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GP Week : 01-Sep-2009
REPORTS over the weekend that Spa is set to make a whopping loss from this year's race and is considering linking up with the Nurburgring for a race-share deal is, I think, a real shame. There are few circuits which stir the soul as much as the undulating 7kms of asphalt in the Ardennes. It's one of those places where no matter what else is going on, no matter how much of a funk anyone is in, it lifts them up and puts a smile on their face. Watching F1 cars flying through Eau Rouge is just one of those sights that takes your breath away. It's like standing in the tunnel at Monaco, or walking through the forest at Monza in the middle of an F1 session. It is magic -- pure and simple. It is, also, one of the drivers' favourites. No matter the category, no matter the speed, it is a challenge. Be it Formula Master, Formula BMW, GP2 or F1, the look in all the drivers' eyes when they got out of their cars this weekend said the same thing. "I bloody love this place." It's disappointing that, due to the current economic climate and, of course, Bernie's notoriously high financial demands, so many of these classic circuits are having to try to reduce the amount of times they run races in order to simply survive. Sure, I'd rather alternate between Spa and Nurburgring than not visit either one, but having experienced life without Spa on the calendar in the recent past, it's not something I want to go back to. The odd thing though is that this whole financial crisis could actually be a blessing in disguise. You see there may come a point at which the vast majority of the major car manufacturers pull out of the sport. While many see that as a potential nail in the coffin for F1, the sight of a Force India battling agsinst a Ferrari for the race win in Spa was hugely enjoyable. What's so wrong with the independents fighting at the front? Did the race feel any less special because it wasn't a BMW or a Toyota? No. If anything, it was because we know the team has a small budget that made it so much better. You see, the rise of the independents is a return to the days of old. In a few years it may be that just Ferrari and Mercedes remain in F1, and that the other 11 spots on the grid are all independent teams. And I can't think of anything more exciting. And with budgets coming down anyway, a sudden influx of smaller teams with less money to burn than the big manufacturers would mean Bernie wouldn't be able to keep sending them to far flung places where nobody really cares about the sport. It could see a return to the European heartland, with fly-aways just to the places that care -- places like Japan, Canada, Australia, and Brazil. Perhaps then, the 2009 Belgian Grand Prix, and in many ways the 2009 season as a whole, has given us a vision of the future; a future in which the manufacturers don't always fight at the front. Indeed, a future in which it is the independent teams who fight for glory week in, week out. A future in which you never know who is going to be on pole or win the race. A future in which every penny is accounted for and made to count. And given how close and exciting the racing is becoming as a result of just that, it's a future we can all look forward to. Pos # Driver Team Laps Time Grid 1 4 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 44 1:23:50.995s 6 2 21 Giancarlo Fisichella Force India-Mercedes44 +0.9s 1 3 15 Sebastian Vettel RBR-Renault 44 +3.8s 8 4 5 Robert Kubica BMW Sauber 44 +9.9s 5 5 6 Nick Heidfeld BMW Sauber 44 +11.2s 3 6 2 Heikki Kovalainen McLaren-Mercedes 44 +32.7s 15 7 23 Rubens Barrichello Brawn-Mercedes 44 +35.4s 4 8 16 Nico Rosberg Williams-Toyota 44 +36.2s 10 9 14 Mark Webber RBR-Renault 44 +36.9s 9 10 10 Timo Glock Toyota 44 +41.4s 7 11 20 Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes44 +42.6s 11 12 12 Sebastien Buemi STR-Ferrari 44 +46.1s 16 13 17 Kazuki Nakajima Williams-Toyota 44 +54.2s 18 14 3 Luca Badoer Ferrari 44 +1:42s 20 Ret 7 Fernando Alonso Renault 26 Retired 13 Ret 9 Jarno Trulli Toyota 21 Brakes 2 Ret 22 Jenson Button Brawn-Mercedes 0 Accident 14 Ret 8 Romain Grosjean Renault 0 Accident 19 Ret 1 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 0 Accident 12 Ret 11 Jaime Alguersuari STR-Ferrari 0 Accident 17 FORMULA 1 Round 12 SPA-FRANCORCHAMPS Points -- Drivers: Button 72, Barrichello 56, Vettel 53, Webber 51.5, Raikkonen 34, Rosberg 30.5, Hamilton 27, Trulli 22.5, Massa 22, Kovalainen 17, Glock 16. Manufacturers: Brawn 128, Red Bull 104.5, Ferrari 56, McLaren 44, Toyota 38.5, Williams-Toyota 30.5, BMW Sauber 18, Renault 16, Force India 8. Back to the future opinion WILL BUXTON GPWeek Editor F1 BELGIUM >> 29