Sunday, August 30, 2009

Victory for Raikkonen, glory for Fisichella at Spa-Francorchamps

Kimi Raikkonen became the sixth different victor in six races after putting Ferrari back in the winners’ circle for the first time in 2009, with a finely judged success in Sunday's Belgian Grand Prix, in which his KERS system played a crucial role in the opening stages. But he was dogged all the way to the flag by a gallant Giancarlo Fisichella in the Force India, who kept him honest throughout on the first medium downforce circuit of the season.

Behind them, Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel drove strongly for third, closing on them both by the finish. Raikkonen crossed the finish line 0.9s ahead, with Vettel 2.9s behind Fisichella.

Jenson Button’s hopes of adding to his points tally in the Brawn GP ended at Les Combes on the first lap when he was spun out by Romain Grosjean’s Renault, while in a separate incident Lewis Hamilton’s McLaren tagged Jaime Alguersuari’s Toro Rosso while trying to avoid the melee. The two incidents are currently under investigation by the race stewards.

After a safety car intervention, Raikkonen, who had sped up to second behind Fisichella on the opening lap, lost no time using his KERS to slingshot by the Italian on the run up Raidillon to Les Combes on the fifth lap, but Fisichella pushed him all the way.Red Bull’s Mark Webber looked strong initially until an unsafe release from his first pit stop nearly put rival BMW Sauber’s Nick Heidfeld in the pit-lane wall. A drive-through penalty subsequently dropped him to ninth.Renault’s Fernando Alonso also seemed on course for a healthy helping of points after running the longest opening stint, but a brush with Force India’s Adrian Sutil in La Source on the opening lap had damaged the left front wheel, and after a disastrously long pit stop on Lap 24 he had to come in again to retire a lap later when the left front wheel could not be secured satisfactorily.
Vettel was able to vault past a fast-starting Robert Kubica after his second stop on the 35th lap and said his Red Bull was perfect thereafter, but the Pole brought his BMW Sauber home fourth ahead of closing team mate Heidfeld. The German has passed Toyota’s Jarno Trulli for second at the start but ran wide and lost ground, allowing Kubica to nip down the inside to run third initially.Heikki Kovalainen did a one-stop strategy in his McLaren to stay ahead of Brawn GP’s Rubens Barrichello for sixth place. The Brazilian, who bogged down off the grid, was saved to an extent by the intervention of the safety car which enabled Brawn to refuel him for a longer opening stint in a fast first-lap pit stop, but had to back off at the end when his Mercedes engine showed signs of failing. He just made it to the flag ahead of a closing Nico Rosberg, who drove yet another strong race for Williams to score the final point, while Webber just missed out with ninth after a frustrating race.Toyota’s Timo Glock had a fuel rig problem in his first stop which delayed him, and could not better 10th, under pressure at the end from Force India’s Sutil. Behind them Sebastien Buemi brought his Toro Rosso home 12th ahead of Williams’ Kazuki Nakajima and an unimpressive Luca Badoer, who was the last finisher for Ferrari.
Besides Alonso and the first lap crashers, the other retirement was Trulli, whose front wing was damaged when he made contact with Heidfeld's BMW Sauber on the opening lap. That ruined the Italian’s race, as did a later refuelling problem, similar to Glock’s. He ultimately retired with a brake problem.

In the title stakes, Barrichello took two more points off Button, who still has 74 to the Brazilian’s 56. Vettel moves back ahead of Webber with 53 to the Australian’s 51.5.In the constructors’ championship Brawn have 128 points, Red Bull 104.5, Ferrari 56 and McLaren 44.

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