Monday, August 29, 2011
Red Bull 1-2 At Spa
SPA/FRANCOCHAMPS, BELGIUM – Winless in the last three races, Sebastien Vettel had to make a point at Spa, and the German did – big time. Starting from the pole, the Vettel led teammate Mark Webber to a 1-2 victory increasing his lead in the championship to 92 points. It was a tough race with tire management strategy the key to performing well. “I’m very happy; today was a very good race for us, although it was not easy with the tires,” commented Vettel. “The car felt fantastic and with each lap we learned more and more about the tires, which made us more confident to push when necessary.” The seven-kilometer course was very hard on tires. Both Red Bulls and Ferraris were shod with Pirellis that had been well worn during qualifying and were showing signs of blistering. Early pit stops for tires by Webber (lap 3) and Vettel (lap 5) proved critical to the Red Bull success. Rosberg and Alonso grabbed the lead at this point albeit with some stiff competition by Hamilton.
By lap 10 Vettel’s Renault powered Red Bull was again in the lead and steadily pulled away from the Ferraris. On lap 13, the hard-charging McLaren of Hamilton moved over too far on Kobayashi at Les Combes, making contact and spinning the McLaren hard into the barrier ending his day. Though Hamilton initially blamed Kobayashi for the incident, he later accepted fault via a Tweet. “After watching the replay, I realize it was my fault today 100 percent. I didn't give Kobayashi enough room though I thought I was past. Apologies to Kamui and to my team. The team deserves better from me. Best wishes, Lewis.”
The leaders dropped into the pits while the safety car was out. As they returned, it was Vettel, Alonso and Webber in the lead. During the next several laps, Vettel displayed the formidable performance of the Red Bull putting second after second on the Ferrari. By lap 37, Webber also showed the mettle of his Red Bull passing the prancing horse with DRS on lap 37.
The other McLaren driven by Jenson Button came alive around this time recovering from his poor start. “The lights went out and I got anti-stall at the start - I don’t know whether it was due to the start being uphill or not.” Weaving past the lesser cars, by lap 42 the brit was reeling in the Ferrari of Alonso finally passing him at Les Combes. At the finish, Alonso was 4th followed by World Champion Michael Schumacher who started at the rear for the race.
The tire issue has become a heated debate between Pirelli and Red Bull. Red Bull expressed deep concern regarding the safety of their drivers, while Pirelli blamed the team for not following their recommendations regarding car setup. "Had Red Bull done like everybody else (and followed) to our specifications, they would never have got into trouble," said the Pirelli spokesman who also added that they needed to “think about” whether or not the teams comments Sunday could be considered “defamation.” Der Spiegel later reported that Martin Whitmarsh of McLaren agreed that Red Bull pushed the boundaries “too far.”
It has recently been reported that the French are vying for a spot on the F1 calendar and it appears that Mr. Eccelestone has agreed to alternate the Spa date with a to-be-announced French race, likely held at the Eccelestone-owned Paul Ricard circuit near Marseilles. Though another race in the south of France should be pleasant, the thought of Spa only once every other year is saddening.