Kimi Raikkonen edges Giancarlo Fisichella for win (Belgian Grand Prix review)

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Kimi Raikkonen had Giancarlo Fisichella in his mirrors for most of the race
Kimi Raikkonen had Giancarlo Fisichella in his mirrors for most of the race

Kimi Raikkonen ended a 26-race losing streak by winning the Belgian Grand Prix for the fourth time in his career.

Surprisingly Raikkonen’s closest contender wasn’t in a Brawn or a Red Bull or even a McLaren – he was chased around every lap of Spa by Giancarlo Fisichella.

The Italian, now tipped to join Raikkonen in Ferrari at Monza, finished second for Force India.

If Fisichella’s pole position on Saturday was a shock, his consistent race pace on Sunday was utterly incredible – and very timely.

Ferrari’s Luca Badoer brought up the rear of the field, finishing 47 seconds behind the next finisher. It inconceivable Ferrari could tolerate another race with this kind of performance, and Italian television channel RAI is already claiming Fisichella will be in the car at Monza.

First-lap shunt eliminates Button

As the race got started Fisichella preserved the lead and didn’t look like losing it. From sixth on the grid Raikkonen elected to use the tarmac run-off area on the outside of turn one to avoid getting held up by other cars. He re-joined the track in third, sprinted through Eau Rouge and picked off Robert Kubica at the top of the hill.

He arrived at Les Combes going quickly he couldn’t stop in time, and bumped along the kerbing around the outside of the track. Kubica took evasive action but couldn’t avoid tagging the back of the Ferrari, breaking his front wing end plate.

Jarno Trulli, who started second, also damaged his front wing, but the real carnage kicked off behind them.

Jenson Button made a clean start from 14th and took a look at the outside of Heikki Kovalainen heading into the corner. Suddenly Renault’s Romain Grosjean charged in, tipping Button into a spin.

As their cars headed for the barriers Lewis Hamilton – who had started slowly and picked up some damage at La Source – slowed down to avoid the wrecked cars and got hit by Jaime Alguersuari. All four cars were eliminated.

After the race the stewards consulted the video replays but elected not to punish anyone.

Read more: Belgian Grand Prix start crash (Video)

Raikkonen seizes the initiative

The crash also had repercussions for the leaders. Fisichella had enough of a lead over Raikkonen not to be troubled by the Ferrari’s KERS – but the arrival of the safety car wiped it away.

Sure enough, Fisichella was a sitting duck at the restart on lap four. Raikkonen, one of few drivers to have started on soft tyres, breezed past him on the straight.

Fisichella lost little ground to Raikkonen in the opening stint. Behind them came Kubica, battling on despite his front wing damage, Timo Glock, Mark Webber and Nick Heidfeld.

Sebastian Vettel appeared in seventh shortly after the safety car came in, after apparently being allowed past by Nico Rosberg. Vettel had complained Rosberg had passed him illegally under yellow flags. Had race control got involved again as they did at Valencia?

Barrichello battles through the field

Rubens Barrichello began his recovery from a disastrous start. Just like at Melbourne and Istanbul, the brawn had bogged down badly at the start and he was lucky to avoid being hit. As the race resumed he moved up to 13th by passing Luca Badoer.

The second Ferrari was, once again, a long way off the pace. Adrian Sutil, who’d been to the pits after the first lap, went clean off the track in order to get around Badoer on lap eight.

Robert Kubica and Timo Glock were the first of the leaders to pit on lap 12. Toyota brimmed Glock up with enough fuel for 20 of Spa’s long laps, keeping him in the pits five seconds longer than Kubica. After that Glock plummeted down the order and never looked like making it back into the points.

Jarno Trulli retired a few laps later – and so, having qualified second and seventh, Toyota contrived to get absolutely nothing out of the Belgian Grand Prix.

Raikkonen and Fisichella came in together on lap 14 – Raikkonen had started with more fuel, so either Ferrair had chosen to bring him in early (unlikely) or Fisichella had done a better job of saving fuel during the safety car period. The Force India driver switched onto the soft tyres, and continued his pursuit.

In hindsight, if Force India had given him a splash more fuel than Raikkonen at this point, Fisichella could have won the race. But it wasn’t to be.

