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After China
Championship Standings:

Drivers' Standings
1 Sebastian Vettel 54
2 Lewis Hamilton 45
3 Valtteri Bottas 40
4 Daniel Ricciardo 37
5 Kimi Raikkonen 30
6 Fernando Alonso 22
7 Nico Hulkenberg 22
8 Max Verstappen 18
9 Pierre Gasly 12
10 Kevin Magnussen 11
11 Stoffel Vandoorne 6
12 Carlos Sainz 3
13 Marcus Ericsson 2
14 Esteban Ocon 1
15 Sergio Perez 0
16 Charles Leclerc 0
17 Brendon Hartley 0
18 Lance Stroll 0
19 Romain Grosjean 0
20 Sergey Sirotkin 0

Constructors' Standings
1 Mercedes 85
2 Ferrari 84
3 Red Bull Racing 55
4 Mclaren Renault 28
5 Renault 25
6 Toro Rosso Honda 12
7 Haas Ferrari 11
8 Sauber Ferrari 2
9 Force India Mercedes 1
10 Williams Mercedes 0

Raikkonen crashes, Hamilton demoted, Massa wins

by Mark J. Cipolloni
Sunday, September 7, 2008


Felipe Massa was sad to finish 2nd but much happier later when the race stewards handed him the win

UPDATE: Lewis Hamilton has lost his victory at the Belgian Grand Prix after he was given a penalty for cutting a chicane when fighting with Kimi Raikkonen. The stewards gave Hamilton a drive-through penalty after the race had ended, meaning 25 seconds were added to his time.  Rain on the last two laps at the almost always wet Spa, resulted in one of the most exciting F1 finishes in recent memory.  Kimi Raikkonen, who led almost the entire race and appeared headed for victory, but threw it all away in the wet.

Rain on the last two laps at the almost always wet Spa, resulted in one of the most exciting F1 finishes in recent memory.  Kimi Raikkonen, who led almost the entire race and appeared headed for victory, was passed by Lewis Hamilton when the rain began to fall with two laps to go, then re-passed him back for the lead, only to promptly lose control on the wet track with dry tires and crash into the wall handing Lewis Hamilton the win.   

Raikkonen's Ferrari teammate Felipe Massa moved up to 2nd and Nick Heidfeld slithered up to third for the final podium position.

Fernando Alonso was 4th and Sebastian Vettel rounded out the top-5.

Lewis Hamilton emerges the victor after a thrilling finish at Spa, but was later penalized
It had rained on and off throughout the morning and the majority of cars went out onto the grid on rain tires, but with the clouds moving off, the switch to dry weather rubber began before the start, with Felipe Massa in second place alongside pole sitter, Lewis Hamilton and Kimi Raikkonen in the other F2008 lining up behind his team-mate, with Heikki Kovalainen in the second McLaren-Mercedes as his neighbor. All runners were on the softer of the two types of tire, apart from Piquet's Renault that was fitted with the harder ones.

Hamilton got a good start from pole, but Felipe was a bit slow away, allowing Kimi, who had got the better of Kovalainen, to pass him on the straight, with Bourdais briefly fourth before being passed Alonso. Kimi was flying and took the lead, while Kovalainen spun at La Source hairpin.

After five of the 44 laps had been completed, Kimi led Hamilton by 1.1 seconds with Felipe 3.5 behind the Englishman. Fourth was Alonso, followed by Bourdais, Webber, Kubica, Kovalainen, Piquet and Heidfeld completing the top ten. Eleventh was Vettel, followed by Glock, Rosberg, Trulli, Barrichello, Sutil, Coulthard, Button and Nakajima. Fisichella was last. On lap 9, Kovalainen and Vettel both moved up a place to seventh and tenth respectively.

Out in front, Hamilton was 1.2 behind Kimi and Massa was 5.5 behind in third. Kovalainen's charge up the order after his spin got a set back when he tried to go down the inside of Webber, spinning the Australian around. The Finn was given a drive-through penalty for causing the accident. Hamilton was the first to pit, stopping for 6.8 seconds on lap 11 and Kimi came in next time round, for a 7.1 stop. Felipe came in on lap 13 (7.6 seconds.) Bourdais pitted from second place on lap 15, coming out just ahead of Kubica who had also come in on the same lap. Vettel was the last of the leading bunch to refuel on lap 17, so that one lap later the order was now, Kimi, 5.7 ahead of Hamilton, Felipe in third at a distance of 9.5 from his team-mate, followed by Alonso, Bourdais, Kubica, Vettel and Heidfeld in the last of the points scoring positions, eighth. Kimi then put in a fastest race lap to extend his advantage to 6.1s.

