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GP Week : Issue 165
Sauber’s hopes of turning a second and a fourth on the grid into a strong race finish were dealt a decisive blow just seconds into the race, as both got caught up in the first corner pile-up. Perez was forced to retire on the spot, having been hit heavily, Kobayashi was able to continue albeit with his C31 sporting some severe damage having been hit by a flying car. Two early pitstops for repairs and a slow puncture ended any hopes of points, but he still recovered to 13th at the finish. Vitaly Petrov assumed the role of team leader at Spa as team- mate Kovalainen endured a torrid race including collisions, spins and other mistakes. Petrov two-stopped his way to 14th, spending the latter half of the race with large gaps ahead and behind. Kovalainen ran as high as tenth behind the safety car, but first lost places with a mistake at the chicane. He was then released into the path of a HRT in the pitlane, costing him 39 seconds, before he then spun in the final laps before just about beating HRT’s Pedro de la Rosa to the flag. Toro Rosso was one of the few teams to get a double benefit from the first-corner accident, as they recorded their first double points finish of the season. Ricciardo and Vergne jumped from 16th and 15th places on the grid to sixth and seventh at the end of the first lap, before two-stopping their way to the points. Ricciardo stayed ahead of Vergne until early in the final stint when Vergne got the advantage and stayed ahead until the finish. Pedro de la Rosa and Narain Karthikeyan enjoyed a tight battle at the rear of the field, but the battle ultimately ended unresolved with Karthikeyan retiring on lap 29 due to a loose wheel from a pitstop on the previous lap. When he was on-track, Karthikeyan was the leader of the intra-team battle, having leapfrogged the Spaniard on the first lap when he had to pit for repairs. De la Rosa spent the final laps of the race battling with Kovalainen, before losing out by just 3.5 seconds. A slow right-rear puncture cost Williams and Bruno Senna a likely points finish as the Brazilian was forced to pit from eighth with just five laps remaining to take on a new set of tyres. Senna had climbed from 17th on the grid to 9th on the first lap thanks to the first corner collision, before attempting a one-stop strategy. He was being hauled in by the Toro Rossos when he was forced to pit, but would probably have held on to at least a point otherwise. Maldonado retired on lap 4 after colliding with Glock after the restart. He takes a ten-place grid penalty to Monza. Marussia may be battling at the back of the field but their drivers enjoyed a ding-dong battle for positions in the closing stages of the race. With Pic having opted for a one-stop strategy and Glock for two, the pair were on a collision course for what turned out to be a captivating battle for honour and pride. On fresher tyres Glock eventually got the upper hand and pulled some 15 seconds clear, but was still half a minute adrift of the leading Caterham. Sauber Caterham Toro Rosso HRT Williams Marussia TEAM-BY-TEAM: BELGIAN GRAND PRIX 37 GPWEEK.com // F1 >>> SPA 37 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: