Simon Knights: Belgian Grand Prix Talking Points

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This weekend past saw the return of Formula One following the mid-season break, and with fresh minds and renewed concentration the F1 world turned its attentions to Spa-Francorchamps, one of the most highly-regarded circuits on the calendar.


In typical Spa fashion it was a weekend which looked to be dominated by the weather, but ultimately came down to the sublime driving of Jenson Button, and a mammoth pile-up on corner one.


Below are a handful of talking points from a momentus weekend.


Brilliant Button Shows He Has Not Given Up Yet


The headlines may focus on the pile up on corner one, but we should not let them detract from a sublime drive by Jenson Button. McLaren returned from the mid-season break, as they left off, with a commanding win, and this time it was Button who lead the way. The weekend truly belonged to the 2008 world champion, and his calmness throughout the weekend underlined just how good he can be on his day. Sadly for JB his form has been patchy this season, but if Spa is anything to go by, then he is still up for a championship fight.


First Corner Pile Up Creates More Problems For F1


The first corner pile-up was a terrible sight, and it was only by luck that it didn’t end more seriously. While Grosjean was solely to blame for the incident having essentially driven Hamilton off circuit and thus causing him to lose control, I genuinely do not believe that his recklessness was intentional. While his one-race ban is a contentious punishment, the incident is wholly preventable in the future.


It would perhaps be a little naïve to file it as a ‘racing incident’, but to me this seems like the perfect opportunity to educate drivers, rather than castigate them. Grosjean made an error of judgement in going for a gap that was never really there, but he is a racing driver after all.


Cockpits Should Remain The Same


Ayrton Senna’s tragic death in 1994 saw a huge overhaul in the safety of Formula One, and thankfully we have not seen a fatality in the sport since.


However, Sunday’s incident has sparked debate whether there should be further revision to the safety of the sport in relation to driver protection in the cockpit. One suggestion, which has repeatedly popped up, is of an enclosed cockpit.


For me this is a terrible idea.


One of the positives of open-seat racing is the ease of access to the driver in a major accident. Response time for race doctors is imperative when it comes to such incidents, and with the medical team having to contend with getting a driver out of a damaged cockpit could be the difference in serious injury becoming a fatality.


Vettel Perfectly Poised For Title Tilt


Jenson Button may have been the victor in Spa, but the real winner was Sebastian Vettel, who has been quietly working his way back up the championship standings.


His second place in Belgium marks his best result of the season since his one and only victory at Bahrain back in April, but the double world champion now finds himself second in the drivers’ championship, just 24 points off of Fernando Alonso.


The Spaniard’s DNF was a massive boost in Vettel’s chances of securing an incredible third straight championship, but he still has a lot to do with eight races remaining.


An inconsistent Red Bull, and persistent criticisms of his racing ability have hindered Vettel this season, but showing the hallmarks of a true champion he has brushed these aside and kept his attentions on the task at hand.


Hamilton May Rue Petulance As His Season Threatens To Sour


On Saturday it was petulant tweets commenting on Button’s set-up. On Sunday it was revealing pictures of sensitive telemetry for the world to see. Ultimately it was just another two episodes in the rollercoaster that is Lewis Hamilton’s 2012 season.


The British driver, undoubtedly talented, is at times his own worst enemy as he appears to be on a one-man crusade against the world.


Two race victories this campaign, and sitting pretty in fifth spot in the standings, Hamilton still has a shot at the drivers’ championship, but murmurings in the McLaren camp and continued self-sabotage are now starting to threaten what looked like a promising season.


When Hamilton focuses purely on racing, as we saw last time out in Hungary, he is near unbeatable, but with team-mate Button now hot on his heels and the drivers’ championship starting to slip out of his reach, he may rue some of his decisions come November.


For more Formula One chat, follow Simon Knights on Twitter @SimonKnights