What did we learn from the Spa Grand Prix?


Well we learned by the Saturday that Lewis Hamilton was in a class by himself, and we also learned that the FIA are a bunch of numbskulls.

After Qualifying, with Hamilton almost half a second in front of his second placed team mate Nico Rosberg, it reminded me of the way Schumacher could stamp his authority on a race. Half a second is a long way in F1. From pole he just ran away and hid.

However, the FIA, the keeper of the rules of racing, managed to decree that Alonso and Button in the underperforming McLarens were to be penalized 105 grid places for the Sunday. Legislating a 105 grid spots penalty in a 20 grid field is quite silly. This was for changing engines, but this shows that the rule is also silly. Is this beyond the FIA’s collective intelligence? Words fail me (and that’s a rare occurrence).

It is of interest to look at some other penalties meted out at Spa. Grosjean (“Lotus”) was given a five-place grid penalty for changing a gearbox. Button was given a total of 50 grid place penalties for changing various elements of the power unit. Alonso was given a total of 55 grid place penalties for changing various elements of his power unit. Verstappen (Toro Rosso) was given a 10-place grid penalty for using a sixth power unit. Raikkonen (Ferrari) was given a five-place grid penalty for changing a gearbox. Can some extremely clever person tell me why? You break something and you replace it with a non-broken one. You have already had a penalty, missing some practice running or qualifying. Just what is so heinous about changing broken bits other than a very contrived plan to mix up the racing?

So to the race, which was boring, though some scribes are already talking it up to try and avert the slide in popularity experienced by F1. It was won by Lewis Hamilton in the Mercedes with team mate Rosberg behind him. The also-rans came home some 30 seconds or so later, with Grosjean leading the rest or I should say those that were still running.

Hamilton was his usual modest self, saying, “In 2015 my qualifying has been awesome, and after the break I really wanted to get back to it and translate those poles into strong results.”

After Qualifying in third Valtteri Bottas (Williams) took a distant ninth in the race after his team managed to fit three soft Pirelli tyres and one medium one to his FW37 after his pit stop on the eighth lap, earning him a drive through penalty. Why? So the crew stuffed up, but that’s no reason for a penalty.

While still on tyres, Ferrari gambled on Vettel’s tyres going the distance. Three did, but driver side rear didn’t with one lap to go. Initially everyone was sympathetic. Initially, until he started mouthing off, “Things like that are not allowed to happen,” he told the BBC. “I tell you what’s upsetting. What’s upsetting for one thing is the result. We deserved to finish on the podium.” The lower lip was well and truly out.

So Grosjean got the popular vote and then waxed lyrical about being a father, but the racing was devoid of interest. The race may not have actually been as boring as it looked, as the TV coverage was very poor, the director apparently unable to provide continuity but giving the viewer snippets.

All in all, quite disappointing. Let us hope Monza next week will be better.