Well, that was interesting.
I would love to tell you about the Belgian Grand Prix, but before I can tell you that story, I have to tell you this story, the story of qualifying from Bizarro-Land.
Luca Badoer, pinch-hitting for the injured Felipe Massa qualified last. And while it is very unusual to see a Ferrari starting from P20 Badoer was driving it, so that makes sense.
Meanwhile Lewis Hamilton, Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton qualified 12th, 13th and 14th respectively. That’s one defending champion, one two-time former world champion, and this year’s championship leader all starting firmly in the middle. And ladies and gentlemen, the middle is not where you want to be at Spa.
But who, who was up at the pointy end? Who, you ask, was on pole? Giancarlo Fisichella in the Force India. Force India ladies and gentlemen! They haven’t had a pole position since 1999 when the team was called Jordan, and Fisi’s last pole position came with Renault in 2006. It had been a long dry spell.
Jarno Trulli qualified second in his Toyota. I was predicting a Trulli train at the start as we all watched Fisi roll off into the mists of the Ardennes, but it was not to be. (It is called the Trulli train because while the Toyota is not very fast, Trulli is notoriously difficult to pass, so all the other cars just kind of line up behind him waiting for a chance to get by).
And so on to the race. As I predicted there were huge shenanigans. On lap one Romain Grosjean’s Renault and Jenson Button’s Brawn GP car ran into each other, taking both of them out of the race. Lewis Hamilton, meanwhile tangled with Jaime Alguesuari on the same lap and both of them retired. Big Mess! Safety Car!
Somewhere along the line Kimi Raikkonen’s Ferrari got around Fisichella and that’s where he stayed for the remainder of the race. Fisi finished second. It was a truly miraculous finish for the perennial back marker.
Alonso had to retire from the race. He had damaged his left front wheel somewhere in all the chaos and at his first pit stop the crew couldn’t get the wheel faring on properly. They sent him out anyway, but brought him back in a lap later. Dammit! He had been running third. I knew there was no way he would finish there, but he would have easily finished in the points. Grumble grumble grumble.
So it was another dire race for Jenson Button. Now his lead in the WDC is down to 16 points. With six races left, that is not insurmountable. I fear he may lack the race craft and the intestinal fortitude to see this through to a successful conclusion.
I know it was not his fault that Grosjean hit him. But you could argue that if he hadn’t done so poorly in qualifying he would have been stuck in the middle of the pack where the smash-ups always happen. I am not trying to criticize Button. But I am beginning to have my doubts.