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Lewis Hamilton beaten in Belgium by stewards

Lewis Hamilton Lewis Hamilton’s run of bad luck continues. After producing a sizzling performance to take the the Belgian Grand Prix, he was later denied it because of a technical infringement on one of the chicanes.

The officials — who seem to have it in for him — reduced his placing from 1st to 3rd, leaving main rival Felipe Massa only two points adrift in the title race.

The moment of truth came as Hamilton attempted to overtake Kimi Raikkonen’s Ferrari at the Bus Stop chicane three laps from the finish. The leaders entered the chicane side by side as their tyres touched. As a result Hamilton cut across the inside of the chicane and emerged in the lead. Following the rules, he braked to allow Raikkonen to pass him, before going at him again and overtaking on the inside.

Raikkonen then took Hamilton again but crashed on the penultimate lap due to running on dry tyres on a wet track.

Two hours later, after Hamilton had celebrated his victory with champagne on the podium after one of Formula One’s classic races — his fifth win of the season — he was told that instead of an eight-point lead over Felipe Massa in the drivers’ championship, his advantage had been cut to two points.

The McLaren team intend to appeal against the 25-second drive-through penalty imposed on their driver. A strong suspicion remains that they always comes off second-best in a dispute with Ferrarl.

Positions in the Drivers’ Championship
1 Lewis Hamilton GB 76
2 Felipe Massa Bra 74
3 Robert Kubica Pol 58
4 Kimi Räikkönen Fin 57
5 Nick Heidfeld Ger 49
6 Heikki Kovalainen Fin 43
7 Jarno Trulli Ita 26
8 Fernando Alonso Spa 23

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Alonso obstructs Lewis Hamilton in Belgium

Here we go again. The gathering feud between Fernando Alonso, who thinks he’s hard done-by because team-mate Lewis Hamilton is not “slowed down” by McLaren, and Hamilton himself, who is just doing his best, erupted in the Belgian Grand Prix.


Kimi Raikkonen, the winner for Ferrari

That’s not even mentioning the feud between Ferrari and McLaren, or the bad blood beween FIA and the British team — fined a massive £50m ($100m) last week for allegedly receiving stolen intellectual property from a disgruntled Ferrari mechanic.

On the first bend Alonso clearly drove the British rookie off the track, but struggled to reach third place. Hamilton came in fourth, losing one point to the big bully ahead of him.

Later, Hamilton complained, “The last few years I have been watching F1 and Fernando has always been complaining about other people being unfair. It was blatant. He pushed me wide quite deliberately. For someone who is trying to set a standard, he is not living up to it. “There was enough room for us both to get round, but suddenly I didn’t have any room. It was not a fair or race manoeuvre. I was lucky there was a run-off area.”

Top Ten Race Result
1 K Raikkonen (Fin) Ferrari 1hr 20min 39.066sec
2 F Massa (Brz) Ferrari 1:20:43.761
3 F Alonso (Sp) McLaren 1:20:53.409
4 L Hamilton (GB) McLaren 1:21:02.681
5 N Heidfeld (G) BMW Sauber 1:21:30.945
6 N Rosberg (G) Williams 1:21:55.942
7 M Webber (A) Red Bull 1:21:59.701
8 H Kovalainen (Fin) Renault 1:22:04.172
9 R Kubica (Pol) BMW Sauber 1:22:04.727
10 R Schumacher (G) Toyota 1:22:07.640

Drivers’ Championship
1 Hamilton 97pts
2 Alonso 95
3 Raikkonen 84
4 Massa 77
5 Heidfeld 56
6 Kubica 33
7 Kovalainen 22
8 Fisichella 17
9 Rosberg 15
10 Wurz 13

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Monaco and Spa

There are two F1 races that are “must-sees” for me each year and, perhaps predictably, they are are held on old circuits that have managed to resist the worst excesses of the chicane-insertion years. One is the Monaco GP, which survives against all modern reasoning, and the other is the Belgian GP on the Spa circuit.

It is easy to criticize Monaco; tight and narrow streets, no run off areas, plenty of concrete to punish the smallest of errors and (we’re told) no opportunity for passing. Yet it is an incredible spectacle, the only GP run through city streets and a tradition that the FIA dare not touch. And, in spite of its lack of passing places, it always gives rise to dramatic races and fierce tussles.

Loews Corner, Monaco

Loews Corner, Monaco

The strange thing about Monaco is that you are more likely to see cars passing each other on the track there than at any other circuit. Every year there seems to be two or three drivers who manage to progress up the leader board despite the race’s reputation for no overtaking.

Why is this? Could it be that the reputation is undeserved and that it is actually well within the bounds of possibility to pass at Monaco? I think the answer lies in several factors. For one thing, the circuit is so tight that the cars do not attain the huge speeds they achieve elsewhere; it is risky to attempt a passing manoeuver but the slower speeds mean that there is more chance of halting the car before disaster occurs. This encourages the more determined drivers to have a go anyway.

And determination plays its part too. Most of the overtaking at Monaco happens away from the first few places and involves either drivers who have little to lose by risking a racing accident or top line drivers who have been relegated to the back of the grid by misfortune or a misdemeanor – they, too, have nothing to lose.

It is true that any passing manoeuver at Monaco requires some co-operation from the driver in front; it would be very easy to be obstinate and send both cars crashing into the wall. Yet every driver wants to finish the race and so, generally, once the car behind has the inside of a corner, the driver in front will allow discretion to be the better part of valor.

Whatever the reason, the fact is that passing does happen at Monaco. And that is more than can be said for many of the modern circuits.

Spa is magnificent, of course. Even though it is a shortened circuit, the best parts have been retained and the new section carefully designed to fit in with the older circuit. And the Eau Rouge corner remains as the most severe test of nerve and skill in F1. To see drivers hanging on grimly to the edge through that swooping corner is the highlight of the year.

Eau Rouge

The Eau Rouge Corner

The driver who supplied my most undying memory of Eau Rouge was the highly unlikely Andrea de Cesaris in the 1983 Alfa Romeo. We always felt that Andrea was just a little out of his depth in F1 for, after a flying qualifying lap, he would get out of his car with eyes staring and hands shaking. He was fast but so prone to accidents that the McLaren team called him Andrea de Crasheris.

Alfa Romeo 183T

Alfa Romeo 183T

In 1983, however, Andrea had matured a great deal and secured a seat with the Alfa Romeo team (wonderful cars, no reliability at all). He raced well throughout the year, always near the front, yet bad luck prevented him from winning a race. But at Spa, everything came together.

At the start, Andrea leapt into the lead and raced away from the field. For lap after lap he went through Eau Rouge flat out, the Alfa barely managing to hang on to the last few millimeters of road surface. It was an incredible sight, man and machine at the utmost limit of their ability, and I have never seen another driver take Eau Rouge as Andrea did that day.

Spa 1983

The Start, Spa 1983

Deep into the race, the inevitable happened. The Alfa’s engine went bang and Andrea coasted to a halt, a well-deserved win slipping from his grasp. It remains his finest race performance and a sight that confirms me in my love for Spa and the Eau Rouge corner. Let the FIA never remove it from the calendar.

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