Sunday, September 7, 2008

Belgian Grand Prix: Hamilton Wins like a Champ

McLaren-Mercedes driver, Lewis Hamilton won a dramatic and chaotic Belgian Grand Prix in fine, dare I say, World Championship fashion. He demonstrated his driving ability as well as his grit, determination and downright competitive spirit. He has good fortune on his side, but the skill and poise demonstrated today will make Hamilton a legend in the sport. All of this praise for Hamilton comes at the expense of Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen who was out muscled by Hamilton but still had an opportunity to close the deal. Alas, he threw the race away in the final laps as rain hit the track and he crashed out. Early season powerhouse BMW-Sauber has fallen on hard times with their performance, but have stolen a podium place with driver Nick Heidfeld after making a shrewd call with the tires at the end of the race and claiming 3rd.

Hamilton extends his points lead over Ferrari's Felipe Massa to 8 points and defending World Champion Kimi Raikkonen might have thrown away his chance to defend his title as he is overtaken in the standings by BMW-Sauber driver Robert Kubica. Raikkonen is now 23 points behind World Championship leader Hamilton.

In regards to this weekend's Points of Interest:

1. Williams. Rosberg confirms his speed advantage over Nakajima who struggled with pace and grip. Williams appears to have the advantage over Honda now. Perhaps this is confirming that Honda has now completely set its sights on the 2009 season. Red Bull is still superior to Williams, but they seem to be lacking in performance in relation to Williams and the Red Bull junior team, Toro Rosso.

2. Toro Rosso. They have confirmed that their package is for real. Bourdais and Vettel put in very solid drives and Bourdais nearly stole his own podium position at the end of race, but the staying out of dry tires hurt him. The chassis is good and Ferrari power has given them an edge that should help them in the final races of the season, as now they are in a position to challenge for 6th in the Constructor's Title. If they can manage the feat, they would beat Honda, Williams and Red Bull Racing; a great accomplishment. They are firmly a mid-field team now and not a tail-end team.

3. Speed differential. It is was very similarly dispersed as it was in qualifying. Ferrari and McLaren have a power advantage as well as superior aerodynamics. BMW has power, but one wonders about their aerodynamic efficiency. Renault have a good chassis, but questions about their power is keeping them from regular podiums.

A performance worth noting is that of Renault's Fernando Alonso. He has demonstrated his abilities as a team leader and his abilities as a car developer. Perhaps the recent Monza tests proved to be a gold mine of knowledge and learning the combination of tires and chassis. His performance at Spa is indicative of the talent behind the wheel matched with racecraft that is second to none. I firmly believe that Alonso will be at Renault next season.
1. Hamilton
2. Massa
3. Heidfeld
4. Alonso
5. Vettel
6. Kubica
7. Bourdais
8. Glock
9. Webber
10. Kovalainen
11. Coulthard
12. Rosberg
13. Sutil
14. Nakajima
15. Button
16. Trulli
17. Fisichella
18. Raikkonen
Fastest lap: Raikkonen, 1:47.930

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