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Belgium analysis - McLaren strike back at Spa 30 Aug 2010

Race winner Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren celebrates with the team. 
Formula One World Championship, Rd 13, Belgian Grand Prix, Race, Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, Sunday, 29 August 2010 Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren MP4/25. 
Formula One World Championship, Rd 13, Belgian Grand Prix, Race, Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, Sunday, 29 August 2010 Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing RB6 with a puncture. 
Formula One World Championship, Rd 13, Belgian Grand Prix, Race, Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, Sunday, 29 August 2010 Robert Kubica (POL) Renault R30.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 13, Belgian Grand Prix, Race, Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, Sunday, 29 August 2010 Timo Glock (GER) Virgin Racing VR-01. 
Formula One World Championship, Rd 13, Belgian Grand Prix, Race, Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, Sunday, 29 August 2010

Spa was never going to be Red Bull’s favourite circuit, but after clinching their 12th pole of the season on Saturday, things were looking pretty good. That was before Mark Webber's slow start, sporadic showers, a collision between Sebastian Vettel and Jenson Button and two safety-car periods intervened. Amidst all the drama it was McLaren's Lewis Hamilton who kept his head to secure his first win since June - and the lead in the drivers' championship. And with McLaren just one point adrift of Red Bull in the constructors' table, the stage is set for a battle royal at the remaining six rounds. We take a team-by-team look at how a memorable Belgian race played out...

McLaren
Lewis Hamilton, P1
Jenson Button, Retired Lap 16, hit by Vettel

Hamilton drove superbly to control the race from the start, and the only time he ever looked like losing was when the rain came and he slid off the road and into the gravel at Rivage on the 35th lap. He was able to get back out again, however, make a great pit stop for intermediates, and win as he pleased to go back into the lead of the world championship. McLaren should have had a one-two even though Button slightly damaged his front wing on the opening lap, but when he got taken out by Vettel on the 16th lap 18 valuable points were lost. Nevertheless, McLaren have 329 to Red Bull’s 330 following a great comeback after Hungary.

Red Bull
Mark Webber, P2
Sebastian Vettel, P15

Like McLaren, Red Bull had one great story, one disaster. Webber was in immediate trouble when a clutch problem off the line turned pole position into P7, but the Australian fought back to fifth, moved to third after team mate Vettel hit Button, and then got the jump on Kubica in the final pit stops. He might have lost the points lead, but he’s still well in play. Vettel, by contrast, had a terrible afternoon, which included taking out Button, serving a drive-through penalty for that, then colliding with Liuzzi and splitting his own left-rear tyre. He finished a lapped 15th. Red Bull still lead the constructors’ stakes, however, by a point from McLaren.

Renault
Robert Kubica, P3
Vitaly Petrov, P9

Renault returned to very strong form thanks to their F-duct, and were always in the top five throughout practice and qualifying. Kubica had some up and down moments after running second early on, regained that position after Vettel hit Button, then lost it by overshooting his pit slightly on his final spot as he was busily trying to make adjustments on the steering wheel in readiness for the switch from slicks to intermediate tyres. Third was nevertheless a great result that was backed by a strong run from the back of the grid to ninth by Petrov. Seventeen points was a very good haul after a good afternoon’s work.

Ferrari
Felipe Massa, P4
Fernando Alonso, Retired Lap 38, accident

Massa could do no better than fourth, but at least his race was positive. Alonso was savaged by Williams' Rubens Barrichello in the rain at the end of Lap One, pitted for repairs and a switch to intermediates, then had to stop again for hard-compound slicks three laps later as the track dried sooner than expected. He fought back into the points but then made a mistake taking too much kerb at Les Combes and crashed out on Lap 38. Not a great day for the Scuderia.

Force India
Adrian Sutil, P5
Vitantonio Liuzzi, P10

Sutil drove a superb race and, once Vettel had collided with Button, was always the leading contender for fifth place. Liuzzi damaged his car’s nose hitting Buemi on the first lap, and suffered tyre-killing understeer which prompted an early stop on Lap 10. Then his nose was damaged by Vettel on Lap 25, forcing another stop which likely cost him eighth place. Later he had a great scrap with Alonso, and scored the final point when Alguersuari, 10th on the road, was penalised for cutting the chicane while overtaking the Force India. The 10 points the team thus scored helped pull it clear again of Williams, 57 to 40.

Mercedes GP
Nico Rosberg, P6
Michael Schumacher, P7

Mercedes had a much better race than they had qualifying, with Rosberg and Schumacher fighting difficult cars and conditions to take sixth and seventh places and a much-needed haul of 14 points. The two got a bit close while racing one another, however, Schumacher rubbing Rosberg’s left front wing endplate while taking advantage as the latter suffered a determined passing move by Petrov; later Rosberg returned the compliment, forcing Schumacher to concede at Les Combes.

BMW Sauber
Kamui Kobayashi, P8
Pedro de la Rosa, P11

After their disasters in qualifying, Kobayashi and De la Rosa did their best to score points. The Japanese racer managed it with a strong eighth, helped by BMW Sauber’s usual good strategic thinking. De la Rosa lost out on a higher finish when he slid into the gravel at Rivage late in the race. Like Alonso, his gamble fitting intermediates in the first rain shower early on proved a mistake, which cost him dearly.

Toro Rosso
Sebastien Buemi, P12
Jaime Alguersuari, P13

Alguersuari was delighted to score a point after being in good form all weekend, but he was given a 20-second penalty after the race which dropped him from 10th to 13th, behind team mate Buemi, after stewards adjudged that he had overtaken Liuzzi by cutting the chicane. Buemi was hit in the back by Liuzzi at Les Combes on the opening lap, which damaged his left-rear tyre and prompted him to try and balance the STR05’s errant behaviour by playing with differential and wing settings, to little avail.

Williams
Nico Hulkenberg, P14
Rubens Barrichello, Retired Lap One, collided with Alonso

A bad day for Williams started with Barrichello finishing his 300th Grand Prix appearance by slamming into Alonso at the chicane on the opening lap. Hulkenberg had a throttle problem that lost him time early on, and then a dead engine during a pit stop. Later the lack of proper engine control prompted a few spins in the rain. Not a happy time, especially as Force India took home 10 points.

Lotus
Heikki Kovalainen, P16
Jarno Trulli, P19

Kovalainen had a major problem at the start when the anti-stall kicked in, then damaged his front wing in traffic. Trulli lost places avoiding his team mate at the start, then suffered oversteer as his rear tyres went off. After the final safety car intervention was over he had a big spin in traffic, but survived without being hit by anybody.

Virgin
Lucas di Grassi, P17
Timo Glock, P18

Di Grassi had the measure of Glock and kept Kovalainen honest throughout. The Brazilian complained that the Finn passed him by cutting the chicane early on, but the stewards did not take any action. Glock lost time early on when he got pushed off the road.

HRT
Sakon Yamamoto, P20
Bruno Senna, Retired Lap Six, suspension failure

Yamamoto had an uneventful run to last place, but Senna’s ended early when the left-rear suspension of his HRT broke on the sixth lap.