Monday, August 24, 2015

Sixth Grand Prix Win of 2015 for Hamilton in Belgium

Photo Credit: Foto Studio Colombo Per Pirelli Media

Taking almost a month off since a late July race in Hungary, the 2015 Formula 1 season restarts with a little less than half of the events left to be run. Competing on the longest circuit on the active Formula 1 tour at 7.004 kilometers in length, the Belgian Grand Prix welcomes back some of the world's best open wheel drivers with a blend of high-speed sections as well as technical corners.

The winner of all-but 2 of the first 10 grand prix races on the 2015 Formula 1 tour, Mercedes AMG would appear to have a storybook season. However, after the British Grand Prix and the most recent Hungarian Grand Prix, the Silver Arrows appeared to firing more crookedly than usual. Almost losing the first race on a poor start by two cars and a series of miscues costing victory at the Hungoraring has been rare team-wide mistakes from the factory-backed German outfit. In fact, the Hungarian Grand Prix was the first race since the 2013 Brazilian Grand Prix where a Mercedes AMG team car did not obtain a podium spot. Receiving almost a month to put the lackluster effort in Hungary behind them, Mercedes AMG returned to competition by dominating practice. In qualifying, Lewis Hamilton topped teammate Nico Rosberg netting a 1-2 start for the team.

Restarting the 2015 Formula 1 season, it was again a moment for Mercedes AMG to either command a race right from the start or to surprise the grand prix audience with a struggle. When the lights went out for the start of the 2015 Belgian Grand Prix, both incidents occurred. While Lewis Hamilton had a sterling start, Nico Rosberg immediately fell three places dropping to fifth.

Early in the race, some under-appreciated effort in the 2015 season were presented with a moment to shine behind Hamilton. Sergio Perez was running second in the Force India-powered Mercedes-Benz as part of very stunning weekend at the Spa-Francorchamps circuit. Hovering around the top-5 in practice and qualifying Perez was enjoying a massive confidence boost. While the one Force India driver shined, the second vehicle driven by Nico Hulkenberg's Belgian Grand Prix didn't even start. From the warm-up lap, the German encountered a power unit problem leaving Sergio Perez as the team's one and only chance at greatness. Behind the Force India was the Red Bull-Renault of Daniel Ricciardo.

Photo Credit: Force India F1 Team

After the first round of pit stops for the leaders, Nico Rosberg was able to climb his way back into the runner-up spot behind his teammate Lewis Hamilton. While neither Mercedes AMG parted from each other over the course of the event, Hamilton retained a comfortable gap of several seconds over his fellow team car.

Seeking to follow-up on success in Hungary, Daniel Ricciardo's race went south after 19 laps. Minutes after almost loosing his car in the Eau Rouge section of Spa-Francorchamps, the Red Bull-Renault dropped out of the event for what was accounted as an electrical fault. The Australian's retirement from was from a race he won in 2014. Overall official retirements in the 2015 Belgian Grand Prix was limited to four cars. In addition to the already-mentioned Nico Hulkenberg and Daniel Ricciardo, Pastor Maldonado slid out of the grand prix after just two laps while Carlos Sainz Jr. suffered a loss of power to the Renault-propelled Toro Rosso.

While the Mercedes AMG cars held the first and second place spots without harassment in the late laps, a daring plan was undertaken by Ferrari to score a podium finish. Attempting a one-stop strategy in a 44-lap race in Belgium, Ferrari launched their lead pilot Sebastian Vettel into third place. With two laps remaining, the right rear Pirelli tire failed on the Ferrari resulting in Vettel needing to surrender his podium spot late. With Vettel upset with the failure costing him third in the race, Pirelli released a statement implying the reason for the tire failure was excessive distance. The tire provider for Formula 1 claimed they wanted to institute a maximum distance for Pirelli racing slicks.

Photo Credit: Mercedes AMG

Winning his 39th career Formula 1 event, Lewis Hamilton won the 2015 Belgian Grand Prix by 2.058 seconds over teammate Nico Rosberg. The sixth win for Hamilton this season, the reigning drivers' champion holds a 28-point lead in the championship. While Mercedes-Benz has won at Belgium's Spa-Francorchamps track six times with McLaren (including a 2010 win by Hamilton), the last factory Silver Arrow machine to take the checkered flag was accomplished in 1955.

Behind the Mercedes AMG squad's most recent 1-2 performance this season at Spa-Francorchamps, there was a member of season-topping runs mounted by some competitors including the man who claimed the remaining podium spot. In third-place Romain Grosjean brought his Lotus-Mercedes across the finish line in a dazzling performance aided by Sebastian Vettel's late problems. The third place run was the first for Grosjean since the 2013 United States Grand Prix. The effort by the Frenchman and the team could also be much-needed medicine after recent legal issues for the Lotus F1 Team organization. The dispute relates with former 2014 test driver Charles Pic and has bailiffs threatening to seize race cars and equipment. The financial state of the Lotus F1 Team has been a measure of stipulation for years and this latest legal chapter has involved a certain that a seizure of the team's cars could have taken place following the Belgian Grand Prix.

Photo Credit: Foto Studio Colombo Per Pirelli Media

Backing up a first-ever podium finish accomplished by Daniil Kvyat overcame an early race misadventure to place just outside of the top-three. Kvyat's fourth-place finish came in a race where he briefly slid his Red Bull-Renault into a run-off area. The Russian driver carved his way up from a 12th place starting position to be the high-placed Renault powered machine at the 2015 Belgian Grand Prix.

After a hard-fought effort throughout the weekend, Mexican Sergio Perez rewarded himself as well as his Force India teams with a fifth place finish. The run was Perez and Force India's best result of the season as well as pairing the pair's first top-five grand prix finish since Bahrain of 2014. Closely behind the Force India-Mercedes was the Williams-Mercedes driven by Felipe Massa. The effort for the Williams Martini Racing team was a double-point finish that occurred despite an unusual error in the race. During a pit stop, Valtteri Bottas' car received two different tire compounds. Required to serve a drive-through penalty for the mistake, Bottas still managed a ninth-place run.

Rounding out the top-10 for the Belgian Grand Prix is Kimi Raikkonen, Max Verstappen and Sauber driver Marcus Ericsson.

The next Formula 1 race is the Italian Grand Prix at the very fast Monza circuit.

2015 Formula 1

Belgian Grand Prix

Race Results

Pos # Car # Driver Team Engine

1 44 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes AMG Mercedes-Benz
2 6 Nico Rosberg Mercedes AMG Mercedes-Benz
3 77 Valtteri Bottas Williams F1 Renault
3 8 Romain Grosjean Lotus Mercedes-Benz
4 26 Daniil Kvyat Red Bull Renault
5 11 Sergio Perez Force India Mercedes-Benz
6 19 Felipe Massa Williams Mercedes-Benz
7 7 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari Ferrari
8 33 Max Verstappen Scuderia Toro Rosso Renault
10 9 Marcus Ericsson Sauber Ferrari
11 12 Felipe Nasr Sauber Ferrari
12 5 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari Ferrari
13 14 Fernando Alonso McLaren Honda
14 22 Jenson Button McLaren Honda
15 98 Roberto Merhi Manor Marussia Ferrari
16 28 Will Stevens Manor Marussia Ferrari
17 55 Carlos Sainz Jr Scuderia Toro Rosso Renault
18 3 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull Renault
19 13 Pastor Maldonado Lotus Mercedes-Benz
20 27 Nico Hulkenberg Force India Mercedes-Benz

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