The eyes have it! Button roars to victory at Spa

September 3, 2012 6:00 pm

And then there were six…Jenson Button shot himself back into World Championship contention today with a dominant display of supremacy at the classic Spa Francorchamps circuit in Belgium.

After taking pole position yesterday afternoon, Button led every single lap of the race to score the maximum 25 points on a day when both Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton failed to finish.

This horrifying crash at the first corner eliminated both Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton

Hamilton was smarting before the lights even went out, after a reprimand from his team following the Twitter qualifying row that took a nasty turn earlier this morning. Hamilton published sensitive team data to his Twitter feed, compromising his team-mate Button’s race strategy and enabling rival teams to respond to Mclaren’s race agenda having been forewarned. The information was deleted in shortly after publication, but the damage was done, and Hamilton must now take a serious look at his conduct and mental readiness after yet another driver-team relations blunder.

The 2008 World Champion was eliminated in a first corner accident after Lotus driver Romain Grosjean veered across the circuit and struck Hamilton’s Mclaren a glancing blow; the Brit lost control and propelled Grosjean into the back of the startled Fernando Alonso’s Ferrari. The entangled cars collected Kamui Koabayashi who had started a superb 2nd on the grid, and even worse news for Sauber came when Sergio Perez had the rear wing torn from his car by the flying Grosjean.

Lewis Hamilton was embroiled in a Twitter row Saturday evening. Things got worse Sunday morning…

Button made his getaway at the front and worked the one-stop strategy perfectly as the others squabbled behind him. Sebastian Vettel battled through the field to take a brilliant 2nd place, while Kimi Raikkonen was slightly subdued and down in the mouth after Lotus chose a two stop strategy that dropped him to 3rd. Force India benefited remarkably from the first corner carnage to vault up to 3rd and 4th on the opening laps, but while Nico Hulkenberg was able to claim his best F1 finish with 4th place, Paul Di Resta suffered a KERS system failure that reduced the power he had available at his disposal, although he mounted a late race comeback for single point for 10th place. Ferrari may have been forgiven for thinking their chances of a decent result was gone after Alonso’s early bath, but Felipe Massa managed to put a semblance of a smile back on the faces of the Maranello superteam by taking 10 points for 5th place and triumphing in a close battle with Mark Webber, who finished behind him in 6th. Michael Schumacher marked his 300th Grand Prix with a solid 7th place after his strategy fell apart in the closing stages of the race with the German veteran running 4th. He earlier enjoyed a fraught combat with countryman Vettel, slicing across the nose of the younger man as he entered the pitlane. Schumacher raced amid talk of his impending retirement after an offhand comment by F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone raised suspicions that the 7-time World Champion was considering ending his comeback at the conclusion of the 2012 season.

Michael Schumacher brushed aside questions about his future

Toro Rosso enjoyed their best Sunday since Malaysia in March with both Jean Eric Vergne and Daniel Ricciardo in the points with 8th and 9th places respectively.  However, their lack of pace across other races means they are far behind rivals such as Williams, who failed to score today after a botched strategy for Bruno Senna.

‘This circuit is so special to most drivers,’ Button said. ‘The way that it flows, the history here. So to get a victory here, lights to flag, is very special for me.’ The 2009 World Champion overtook BBC Presenter David Coulthard in the league of British race winners, his Belgian triumph today being his 14th victory in Formula One.  The win has answered many critics who thought Button had lost his mojo after a succession of disastrous races in the first half of the year – most notably the motorsport publication Autosport who claimed earlier in the week that Button lacked the mental strength needed to win the title compared to team-mate Hamilton. Such scribbling looks rather silly now…

Thumbs up from Button after a dominant win.

He is only 16 points adrift of Hamilton despite his three mechanical failures this season compared to Hamilton’s one. So close are the margins of F1 2012 that Button is still in title contention.  Eight races remaining and six drivers all chasing the ultimate prize. The Olympics may be over, but real sporting drama is guaranteed to continue…

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