brings me onto Button. I was critical of him in the Brawn as the car was so much better than all the others, and thought going to McLaren was a mistake. I now think this wasn't fair of me, because at the end of the day he still had to go and win the races to take the WDC, something Vettel can't manage.

    I think McLaren must be very happy with their two drivers. Button may not be quite up to Hamilton's pace, but he gets plenty of points and that's what you need to take the Constructors title. The whole team give the impression of stability and harmony.

    I'm hoping the title will go to Webber (because he seems like a decent bloke in the best car, but in a team that favour's the other driver) or Hamilton (this year's spectacularly talented driver, full stop).

  • Comment number 71.

    Hamilton has really matured as a driver. In his first few seasons he was known as the guy who was brilliant but very impetuous- and that impetuosity cost him the title. Now he is the complete driver- fast, good in qualy and an expert at working his way up the field.

    Button drove brilliantly in the first few laps and I'm sure he would have come in 2nd. I think he's great- but a tad slower than Hamilton in this car.

    Webber is also proving himself to be a worthy contender for the championship. He keeps bouncing back and is getting great laps out of a great car, and keeping far cooler than a lot of those around him. Vettel meanwhile has bags of talent but needs to sort out his temperament issues. He reminds me of Hamilton crica 2008. I think he'll have to wait a few years.

    Alonso and Massa are fast- but Fernando needs to sort his head out. You don't need to overdrive every race, he needs to take a leaf out of JB's book.

    my assessment- Webber v Hamilton now, unless Jenson or Vettel can outdo the others at Monza.

  • Comment number 72.

    also, cant help thinking Lewis and Jenson would be miles clear if they'd had the RB underneath them...

  • Comment number 73.

    Everything is set up for Monza. This could be the pivotal race for the drivers title.

    Hamilton must win it to keep his chance of winning the title.

    If Webber wins it, he is back in the lead with the next 3 circuits favouring the Red Bull car over the McLaren and Ferrari.

    Button also needs to win it or his defence is over (thanks to Vettel).

    If you asked Button or Sutil, which was the greater nuisance in the race, they probably would say either the rain or Vettel. Vettel is a quick driver but he just keeps on making bad mistakes so as far as I can see it is between Hamilton or Webber now unless Button can pull something out of the bag?

    I just hope McLaren can find something that can improve their downforce and make them go quicker around corners because if they can, they can challenge for both titles.

    Although I expect Ferrari to put on a show on their home circuit.

  • Comment number 74.

    @73, Hamilton doesn't need to win Monza to remain in the race (although it would certainly help him if he does). There are 3 drivers who I think who need to win (well score significantly more than Lewis and Mark) to remain in contention and they are Vettel, Button and Alonso.

    Yes the next 3 races post Monza may favour Red Bull, but I think its foolish to discount McLaren as their car is improving and both drivers are capable of out driving their cars to gain good results... Whilst Lewis was being shown the ropes by Mark in Hungary he was still in contention for a podium and good points haul until the gremlins attacked his normally bullet proof McLaren. Its also going to be interesting to see the role Kubica and his Renault will play in the title hunt as he searches for more deserved glory.

    Its still to early to discount any of the top 5 from the DWC, all it will take is Webber launching an Aussie style overtake on Lewis (ala Melbourne) and all 5 drivers could be within a handful of points again.

  • Comment number 75.

    Guten Tag Mein Herren......ja wohl, I still believe one from Deutschland will win the championship, fingers crossed, hehehe, and more will come from there in years to come, be in no doubt. The race is not over, young Vettel was abit unlucky, you will agree, as Englishman Button was driving too slowly, but never mind, its all in the past now, and we are good freunds still. Now I say, auf wieder sehen, and bye bye !!

  • Comment number 76.

    I wonder if AB thinks McLaren should soon back Hamilton as he is 35 points ahead of Button, more than Webber is ahead of Vettel, or do these things not apply to the BBC favourite, Button?

    I personally think a team should employ equality down the line until it is mathematically impossible for one driver to win the title, but possible for the other driver to win it. In that case, they would be foolish not to throw their weight behind the driver in with a chance. It hasn't got to that point yet.

  • Comment number 77.

    @22 VettelManUtd90, the actual statistics for rates of DNFs shows that Lewis is the best of the current drivers. You highlight ONE of his DNFs as evidence of his bad record, but if you examine all the drivers today, Lewis comes out on top. He had two DNFs this year, both of which were not his fault. Look at the facts: http://translate.google.co.uk/translate?hl=en&sl=de&u=http://www.motorsport-total.com/&ei=4Zh7TKWxLIqN4QbkyuSiBg&sa=X&oi=translate&ct=result&resnum=1&ved=0CCYQ7gEwAA&prev=/search%3Fq%3Dmotorsport%2Btotal%26hl%3Den%26rls%3Dcom.microsoft:en-gb:IE-SearchBox

  • Comment number 78.

    Did anyone notice Mclaren Drivers using different front wings

    Great job Lewis,unlucky Jenson. Lewis for the title!

  • Comment number 79.

    Andrew, thanks for a great summary of an event filled race.

    Can you please have a word with your 'journalist' who penned the Hamilton article to correct a few mistakes:
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/motorsport/formula_one/8953427.stm

    1. "... while defending world champion Jenson Button, who crashed out of the race following a collision with Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel on lap 16 ...'

    This is inaccurate and suggest Button crashed, I would change to " ... Button, who was forced to retire after being hit from behind by Red Bull' Sebastian ...'

    2. "Fernando Alonso's race ended in the first lap when his Ferrari was taken out by Williams's Rubens ..."

    Hmm, again inaccurate as Fernando actually continued on and fought back passing well until his mistake in going wide at Melmedy on lap 38, so I'd change to something like: " Fernando Alonso's race got harder when his Ferrari was hit by Williams ... He continued on and eventually went wide on Melmedy and spun his car into the barrier causing front suspension damage and forcing the safety car to be deployed for the last time".

    Hopefully you can give a gently nudge to whoever wrote this, but didn't watch the race, to get these corrected ;-)

    Cheers to you and the team for another bang up job on the weekend, thoroughly enjoyed it!

  • Comment number 80.

    Firstly what a fantastic race, Spa pretty much always throws up a brilliant and exciting race and this year was certainly no exception. I think Lewis drove magnificently to secure his 3rd win of the season and 14th of his frankly amazing career, I also feel he is driving at the best he ever has so far, he seems so much calmer, unlike Vettel, although just like Lewis a couple of years ago, Vettel also has plenty of time to mature into a great World Champion. To the people who have said Red Bull will blow everyone away come Singapore, I don't think you can assume such a thing, yes Singapore, is relatively tight and twisty, but its not like Hungary or Monaco, is much more open, and the corners when they are tight are usually 90 degree corners, at Hungary it was the middle sector where Red Bull where so devastatingly quick, the fast flowing stuff. I also don't think Mclaren will win there just because they won there last year, Its not really there type of circuit, the MP4-25 is considerable longer than the 24 of last year, this plays a big part in why the Mclaren is so good on fast circuits and struggled on tight twisty circuits, I reckon Red Bull may be the stronger come the last 4 races, but remember Singapore is 4 weeks away? Don't you think Mclaren being the massive organization that they are will find some of that potential from the blown diffuser? I certainly do, and then after Singapore we have Suzuka a track where Red Bull where mighty last year, and that is 6 weeks away, more time for Mclaren to unlock the potential in the car, basically its going to be an AMAZING end to an already mind blowing and fantastic season, the best I've seen in the 20 years I've been watching F1.

  • Comment number 81.

    Re: 69
    Perfect means:
    1. Being in front at the first corner and staying there to the end of the race.
    2.Staying on the road for 99.99% of the time.
    3.Being focused on the job in-hand.
    4.The nous to negotiate the gravel-pit, In,yes!but able to come out.
    5.To look over the'precipice' and not get drawn in by the hypnotic glare.
    6.To Win.
    7.To entertain,enjoy the moment, enthuse happiness.

  • Comment number 82.