Problems in the pits

Heidfeld and Webber came in on the same lap, and for the second race in a row Red Bull cut it very fine when releasing Webber from his pit box. This time Heidfeld had to get off the throttle to avoid contact, and the stewards wasted no time in handing down a drive-through penalty.

But Heidfeld took care of matters himself, passing Webber at Les Combes. The Red Bull driver then fell into the clutches of Barrichello, who bravely blasted around the outside of Webber and Blanchimont.

Webber served his drive-through penalty on lap 18, just as Rosberg was making his first pit stop and surrendering the lead he’d inherited.

Another team having trouble in the pits was Renault – again. They struggled to replace Fernando Alonso’s front-left wheel as the fairing had been damaged in contact on lap one. Not wishing to incur a repeat of their Hungary penalty, the team kept Alonso back while they made sure the wheel went on, and shortly summoned him back to the pits after letting him out. He was the sixth and last retirement of the day.

On lap 31 the two leaders came into the pits together for the final time – and once again left with Raikkonen ahead of Fisichella. Though he surely could have lapped quicker than the Ferrari had he been ahead, Raikkonen was able to use his KERS button at the start of the straights to ensure Fisichella couldn’t get close.

Vettel made his final stop on lap 35, leap-frogging Kubica for third – and then began closing on the leaders. But once it became clear he wasn’t going to catch them he prudently turned the revs down, as he’s already on his seventh unit out of eight.

Barrichello’s Brawn blows

That decided the podium, and the BMWs of Kubica and Heidfeld behind were settled in fourth and fifth. Kovalainen briefly came under threat from Barrichello, until the Brawn’s Mercedes engine began spewing oil. Barrichello backed off and managed to coax the car to the chequered flag, impressively without losing a place – although his engine cover caught fire after he got back to the pits.

Rosberg held onto eighth ahead of Webber, who finished a point-less ninth for the second race in a row. He has fallen back behind his team mate in the drivers’ championship and lies fourth.

Glock finished tenth ahead of Sutil, 42 seconds behind team mate Fisichella, after his early pit stop plus a spin at Fagnes.

The final classified runners were Sebastien Buemi, Kazuki Nakajima and Badoer – the latter 47.9s behind the rest of the field, and surely not likely to reappear in a Ferrari in two weeks’ time.

Who will be Raikkonen’s team mate at Monza? Ferrari are expected to decide tomorrow.

Read more: Belgian Grand Prix race result

Driver of the day

I can’t pick anyone other than Giancarlo Fisichella for driver of the day. He thrived on the new-found pace of the Force India, reminding us all of those days when everyone thought of him as the great up-and-comer with so much untapped potential. A win only passed him by because of the safety car period at the start, after which he was never going to keep Raikkonen at bay.

Raikkonen and Rosberg must get honourable mentions, however. Both are in excellent veins of form – particularly Rosberg, who dragged his car into Q3 and rode his luck to grab a point. Here’s who you picked on Twitter:

lacanta – If you haven’t gathered from my twitters so far this afternoon, I’m nominating Fisichella as Driver of the Day! Yippee!
hashsport – Vettel
GittleBos – Giancarlo Fisichella. Of course. Time to eat a potato pizza in his honour (that’s his favourite)!
BaburM – kimmmmaayyyyy!
MarkF1 – Fisichella as it is the best race he as driven in years.
reeley – Giancarlo Fisichella the driver of the race for me.
therealtopper – probably fisichella
alboreto – Fisi of course.
fwon – I do think Fisichella was the driver of the race. Perhaps he should of won, but he competed with Kimi for the whole race
mum_zee – can only be one driver – Fisico
formula1fran – I think I have to say Fisi. Thrilled Kimi won, but Fisi worked harder I think. Never felt so sorry for 2nd place finisher!
Mikee87 – Driver of the race has got to be Bernd Mayl??nder. They should put him in the Ferrari instead of Badoer.
asynadak – Kimi!
randomflowers – I’m going to say Seb V, simply because he started 8th and finished 3rd! (and Kimi… and Fisichella!)
fissijo – fisichella… But then he is my driver of the race most races!
planetf1 – FISI
primaveron – Kimi Raikkonen and Fisichella!

