A comfortable victory for Red Bull and Sebastian Vettel sees the team extend its leads in both the drivers and constructors titles. The German took the lead from Hamilton on the first lap and was never challenged after that point. Elsewhere there was triumph for McLaren as a solid sixth place lifts them above Force India in the constructors. There is also drama as Pastor Maldonado causes chaos at his pitstop colliding with both Force Indias and earning himself a penalty. Here is how each team got on.
Vettel took a comfortable if slightly boring win in Spa. He managed to pass polesitter Lewis Hamilton on the first lap and was challenged little after that. He leads the drivers championship by 46 points and could be on course for his fourth title after a Kimi Raikkonen retirement leaves his title hopes in jeopardy. Whether the post race boos were for Vettel or the Greenpeace protestors we will never know. Teammate Mark Webber was unhappy with his clutch on the grid and once again he suffered a poor start. He made his way through the field and was closing on Nico Rosberg for fourth but fell off the pace to finish a respectable fifth. A good weekend all round for the team but focus will once again shift to who will replace the departing Webber next season. Principal Horner says the decision is weeks away but with Raikkonen discounting himself and Webber telling the media the decision has been made and it will be a compatriot, rumours are rife.
A hectic qualifying left the Ferrari’s of Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa in ninth and tenth on the grid. However they demonstrated impressive race pace on Sunday to emphasise suggestions had qualifying been dry they could have been on the front row. Alonso got a good start and began to make his way through the field. He ended the day in second some 16 seconds down on Vettel. The result boosted his championship chances with him moving to second in the title race. Massa recovered from a bad start to end the day in seventh. He overtook the one-stopping Lotus of Grosjean late on in the race with just four laps left to run.
Hamilton was unable to convert yet another pole into a race winning performance despite an impressive performance last time out in Hungary. The Briton was passed by Vettel on the first lap and could not keep in touching distance of the German. He was later passed by Alonso but maintained the gap over his teammate Rosberg to finish third. Hamilton’s title hopes remain in tact but he will need another win to help bridge the gap to Vettel. Rosberg finished in the points with a strong fourth keeping Webber at bay. He ended the day just two seconds off Hamilton.
Jenson Button finished in sixth in Spa in what was a welcome result for McLaren. The team have been battling it out with Force India and Button’s eight points see them move into fifth in the constructors title four points ahead of their rivals. Button had been running in the podium positions at points in the race after a impressive start and even led the race briefly. He didn’t have the pace of the front runners and ended the day behind Webber. Sergio Perez finished the day 11th after a drive through penalty for squeezing Romain Grosjean off the track on lap eight.
Romain Grosjean was Lotus’ sole finisher with a drive to eighth place. The Frenchman – on a one stop strategy – had been fighting it out up and down the field. Late in the race he was passed by Massa stopping him from claiming a well deserved higher finish. Teammate Kimi Raikkonen was forced to retire ending run of 27 consecutive point finishes. His hopes of points ended after a brake problem on the car. It may have also seen his championship hopes suffer after he fell to fourth in the standings – he had been in second behind Vettel.
Paul di Resta had looked on course for his first pole position for a few moments on Saturday before eventually qualifying fifth. His day didn’t get much better on Sunday after a poor start left him falling behind. He recovered some of the places before being passed by his teammate. Later in the race when both he and Sutil tried to pass a pitting Maldonado, Di Resta was taken out of the race. The Venezuelan had been battling with Esteban Gutierrez before being passed by Sutil. He hit the Germans car before braking and heading for the pits taking out Di Resta in the process. Sutil managed to hang on for ninth and two valuable points but was less than impressed with Gutierrez’s tactics.
Daniel Ricciardo produced an impressive late surge to pass Nico Hulkenberg and his teammate Jean-Eric Vergne and claim the last point. The Australian had started 19th one place behind his teammate but produced a good race to finish tenth. The result will continue to boost his confidence as rumours continue to gather pace that he may be on his way to Red Bull. Vergne ended the day 12th after being on course for the last point. He escaped a penalty after apparently causing Hulkenberg to go off the track as they battled it out.
The Sauber drivers finished a disappointing 13th and 14th. Hulkenberg had started well getting from 11th to eighth on the opening lap but tyre degradation forced an early stop and a move to the harder compound tyre did not yield results. He was passed by Vergne and Ricciardo late in the race to move further down the field. Gutierrez had been on course to finish close to his teammate but was caught in the Maldonado crash and was also given a drive through penalty for gaining an advantage by going off the track.
Maldonado’s hopes of points didn’t materialise after he crashed into both Force India’s when trying to pit. The Venezuelan had been battling with Esteban Gutierrez before being passed by Sutil. Di Resta then attempted to follow the move. Maldonado hit Sutil’s car before braking and heading for the pits taking out Di Resta in the process. He received a ten second stop and go penalty for the incident and ended the day in 17th. His teammate Valtteri Bottas was 15th as Williams’ higher placed finisher.
Giedo van der Garde drove an impressive race having reached Q2 on Saturday. He had started 14th for Caterham and held off Pastor Maldonado to finish a strong 16th on Sunday. Charles Pic failed to make Q2 on Saturday starting 22nd and last. He retired on lap 8.
Both Marussias made it into Q2 with Jules Bianchi starting the race from 15th and Chilton from 16th. The battle between the Marussias and the Caterhams continued in the race but they were quickly falling towards the back and ended the day in 18th for Bianchi and 19th for Chilton.