Spares Box Presents the Motorsport Wrap Up: Blowouts, Breakouts and Breakdowns.
Well, I told you all that this weekend was gonna be big – and it certainly didn’t disappoint, dishing up almost too much excellent racing for me to possibly restrict into one article. I plan on doing my best though.
Tyres maketh the man in Belgium
Unfortunately, the race I was personally most excited for didn’t quite serve up the level of thrills that you come to expect from the Belgian Grand Prix. Is it possible that drivers have finally tamed the beast that is Eau Rouge and the Spa-Francorchamps track? Probably not. Is it the fault of the cars? I don’t necessarily think so either. Races can sometimes be boring, no matter the backdrop, and short of Sebastian Vettel’s tyre, er, explosion that cost him third place on the final lap of the race, there wasn’t all that much to be enthralled by.
Pole-sitter and championship leader Lewis Hamilton looked completely untroubled as he cruised to victory, to the extent where I only saw him get TV coverage for about five minutes out of the race’s almost two-hour run time. Second place Nico Rosberg, despite a bad start, had little trouble clawing his way back to the runner-up spot after the first round of pit stops, and as has been the case so many times this season, the Mercedes streaked off into the distance. Silver arrows by name, silver arrows by nature.
It was the battle for third place that provided the best racing, and saw the unlikely triumphs of Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel (who started in eighth) and Lotus’s Romain Grosjean (ninth). The end of the race saw a heated battle between the two over the final podium position, as another clinical drive saw Vettel move himself up the order almost without anyone noticing. Grosjean went about things in a slightly more gung-ho way to catch up, and for long parts of the race was the fastest man on the track (bar the Mercedes).
Vettel’s tyre failure took him out of the running with less than a lap to go, and it was the Lotus that took home the spoils. Vettel was quick to fire some serious shots at Pirelli, particularly following a similar tyre failure in Friday Practice involving Nico Rosberg. Pirelli were quick to defend themselves, however, releasing a statement saying that the tyres were used beyond the limits and time they had been designed to run for. Was it the fault of Pirelli or the FIA? Was it a gamble by Ferrari that simply didn’t pay off? That’s for you to decide.
Lotus’ result was, as Martin Brundle described, “just what the doctor ordered” after a week of turmoil for the Enstone team. Facing the impounding of their cars after legal action from former reserve driver Charles Pic and their worst financial situation since they entered the sport, Lotus clearly needed a good result to boost team morale. As Grosjean leapt into the arms of his mechanics at the end of the race, you couldn’t help but smile with them.
Frosty slips up in Sydney
Keeping our wheels firmly on the tarmac, we head local to the Sydney Motorsport Park where young Chaz Mostert was just about the only driver to keep his cool as rain hit the Eastern Creek raceway. In doing so, he wiped away the rest of the field (thanks for the pun, V8 Supercars website) and established himself as a serious championship contender at the age of just 23.
You can’t help but feel sorry for Mark Winterbottom, who up until this weekend looked set to finally win his first V8 Supercars title in 12 years. He still leads the championship, but his grip weakens with every race and every less-than-perfect result. As we head to Melbourne for the Sandown 500, we’ll see if he can win the battle of endurance to finally take his seat on the throne.
The forests of Germany saw some homebred dominance as the Volkswagens of Sebastian Ogier, Jari-Matti Latvala and Andreas Mikkelsen romped home first, second and third in the weekend’s Rally of Germany. Ogier once again blitzed the competition to remain truly on course for another dominant championship title. Meanwhile, Timmy Hansen saw victory in the World Rallycross of Norway, heading up a Team Peugeot one-two ahead of teammate Davy Jeanny. World Championship Leader Petter Solberg is seeing his advantage in the standings slowly diminish after failing to make the finals for the second successive race.
The crash of the week is back, and in what seems like a stunning statistic, Crashtor Maldonado features for the first time in this segment.
“Uh, okay. Is the car damaged?”