Monday, September 08, 2008



The F1 race in Belgium this weekend was pretty amazing. Qualifying happened on a drying track and both Scuderia Toro Rosso cars made it into the last session for the first time this year, the cars expertly driven by Sebastian Vettel and Sebastian Bourdais. Mark Webber of Red Bull Renault also made it into that session with his teammate David Coulthard not quite making it and being relegated to outside the top 10.

Spa is located in the Ardennes Forest and has wonderful elevation changes and some very interesting corners. Lewis Hamilton of Vodafone McLaren Mercedes took pole followed by Felipe Massa of Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro, then Lewis' teammate Heikki Kovaleinen and then Felipe's teammate, Kimi Raikkonen rounding out the top 4. Heikki had a bad start (they do standing starts in F1 and I wish other series did that too, World Challenge does) and was basically playing catch up all race. Lewis and the two Ferraris were off to the races but coming around the first turn (La Source) it was still a bit damp and Lewis spun, but was able to keep the car running but now had Kimi hot on his tail once he got around Felipe. Sidenote, of the 3 times Kimi has finished the race at Spa, he has won 3 times, so he knows his way around. It's a drag race to the next corner between Lewis and Kimi, Mercedes vs. Ferrari, and Kimi takes it! Kimi and Lewis exchange fast lap for most of the race with Felipe several seconds behind them overall.

Then it happens. The unthinkable but always expected in the Ardennes. It started raining! With 2 laps to go! The teams are torn between heading to the pits and getting some wet weather tires or staying out and risking it. The lead guys can't afford to pit now so they bravely head on. Lewis passed Kimi into turn one but there is lap traffic (turn 6 I think) and Kimi gets passed Lewis. Kimi gets too anxious with the throttle and spins out on the next turn! Lewis gets past Kimi again but the Finn is right behind, until it happens. Kimi really spins out and crashes, ending his race and maybe his dreams of repeating the driver's championship. Lewis is first, Felipe is 2nd and for a short time Sebastian Bourdais was 3rd but he stayed out on his dry tires and Nick Heidfeld's BMW Sauber has intermediate wet tires on and is flying! He passes 4 or 5 people on his last lap and a half and puts his BMW on the podium (his 11th in his career) and takes 3rd. Sebastians Bourdais and Vettel did score points coming in 7th and 5th respectively. Great job Toro Rosso and Red Bull! Mark Webber snagged the last points position in 8th.

Whoa! Update: I just saw that they penalized Lewis 25 seconds (putting him in 3rd) for slightly cutting a corner short while racing with Kimi. I watched it and he did cut the corner and did let Kimi back in front but might have had a slight advantage over Kimi, but certainly not 25 seconds. And it looks like Timo Glock was passing under yellow flags, so he was also penalized 25 seconds, giving 8th to Mark Webber.

Also congratulations to Scott Dixon for winning the Indy Car championship! Danica Patrick finished in the tenth spot. I'm sad to say I took a nap during the last race (an oval in Chicago) but I hear there will be more road courses next year! Hooray! My next question is, why is your season over in early September? All the tracks booked in October? Don't want to fight NASCAR for TV coverage? Ah well, hopefully people remember your racing series next year. Hopefully you'll have some ads during college football bowl games to remind people that America does indeed have an open wheel race series.
Update: (Oh, apparently there is another race on the Streets of Surfer's Paradise in Australia on October 25th, but the championship is already decided. It should still be a great race.)

Next F1 race is at Monza in Italy, Ferrari's home turf, this weekend and then a night race street circuit in Singapore on Sept. 28th. That will be F1's first night race and I'm really looking forward to it.

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