Spa: Raikkonen prevails, Fisichella stars
With rumors that his job is on the line, Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen won the Belgium GP Sunday ahead of polesitter Giancarlo Fisichella's Force India. Using the 80-hp advantage of KERS, Raikkonen powered past Fisichella in the early laps and then held the Italian at bay the rest of the way with Fisichella just car lengths from his rear wing.
The German driver finished third, while his fellow championship rivals struggled.
Having scored points in the first eleven races, the Englishman's clean sheet was ruined after being involved in a multiple collision at Les Combes corner on lap 1. A tap from Romain Grosjean at only the fifth corner of the first lap signaled a premature end to his afternoon.
"I got a very good start," Button explained to the BBC. "I got passed Lewis (Hamilton) at the start - and obviously Rubens (Barrichello) had his problem - and I was going down the outside and got pushed wide at Turn 1."
Having survived La Source, Button soon found himself making his own way back to the pit lane. "As we were going down the straight, I went down the outside of Heikki (Kovalainen) and Grosjean out-braked himself and hit my back wheel," the Englishman continued. "It's frustrating to be taken out like that, especially when I made a few places up at the start and Rubens had his problem, which was good for me."
The big headline however is the astonishing Belgian form of Force India's Fisichella, who started from pole but was overtaken down the long Kemmel straight by the KERS-assisted Raikkonen's Ferrari.
But the Roman, whose eight points are worth "squillions" to his Silverstone-based team according to business director Ian Phillips, hung onto his Finnish rival throughout the 44 laps, and the gap at the end was less than a single second.
"I'm a little bit sad because I was quicker than Kimi but he overtook me just because of the KERS. Actually, we could have won the race," Fisichella told reporters afterwards.
Webber, just out of the points in ninth, had to serve a drive-through penalty when his lollipop-man unsafely released him from a pitstop into the path of Nick Heidfeld.
Barrichello was lucky to finish the race seventh with a heavily smoking Mercedes V8.
Button's first lap crash with Romain Grosjean, who the Brawn driver said "out-braked himself", is being investigated by the stewards, as is the similarly race-ending contact between Lewis Hamilton and Jaime Alguersuari.
The order behind the SC was Fisichella, Raikkonen, Kubica, Glock, Webber, Heidfeld, Rosberg, Vettel, Alonso, with Kovalainen tenth. Then came Buemi, Nakajima, Luca Badoer up to 13th from last on the grid, Trulli, all the way down off the front row after pitting for a new nose, Barrichello, who got bogged down from fourth on the grid and Sutil, 16th and last, having also stopped for repairs.
As the Safety Car came in at the start of lap 5, Raikkonen swept past Fisichella after Radillon to take the lead, his F60 still evidently working well, despite tangling with another car in the first lap chaos. The only other change being Vettel getting ahead of Rosberg for seventh. Luca then dropped to fourteenth as he was passed by Barrichello, who also passed Nakajima. Luca lost another place on lap 7 when he was passed by Sutil. Pit stops began on lap 12, with Kubica bringing his BMW in from third place and Timo Glock refueling his Toyota from sixth. At the front, Raikkonen led Fisichella in the Force India by 1.8. Webber was now third in the Red Bull, 8.9 behind the Ferrari, with Raikkonen pitting on lap 14, at the same time as Fisichella, Webber and Heidfeld. These last two nearly collided in the pit lane as they drove out and Webber was given a drive through penalty. Lap 15 saw Raikkonen third behind Vettel and Rosberg, who were yet to stop. Vettel came in next time round, promoting Rosberg to the lead for Williams.
When Rosberg came in on lap 22, Raikkonen was now back in the lead, still with Fisichella behind him, closer than before in fact, just 0.9 down. Alonso was third but had yet to stop. Luca was fifteenth. Trulli retired his Toyota in the pits on lap 22, the halfway point of the race. The battle at the front was intriguing as Raikkonen’s Ferrari was not managing to pull away from Fisichella, the gap now 0.8, going down another tenth on lap 23. Alonso finally brought the Renault in for its one stop from third place on lap 24, but all his hard work evaporated as the pit crew struggled for a long time with the left front wheel, after it had been damaged in a collision at the start of the race. He continued for a short while, but the team retired him as the data showed a problem with the left front corner. Luca also pitted his F60 at this point, on a one stop strategy. Kovalainen was the last of the lead group (5th) to pit on lap 26.
As the one-stop drivers finished their visit to pit lane, the two stoppers returned for a final time, Barrichello first in on lap 27 from sixth place. Lap 31 and Raikkonen and Fisichella made their final stops together, temporarily promoting Vettel to the lead ahead of Heidfeld. The German BMW driver came in next time around, so that Raikkonen was back in second, 11.1 behind the Red Bull, with Fisichella 0.7 behind the Ferrari. Vettel came in on lap 35 which meant that Raikkonen and Fisichella were back fighting for the lead again, the gap between them now 0.6, as Raikkonen had to push the F60 as hard as he could.
Fastest lap: Vettel, 1:47.263
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