2015 Belgian Grand Prix Recap: Back to the Usual… Almost
After a four-week summer break, the drivers were back in their cockpits for the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa-Francorchamps, one of the most fabled and famous circuits in the world for its fast-flowing old-style layout and the almighty Eau-Rouge corner.
As usual, Hamilton started at the front of the grid (after a stunning qualifying lap), followed by Rosberg, but the rest of the cars were shuffled around some. Perez somehow managed to secure 4th on the grid while Vettel could only manage 9th. Räikkönen—a four-time Spa winner—suffered yet another mechanical failure in qualifying that sent him back to 14th.
Just as in Hungary and Silverstone, the start was chaotic and unpredictable. All three front-runners were slow off the line, but Hamilton recovered quickly while Rosberg and Bottas did not. Perez and Ricciardo—starting 4th and 5th—seized the opportunity to get past them and chase down the Briton…or at least tried to.
Rosberg had to fight back up from 5th, which he did relatively easily thanks to his car’s dominance and some good strategy calls from the Mercedes pit wall. After regaining 2nd place, a series of fast laps kept Hamilton on his toes, but ultimately Rosberg had to resign himself to the second spot on the podium once again.
The fight for the last spot proved to be the most exciting of the race. Vettel opted for a risky single-stop strategy that moved him back up to 3rd place, but on used tires. He was fending off Grosjean with only a lap to go when his right-rear tire controversially exploded, leaving him no choice but to limp back to the pits and finish 12th with some unhappy words to follow.
That allowed the Frenchman to claim his first podium since the 2013 Grand Prix in Austin, though his teammate didn’t fare nearly as well: Maldonado’s clutch control system malfunctioned two laps into the race after going off-track at Eau Rouge and he was forced to retire. Hulkenberg and Sainz also retired, both because of engine problems.
Williams had originally looked like a strong contender for a podium at Spa, until Bottas was accidentally fitted with the wrong tire and was awarded a drive-through penalty as a result. Massa struggled immensely on the soft tires and by the time he got on the more manageable mediums, he had lost too much ground to achieve better than 6th place.
Seventeen-year-old Verstappen once again showed his fearlessness when he went side-by-side with Nasr through Blanchimont, a 300 km/h (186 mph) corner, staying close enough to successfully overtake him at the “bus stop” chicane and finish 8th.
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On the bright side of things, no more four-week waits! See you in just two at the Italian Grand Prix!
Kurt Verlin was born in France and lives in the United States. Throughout his life he was always told French was the language of romance, but it was English he fell in love with. He likes cats, music, cars, 30 Rock, Formula 1, and pretending to be a race car driver in simulators; but most of all, he just likes to write about it all. See more articles by Kurt.