Sep. 11, 2005

A Day at Spa

Last weekend's Formula One race was the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa. Although it didn't rain during the race conditions were wet for most of the day, which made for some interesting racing. The McLarens of Juan Pablo Montoya and Kimi Raikkonen were at the front for the start, with Fernando Alonso's Renault and Jarno Trulli's Toyota behind them. Everyone started on "intermediate" tires, which handle better in wet conditions than "dry" tires but not as well as "wets". This turned out to be the right tire for the whole race, because as the track dried out a number of drivers ducked into the pit and switched to faster "dry" tires, but they all had trouble and had to stop again and return to intermediates.

Alsono's Renault team-mate Giancarlo Fisichella lost grip in a corner and crashed heavily early in the race, which brought the safety car out and precipitated a mass pitstop. Sixteen cars pitted at the same time, making the cramped pit lane a dangerous place for a few minutes. This was amplified by Kimi's clever maneuver of driving down the pit line approach slower than usual to allow his team mate Juan Pablo to finish his refueling and clear the team's pit before anyone else could begin. The McLarens stayed pretty much at the front for the whole race, although Kimi dropped back a bit in the middle part because of pit stop sequences. During the second pit stops he managed to get well ahead of his team-mate and crossed the line comfortably in first place.

Poor Juan Pablo had trouble again with a back marker, and crashed out of the race near the end while in a comfortable second place. A few laps earlier Michael Schumacher was taken out of the race by a collision with Takuma Sato. They made contact twice during the incident, three times if you count Michael's slap at Takuma's hemet. Takuma's teammate at BAR, Jenson Button, had a great race. Starting eighth he also had to battle back from an ill-advised attempt to switch to dry tires and managed to make two of the few racing passes I saw, ending up third. Jacques Villeneuve managed sixth in his Sauber, having started fourteenth and got as high as second, mainly by carrying more fuel which enabled him to stay out when everyone dove into the pit during Fisichella's accident.

Fernando Alonso finished second so he's still well ahead in the standings, but Kimi managed to make up a little ground in the championship race. Three races to go and then I can sleep in on Sunday mornings again.

Listening to: 100 Billion Stars by Lux from Cafe Del Mar Eight.

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