    Lewis Hamilton, on his day, is probably the best driver that I've ever seen (and I've been watching for half a century) and yesterday was one of his good days.

    Jenson Button and Mark Webber are two of the most intelligent drivers. They might not have the amazing skill (genius?) of Hamilton, but they are very good, make smart decisions, know their limits, and consistently get very close to the best from their cars. Fernando Alonso falls perhaps somewhere between them and Hamilton.

    What can you say about Sebastian Vettel? Will his 'judgement' improve with maturity? Will he learn to overtake? Is he the one driver of the present generation to challenge Hamilton on pure ability? For the monent, I rate all of Hamilton, Button, Alonso well above Vettel. I think that he needs to work hard on his psychology. Probably, he should move to a team that doesn't make excuses for his errors - Christian Horner's attitude does him more harm than good - and even get some psychological counselling. Afer all that, a great driver might come out.

  • Comment number 83.

    100 points for Hamilton in the next 6 races will win him the title.

    A win at Monza will go a long way to helping him on course.

  • Comment number 84.

    I think Kyle has summed it up the best.
    Button and Barrichello had the fastest car last season and everyone jumped on Button for only winning due to the fact that they had the fastest car. This year it is without question that the Redbulls have had a greater performance advantage and yet Vettel (and Webber to a lesser extent) has not been able to convert this into the type of lead they should have in the championship.
    Initially it seems that the new wing regulations (well new tests at least) have brought RBR back into the clutches of Maclaren and Renault in a similar way to how Braun was caught up last year. So we should be in for some good racing in the final races.
    Hamilton has driven superbly this year and if he goes on to win the drivers championship he should be lauded for winning the championship in a slower car. As a long time Button fan I would say he has been unlucky but Lewis has had his fair share of bad luck this season and definately deserves to win it as long as he performs as well in the closing races as he has so far.
    Good on the lad!

  • Comment number 85.

    @22 The big difference between Lewis and Sebastian is that Lewis has showed that he can sustain focus throughout a whole season, while Vettel has has wierd racing incidents from time to time

    What a drive from Lewis. Give the boy a biscuit! he deserved it fully. Remeniscient of Micheal Shcumacher in his glory days. Malaysia 2001 anyone? Masterfull drive. I believe he can challenge Schuey's championships haul record.

    Mark Webber can count hiss lucky stars. Poor start then the Button/Vettel incident and Kubica pit stop error. However if not a Brit winning the WDC then i would like for him to prove Red Bull that they made a horrendous mistake favouring Vettel

    By the way the reason why this season the pole to flag victory ratio has been so bad is because of the dreadfull starts from Red Bull

  • Comment number 86.

    I think a little clarification is needed regarding those who ask why Vettel was not punished in the same way that Schumacher was in the respective incidents in recent races. There is a simple reason;

    * Schumacher's move on Barrichello was totally intentional - he was intending to scare him, and it was a purposely dangerous manouvre,

    * Vettel's clash with Button was an accident - one of Vettel's MANY racing accidents.

  • Comment number 87.

    Re:83 100 points does not guarantee the title for Hamilton (that is four wins and two no scores..Webber would then take title with 4 seconds and 2 wins) but in reality it probably would.

    Quick analysis reveals that to guarantee the title:

    Alonso must win all 6 races - if Hamilton or Webber finish second in 6 races
    Button and Vettel must win 6 with Hamilton or Webber second, or win 5 and 1 second as long as Hamilton or Webber doesn't win
    Webber must win 4 and finish 3rd and 4th or better - assuming Hamilton finishes second in four and wins the other two
    Hamilton must win 3 and have 3 seconds - assuming Webber wins 3 and is second in 3

    The above is obviously highly unlikely, but it puts into clear terms as to what is required from each driver. Depending on your view of reliability two more wins for Webber or Hamilton will effectively eliminate the rest of the field from the title baring some freaky results (like two non-points finishes for both of these guys).

  • Comment number 88.

    Vettel should of been disqualified from that race not only did he take JB out he had collisions with both Liuzzi and Alonso which were his fault and he should have had a 10 place grid drop for Monza to he is a rackless driver who shouldn't be in F1

  • Comment number 89.