The two leaders made their final pit stops together on lap 25, the McLaren man's marginally shorter than the Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro driver, but Kimi was still ahead, although Felipe was the temporary race leader. Alonso brought his Renault in from fourth place on lap 27 and Felipe came in next time round, stopping for 7.9. The meant the Kimi was back at the head of the field, but his lead over Hamilton had been reduced to 2.4 and then 1.9 on lap 29, with Felipe 4.1 further back in third, all three of them now doing the obligatory race stint on the harder Bridgestone tire. Bourdais pitted from fourth on lap 32, while the gaps between the top three barely changed as the race came down to its final ten laps. Kubica came in on lap 33 as did Vettel, the German overtaking the Pole, by beating him out of pit lane.

So with ten laps to go the order was Kimi still leading, with a 2.2 advantage over Hamilton, while Felipe trailed by 3.3. Alonso was fourth and with Bourdais and Vettel fifth and sixth respectively in the Toro Rosso cars, it meant Ferrari had four engines in the top six.

With 6 laps remaining a few drops of rain began to fall, but not enough to require rain tires and one lap later the gaps at the front were 0.9 between Kimi and Hamilton, with Felipe 6 behind, but comfortably 33.5 ahead of fourth placed Alonso.

But with two laps to go, Hamilton closed right up to Kimi and got past him but only by cutting across the chicane. Kimi was in front again going past the pits but again Hamilton got ahead. Further down the road, Rosberg was recovering from a spin, Hamilton braked very heavily and Kimi nearly got the upper hand again, but moments later, the Finn spun off and his race ended in the barriers. He was classified eighteenth.

The McLaren man was first past the flag, followed by Felipe and the BMW of Nick Heidfeld, who had stopped to change onto intermediate rain tires. Also adopting this tactic was Alonso and it helped the Renault man to move up to fourth, ahead of Vettel and Kubica who both managed to get ahead of Bourdais, who suffered the most of this group in the difficult conditions. The remaining point went to Timo Glock until he was penalized for overtaking under yellow flags, handing the point to Mark Webber. Then Hamilton was penalized by the Stewards which handed the victory to Felipe.

“It was a race and a half,” said Hamilton afterwards. “I could see Kimi ahead and after the second pit stop he was so far ahead that I was just pushing and pushing trying to close the gap. It was mix and match. I was just praying ‘please rain’, I wanted it to rain because I know how to deal with it.”

“So the heavens opened and I saw Kimi begin to back off, and then the fight was on. At Turn 12 I went really wide; Rosberg had spun onto the track and I nearly crashed into the side of him, Kimi almost did the same, and I went over the grass. Kimi spun again and it was straight forward from there.”

“He pushed me wide (at the Bus Stop), I was slightly ahead, and I was on the outside: he should have been fair as I had no room.

“He basically pushed me onto the curb and I took the escape road. I let him past but then caught his toe. He was ducking and diving, I did the same and managed to get him. He hit me again on the apex (of La Source), but I was pretty much on the go.”

Heidfeld, who stopped for intermediate wet tires with 2 laps to go passed many cars to move up to third at the finish.  It was the right decision to stop.

Sebastien Bourdais appeared headed for a 4th place finish but lost three spots on the final lap in the rain and had to settle for 7th.

Team-by-team summary

Spa-Francorchamps' famous rain turned the last laps of the 2008 Belgian grand prix on its head, after Kimi Raikkonen looked on course to win.  McLaren's Lewis Hamilton then launched an attack at the Bus Stop with 2 laps to go, cut the chicane and re-passed the Finn at La Source, ultimately attracting a post-race penalty that stripped him of his win.  After the La Source incident, Raikkonen's fine race further turned to mud as he spun once and soon after slid into the wall -- and perhaps understandably he did not make himself available for the deadline of Ferrari's initial press release.  "We are very disappointed for Kimi, who had driven a great race and deserved the win, especially at this rather difficult time," said team boss Stefano Domenicali.  Very much on the bright side, however, title contender Felipe Massa's second place on the road, achieved by driving admittedly very cautiously, became victory in the stewards' room, turning a potential 8 point deficit to Hamilton to just 2.  "This was a very strange race," the Brazilian surmised.


