With a resurgent Jenson Button on pole for the Belgian Grand Prix, will Spa see McLaren back in charge?
Jenson Button and his McLaren were in perfect harmony in qualifying for the 2012 Belgian Grand Prix at Spa with button claiming his first pole for McLaren, and his first in three years.
That promise looked good as Button left the line cleanly ahead of the pack, but then behind him there was carnage as Grosjean in the Lotus moved across straight in to the side of Hamilton, also taking out Alonso, Kobayashi and Perez, and forcing a restart to the race.
When the race got going after much picking up of bits of broken cars, Button once again took off, driving a race with himself with incredibly consistent laps to take a dominant victory, in the lead from lights to flag.
Apart from Button, the real winner at Spa was Sebastian Vettel – also on the same one-stop strategy as Button – who managed to come from tenth to second (helped by half the front runners going out after Gosjean’s careless driving) – and salvage a good return from Spa for his team.
Vettel never threatened Button, although it did look at one point as if Raikkonen in the Lotus was capable of doing so, but despite strong form – and the overtake of the race on Schumacher on the run down to Au Rouge in the closing stages – he had to settle for third place after his tyres went off and his KERS played up.
Just off the podium, in fourth, was the Force India of Nico Hulkenberg who drove a strong race. Force India benefited from the early crash to move up the grid and team mate Paul di Resta could have had a comparably good finish to Spa had his KERS worked. But it didn’t, and he ended up tenth.
Behind Hulkenberg, Massa managed to give Ferrari a small consolation prize for the loss of Alonso at the start, ahead of Mark Webber in the Red Bull in sixth and Michael Schumacher – in his 300th Grand Prix – who finished seventh having looked capable of more – and in third at one point – before his tyres went off. The top ten were completed by the Torro Rossos of Vergne in eighth and Ricciardo in ninth.
There may not have been much action at the front at Spa – although watching Button pace his McLaren perfectly was a joy – but there was plenty going on behind – crash aside – to make for an enjoyable race.
It may be too late for Button to challenge for the championship, but if he keeps up this form, and McLaren keep improving the car, who knows?
Belgian GRAND PRIX 2012 RESULTS
- Button | McLaren
- Vettel | Red Bull
- Raikkonen | Lotus
- Hulkenberg | Force India
- Massa | Ferrari
- Webber| Red Bull
- Schumacher | Mercedes
- Vergne | Toro Rosso
- Ricciardo | Toro Rosso
- di Resta | Force India