    I've got to agree with KeepitReal. What Webber did in Istanbul was pick his line & stick to it, knowing that Vettel would have to either abandon the overtaking manoeuver, or crash as they approached the corner.
    Pretty much what Schumacher did to Barrichello in Hungary.

    There's no way Vettel should be punished further for colliding with Button either - watch it again & watch the Red Bull front wing slopping from side to side - that crash was a result of too-clever-by-half aero design.
    I'm no fan of Webber but I wonder if this was complicit in his driving into Kovalainen

  • Comment number 90.

    @89 - Sorry but WTF? What Webber did at Istanbul was defend his position as he is allowed to do, what Vettel did was make an overtaking move and then swerve into his team mate trying to push him off the track because he realised that he wasn't going to make the corner without compromising himself.

    How you can seriously attempt to compare it with the actions of Schumacher at Hungary staggers me beyond belief.... yes both moves involved one car try to overtake another but at that point the similarities end, Schumacher left enough room for Rubens to make a move up the inside and then proceeded to squeeze him against the pit wall deliberately.

    As I have said before I do think the punishment of Vettel was harsh, but I don't think it was wrong, Vettel tried to go up the inside but was blocked by Jenson (legally) then Vettel made a desperate dive to the outside and lost control of his car as he tried to straighten up and brake... something that may have been exasperated by the front wing (not sure that that was the major problem) but in reality I just think he vastly over estimated his cars ability to change direction and brake in the turbulent air of a car he was within meters of. I would put it down to inexperience but really a driver in his 3rd season of F1 racing should have known the huge risks of such a desperate move, so being penalised for an avoidable accident doesn't seem that unreasonable.

  • Comment number 91.

    I'm surprised so many people are discounting Button, Vettel and Alonso for the title after one bad race. With six races still to go, there's every chance Hamilton and Webber could suffer a DNF or a poor points finish.

    I don't think Button can win it, but that's because he's not as fast as Hamilton, not because of the current points deficit. Vettel is probably slightly faster than Webber, and being the favourite within the team will mean he's unlikely to be asked to play No. 2 behind Webber until it's mathematically impossible for him to win the title. And you should never discount Alonso. Considering he's had such a poor season by his standards, he's still very much in the hunt and I'd say he and Hamilton are the most talented drivers out there.

    Very happy with the race result though, I think Hamilton has been the best driver this season and is most deserving of a second title (that'll spice things up in future seasons with him and Alonso both vying for a third title!), but if Red Bull keep ahead in developing their car, I'd settle for seeing Webber win it. If red Bull don't win this season, they will really feel they've thrown away the championship. To begin with the car was too fragile, but there have also been too many mistakes from the drivers. If Hamilton or Alonso had been in a Red Bull this year, they'd bee 100 points clear by now!

  • Comment number 92.

    Fin ra ci s Formula 1 fans and pundits and drivers. Vettle keep finnig himself and other, but "he is young and immature, in time he will blah blah..". Two years all slightest mishap by Hamilton created outrage by fans, and other drivers. "he is reckless, arrogant." Vettle is bad reckless driver! There is no skill needed to be fast bad and reckless driver. He is bad reckless cause he doesn't know how to drive. Adverse conditions differentiate bad drivers from skillful ones; like RAIN and MORE RAIN.
    I hope it rains and rains during the rest of the F1 races, so real drivers like Hamilton and Weber are separated from pedal pushers like Vettle, Alanso and MAsa.

  • Comment number 93.

    I agree with #90 and #91, but TOTALLY disagree with #89.

  • Comment number 94.

    "12. At 7:49pm on 29 Aug 2010, Leinstimrk wrote:

    As expected with the f-duct and the best engine in F1, McLaren was the fastest car at Spa. Hamilton was extremely lucky not to damage his front wing when he drove off track.
    Webber drove excellently with his engine disadvtange compared to McLaren.
    Vettel and Rubens should get a 5 place grid penalty for causing an avoidable collision. Barrichello's was the worst, he was 20 meters behind Alonso and smashed straight in to him at 100km/h. Alonso was lucky he only had diffuser and floor damage."

