2016 Belgium Thoughts
THE BIG PICTURE: Hamilton weathered the grid penalty storm, finding himself in an excellent position to ride out the year with another championship.
EVENT: The Dutch fans made this an even bigger event than usual. Look how many were there just on Friday. Look how many stayed around to watch the GP2 race. This is F1 country.
TRACK: Eau Rouge claims another. Those of you who think Eau Rouge is now "easy" with the current regulations should see what Kevin Magnussen has to say about that.
QUALIFYING: Rosberg has it easy ... sort of, Verstappen makes it interesting ... sort of, Raikkonen may have stolen pole ... sort of, and a Haas car just misses Q3 once again.
START: Rosberg says, 'seeya Maxie,' Verstappen completely blows his supersoft tire advantage, Vettel doesn't leave any room for anyone causing the inevitable collision, and Wehrlein pulls a Kvyat.
RACE: What was expected to be a ho hum race turned into quite an intriguing one.
ROSBERG: It's odd when a driver wins a race and had absolutely no control over his rival and yet you say he blew his chance. In the sense that this was an opportunity to leapfrog Hamilton in the standings, Nico did blow his chance. Even if he had no control over it and did exactly what he was supposed to do.
HAMILTON: Lewis can breathe a huge sigh of relief. Minimal damage from all the grid penalties, still leading the championship, and is set for the year with his power plant supplies.
ALONSO: Considering his equipment compared to Hamilton's, no doubt it was Fernando who put in the drive of the day coming from last place to seventh.
MCLAREN: It really looks like the McLaren-Honda is respectably competitive now.
RICCIARDO: A fantastic race for Daniel.
VERSTAPPEN: Drove like the 18-year-old he is.
VETTEL: Say what you want Sebastian, but the steering wheel in your hand turned in when there wasn't room.
RAIKKONEN: The proverbial pinball throughout the race.
FERRARI: They continue to find new ways to throw races away while they continue to get slower and slower. A horrible combination.
HULKENBERG: Another impressive race by Nico, but still no career podiums.
PEREZ: Still looking very strong as he lobbies for a better seat.
FORCE INDIA: However, Force India is turning out to be a solid seat this year.
WILLIAMS: They keeping falling and falling. Now, they are behind Force India who has all sorts of financial question marks. Williams is supposed to be the more established team, financially, technically, and driver talent.
HAAS: It's going to get even tougher for HAAS with McLaren making huge strides, Force India looking strong, and Williams cannot be counted out just yet.
TORO ROSSO: On the other hand, junior Red Bull may have gotten the most out of a year old Ferrari spec engine. They may as well work on next year's car at this stage.
SAINZ: A "friendly fire" victim of the first lap.
MAGNUSSEN: Kevin has to be the sorest person on the planet today.
OCON: Remember, Esteban beat Max Verstappen for the 2014 FIA Formula 3 Championship, with nine wins, 21 podiums, and 15 poles. Then, Ocon won the GP3 Championship the following year. The only difference is Mercedes had no place to put their junior driver, while Red Bull had an opening at Toro Rosso.
GASLY: Pierre Gasly is now starting to take control of GP2 with his third victory. He is already a Red Bull junior driver, so is he destined to take Kvyat's spot next year? Then, there's Wehrlein and Ocon in a holding pattern on Manor with Stoffel Vandoorne waiting in the wings and of course Verstappen already set. There are too many talented young drivers for too few (decent) seats.
GP2: These guys are nuts. Certifiably insane. Making passing moves going into Eau Rouge. Making passing moves going through Eau Rouge. Heck, once two guys went through Eau Rouge side-by-side banging wheels! Crazy.
FIA: Were the Stewards just enjoying the free buffet? What was their purpose at this race? How could they not even consider Alonso's release to be dangerous as he "raced" down the mechanics' lane, nearly clipping one of them and then hitting Hulkenberg's right rear wheel? How could they not consider Verstappen making a blatent illegal blocking attempt at nearly 200 mph?
WORD OF THE WEEKEND: Dangerous.
STAT OF THE WEEKEND: 0 -- The number of hard laps Lewis Hamilton ran in qualifying because when you are facing a 55-grid penalty ... well ... why bother?
HISTORICAL STAT OF THE WEEKEND: Twenty-five years ago, Bertrand Gachot was a hot up and coming driver. Michael Schumacher was a young driver on the Mercedes sportscar team. Then, Gachot whipped out a can of mace and sprayed a London cabby during an altercation after a traffic accident. Next thing he knew, Gachot was serving jail time, his fans started a Free Gachot campaign, and Eddie Jordan called Schumacher to fill in at Spa (after Mercedes paid Jordan $150,000 for the ride). Just like that, he suddenly became Bertrand who?
QUOTE OF THE WEEKEND: Nico Rosberg's reaction when he learned Lewis Hamilton worked his way all the way up to a third place finish, "What! Seriously?"
QUOTE OF THE WEEKEND RUNNERUP: Kimi Raikkonen seems resigned to the fact that only a big accident will teach Max Verstappen a lesson in driving etiquette, "Maybe it needs an accident before things get more clear to everybody. Fighting hard is fine but something like that should not be correct."
SCHEDULE: Has there ever been such a huge pressure cooking situation for Ferrari heading into their home grand prix with the season becoming a bigger disappointment at race by race? We would not want to be in their shoes...
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