An eventful and entertaining race, though I can't help but feel a shade disappointed as a spectator. Anyway, the race was green (and very slightly greener if you followed the identical but earlier and slightly longer Button tip from Nigel rather than the tardy one by myself). With hedging, the weekend as a whole was red to the tune of 12 pence (assuming, as always, £10 stakes) or green for a few pounds. So, not very exciting either way.
The major story of the race happened in the first 20 seconds. Maldonado got a suspiciously fast start, but the real incident of importance was Grosjean stupidly heading into Hamilton (who had nowhere to go), causing a very significant crash. Grosjean and Tweety-pie* were out, as was Alonso. The championship leader saw his very long run of points finishes come to an end and was fortunate not to sustain a nasty injury. Both Saubers were also caught up in the incident. Perez was out straight away, and though Kobayashi managed to struggle on his car did sustain damage and he was unable to make any headway.
Maldonado survived a crash that had nothing to do with him, only to break his front wing a few laps later and fail to finish. He still hasn't scored a point since his win.
At the front it was quite simple. Button slaughtered everyone, with ease, and won by miles and miles. Not since the Canadian Grand Prix last year has he appeared so at home in a McLaren, although this win did lack the drama of the other.
There was, especially in the first half of the race, a lot of overtaking for podium positions and further down the field trains did develop (typically behind Mercedes' drivers). However, the real deciding factor in the race wasn't on-track passing but strategy and tyre management. It may be no coincidence that Button and Vettel, two men very skilled at looking after their tyres, did so well.
The misfortune for others was an opportunity for Force India who suddenly found both their cars at the sharp end. Di Resta lost his KERS and gradually slid down the order to 10th but Hulkenberg managed to finish in 4th. Considering the team's been a bit of a poor relation in the midfield battle this great result will really boost their confidence.
Raikkonen's tyres weren't holding up as well as might be expected, and whilst the Lotus was fast it was never really in contention for the win. However, the fact that Alonso failed to finish and the Finn got 3rd is a double bonus for his title prospects.
If Button hadn't smote the field so comprehensively Vettel might've been driver of the day. He started 11th, lost places in the crash and fought his way through the field to a clear 2nd. Along with Button he was probably the only chap who made a one stop really work (the Mercedes and Senna tried and failed to make the strategy work). The same medium-hard combination will be used in Monza in a week's time.
Further down the field Massa got a handy 5th, which does make me wonder where Alonso would've come. Webber got 6th, and Schumacher 7th. For a time the German seemed in a position to compete for a podium but his car wasn't quite good enough and the effort at a one stopper didn’t work.
Toro Rosso will be delighted to have a double points finish, in 8th and 9th, for Vergne and Ricciardo respectively.
*On Tweety-pie: apparently Hamilton's been sending out lots of tweets he shouldn't, and these have been promptly deleted. According to Coulthard one of those tweets included telemetry of his and Button's qualifying laps which is confidential information. I'm also unconvinced that that's clever behaviour whilst contract renegotiations are ongoing.
I do think we shouldn't get too carried away based on Spa. The thing is that Friday's rainfall meant lots of new pieces couldn't be tested properly and there was very limited scope to do setup for the race and qualifying. Hopefully Monza will be dry and we'll get a clearer read of things there.
However, it does seem clear that Ferrari and Red Bull may be lagging somewhat (in qualifying at least), and that Sauber have come out all guns blazing. But for terrible luck Sauber could have gotten one or possibly two podiums (podia?). Hulkenberg's grasping of opportunity must give heart to himself and his team, and I don't doubt that Vettel will be delighted to not only climb from 11th to 2nd but to do so ahead of all of his title rivals.
Here's how the drivers' title race stacks up:
And the Constructors':
Red Bull 272
I did say beforehand that I'd laid Red Bull for the Constructors', and even though they extended their lead by a point today I'm pretty comfortable with that. The pace in qualifying seemed off (may be due to lack of setup time but we'll find that out later) and whilst that didn't cost them much today (because Spa enables overtaking and half the top 10 failed to finish) that won't be the case at places like Singapore and Yas Marina.
The drivers' is harder to forecast because we don't know how Alonso and Hamilton would've done in the race. Could Button pull himself back into contention? Well, if he keeps driving like that, yes, but I'd be surprised if he did. It's possible, but not probable, I think.
After one great classic circuit, we've got another in just a week. We're off to Monza next weekend.