Lewis Hamilton won the 2015 Belgian Grand Prix comfortably with his teammate Nico Rosberg following second. Lotus driver Romain Grosjean was behind the two Mercedes drivers in third spot. For Lewis it was his 39th GP victory and the 80th podium of his career, equalling his idol Ayrton Senna’s podium tally, while Grosjean scored his first podium after the 2013 US Grand Prix, which was Lotus’ first podium in two seasons.
Mercedes: The reigning champions saw a close battle between Lewis and Rosberg. There was a point in the race where Lewis had built a comfortable lead of over 5 seconds. But towards the closing laps of the race Hamilton pit to change to fresh set of tyres, however he did managed to get back into lead when Rosberg pitted two laps later. It was only at the start when Sergio Perez had managed jumping into the leading position for the first lap, but Hamilton got his crown back by lap 2.
Ferrari: Ferrari were celebrating their 900th GP at Belgium, they had a good practice on Friday where the cars showed good straight-line speed. The troubles started on Saturday when both drivers did not manage making it to the top 5. Kimi has had some hard luck this season, but his overall result this weekend was better than the Hungary race. Due to a gearbox failure at the start of the second qualifying session, the team had to give him a new gearbox for the race which cost him a grid penalty, making him start 16th on grid. The Finn finished seventh, and completed the Spa race, unlike his teammate.
Vettel was running third in the race when he had asked the team to consider a third pit stop (around lap 32), but due to track temperatures dropping by 5 degrees his tyres were preserved, therefore the team asked him to use the same set. At lap 42 his right rear tyre burst at Eau Rouge, following an unfortunate retirement. Sebastian was 21 points behind Rosberg in the championship standings, and the current result increases the gap.
From what is understood from the post-race analysis, the team and Pirelli were considering a third pit stop for intermediates as rain was forecasted towards the closing laps of the race. Nevertheless, Vettel is lucky to have had his tyre burst at the top of the Eau Rouge turn – anywhere else on the track would have been a dangerous scenario.
Williams: The Grove-based outfit made a grave human error by putting a mixed set of tyre compounds on Valtteri Bottas’s car, which drew attention and cost the Finn a penalty during the race. Bottas started third on the grid and was handed a penalty around lap 14. Felipe Massa started the race sixth and finished in the same spot.
Red Bull Racing: Daniel Ricciardo started 5th on the grid, yet he jumped into third after a great start. However, the Australian had a retirement on lap 21 when a power failure caused his car to stop on the track while approaching the Bus Stop chicane. The team hasn’t yet specified as to what caused the failure, but Renault mentioned it was a ‘technical problem that caused a power shutdown’ indicating it was an electrical problem. Daniil Kvyat started 12th and seemed to drive a fantastic race – he made strong overtaking moves on Felipe Massa and Sergio Perez on lap 41 to finish the race in fourth spot.
Force India: Sergio Perez started fourth on the grid and had a good start – he led the race for a moment. However, he lost his lead to Hamilton towards the end of the first lap and was running second after that. After his first pit stop, he dropped down the grid and eventually finished the race fifth. Perez complained about the lack of power in the car to fight for a podium, and also the high degradation on the soft tyres. Nico Hulkenberg, who started 11th, took the first retirement of the race as his start was aborted due to a loss of power.
Lotus: It was Grosjean’s first podium in 31 races after his last one in America and the Lotus E23 looked very strong compared to the first half of the season. The Frenchman had started ninth on the grid as he was handed a grid penalty, but in qualifying his pace was good enough to make him the fourth fastest driver on the track. For Pastor Maldonado who had started the weekend by crashing out of the practice session on Friday, the race didn’t get any better. The Venezuelan driver retired after the first lap when his car came to a halt.
McLaren: The weekend started on a sour note for the Woking-based team as they had to use a 7th engine for Fernando Alonso’s car and an eighth for Jenson Button’s car. A result of this was a dozen penalties slapped on both drivers making them start at the bottom of the grid, and taking the overall number of penalties this season to a record figure of 105. In the warm up and formation lap Jenson was heard complaining on the pit radio saying there was no power. However, due to the number of retirements in the race, both drivers managed finishing ahead of the two Manor drivers with Alonso in 13th and Button in 14th.
Apart from seeing Lotus on the podium after such a long time, the overall outcome wasn’t too impressive. Had the forecasted rain arrived a little sooner around lap 20, or had there been a chaotic start or first corner pile up (usual scenario at Spa), it would have been a more entertaining race than the one in Hungary, adding more drama to the season.
Check out the latest image gallery from Spa by our very own James Moy here