Hamilton takes start to finish win at Spa *Revised*
Lewis Hamilton has secured his first win at Spa-Francorchamps after showing dominant pace. He took the lead the first meters after Webber missed his start. The latter still ended up second, ahead of Renault's Robert Kubica. Championship contenders Button, Alonso and Vettel failed to score any points.
The starting grid for the Belgian GP 2010 is interesting to say the least. Mixed weather is still playing in heavily, resulting in many drivers starting on wet weather set-ups with considerably more downforce than others. Some of these drivers are Alonso who is starting from 10th and Schumacher, down in 21st after he got demoted 10 places with a penalty for his move on Barrichello at the Hungarian GP, 4 weeks ago.
At the start of the warmup lap, the track is completely dry, but dark clouds are close, and rain is expected some time during the race. Some are also concerned about the intermediate tyres, as they do not last long and there is only a limited amount of them available.
As the Grand Prix kicked off, Webber was terribly slow off the mark and fell down to 7th. Hamilton immediately takes the lead, ahead of Kubica, Button, Vettel and Massa.
When the pack comes to Stavelot, rain is already falling, and when entering Busstop everybody ran wide off the track. Button was making a move there on Kubica but failed to make it stick. Alonso got caught by Barrichello, eliminating the Williams driver from his 300th GP. The Brazilian his the Ferrari fairly hard from behind on the right rear wheel, and it is surprising the Ferrari is still running.
After the spin, Alonso is in the pits to take on inters, as does a Sauber and a Toro Rosso. 10 seconds later the safety car is deployed to remove Barrichello's Williams off the track.
On lap 4, the race is back on and Vettel immediately passes Kubica at turn 1. One lap later Alonso is back in as Ferrari realise 2 minutes of rain did not justify the use of intermediates. Another lap further down marks the end for Senna as he shuts off the engine in the pits on his third pitstop.
By lap 8, Hamilton is pulling away, now 5s ahead of his teammate who now has Vettel closely behind him. Kubica is a further second down, followed by Webber and Sutil. In 11th place is Vitaly Petrov, a stunning position as the Russian Renault driver started from the back row. He is in between Rosberg and Schumacher.
On lap 11 Petrov makes a challenge on Rosberg who takes the inside line. Petrov though makes it stick and move up a place. Schumacher benefits from the fight and gains a place on his teammate, in the event chipping off the left front wing endplate of Rosberg's car.
Button is struggling badly with the balance of his car and a pack is queuing up behind him. Vettel is in 3rd but is unable to pass the McLaren as he is hitting the rev limiter as son as he is in the slipstream of the McLaren. Right behind them are Kubica, Weber and Massa.
On lap 17 Vettel comes out of Button's slipstream and oversteers badly, ending up bumping into Button. Vettel is able to get back to the pits for a new frontwing while Button is out of the race. Vettel apparently lost it due to a few raindrops on the track, but consistency is again failing Vettel's championship run.
No problem for Hamilton though as he is comfortably in the lead, 11s ahead of Kubica. Webber is a close 3rd, Massa 4th. Sutil is 5th, Schumacher 6th, Rosberg 7th, followed by Kobayashi, Alonso and Petrov who somehow must have made a mistake in the light drizzle, as before that he was ahead of Schumacher.
On lap 20 Vettel passes Liuzzi to move up to 11th position but then gets a drive through penalty for causing a collision. At Les Combes Vettel loses the position again due to the better top speed of the Force India.
Lap 23 marks the first regular pitstop for the top 3. Hamilton's tyres still appear to be fine though as he is setting fastest lap, just before it's been improved by Vettel by 0.4s. The German though is now in 14th and a full minute behind the race leader.
Kubica and Massa are pitting one lap later in reaction to Webber's stop. Kubica retains his 2nd place, while obviously Hamilton keeps his race lead after his own stop on lap 25.
That same lap Sutil just breezes past Schumacher with an impressive speed advantage up through Eau Rouge.
The trouble for Vettel meanwhile isn't over though. Upon passing Liuzzi on the inside of Busstop, Liuzzi takes an early turn in and breaks his front wing on Vettel's left rear wheel. Liuzzi dives in immediately for a new front wing while Vettel continues, but he is already running on the rim by the time he ends up at Les Combes.
By lap 34 and with just 10 laps to go, rain is starting to fall, expectedly for about 20 minutes.
Even with a quite wet track from the pits to Les Combes and in Stavelot, the top three are continuing and at Bruxelles, just after reporting it was getting heavier, he went through the gravel and could only just avoid hitting the bariers. He kept the lead, but the margin now reduced.
Vettel on his stop takes on the full wets, while most others are taking on intermediates. On lap 35 the top 3 are also in the pits for inters. Kubica though missed his pitstop box, went too far and effectively lost second place to Webber.
By lap 37 the rain is already easing up but Hulkenberg is still struggling badly to keep his car on the track after choosing not to pit and retain the slicks.
One lap later rain is picking up again, and Vettel goes to the pits to take on new extreme wet tyres. Right at that time Alonso goes too wide on the slippery outside kerb of Malmedy and is out of the race, blocked in the middle of the track.
With only 5 laps to go the safety car is back, and rain is still increasing. The safety car is very slow around the track and unnecessarily decided to continue in lap 40 as well.
With 5 laps to go, the safety car is gone again and the track looks wetter now than it has ever been during the race.
Trulli is off at Fagnes at that same lap. He spins several times and loses his 15th position. One lap later De La Rosa is off at Stavelot but similarly is able to continue, despite losing positions.