Raikkonen Wins Incident-Filled Belgian GP

Championship challenger Kimi Raikkonen ensured his battle for the world title continues to Brazil after finishing ahead of Fernando Alonso at the Belgian Grand Prix

Raikkonen Wins Incident-Filled Belgian GP

But a late race disaster for Juan Pablo Montoya, his second in three races, again stopped McLaren securing their first one-two in more than five years and allowed championship leader Alonso to tighten his grip on the trophy.

Raikkonen secured his sixth win but Renault driver Alonso finished second to ensure the gap was closed by just two points to 25 with 30 left available from the remaining fly-away races in Brazil, Japan and China.

The race was run in drying conditions and Briton Jenson Button also gained from Montoya's collision with backmarker Antonio Pizzonia's Williams as he claimed his second podium finish of the season for BAR-Honda.

Australian teammate Mark Webber made no mistakes as he finished fourth for Williams with Rubens Barrichello fifth for Ferrari and Jacques Villeneuve claiming sixth for Sauber.

Ralf Schumacher finished seventh fastest for Toyota despite mid-race problems, with Tiago Monteiro taking the final point in a rare eighth place finish for Jordan.

Dutch Minardi drivers Christijan Albers and Robert Doornbos started from the pit lane, immediately losing the advantage they gained by out-qualifying the Jordan cars but ensuring their cars were set up for the wet conditions.

When the lights went out Montoya made a clear get-away into the La Source hairpin off the line while Raikkonen eased into second place and Jarno Trulli slotted into third ahead of Alonso's Renault.

Michael Schumacher made a strong start to move up a place to fifth while Takuma Sato shot up four places to sixth, ahead of teammate Jenson Button, and Ralf Schumacher dropped down from fifth to eighth.

The two McLarens did as expected and shot into the distance with Montoya, trailing Raikkonen right behind him, easing out a 4.5-second lead over third placed Trulli in three laps.

Ralf Schumacher passed Button for seventh place on lap seven and then came under pressure from Giancarlo Fisichella, who had started from 13th place on the grid after an engine change in practice, and lost eighth to the Italian on lap nine.

Fisichella crashed on lap 11 when he lost the back end of his car heading up the hill out of Eau Rouge and spun 360 degrees before hitting right-hand side of the car heavily into the barriers.

The incident brought out the safety car and virtually the entire field came into the pits with Montoya racing in and Raikkonen slowing the rest of the field to give his team time to clear their pit.

Only Jacques Villeneuve and the two Minardis, who had pitted earlier after running an extremely light fuel load in qualifying, chose not to head into the pits leaving the former World Champion in second place behind Montoya.

Sato, Button, Webber, Pizzonia, Michael Schumacher, David Coulthard all came into the pits for a second time one lap later then the safety car came in at the end of the 13th lap.

Montoya took control again at the front at the restart with Ralf Schumacher in second having moved past Raikkonen and Villeneuve almost collided with Alonso when he went wide and the field streamed past.

Sato and Michael Schumacher then collided when the BAR driver punted into the back of the German's Ferrari and the frustrated German slapped Sato's crash helmet in frustration after having words with his Japanese rival.

Montoya's lead came under pressure from Ralf Schumacher as the Toyota driver pushed hard to close right up to the back of the McLaren by the 18th lap of the race as the rain stayed away.

Coulthard's race came to a disappointing end when his Red Bull Racing machine appeared to suffer an engine failure, bringing the total number of retirements to four.

Schumacher came in for a 9.9-second stop at the end of the 24th lap to leave McLaren in a one-two position with Alonso in third and the German then slid off at Les Combes before coming in for a change of tyres on the next lap.

Further down the field Villeneuve and Narain Karthikeyan were enjoying a battle and the Jordan driver claimed tenth place but was lucky not to hit anything when he flew across the grass during the move.

Montoya began to slow and Raikkonen closed the gap right up as the McLarens ran nose to tail with Alonso dropping 15 seconds back before Alonso pitted at the end of lap 32.

Montoya then pitted at the end of lap 33 for his final fuel stop, leaving the way clear for Raikkonen to take the lead, set two fast laps, pit on lap 35 and come out still ahead of Montoya after the stop with a clear run to the finish.

Trulli's race ended in the tyre barriers on lap 35 when he lost control of his Toyota then Montoya and Pizzonia collided with three laps to go the hand Alonso yet more lucky bonus points.

PROVISIONAL RACE RESULTS

The Belgian Grand Prix
Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium;
44 laps; 306.812km;
Weather: Damp.

Classified:

Pos  Driver        Team                  Time        
 1.  Raikkonen     McLaren-Mercedes (M)  1h30.01.295
 2.  Alonso        Renault          (M)  +    28.394
 3.  Button        BAR-Honda        (M)  +    32.077
 4.  Webber        Williams-BMW     (M)  +  1:09.167
 5.  Barrichello   Ferrari          (B)  +  1:18.136
 6.  Villeneuve    Sauber-Petronas  (M)  +  1:27.435
 7.  R.Schumacher  Toyota           (M)  +  1:27.574
 8.  Monteiro      Jordan-Toyota    (B)  +     1 lap
 9.  Klien         Red Bull-Cosworth(M)  +     1 lap
10.  Massa         Sauber-Petronas  (M)  +     1 lap
11.  Karthikeyan   Jordan-Toyota    (B)  +     1 lap
12.  Albers        Minardi-Cosworth (B)  +    2 laps
13.  Doornbos      Minardi-Cosworth (B)  +    3 laps
14.  Montoya       McLaren-Mercedes (M)  +    3 laps
15.  Pizzonia      Williams-BMW     (M)  +    4 laps

Fastest Lap: R.Schumacher, 1:52.177

Not Classified/Retirements:

Driver        Team                  On Lap
Trulli        Toyota           (M)    35
Coulthard     Red Bull-Cosworth(M)    19
M.Schumacher  Ferrari          (B)    14
Sato          BAR-Honda        (M)    14
Fisichella    Renault          (M)    11


World Championship Standing, Round 16:                

Drivers:                    Constructors:             
 1.  Alonso       111        1.  Renault          152
 2.  Raikkonen     86        2.  McLaren-Mercedes 146
 3.  M.Schumacher  55        3.  Ferrari           90
 4.  Montoya       50        4.  Toyota            80
 5.  Trulli        43        5.  Williams-BMW      59
 6.  Fisichella    41        6.  BAR-Honda         31
 7.  R.Schumacher  37        7.  Red Bull-Cosworth 27
 8.  Barrichello   35        8.  Sauber-Petronas   17
 9.  Button        30        9.  Jordan-Toyota     12
10.  Webber        29       10.  Minardi-Cosworth   7
11.  Heidfeld      28       
12.  Coulthard     21       
13.  Villeneuve     9       
14.  Massa          8       
15.  Monteiro       7       
16.  Wurz           6       
17.  Karthikeyan    5       
18.  Klien          5       
19.  Albers         4       
20.  de la Rosa     4       
21.  Friesacher     3       
22.  Pizzonia       2       
23.  Sato           1       
24.  Liuzzi         1       
       
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