Who was your driver of the day? Name them in the comments.

Read more

Images (C) Ferrari spa, Brawn GP, Renault/LAT, Williams/LAT, Bridgestone, Getty Images/Red Bull, Force India F1 Team, Toyota F1 World, BMW ag

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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113 comments on “Kimi Raikkonen edges Giancarlo Fisichella for win (Belgian Grand Prix review)”

  1. fisico who eise?????

  2. Keith – I think that it wasn’t Kubica who crashed with Kimi – Kubica went wide (even wider than Kimi) in Les Combes, and Trulli overtook Kubica, and crashed into Kimi who was coming back to track, and lost his front wing.

    1. This onboard shows Kubica hitting Raikkonen:

  3. I honestly think Fisi must stay put at Force India. Being loyal is more important. I think he has a great chance of winning at monza. Force India have a decent aero package & probably the most powerful & reliable engine in the paddock. He’ll be a force to reckon at monza in his Force India.

    1. Superb drives from Fisichella and Raikkonen all the way, but Fisico is clearly man of the day. Seeing a Force India hound a ferrari all the way to the flag was incredible. I think Fisichella is faced with a dilemma: after a performance like that, he could press Mallya for a new contract, in a seat that wasn’t looking altogether secure.
      However, I think he’ll be driving a red car in two weeks. What driver (especially an Italian driver, joing the Scuderia at Monza of all places) can say no to The Call?

  4. Keith – what’s your take on Raikkonen’s adventure at the first corner? Surely he gained an advantage from running wide and should at least have been investigated, especially given the sensitivity of the “corner-cutting” issue at Spa.

    1. i’ve noticed that too. He did the same thing in 2002,04,05,08 & this year. Surely this deserves a reprimand.




      it definitely helps you to gain momentum.

      maybe they’ve got to revert back to the old config just to prevent kimi from doing it again.

      1. I think Armco on the outside of La Source would soon solve the problem! :D

        1. There used to be tighter armco on the outside of La Source and down to Eau Rouge. Of course, start in 1998 shows what than can lead to…

        2. And put 15 cars out of the race immidiately

          1. You just need a few of those speed humps there to be honest, much like the ones used at the Valencia chicanes.

            Now… how do I contact the FIA about this idea? hmmmm.

      2. Ummm… there was no such run-off in 2004 and 2005. There was armco then, after the chicane was widened after the 98 mishap.

        If you actually watch the videos for 04 and 05, you’ll see there is no run-off, just a wider corner marked off by armco. He does cross the white line in 04 with two wheels, but he was clearly pushed out, and actually loses time and positions. In 05, he doesn’t even touch the white line.

        I like how you’ve presented the links to the videos as evidence, which people take at face value without actually watching the videos. Nice tactic.

        He did use the run-off in 2008.

      3. you’re full of it. i just watched all the videos. there’s nowhere to run wide in 04 (definately avoiding an accident) or 05 (05 he is definately within the white lines). 2008 he almost lost it several times, he simply couldn’t slow down at la source. i think 2009 is the only possible example of kimi gaining from running wide.

      4. Are you serious? Only in the 2008 video you posted did he actually go wide off the track, and even then you can see he was struggling to keep it under control. Doesnt look intentional to me. Did you watch these before posting the links here?

    2. Din’t liked it either. I really feel such things have to be punished.

      If Hamilton gained an advantage last year I’d like to know how FIA would call Kimi’s manouver.

      And second, these parts are there for their safety, not to use them to take advantage.

      If you ask me, that’s plain cheating.

    3. he was avoiding trulli and took the run off and didnt cut a chicane. Hamilton cut a chicane.

      1. Andrew White
        31st August 2009, 0:00

        Both Raikkonen and Hamilton gained an advantage by going off the track. The only difference is Hamilton gave the place back.

    4. It was just an homage to Nigel Mansell :)

    5. I think it probably was a case of ‘gaining an advantage by going off the track’. And it’s likely the same goes for Sutil’s pass on Badoer. Might do a poll actually…

      1. I thought it was similar to last year, after Hamilton had made that move, when Kimi went wide at Pouhon and kept wideallowing him him to take a faster line and therefore catch Hamilton.