    Giving Mr 300 any kind of penalty for that would be extremely harsh and unfair. Maybe you saw a different collision between him and Alonso, but I saw Barrichello braking and trying to turn his car yet the Williams steaming on in a straight line despite his efforts. It was a racing incident caused by the weather conditions. I think we were pretty damn lucky there weren't more first lap or early doors collisions.

  • Comment number 95.

    What I meant by Hamilton Monza '09 is that no driver is perfect, and Hamilton pushed too hard when 3rd was a very good result for him and the team. There was no need to push. Hamilton IS just as bad.

  • Comment number 96.

    I'm staggered that some people here are seemingly unable to see the difference between what Vettel did and what Schumacher did. Ok some are just xxxx-stirring I know but...!

    Vettel lost control of the car while overtaking (again) because he's not as good a driver as RB tell him ,and he thinks he is. Cordas #89 sums up Michael's move very well, and not only was it deliberate but with a concrete wall alongside the pits, the potential consequencies of Rubens going up and over the back of Michael's car could have been catastrophic - anyone who has seen the frame-by-frame footage of Le Mans in 1955 when 80 people died in a similar accident will know what I mean, and barriers aren't much use if a car takes off and flies 15 foot in the air over them. Google the footage if you don't believe me!

  • Comment number 97.

    I meant Cordas #90.

  • Comment number 98.

    I agree a lot with WolfiePeters (#82), but do feel that the major difference between Vettel and Hamilton is that the latter is now showing maturity that he has lacked in the past, Vettel still has to learn from his mistakes - whether he will in the same way Hamilton has, well that remains to be seen. Like Wolfie says, Christian Horner's attitude does him more harm than good. Immaterial of what Vettel does for the remainder of the season, I hope we see an enjoyable battle between Hamilton and Webber, it could go either way and I'm looking forward to seeing how it unfolds.

  • Comment number 99.

    Does anyone think this is rather bad journalism?

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/motorsport/formula_one/8953560.stm

    The piece is titled "Mark Webber says Red Bull may soon have to start backing his world title bid ahead of team-mate Sebastian Vettel", whereas in the video accompanying the piece he doesn't say this at all.

    It also quotes Webber as saying "It's still too early at the moment, but maybe not far away". Well, he says the first bit in the video, but not the second. All he says is if it stays nip and tuck, it will be the teams decision (though he doesn't say in whose favour, presumably whichever of them is leading in the closing stages of the season). These misquotes make him seem arrogant, the article seems to be trying to create controversy where there is none.

  • Comment number 100.

    I'm amazed people still lessen the achievements of Button last year on the grounds that he was 'in the fastest car'. There has hardly ever been a time when the WDC was not in the best car. It does happen, and I think Alonso demonstrated that when he was at Renault, but most of Schumi's wins came in the best car, Vielleneuve the younger did, Hakkinen did, Mansell did, it's just the nature of the beast.

    As for this season, the Red Bull seems to be the quickest on anything except very low downforce circuits, and as such, Webber and Vettel should be romping it. That they are not points I think to two things:

    1. Whilst very quick, they do have some reliability issues (seems to be common for Adrian Newey cars).
    2. Vettel just doesn't seem to be composed enough.

    Vettel is clearly an incredibly fast driver, but unless he learns to control that skill, he won't be WDC. The comparison with Ralf Schumacher is an interesting and possibly apt one. That said, I actually think the drive through was a little harsh. He screwed up - it happens. Granted it seems to happen more to him than to others, and I do feel sorry for Button, but we do need to keep some perspective.

    Webber has seriously impressed me though, and I suspect had his car been a little more reliable, and Red Bull had better tactical nous, he would be walking it.

    As the season goes on, I'm favouring Hamilton more and more. He really is managing to wring everything out of the Mclaren, and Mclaren know how to win championships. I just can't help but feel the more the pressure comes on, the more the fact they have done it before will benefit Mclaren, and the more mistakes you might see from Red Bull.

    Great season though.

 

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