Nick Heidfeld's weekend has been the perfect rejoinder to the speculation about his future, but it was his inspired strategy decision to change to wet tires with just 2 laps to go that netted him the podium, which became second place after Hamilton's penalty.  "It paid off.  It was a hero or zero decision," he enthused.  Teammate Robert Kubica, sixth, was actually ahead of Heidfeld until a pitstop refueling delay.


Like Raikkonen and Massa, Hamilton's was a tumultuous race; an early half-spin at La Source that allowed Raikkonen to snatch the lead after Eau Rouge, and then the incredible events of the closing laps, where the Briton took the win but was subsequently demoted to third.  "The team has registered its intention to appeal this decision," said a statement issued by engine partner Mercedes-Benz.  Heikki Kovalainen, who had a bad start and served a drive-through penalty for his collision with Red Bull's Mark Webber, retired with a gearbox failure on the last lap but was classified 10th.  On his clash with Webber, the Finn said: "It was a racing accident."


Like Heidfeld, Fernando Alonso also switched to wet tires in the closing stages and finished a solid fourth.  "We have shown that we can be the third strongest team in the championship," he enthused.  Nelson Piquet spun into the barriers at the high speed Fagnes chicane on lap 15.


Sebastien Bourdais, despite hitting Toyota's Jarno Trulli at the start, had a good weekend and capped it off with two points.  But with his teammate Sebastian Vettel fifth at the flag, the Frenchman was disappointed on Sunday afternoon when the late race rain chaos cost him places.  "It was definitely his best race for Toro Rosso and I am very happy for him," said team boss Franz Tost, who was seen embracing the multiple Champ Car champion in the paddock.


Mark Webber re-claimed his eighth place only in the stewards room, as the FIA officials penalized Toyota's Timo Glock for overtaking while yellow flags warned about the Raikkonen crash.  The Australian was also lucky to survive the crash with an optimistic Kovalainen.  David Coulthard finished 11th.  "We have poor drivability," the veteran said.


Jarno Trulli was sixth at La Source on lap one, but hit in the back by Bourdais and lucky to drag his damaged car to the checkered flag.  "The car was undriveable," said the Italian.  Glock finished eighth but FIA stewards took away his point for overtaking Webber under yellow flags.


The British team's rain-dance came too late, meaning that Nico Rosberg and Kazuki Nakajima's switch to wet tires did not deliver any points.  "We are confident Monza will suit us better," said Rosberg.


Giancarlo Fisichella was the last to see the checkered flag, after a crash with Nakajima at the first corner required a visit to the pits.  Adrian Sutil, who finished the race with dry tires, split the wet-tired Williams cars at the end, for 13th place.  "I could pass Button and some other guys.  I am quite happy with this race," said the German.


Rubens Barrichello's bad weekend ended on lap 21, when the team retired his car to save his engine for Monza following a gearbox problem.  Button finished 15th.



Driver Team Time/Behind
1. Massa Ferrari +0.000
2. Heidfeld BMW Sauber +9
3. Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes
4. Alonso Renault +28.939
5. Vettel Toro Rosso-Ferrari +29.037
6. Kubica BMW Sauber +29.498
7. Bourdais Toro Rosso-Ferrari +31.196
8. Glock Toyota +56.506
9. Webber Red Bull-Renault +57.237
10. Kovalainen McLaren-Mercedes +1 lap
11. Coulthard Red Bull-Renault +1 lap
12. Rosberg Williams-Toyota +1 lap
13. Sutil Force India-Ferrari +1 lap
14. Nakajima Williams-Toyota +1 lap
15. Button Honda +1 lap
16. Trulli Toyota +1 lap
17. Fisichella Force India-Ferrari +1 lap
18. Raikkonen Ferrari +2 laps
Not classified/retirements
Driver Team On lap
Barrichello Honda 21
Piquet Renault 14

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