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GP Week : Issue 98
into fourth place but couldn't live with Robert Kubica's Renault. He also made some inelegant mistakes in qualifying, born in part, I think of his frustration with the Fernando situation. Fernando led Felipe out of the pit lane in P2 on Friday and thus Felipe drove a lap behind Fernando, no doubt noticing, as he did so, Fernando's incredibly rapid initial turn-in -- a trait far more obvious on the fast, open corners of Spa that it would have been, say, at Hockenheim or Hungary. It's almost as if Felipe allows himself to be influenced by the style of his team-mates. In qualifying at Spa (as at Silverstone), Felipe himself seemed to be driving with an Alonso initial flick -- but was doing so without the finesse of Fernando's mid-corner car control. Twice he speared off into the gravel, looking very far away from the polished Felipe we grew to love in the days of Michael and Kimi. Unless I'm completely missing something here, I think it was also staggering that Felipe was allowed to start the Belgian GP from about two metres ahead of his grid box. No penalty. No reprimand. Nothing. And this in an era when a GP3 driver is penalized at the same circuit for edging his car uphill into his correct grid position well before starter's orders. Draconian rulings are fine in motor sport ... but only if they are consistent. Speaking of Michael, this was one of the better weekends in the second career life of the seven-times champion. He matched (and frequently surpassed) Nico Rosberg lap for lap both in practice and qualifying and he overtook Nico aggressively in the race, despite his lowly (penalty-related) grid position. Michael looked good in what is still obviously a difficult car; he made his first set of tyres last right through to the rain stop... but then he blew it in the closing stages by allowing himself to be re-passed by Nico. Right now, with wins out of the question, and with six races to go, the only thing Michael needs to do is out-perform his team- mate. At Spa, the result of this little contest was about even. And so the rain, and the semi-wet, and the wet kerbs and the spray and the uphill and downhill plunges all rewarded the drivers of touch and feel at Spa. Lewis won. Mark was a well-deserved second. Robert Kubica and Renault were third -- and deserve massive plaudits for what they achieved in Belgium. They thrashed Ferrari and they all but beat Red Bull: yes, they were quick in a straight line thanks to their latest F-duct; they were right up there with the McLarens. Amazingly, though, they were also still very good on all types of corners. Had Robert not mis-judged his pit stop for wets, and overshot his box, he would have been second; as it was, P3 was still an excellent result. Kamui Kobayashi again raced well, while Rubens Barrichello, basking in the glow of his 300th F1 start and his move on Michael in Hungary, skated much too quickly into a wet chicane on race day at Spa, and thumped Fernando's Ferrari. It was a reminder of how quickly things can change. One minute a hero; the next a zero. In the same vein, expect Ferrari to bounce back at Monza. It's what Ferrari does -- just as the great drivers, when the conditions turn sour, invariably shine at Spa. s drivers; he tells them -- ... 27 F1 ANALYSIS >>