Published on September 5th, 2012 | by Tom Hibbs0
Button’s luck improves in Belgium
After the summer break Fernando Alonso was on top of the Drivers Championship with a comfortable 40-point lead over his closest rival Mark Webber, with last year’s champion Sebastian Vettel trailing his Red Bull teammate by just two points. And it’s Red Bull that lead the Constructors Championship with an incredible 246-point lead over McLaren, who follow 53 points behind with 193, just one point ahead of Lotus in third.
During qualifying, Jenson Button showed that despite his bad luck this season he wasn’t going to give up, as he secured 1st on the grid – his first in 60 Grand Prixs. There was, though, disappointment for Mark Webber – although he was the seventh fastest driver he was demoted by five places on the grid for an unscheduled gear box change.
As soon as the race was underway, Lewis Hamilton of McLaren collided with Romain Grosjean, as the Lotus driver attempted to pass. The two cars went spinning off the track together, hitting several other cars, including Sauber’s Kamui Kobayashi, and knocking Fernando Alonso into the air. The crash obviously meant the safety car had to be released, freezing the drivers in their current positions, in order for the stewards to clear the debris. A disappointing and very, very early end to the four drivers: Lewis Hamilton, Fernando Alonso, Kamui Kobayashi and Romain Grosjean, and it was later revealed that Sauber’s second driver Sergio Perez was also unable continue due to part of the rear portion of his vehicle being removed in the crash. A salutary reminder of how uncontrolled and dangerous this sport really is.
Button, surviving the first corner, kept the lead he attained during qualifying and amassed a comfortable amount of ground ahead of Force India’s Niko Hulkenburg. At this point Williams driver Pastor Maldonado was forced to retire after losing most of his front wing.
Button was able to keep hold of his lead throughout the rest of the race, only losing it to pit but regaining it soon after. Crossing the lead in 1st, with Kimi Raikkonen in 2nd and Sebastian Vettel close in 3rd.
Button undoubtedly drove well, but the question remains: would he have won if three of his main rivals weren’t forced out in the beginning? Fernando Alonso, Romain Grosjean and teammate Lewis Hamilton were all forced to quit the race after the horrific crash on the first corner, could it have been one of those three who took the lead from Button, who, it has to be said, has been a big underachiever this season.
Commiserations must go to the drivers involved in the crash but that’s just the nature of the capricious beast that F1 is, and this win could be the boost that Button needs to be able to start winning more races this season. Better late than never.