    6. Kimi definitely “gains an advantage” because of the less braking and more momentum.

      But you see, he does not do anything wrong in the 2 sensitive issues.
      1. He doesn’t “cut a corner”, since he didn’t take the inside line.
      2. He waits after Eau Rouge (the next corner) to make the pass, not infringing the “next corner rule”. Since, he waits for another corner, by FIA rules, the “advantage gained” is deemed lost. But due to the curious nature of Eau Rouge, which is flat out, he doesn’t exactly lose that extra momentum through Eau Rouge and easily overtakes the car ahead of him at the next long braking zone.

      You have to applaud Raikkonen though, 5 times he has done that in the last 6 years, successfully exploited a gray rule. Cheeky stuff from him.

      The race organizers should remove the run-off, that would also result in more crashes, thus more exciting race.

      1. on point number 2- he overtakes 2 cars! kimi goes wide, gains momentum (as you say) and gets around the outside of Heifield and Trulli before Eau Rouge.


    Look at Kimi Actions:) This is for sure a deliberate action from him and Ferrari (Badoer did the same but gain no advantage)

    1. This is a farce! He’s done it too many times. Notice only the 2 ferrari’s & a single brawn takes that short cut. Kimi gained massively imo. He must be DQ!! He does that always at spa. No other car took that short cut.

      1. Max should resign now!!!
        31st August 2009, 0:26

        Agree 100 per cent.

        1. Oh God!! again the Ferrari bashers and Mclaran outfit!! look at sumedh’s comments!! Kimi is 100% ok in doing that!! stop this nonsense!!

          1. yeh, i really don’t think he gained much and i do think he was genuinely avoiding an incident with the toyota and bmw.

          2. Arun, I am not Kimi’s biggest fan.

            I do believe he gained an advantage there. And I also believe he didn’t break any rules.

            According to me, there was no way FIA could have punished him, and there lies the brilliance of Kimi’s move.

            Although, I don’t rate Kimi highly, I am not bashing him for that move. This win is probably his best win since 2005 Japan. I am sincerely appreciating his move, it is not be a clean one, but certainly very effective.

          3. Indeed Arun,

            He actually did exactly the same last year, albeit in damp conditions.

            These Kimi bashers should be quiet. It’s the FIA (sigh) that really need to clarify the rules about 4 wheels of the track to gain an advantage. The fact remains that he went outside the white line to stay clear of trouble.

  6. Fisi, no question… I just wish, wish, wish that FI had managed to give him even one free lap to get the jump on Kimi. However, Kimi deserves a victory after his sterling drives of late, and such a close second place is a huge boost for Fisi and FI.

    Isn’t it incredible that there are no back markers any more? There isn’t a car in the field that isn’t in contention for points and even podiums when the circuit suits it. There are drivers who aren’t (Badoer and Nakajima for a start), but every single car is capable of being competitive.

    Mind you, I’m genuinely mystified at how the Toyota can be such a quick car and yet fail to score points at race after race. It doesn’t bode well for their future… if I was on their board I’d be questioning what they are getting out of their F1 programme beyond regular embarrassment.

    A great race today. I really hope Rosberg gets a podium soon though, he definitely deserves one after the season he’s done.

    1. I dunno why every one says kimi deserves this victory?? Is spa a default place for kimi to win or something? The guy gained massively by taking that shortcut & to make matters better for him the safety car period aided him. but since when has the FIA treated the non-ferrari teams fairly?

      1. I didn’t actually say he deserved this victory – just that his excellent form of late deserved one. He’s been up there consistently in the last three races – the only driver who has been. Hence IMHO his recent form deserved a victory.

        In actual fact I would agree with you that he gained an advantage by leaving the track, though it was more of a longcut than a shortcut! But I think he mainly did it to stay out of trouble, rather than to gain the advantage. In the end, it was the safety car that swung it for him, and that’s just the luck of the draw. All drivers have lucky breaks, but the ones who take advantage of them are the ones that win. Kimi’s not a favourite of mine, but he’s been on great form recently.

        1. William Wilgus
          30th August 2009, 20:56

          I missed the first 15 or so laps and therefore didn’t see Kimi’s off-track excursion, but from what’s been written, he certainly took the long way around, rather than a short-cut. You’re also correct that it may have simply been to avoid a collision.

      2. i’m sorry but all this kimi bashing about taking the rub of is a lil ridiculous…and then to bring up the FIA-rrari thing again…old news…

        has anyone thought to mention the dirt and and lack of grip and also the fact the tyres pick up any gunk that’s ot there and how that can be considered an advantage…or is DC the only other person to think about this….if anything it has an adverse effect…and if kimi has used it many times before have a look at the other drivers who also have…spa is renknowned for having first corner incidents..if its there to be used then so be it…button used it…why doesn’t someone start bagging him

      3. longcut if anything

    2. Isn’t it incredible that there are no back markers any more?

      It might have something to do with Spa being a 4 mile circuit…

  7. It was a great race! Fisi gave us a show! In fact, Fisi seemed was on Ferrari and Badoer on Force India.

    1. Yeah but Badoer is slow with a good car (as opposite to the usual situation at Force India). Bernd Mayländer could probably beat Badoer, with Bernd in the safety car and Badoer in the Ferrari.

  8. Yep Red Andy I agree, I just wish steward’s had either dismissed it or looked into it during the race rather than them being silent and us debating over it. And nice links mp4-19b maybe they are blind when it comes to kimi lol

  9. Best: Kimi and Fisi, but as a Kimi fan i must say Fisi deserved the win a bit more, Kimi needed the win to show Ferarri he’s still the man.

    Worst: who else than Badoer :s
    C’mon Ferrari, pick someone else NOW!!!!! if u want 3rd place in WCC

    1. why did fisi deserve the win?
      He had a faster car and should have gone for the win if he wanted it, his teams strategy wasn’t helpful either. Kimi was in a slower car and had to battle to keep him behind. He had one oppurtunity to take fisi and he took it, real racing. Fisi did well but only has him self to blame for not winning. On the restart his driving was quite poor enabling kimi to straike with ease. If it were vettel or button leading they wouldn’t of made that error?

      1. only himself and KERS? he could not get past kimi although kimi had a slower car because when he tried something kimi would just push his button and pull away, also the performance of a car decreases when you follow a car that close, so even though fisi had the faster car he wasnt able to exploit it,

        learn you stuff

        1. I don’t see how theo’s comment warrants a “learn your stuff” remark? He is talking about how well Kimi out raced Fisi at the restart and you’re talking about Fisi’s inability to retake the lead due to KERS. Two separate points of discussion.

          1. Kimi outraced fisi at the restart in a large part due to KERS

            learn your stuff

  10. Raikkonen is the stig

    1. I agree :)

  11. fisi started 1st, finished 2nd.
    Kimi starts 6th, finished 1st ahead of a faster car which he passed and kept behind for the whole race. Kimi gets driver of the day.

    1. no he won because he had kers, fisi was faster and thus drove better

      1. That’s if we assume that ferrari was the better car yesterday. In my opinion it wasn’t. Kimi has made the difference.

      2. Ferrari finally win a race and people are looking for reasons to fault the drive, unbelievable!!!
        Firstly it’s clear he was forced wide. As one other poster and DC pointed out, it’s a dirty track out in the run off, not the best of places to be putting your car (unless mp4-19b has video of Kimi sweeping the run off area before the race!!!) The prime example of the madness was only a few corners later when we had the shunt-a-thon. Not to mention Kimi was nearly taken out as well.
        Secondly on the “poor me I don’t have KERS” rubbish. It’s common knowledge that it’s a case of you “chose” to develop and use KERS, forcing you to deal with extra weight and how best to distribute it around the vehicle. This comes with a price tag of course. These are issues Ferrari and McLaren have decided to accept to deal with.
        So take your sour (soon to be rotten) grapes somewhere else. The so called Kimi incident wasn’t investigated and KERS was the reason Kimi won the race not the reason Fisi came second ;-)

