Hamilton takes thrilling Spa victory

Lewis Hamilton snatched a dramatic victory from Kimi Raikkonen as a late rain shower prompted an incredible finish to the Belgian Grand Prix

Hamilton takes thrilling Spa victory

Raikkonen had looked set to end his long barren period and take another win, having led the majority of the race. But when the early rain returned in the final three laps, Hamilton caught and passed Raikkonen as both tried to stay out on dry tyres on an increasing slippery track.

While Hamilton managed to keep going and win the race, Raikkonen lost control and spun into the barriers, allowing his Ferrari teammate Felipe Massa into an unexpected second place.

Nick Heidfeld (BMW) gambled on a last-gasp change to intermediate tyres to snatch third place on the last lap, ahead of Renault's Fernando Alonso and Toro Rosso's Sebastian Vettel.

Rain had already affected the start of the race, with the circuit initially damp from the Bus Stop to the Kemmel Straight, yet virtually dry elsewhere - meaning that everyone started on slick tyres, but had to tread very carefully off the line.

Raikkonen moved up to second on the opening lap, having made a fast start and then vigorously rebuffed teammate Massa's attempt to re-pass on the Kemmel Straight.

Hamilton opened up a commanding advantage during the first lap, only to spin at La Source as he started lap two. Raikkonen had to go wide to avoid the McLaren, allowing Hamilton to quickly spin-turn and rejoin in front. But the Ferrari had much more momentum and swept through into the race lead at Les Combes.

The lead pair then stayed together for the first stint, pulling away from Massa at a rapid rate in the process.

However Hamilton lost ground at the first stops - pitting before the rest of the field then losing time behind Sebastien Bourdais and Robert Kubica until they pitted, by which time Raikkonen's once slender advantage had grown to five seconds.

The situation remained static until the final stint, when the McLaren came alive on the harder compound Bridgestones and rapidly closed in on the leading Ferrari. Once Raikkonen had got fully up to speed, he briefly edged away, but as further rain began to threaten in the final laps, Hamilton raised his pace again and reduced Raikkonen's lead to less than a second.

Then when the rain returned with three laps remaining, Hamilton was all over the back of the Ferrari, diving down the outside into the Bus Stop chicane. Raikkonen stayed narrowly ahead as the two cars banged wheels, but the McLaren then dived ahead into La Source to grab the lead.

It looked like Hamilton's advantage would be short-lived however, as he slid onto the grass at Fagnes later in the same lap, allowing Raikkonen back in front - only for the Ferrari to spin on the exit of the corner. Hamilton managed to rejoin and this time would keep the lead to the end of the race, as Raikkonen lost control for a second time on the way out of Blanchimont and slammed into the barriers.

Hamilton and Massa, who had gained ground by running much longer stints than the two leaders, then had to tip-toe around to the flag to claim first and second places after a heart-stopping finish to the race.

In their wake, many drivers chose to pit for intermediates, and duly lapped up to half a minute quicker than those struggled on slicks.

That speed advantage allowed Heidfeld to charge through to an unexpected third place, ahead of Alonso, who had run a comfortable fourth until the late confusion, but regained the place after pitting for intermediates.

Vettel and BMW's Robert Kubica completed the top six, ahead of the unfortunate Sebastien Bourdais - who stayed out on slicks and briefly moved up to third, only for a train of intermediate-shod cars to cruise past him on the last lap. Timo Glock completed the points scorers for Toyota.

McLaren's Heikki Kovalainen had a disastrous race. After a poor start from third on the grid, he was forced wide in the first corner chaos caused when Bourdais hit the back of Jarno Trulli's extremely fast-starting Toyota, with both cars understeering across the track and causing the rest of the field to take avoiding action.

That left Kovalainen down in 13th. He made assertive progress through the field at first, only to tangle with Mark Webber at the Bus Stop chicane and then receive a drive-through penalty for punting the Red Bull into a spin.

That plunged Kovalainen back down the order, and although he got back up to seventh, he then pulled off and retired on the final lap.


The Belgian Grand Prix
Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium;
44 laps; 308.052km;
Weather: Cloudy.


Pos  Driver        Team                      Time
 1.  Hamilton      McLaren-Mercedes      (B)  1h22.44.933
 2.  Massa         Ferrari               (B)  +    14.461
 3.  Heidfeld      BMW Sauber            (B)  +    23.844
 4.  Alonso        Renault               (B)  +    28.939
 5.  Vettel        Toro Rosso-Ferrari    (B)  +    29.037
 6.  Kubica        BMW Sauber            (B)  +    29.498
 7.  Bourdais      Toro Rosso-Ferrari    (B)  +    31.196
 8.  Glock         Toyota                (B)  +    56.506
 9.  Webber        Red Bull-Renault      (B)  +    57.237
10.  Kovalainen    McLaren-Mercedes      (B)  +     1 lap
11.  Coulthard     Red Bull-Renault      (B)  +     1 lap
12.  Rosberg       Williams-Toyota       (B)  +     1 lap
13.  Sutil         Force India-Ferrari   (B)  +     1 lap
14.  Nakajima      Williams-Toyota       (B)  +     1 lap
15.  Button        Honda                 (B)  +     1 lap
16.  Trulli        Toyota                (B)  +     1 lap
17.  Fisichella    Force India-Ferrari   (B)  +     1 lap
18.  Raikkonen     Ferrari               (B)  +    2 laps

