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GP Week : Issue 165
Vettel and Webber staged an admirable comeback to score a double top six finish on Sunday, having started just 10th and 12th on the grid. Their progress came despite being hampered by a short top gear, meaning they were unable to overtake their rivals in the DRS zone despite being considerably quicker. Vettel was able to make a one-stop strategy work to climb through the field before taking the flag 13 seconds behind Button, while Webber two-stopped and ended the race in hot pursuit of Raikkonen, Hulkenberg and Massa. Michael Schumacher celebrated his 300th Grand Prix with a fourth points finish in five races after taking advantage of the first-corner chaos to mitigate a poor qualifying. The German jumped from 13th to fifth on the first lap, but his attempt at a one-stop strategy failed as he was forced to pit for a second time with ten laps to go. Rosberg was hampered by a gearbox change penalty, costing him a likely points finish as he took the flag in 11th place, just over a second outside the points. Like Schumacher, he tried to stop just once, but had to pit again eight laps from the finish. The race could scarcely have been more bitter sweet for McLaren as they saw one of their drivers cruise to a dominant victory and the other retiring just a few hundred metres into the race. Button looked untouchable from the early part of qualifying and sure enough when it came to the race he was easily able to open and gap and kept his tyres in prime condition to need only one pitstop. Hamilton was the luckless victim when Romain Grosjean jinked to the right on the run-down to turn 1, eliminating both drivers and Fernando Alonso from the race. Kimi Raikkonen did his slim championship chances no harm with his sixth podium finish of the year, but an underperforming car meant he was never truly able to challenge for victory. An audacious pass around the outside of Schumacher going into Eau Rouge was the highlight of his race, before having to fend off Hulkenberg in the closing laps to secure third. Grosjean’s race didn’t even last until the first corner as he drove into Hamilton after the start, with the stewards subsequently deciding to ban him for a race as punishment for his clumsy driving. Fernando Alonso will be counting his lucky stars after escaping largely unscathed from a potentially serious accident at the first corner, and still heads to Monza this weekend with a 24-point championship lead. The Spaniard’s progress from fifth on the grid was abruptly ended when Grosjean came glancing across the top of his cockpit, leaving Massa to carry the flag for Ferrari. The Brazilian performed admirably to finish fifth, promoting him three places in the drivers’ standings. He finished just four seconds off the podium as his form continues to improve. Nico Hulkenberg scored his best ever F1 finish after a storming drive from 11th on the grid, having taken full advantage of the first-corner chaos at the start. The German showed impressive pace and overtaking ability on his two-stop strategy and ultimately fell just two seconds short of the podium. Team-mate di Resta was hampered by a KERS failure throughout the race, making defending and attacking even more difficult. He was still able to sneak into the points in tenth however. Red Bull Mercedes McLaren Lotus Ferrari Force India TEAM-BY-TEAM: BELGIAN GRAND PRIX 36 GPWEEK.com // F1 >>> SPA 36 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: