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GP Week : 01-Sep-2009
Team-By-Team: Belgian Gran A bit of a weird one for Renault, who looked good in ts and starts. Alonso started o well with third in practice, while in the dry of the afternoon session fell way behind his rookie team-mate Romain Grosjean. In quali the Frenchman just couldn't get it all together and was dumped out in Q1, faster than only Luca Badoer. Alonso could only muster 13th, and from there it was going to be a tough race. Grosjean's afternoon lasted only a few corners as he tangled with Jenson Button at Les Combes, sparking off a big shunt that took out four cars. Alonso was fuelled heavy for a one-stop strategy. But damage he'd picked up at the start ruined his stop and he had to call it a day on safety grounds after yet another wheel change issue. Now I'm not a betting man, but if I had been I would have stuck my money on Jarno Trulli in Spa. Pole and race win seemed not to be an impossible prospect after some promising times in practice. Indeed, the Italian very nearly took that pole position only to be denied by Fisichella in the final seconds. Fisi, we all though, was light. Turns out he wasn't. But Trulli had other issues to contend with and damage sustained on the opening lap ruined his race. He trailed behind Badoer for a few laps before retiring. The official excuse was on brake wear, although he could be forgiven for just not wanting to finish behind Badoer. Glock was looking good for a podium until a fuel rig issue ruined his race and dropped him out of the points. Another squandered opportunity for Toyota. In the dry conditions of second practice, Lewis Hamilton set the pace and was happy with the KERS advantage a orded to him on the long straights. Team- mate Kovalainen was less impressed however, with 12th position falling below expectations. However, 12th was as high as either driver would get in qualifying with Hamilton lining up on the sixth row of the grid behind Sutil's Force India and Kovalainen down in 15th. Hamilton's weekend went from bad to worse when he was part of the first lap shunt at Les Combes, but Kovalainen avoided the insanity to race home for sixth position and some valuable points. McLaren will hope that the long straights at Monza prove more to their liking and that luck is on their side. In one weekend, BMW managed to double its 2009 points haul. If that statistic shows you what a gloomy year its been for the team, it should also indicate just what a turnaround Spa was for the squad. Practice hadn't looked too special, although Heidfeld had made the top 10 in the dry on Friday, however in qualifying both drivers made it into the top five and were hopeful of a good result in the race. Heidfeld's contest was severely impacted with damage sustained on the first lap, but he fought back strongly to recover fifth position. Kubica, meanwhile, very nearly had a podium, racing with a broken front wing for the whole 44 laps and missing out on the champagne only in the final laps. A much better weekend. Luca Badoer had asked us not to judge him on his Valencia performance, but on his Spa results instead, as it was a circuit he knows. Last in qualifying. Last in the race. And this time his team-mate went on to win. The man nicknamed "Look How Bad You Are" may well have run his last laps for Ferrari as a racing driver, if we are judging him on Spa. It was Kimi Raikkonen who stepped up to the plate, recording his first win in over a year and Ferrari's first of the season. He was hounded by the man many expect to become his new team-mate in Monza in two weeks time. Either way, a win at Spa will give the team confidence it can fight at the front at their home race. And the tifosi will expect a much better showing from the team's second driver ... whoever he is. 30