Formula 1 returned from its summer break, and it couldn’t come back to a better venue as the magnificent Spa Francorchamps venue hosted the latest round of the fascinating 2017 F1 season.
It was a return savoured by Lewis Hamilton the most, who took a decisive victory in his Mercedes after a race long battle with Sebastian Vettel. The Red Bull of Daniel Ricciardo rounded out the podium.
The early part of the race saw the top 6 running in the same positions as they finished in qualifying, and further behind the midfield scrapped early, but even that died down after a few laps.
The first pit stops did nothing to change the status quo, as Hamilton led from Vettel once again with the margin around the 1 – 2 second gap.
A Safety Car on Lap 30 courtesy of the fall out of another Force India on track clash made for a little mid race excitement as there was plenty of dicing for position once the safety car had pulled into the pits. The overtake of Ricciardo and Raikkonen on Bottas was a race highlight.
In the end Vettel couldn’t get past his championship rival and Lewis Hamilton reduced the Championship points deficit to 7 points in his 200th Grand Prix start.
As ever there was plenty happening in the race, and the Good, Bad and Ugly of the 2017 Belgian Grand Prix is presented below.
Took a record equalling pole position, and it is hard to deny he is worthy of holding the record himself. Both he and Michael Schumacher have had some fantastic cars in their careers, but the difference is the calibre of the team mates that the Briton has seen off on his way to the record.
He took the race win on Sunday despite the ever present Ferrari of Sebastian Vettel in his mirrors, and made the best start to the second half of the Championship as he could with Pole and Win.
Beaten fair and squarely by Lewis Hamilton, but the second place finish limited the damage to his Championship lead on a track which suited the Mercedes more than his Ferrari.
With plenty of Ferrari tracks to come in the second half of the season, a second place finish is a good end result for the 2017 Belgian Grand Prix.
Survived the first lap, a vast improvement on his previous race in Hungary, but will be unhappy about being out-qualified once again by Max Verstappen. A worrying season trend.
However another season trend is Ricciardo making the most out of his race days and once again he took full advantage of his team mate’s bad luck and Kimi Raikkonen’s mid race penalty to be the last podium finisher of the 2017 Belgian Grand Prix.
The lead over his team mate has now been extended in the Championship, and that and another podium finish is a positive to take out of the weekend. Now to turn around those qualifying results.
Claims the Best of the Rest tag again and this time is rewarded with sixth place thanks to Max Verstappen’s car failure.
The Renault car looked strong across the weekend, and they weren’t far off the Red Bull pace in qualifying. Once again though, Nico Hulkenberg took advantage with a fine drive to sixth, whereas his British team mate Jolyon Palmer got a grid penalty and then couldn’t make any progress on race day and finished outside the top 10.
SPA FRANCORCHAMPS CIRCUIT
Thankfully with all the F1 sessions televised these days you can sit back, settle in, and watch the F1 cars tour the best circuit on the calendar. Newer tracks may attempt to copy some of the best parts of the classic circuits, but there’s something magical about the longest track of the year, with the Eau Rouge complex of corners the very finest.
With the new owners looking to expand the Formula 1 footprint, let’s hope they don’t lose some of the classics that make the F1 season so great.
The young Dutchman once again out-qualified his team mate, but that mattered for little in the race when his Red Bull car lost power on lap 9 and he forced to retire.
It was his sixth retirement of the year, and most of those have been mechanical failures whilst ahead of his team mate and going well in the race.
He will need to quickly shed the Webber-like curse of reliability to take advantage of some of the tracks where Red Bull might be more competitive in the second half of the season. He’s certainly fast enough to compete right up the front.
The Spa specialist had to live with being fourth quickest after qualifying, but with Ferrari supposedly looking good for the race, he would had high hopes for a podium at minimum.
So to receive a ten second Stop/Go penalty mid race hurt any chance he had of repeating former glories form the Belgian circuit.
Fourth place wasn’t a bad end result to be fair, but as ever was a clear second of the two Ferrari drivers, a position he’ll have to get used to next year with Vettel re-signing for three years with Ferrari in addition to Kimi’s one year extension.