        1. this happens more than once in these comments section and I’ve learned to keep a blind eye to these!! Macca fans must be furious their NO.1 driver was out of the race before long and the NO.2 was riding nowhere to their expectations.
          These KIMI/Ferrari bashers talk as though they sat on the car and saw space to stay on track that the driver thought wouldn’t help, or whatever, can’t help but sit back and laugh at what I thought would happen, happening! and we know there were good amount of disadvantage in Kimi’s route because of the dirt and less grip, as DC commented!!
          If you think Kers helped Kimi win, it just makes Ferrari a harder car to overtake, and since its allowed for all the cars, plz ask other teams to get it as well.
          If you think Kimi doesn’t deserve, please, as a formula 1 fanatic, I would say he had the ability to not make a mistake and using his adv(kers) to the max, get the victory( great pitstop – without errors for the team incl), end of story!!
          Everyone knows how good a racer he is and he can ride through SPA with his eyes blind!
          Great race!! Giancarlo also deserves an awesome deal for delivering the goods to the rising team! Low budget racing a max budgeted team – human willpower!!

        2. excellent comment al_amana, some people just cant accpet a damn good drive

        3. Firstly it’s clear he was forced wide.

          If that’s true then why did the driver who you believe forced him wide (Trulli, I presume) get a penalty as Hamilton did at Fuji last year?

          1. You posted an interesting video angle above Re: Kubica. You will first see Kimi having the wide line (within the lines) then as he makes a slight turn into the corner Trulli comes across and then the BMW comes across also. Then in the Vettel video it’s clear that had Raikonnen braked (as some had suggested) and slotted in behind trulli Vettel would have collected him. As for the remark that Trulli should be punished due to precedent that is invalid because although he forced Kimi wide he was also in the process of avoiding collision with the BMW. However my point again is that here I am someone that has no formula 1 driving experience being told by DC an accomplished driver, that Kimi gained no advantage by going into the run off. Albeit he gained track position, yet you may need to ask yourself, was this because of running wide or because the other drivers where jostling for position and hence weren’t in the position/s to take the optimum lines round the bend? If you get my meaning?

        4. i dont know where you were on sunday but you were clearly not watching the race, kmi was not forced wide, he entered la source with the pace that showed that he was clearly planning on getting strait on to the run off as soon as possible, he planned it before the race even began. he is nowhere near trulli when he goes off

          1. see above. The Kubica video clearly shows that he was no “hotter” coming into that corner than Trulli or Heidfeld let alone Kubica.

  12. I totally agree with those saying Kimi gained an unfair advantage at the start. He didn’t run wide to avoid a collision, he could have braked to avoid a collision (not that there was one). He carried more speed into the corner and ran wide to keep that speed then floored it down the hill with a clear run. He gained 2 places in the move and was primed to take another up the hill.

    He went off the track, gained an advantage and overtook other cars. It’s an absolute no brainer that he did this unfairly. Watch the start again and note the cars that ran slightly wide at la source but still kept on the track, compromising their speed by being half on the kerb/astroturf. They would have been much better off to do as Kimi did and use the 2nd track on the outside.

  13. I agree Raikkonen was the best, and he took the longer run, it wasn`t a short cut and i believe there was less traction then on the track….
    C`mon Ferrari change Badoer he is a disaster!i don`t think he would score any points at monza, he is just well off the pace!

  14. Why do people keep going on about Kimi gaining an advantage from running off track in La Source? Just because Martin Brundle said it looked like he had no intention of turning in? Convenient moment to ignore Coulthard’s comments on that saying he avoided a collision and then had no traction?

    The only advantage he got was he didn’t get into a tangle with Trulli. He had absolutely no traction there, you can see him slithering about trying to drive off towards Eau Rouge. He did well to keep the position he’d gained coming up to La Source.

    1. The reason people keep going on about it has nothing to do with Brundle or Coulthard’s opinion. If you watch the start again, Kimi was 4th going into la source and 3rd going into eau rouge. He gained 1 place by going off the track. That’s pretty straightforward if you ask me.

      As for avoiding a collision, I don’t believe that Kimi’s only possible option to avoid hitting the back of the cars in front was to run wide, then stay wide all the way down the hill. He could have just hit the brakes and slotted in behind.

      And if you want to look at the major incident here last year, Hamilton ran wide at the chicane to avoid a collision but that wasn’t deemed good enough as he was able to keep momentum, he should have braked apparantly. Why not the same for Kimi? It’s all about consistency, or the lack of.