We know it's been barely over a month, but it sure seems like a lot longer since the last Formula One race. At the end of July, Fernando Alonso lead the standings ahead of Mark Webber, Sebastian Vettel, Lewis Hamilton and Kimi Raikkonen after eleven of twenty grands prix were completed this season.

By now the drivers and their teams should be well rested after a month-long summer break, but it's back to work as the championship resumed this weekend with the Belgian Grand Prix from the indispensable Spa Francorchamps circuit. Keep reading to see how round twelve went down.
Saturday's qualifying session saw former world champion Jenson Button land on pole for the first time since moving to McLaren two years ago. With all the champs on the grid, however, it was Sauber's Kamui Kobayashi who landed second. Williams' Pastor Maldonado placed third, but a penalty for impeding qualifying bumped him down three places and Kimi Raikkonen, who has made Spa his own, was elevated to third.

Sergio Perez and Fernando Alonso landed fourth and fifth, respectively, followed by Maldonado, Lewis Hamilton, Romain Grosjean, Paul di Resta and defending champion Sebastian Vettel, rounding out the top ten as his team-mate Mark Webber was bumped down to twelfth for a gearbox change. Michael Schumacher qualified in 13th and Felipe Massa 14th.



Once the race got underway today, however, all bets were off. Heading into the corner known as La Source, a huge pile-up immediately took Grosjean, Alonso, Hamilton and Perez out of the race with no major injuries reported. The safety car was deployed with Button lead the weaving field behind it as Schumacher advanced from 13th to 5th in the commotion and Hulkenberg up to 3rd from 11th.

With the safety car in at the start of lap 5, Hulkenberg cinched past Raikkonen for second place as Schumacher overtook di Resta for fourth. Vettel then overtook Massa for tenth and team-mate Webber for ninth as Button remained in the lead. As the first round of pit stops got underway Vettel seized the opportunity to advance all the way to third.




Button, Vettel and Scumacher all waited nearly to the half-way point to make their first pit stops, the McLaren driver re-emerging in the lead after a blisteringly fast stop.

Lap 32 saw Narain Karthikeyan spin off and lose a wheel to a hungry tire wall, just before a resurgent Raikkonen took third from Schumacher in a hard-fought back-and-forth that re-staked Raikkonen's claim as the master of Eau Rouge. Hulkenberg then eased past Schumacher as well as Mercedes apparently switched him from a one-stop strategy to two.

Massa then passed Webber for fifth in the battle of the leading teams' "other" drivers as Vettel held on to second, 14 seconds adrift of Button with Alonso still watching from the garage.



Across the finish line after 44 laps, Button took a commanding win from pole, with Vettel coming second in a remarkable climb up the field and Raikkonen in fine form at his favorite track, rounding out the podium.

The remaining points went to deserving Hulkenberg, Massa, Webber, Schumacher, Vergne, Ricciardo and di Resta.

Pastor Maldonado was retroactively penalized ten places for a collision with Timo Glock, but the greater penalty went to Romain Grosjean. The Lotus driver was banned for the next race after having been deemed responsible for the opening pile-up.

2012 Belgian Grand Prix

The results leave Fernando Alonso still in a commanding lead despite having been taken out of the race, with Vettel in second, Webber in third and Raikkonen just one point behind in fourth. Red Bull retains its lead in the constructors' standings, with McLaren in second, Lotus in third and Ferrari in fourth. The race resumes with the Italian Grand Prix (but without Romain Grosjean) next week from Monza.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 15 Comments
      Justin B.
      • 2 Years Ago
      Grosjean and Maldonado have done some real damage this year.
      Narom
      • 2 Years Ago
      The onboard camera of alonso was scary, took his time to get out of the car, not surprised! Inches from death. 7 first lap incidents in 12 races, Grosjean is playing a very dangerous game. Also, Maldonado was given 5 place drop for the jump start and 5 for the crash, not 10 like you reported.
        MotionDesigner
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Narom
        From the slow motion video replay, which has a reasonably high frame rate for slow motion, Maldonado did not appear to jump start. I'm surprised he got penalized for that.
          mrbucket777
          • 2 Years Ago
          @MotionDesigner
          He 100% jumped the start, check the screen shot from Hamilton's onboard. http://i.imgur.com/Fkbhk.jpg
      mid engine madness
      • 2 Years Ago
      There was some good racing in America today too.
      gtv4rudy
      • 2 Years Ago
      The start was a disaster from Maldonado's jump start to the wreck into the 1st corner. It was pure luck Alonso wasn't seriously hurt or worse from Grosjean's flying car. Why F1 has to have a very tight corner on so many tracks after the start of the F1 races I don't know.
        Narom
        • 2 Years Ago
        @gtv4rudy
        The only option on that track would be to move to the other side of the corner, would you prefer Eau Rouge to be the first corner? 10x worse.
          Autoblogist
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Narom
          ^^^Its the distance of the the corner from the start, whether sharp or less curve , car usually by the first corner are still fighting closely for position. Unless the start is a very long straight to separate the speed wise , it will be the same results. The first corner is just a part of racing and some drivers are more aware of who's around them than others. I like Grosjean, I think his starts are just the worst part of his driving, when the race gets under way, he shows great skills. Oh well, I think it's a matter of time before canopies are enforce. Alonso was dangerously clo
        ufgrat
        • 2 Years Ago
        @gtv4rudy
        Thing is, Grosjean thought he was past Hamilton, and swerved into Hamilton's path while still on the straight... He could have just as easily been setting up for a high speed corner, but he (and everyone else) would have been moving much faster, and the chances for injury would have been much higher. Was a rookie mistake on Grosjean's part-- While not all seven early-race incidents he's been involved in this season were his fault, that's still a really bad average for disastrous starts.
      Autolyst
      • 2 Years Ago
      Maldonado did not appear to jump start
        ufgrat
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Autolyst
        Even Maldanado admitted the clutch slipped out of his hand as the lights went out.
        mrbucket777
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Autolyst
        He definitely did. I saw someone post a shot from Hamilton's onboard camera and Maldonado is about 5 feet out of the starting box with the red lights still on. It was insanely close and impossible to tell in real time though.
          mrbucket777
          • 2 Years Ago
          @mrbucket777
          Forgot the link http://i.imgur.com/Fkbhk.jpg
      Shahul X
      • 2 Years Ago
      I still ant tell if it really was a jump start.. Sure did look it from maladanado. Replay shows it may not have been... That wreck was scary.. Glad nobody was hurt.. Not a Lewis Hamilton fan but I felt bad for him as well as Alonso etc...
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