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Belgium race analysis - Kimi and KERS foil Force India 31 Aug 2009

Ferrari celebrate victory for Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Ferrari, the 'King of Spa.'
Formula One World Championship, Rd 12, Belgian Grand Prix, Race, Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, Sunday, 30 August 2009 Giancarlo Fisichella (ITA) Force India F1 VJM02 leads Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Ferrari F60.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 12, Belgian Grand Prix, Race, Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, Sunday, 30 August 2009 (L to R): Dr. Vijay Mallya (IND) Force India F1 Team Owner celebrates second position for Giancarlo Fisichella (ITA) Force India F1 with the team.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 12, Belgian Grand Prix, Race, Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, Sunday, 30 August 2009 Mark Webber (AUS) Red Bull Racing RB5 pulls out in front of Nick Heidfeld (GER) BMW Sauber F1.09.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 12, Belgian Grand Prix, Race, Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, Sunday, 30 August 2009 Damaged McLaren MP4/24 of Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 12, Belgian Grand Prix, Race, Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, Sunday, 30 August 2009

Kimi Raikkonen scored Ferrari’s first win of 2009 at Spa, his fourth at the famous circuit and his first F1 triumph since Spain last year. The real story was how hard he had to fight for it, pushed all the way by the Force India of Giancarlo Fisichella, with his F60’s KERS arguably the only thing that got him ahead of the Italian’s near perfect VJM02. And as Force India took their first-ever points in style, championship leader Jenson Button scored none after his first DNF of the season, the Brawn driver crashing out after opening-lap contact with the Renault of Romain Grosjean. Miraculously, his rivals managed to cut his standings advantage by just two points, to 16, with only five races now remaining. We take a team-by-team look at Sunday’s Belgian Grand Prix…

Ferrari
Kimi Raikkonen, P1
Luca Badoer, P14

Raikkonen said that he didn’t have the fastest car out there, but it had KERS and that won him all the opening lap battles he needed to fight, then saw him jump Fisichella after the lap five restart. Thereafter it was just a matter of keeping himself out of trouble as he scored a welcome victory for Ferrari. Badoer never got to grips with Spa, flat-spotted his soft tyres early on, then never found the same pace on the harder compound. He likely said goodbye to F1 racing with 14th and last place, with a best lap 2.2s off Raikkonen’s.

Force India
Giancarlo Fisichella, P2
Adrian Sutil, P11

Fisichella made a solid start and led the first four laps, all of them under the safety car, before Raikkonen bullied his way past with KERS on the fifth lap. But the Italian felt that his Force India was faster overall than the red car, and was saddened that he couldn’t push it all the way to victory. The secret to the VJM02’s pace this weekend seems to have been the new aero package, and the fact that Spa was the first medium downforce track of the year. Sutil’s chances were ruined when he got clobbered by Alonso at La Source, the Spaniard then running over his car’s front wing.

Red Bull
Sebastian Vettel P3
Mark Webber, P9

Vettel admitted that he lost the race through being a little too cautious in the opening stint. After that he said his RB5 was perfect, and in the final stint hauled in Raikkonen and Fisichella, setting fastest lap and jumping up to third place in the championship. Webber’s race looked good when he was running fifth by the sixth lap having started ninth, but then he squeezed Heidfeld too much in their pit stop on lap 14, got a drive-through penalty, then spent the rest of his afternoon fruitlessly chasing Rosberg for the final point. He lost third place in the title chase as a result of his second consecutive ninth place finish.

BMW Sauber
Robert Kubica, P4
Nick Heidfeld, P5

BMW Sauber scored their best haul of points all season, with nine from Kubica’s fourth and Heidfeld’s fifth place. They also set the third and second fastest race laps, respectively. Kubica and Raikkonen brushed wheels briefly in the melee in the first few corners, but thereafter the Pole stayed third until Vettel jumped him in his second stop on lap 35. Heidfeld made a strong start, but ran wide on colder-than-expected harder tyres at La Source and lost places, admitting that he lost the race there and then. Then he had his near-miss in the pit lane with Webber, who later received a drive-through penalty.

McLaren
Heikki Kovalainen, P6
Lewis Hamilton, Retired lap 1, accident

Kovalainen had a text-book single-stop run from 15th on the grid to sixth, starting on the softer Bridgestone and then switching to the harder compound. He fended off Buemi for a long time, then similarly contained Barrichello’s challenge later on. Hamilton was the innocent victim, of the Button/Grosjean incident at Les Combes, having already damaged his McLaren’s front wing when he got squeezed between Nakajima and Buemi on the run to La Source after a less than brilliant start.

Brawn
Rubens Barrichello, P7
Jenson Button, Retired lap 1, accident

Yet again Barrichello’s BGP001 bogged down at a start due to a clutch problem, losing him many places. At the end of the lap the team brought him in under the safety car to refuel, and that helped to balance the setback a little. Later he pulled a sweet move on Webber round the outside of Blanchimont, but had to back off his challenge to Kovalainen for sixth when his Mercedes engine developed a worrying oil leak. Two points was yet more damage limitation for a team whose tyre temperature issues still haven’t gone away. Button was encouraged to make up places off the grid, after all the first-corner dramas, but then got caught up in one of his own when Grosjean hit the back of his car and spun him out at Les Combes. He was lucky to leave Spa having just lost a further two points to Barrichello, though Vettel took six off him which could prove crucial.

Williams
Nico Rosberg, P8
Kazuki Nakajima, P13

Rosberg believed that eighth was the best Williams could reasonably expect on a circuit on which they had struggled for the first time this season. He reported that the FW31 was difficult to drive, believing it had much to do with the tyres. Nakajima simply struggled for pace all weekend.

Toyota
Timo Glock, P10
Jarno Trulli, Retired lap 22, brake problem

Tenth place was poor reward for a race that Toyota began with such high hopes. Trulli’s race was soon ruined. He lost places after Heidfeld’s lunge at La Source at the start, then clobbered the back of the BMW Sauber, damaging his nose. After a stop on the first lap for a replacement, he got trapped behind Badoer, and ultimately retired with a brake wear problem. Glock was going well in fourth until a glitch in the refuelling equipment on lap 12 delayed him and dropped him back to a 10th place finish.

Renault
Fernando Alonso, Retired lap 27, wheel problem
Romain Grosjean, Retired lap 1, accident

Alonso ran a strong race with a heavy fuel load and was running a challenging third prior to his stop on lap 24. Unfortunately he had damaged the left front wheel in a brush with Sutil at La Source on the opening lap, and that caused problems with the wheel in the stop and afterwards, prompting Renault to retire the R29 on safety grounds. Grosjean was caught up with Button at Les Combes on the opening lap.

Toro Rosso
Sebastien Buemi, P12
Jaime Alguersuari, Retired lap 1, accident

Buemi got stuck behind Kovalainen’s KERS car and that compromised his race and necessitated a change in strategy which proved fruitless. Alguersuari got caught up in the aftermath of the Button/Grosjean incident at Les Combes on the opening lap.