Felipe Massa stated after qualifying that he felt the Williams was going backwards, and after their 2017 Belgian Grand Prix it’s hard to argue.
Massa had been in a season long battle for best of the rest with the Force India drivers and Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg, but in Belgium they were only ahead ahead of the Saubers on pace and in an alarming decline. The safety car allowed Massa to claw back some positions, but it was still an underwhelming event for Williams.
The Mercedes engine should have suited the venue, so if they are equally uncompetitive next race in Italy then it is time to start worrying.
Sauber officially knocked back a supply of Honda engines during the Summer break, and with them rooted to the bottom of the Championship standing and back of the grid, it is hard to see anything changing in the near future. Perhaps rumours of F2 wonderkid Charles Leclerc joining the team for 2018 could be the answer for progress.
There were some glimpses of form from Fernando Alonso this weekend in the 2017 Belgian Grand Prix, what a pity every time the Spaniard got to show some of his ability, he was slowed by the car.
His qualifying was ended when he took a corner flat out and fried his engine when the settings weren’t expecting that corner to be flat. In the race Alonso did well to get as high as seventh at one stage, but he slowly moved back through the field when the deficiencies of the Honda were exploited by the midfield.
It was no surprise to see his race eventually end in the inevitable car failure.
FORCE INDIA DRIVERS CLASH, AGAIN
The Force India drivers have ran into each other a bit in 2017, and they were at it once again in the 2017 Belgian Grand Prix on the first lap of the race. Though it may have been more down to a congested midfield scrapping than two drivers who don’t like each other, but to touch wheels and force one car into the wall just before one of F1’s most dangerous corners was a lucky escape.
You can imagine the bosses at Force India were quite nervous when the drivers were circulating together again mid race. They should have been as the drivers collided on Lap 30 for the second time in the race, ruining Sergio Perez’s race after he got a puncture out of the incident.
FERNANDO ALONSO and MCLAREN HONDA
Alonso has been accused by Honda of retiring a car which had nothing wrong with it. Alsono has allegedly said it is you or me to McLaren about Honda. Ugly stuff ahead.
MARTINI-CHAVES MEDAL FOR GURGLER BEST/WORST OF THE YEAR
Here is where we tally up all the good, bad and ugly for the season.
- 1 Point for Good
- 1 Point for Bad
-0.5 for Ugly
There are bonus points as below. Drivers/Teams listed below have received a good and/or bad-ugly. Those with an overall score of 0 have had good and bad. Those not listed have been mediocre and been neither good or bad all season.
ULTIMATE WINNERS AND LOSERS
Here’s where an extra bonus point is added and subtracted for the very best and very worst.
WINNER – Lewis Hamilton. A win in Spa reduces the gap to Vettel in the Championship, and in his 200th start.
LOSER – Force India and their Drivers. For constantly running into each other and costing them all valuable points, and in one case – a race win in 2017.
2017 MARTINI-CHAVES MEDAL FOR GURGLER BEST/WORST OF THE YEAR
6.5 Points – Sebastian Vettel
5.5 Points – Lewis Hamilton
5.5 Points – Fernando Alonso
5.5 Points – Valtteri Bottas
3 Points – Felipe Massa
2.5 Points – Dan Ricciardo
2 Points – Sergio Perez
2 Point – Nico Hulkenberg
1.5 Points – Kevin Magnusson
1.5 Point – Lance Stroll
1.5 Point – Carlos Sainz
0 Points – Esteban Ocon
1 Point – Pascal Wehrlein
1 Point – Jenson Button
0 Points Romain Grosjean
-0.5 Points – Max Verstappen
-1 Point – Marcus Ericsson
-1 Point – Antonio Giovanazzi
-2.5 Point – Kimi Raikkonen
-3 Points – Dani Kvyat
-5.5 Points – Jolyon Palmer
2 Points – Force India
2 Point – Mercedes
2 Point – Ferrari
0 Points – Haas
-1 Point – Toro Rosso
-1.5 Points – FIA
-2 Points – Red Bull
-2 Point – Renault
-3.5 Points – Sauber
-4 Points – Williams
-6 Points – McLaren