Fastest lap: Raikkonen, 1:47.930

Not classified/retirements:

Driver        Team                      On lap
Barrichello   Honda                 (B)    21
Piquet        Renault               (B)    14

World Championship standings, round 13:                

Drivers:                    Constructors:             
 1.  Hamilton      80        1.  Ferrari               129
 2.  Massa         72        2.  McLaren-Mercedes      123
 3.  Kubica        58        3.  BMW Sauber            105
 4.  Raikkonen     57        4.  Toyota                 42
 5.  Heidfeld      47        5.  Renault                36
 6.  Kovalainen    43        6.  Red Bull-Renault       24
 7.  Trulli        26        7.  Williams-Toyota        17
 8.  Alonso        23        8.  Toro Rosso-Ferrari     17
 9.  Webber        18        9.  Honda                  14
10.  Glock         16       
11.  Vettel        13       
12.  Piquet        13       
13.  Barrichello   11       
14.  Rosberg        9       
15.  Nakajima       8       
16.  Coulthard      6       
17.  Bourdais       4       
18.  Button         3       
All timing unofficial
Force India want Chandhok as tester
Previous article

Force India want Chandhok as tester

Next article

Hamilton hails 'incredible' victory

Hamilton hails 'incredible' victory
The pioneering F1 car that preceded Lotus’s terminal decline Plus

The pioneering F1 car that preceded Lotus’s terminal decline

In the hands of Ayrton Senna the actively suspended 99T would be the last F1 race-winning Lotus but, as STUART CODLING reveals, it was a complicated machine that caused more problems than it solved

Formula 1
Feb 5, 2023
How Tyrrell became a racing Rubik’s cube as it faded out of F1 Plus

How Tyrrell became a racing Rubik’s cube as it faded out of F1

Formula 1’s transformation into a global sport meant the gradual extinction for a small team determined to stay true to its low-budget roots. But Tyrrell would eventually be reborn as a world-beating outfit again, explains MAURICE HAMILTON, albeit in different colours…

Formula 1
Feb 4, 2023
Assessing Hamilton's remarkable decade as a Mercedes F1 driver Plus

Assessing Hamilton's remarkable decade as a Mercedes F1 driver

Many doubted Lewis Hamilton’s move from McLaren to Mercedes for the 2013 Formula 1 season. But the journey he’s been on since has taken the Briton to new heights - and to a further six world championship titles

Formula 1
Feb 2, 2023
Why new look Haas is a litmus test for Formula 1’s new era Plus

Why new look Haas is a litmus test for Formula 1’s new era

OPINION: With teams outside the top three having struggled in Formula 1 in recent seasons, the rules changes introduced in 2022 should have more of an impact this season. How well Haas does, as the poster child for the kind of team that F1 wanted to be able to challenge at the front, is crucial

Formula 1
Feb 2, 2023
The Mercedes F1 pressure changes under 10 years of Toto Wolff Plus

The Mercedes F1 pressure changes under 10 years of Toto Wolff

OPINION: Although the central building blocks for Mercedes’ recent, long-lasting Formula 1 success were installed before he joined the team, Toto Wolff has been instrumental in ensuring it maximised its finally-realised potential after years of underachievement. The 10-year anniversary of Wolff joining Mercedes marks the perfect time to assess his work

Formula 1
Feb 1, 2023
The all-French F1 partnership that Ocon and Gasly hope to emulate Plus

The all-French F1 partnership that Ocon and Gasly hope to emulate

Alpine’s signing of Pierre Gasly alongside Esteban Ocon revives memories of a famous all-French line-up, albeit in the red of Ferrari, for BEN EDWARDS. Can the former AlphaTauri man's arrival help the French team on its path back to winning ways in a tribute act to the Prancing Horse's title-winning 1983?

Formula 1
Jan 31, 2023
How do the best races of F1 2022 stack up to 2021? Plus

How do the best races of F1 2022 stack up to 2021?

OPINION: A system to score all the grands prix from the past two seasons produces some interesting results and sets a standard that 2023 should surely exceed

Formula 1
Jan 31, 2023
Who were the fastest drivers in F1 2022? Plus

Who were the fastest drivers in F1 2022?

Who was the fastest driver in 2022? Everyone has an opinion, but what does the stopwatch say? Obviously, differing car performance has an effect on ultimate laptime – but it’s the relative speed of each car/driver package that’s fascinating and enlightening says ALEX KALINAUCKAS

Formula 1
Jan 30, 2023