Belfast Telegraph

Friday 28 November 2014

Formula One: Button sews up 'special victory' in Belgium

SPA, BELGIUM - SEPTEMBER 02: Jenson Button of Great Britain and McLaren celebrates in the paddock with his girlfriend Jessica Michibata and team mates after winning the Belgian Grand Prix at the Circuit of Spa Francorchamps on September 2, 2012 in Spa Francorchamps, Belgium. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
McLaren Mercedes driver Jenson Button of Britain, center, and his girlfriend Jessica Michibata, celebrate with the team, after he won the Belgian Formula One Grand Prix in Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium Sunday, Sept. 2, 2012. Red Bull driver Sebastian Vettel of Germany came second and Lotus driver Kimi Raikkonen of Finland was third. (AP Photo/Yves Logghe)
SPA, BELGIUM - SEPTEMBER 02: Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain and McLaren is catapulted into the air after crashing at the start of the Belgian Grand Prix at the Circuit of Spa Francorchamps on September 2, 2012 in Spa Francorchamps, Belgium. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
SPA, BELGIUM - SEPTEMBER 02: Fernando Alonso (front) of Spain and Ferrari and Lewis Hamilton (rear) of Great Britain and McLaren collide and crash out at the first corner at the start of the Belgian Grand Prix at the Circuit of Spa Francorchamps on September 2, 2012 in Spa Francorchamps, Belgium. (Photo by Ker Robertson/Getty Images)
SPA, BELGIUM - SEPTEMBER 02: Romain Grosjean of France and Lotus is catapulted into the air as he crashes at the first corner at the start of the Belgian Grand Prix at the Circuit of Spa Francorchamps on September 2, 2012 in Spa Francorchamps, Belgium. (Photo by Ker Robertson/Getty Images)
SPA, BELGIUM - SEPTEMBER 02: In this sequence of ten frames Romain Grosjean of France and Lotus is seen being catapulted into the air as he crashes at the first corner at the start of the Belgian Grand Prix at the Circuit of Spa Francorchamps on September 2, 2012 in Spa Francorchamps, Belgium. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
SPA, BELGIUM - SEPTEMBER 02: In this sequence of ten frames Romain Grosjean of France and Lotus is seen being catapulted into the air as he crashes at the first corner at the start of the Belgian Grand Prix at the Circuit of Spa Francorchamps on September 2, 2012 in Spa Francorchamps, Belgium. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
SPA, BELGIUM - SEPTEMBER 02: In this sequence of ten frames Romain Grosjean of France and Lotus is seen being catapulted into the air as he crashes at the first corner at the start of the Belgian Grand Prix at the Circuit of Spa Francorchamps on September 2, 2012 in Spa Francorchamps, Belgium. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
SPA, BELGIUM - SEPTEMBER 02: In this sequence of ten frames Romain Grosjean of France and Lotus is seen being catapulted into the air as he crashes at the first corner at the start of the Belgian Grand Prix at the Circuit of Spa Francorchamps on September 2, 2012 in Spa Francorchamps, Belgium. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
SPA, BELGIUM - SEPTEMBER 02: Fernando Alonso (front) of Spain and Ferrari and Lewis Hamilton (rear) of Great Britain and McLaren collide and crash out at the first corner at the start of the Belgian Grand Prix at the Circuit of Spa Francorchamps on September 2, 2012 in Spa Francorchamps, Belgium. (Photo by Ker Robertson/Getty Images)
SPA, BELGIUM - SEPTEMBER 02: Romain Grosjean (L) of France and Lotus and Fernando Alonso (R) of Spain and Ferrari collide and crash out at the first corner at the start of the Belgian Grand Prix at the Circuit of Spa Francorchamps on September 2, 2012 in Spa Francorchamps, Belgium. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
SPA, BELGIUM - SEPTEMBER 02: Romain Grosjean (L) of France and Lotus and Fernando Alonso (R) of Spain and Ferrari collide and crash out at the first corner at the start of the Belgian Grand Prix at the Circuit of Spa Francorchamps on September 2, 2012 in Spa Francorchamps, Belgium. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
SPA, BELGIUM - SEPTEMBER 02: Fernando Alonso (L) of Spain and Ferrari and Lewis Hamilton (R) of Great Britain and McLaren collide and crash out at the first corner at the start of the Belgian Grand Prix at the Circuit of Spa Francorchamps on September 2, 2012 in Spa Francorchamps, Belgium. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso of Spain, left, crashes with McLaren Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain, airborne right, during the first lap of the Belgium Formula One Grand Prix in Spa-Francorchamps circuit, Belgium, Sunday, Sept. 2, 2012. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)
Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso of Spain, in air right, crashes with McLaren Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain, yellow helmet extreme right, and Lotus driver Romain Grosjean of France, left, during the first lap of the Belgium Formula One Grand Prix in Spa-Francorchamps circuit , Belgium, Sunday, Sept. 2, 2012. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)
Lotus driver Romain Grosjean of France, right, crashes with Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso of Spain, airborne centre, and McLaren Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain, behind centre with yellow helmet, during the first lap of the Belgium Formula One Grand Prix in Spa-Francorchamps circuit, Belgium, Sunday, Sept. 2, 2012. (AP Photo/Yves Logghe)
McLaren Mercedes driver Jenson Button of Britain leads the field from the start, as McLaren Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain, left, crashes with Lotus driver Romain Grosjean of France, during the Belgium Formula One Grand Prix in Spa-Francorchamps circuit, Belgium, Sunday, Sept. 2, 2012. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)
Lotus driver Romain Grosjean of France, left, crashes with Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso of Spain, centre, during the first lap of the Belgium Formula One Grand Prix in Spa-Francorchamps circuit , Belgium, Sunday, Sept. 2, 2012. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)
SPA, BELGIUM - SEPTEMBER 02: Fernando Alonso of Spain and Ferrari crashes out at the first corner at the start of the Belgian Grand Prix at the Circuit of Spa Francorchamps on September 2, 2012 in Spa Francorchamps, Belgium. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
SPA, BELGIUM - SEPTEMBER 02: Fernando Alonso of Spain and Ferrari drives on the warm up laps before the Belgian Grand Prix at the Circuit of Spa Francorchamps on September 2, 2012 in Spa Francorchamps, Belgium. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)
SPA, BELGIUM - SEPTEMBER 02: Cars stand on the grid before the start of the Belgian Grand Prix at the Circuit of Spa Francorchamps on September 2, 2012 in Spa Francorchamps, Belgium. (Photo by Vladimir Rys/Getty Images)
SPA, BELGIUM - SEPTEMBER 02: Paul di Resta of Great Britain and Force India in action during the Belgian Grand Prix at the Circuit of Spa Francorchamps on September 2, 2012 in Spa Francorchamps, Belgium. (Photo by Vladimir Rys/Getty Images)
SPA, BELGIUM - SEPTEMBER 02: Jenson Button of Great Britain and McLaren drives during the Belgian Grand Prix at the Circuit of Spa Francorchamps on September 2, 2012 in Spa Francorchamps, Belgium. (Photo by Vladimir Rys/Getty Images)
SPA, BELGIUM - SEPTEMBER 02: Jenson Button of Great Britain and McLaren celebrates with his team after winning the Belgian Grand Prix at the Circuit of Spa Francorchamps on September 2, 2012 in Spa Francorchamps, Belgium. (Photo by Vladimir Rys/Getty Images)
SPA, BELGIUM - SEPTEMBER 02: Fernando Alonso of Spain and Ferrari, Sergio Perez of Mexico and Sauber (L) and Jenson Button of Great Britain and McLaren are pictured ahead of the Belgian Grand Prix at the Circuit of Spa Francorchamps on September 2, 2012 in Spa Francorchamps, Belgium. (Photo by Vladimir Rys/Getty Images)
SPA, BELGIUM - SEPTEMBER 02: Second placed Sebastian Vettel (R) of Germany and Red Bull Racing and third placed Kimi Raikkonen (L) of Finland and Lotus celebrates on the podium following the the Belgian Grand Prix at the Circuit of Spa Francorchamps on September 2, 2012 in Spa Francorchamps, Belgium. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
SPA, BELGIUM - SEPTEMBER 02: Race winner Jenson Button (R) of Great Britain and McLaren celebrates on the podium with second placed Sebastian Vettel (L) of Germany and Red Bull Racing following the the Belgian Grand Prix at the Circuit of Spa Francorchamps on September 2, 2012 in Spa Francorchamps, Belgium. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)
SPA, BELGIUM - SEPTEMBER 02: Felipe Massa (L) of Brazil and Ferrari and Bruno Senna (R) of Brazil and Williams drive side by side during the Belgian Grand Prix at the Circuit of Spa Francorchamps on September 2, 2012 in Spa Francorchamps, Belgium. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)
SPA, BELGIUM - SEPTEMBER 02: Kimi Raikkonen of Finland and Lotus celebrates finishing third during the Belgian Grand Prix at the Circuit of Spa Francorchamps on September 2, 2012 in Spa Francorchamps, Belgium. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
SPA, BELGIUM - SEPTEMBER 02: Sebastian Vettel of Germany and Red Bull Racing celebrates after finishing second during the Belgian Grand Prix at the Circuit of Spa Francorchamps on September 2, 2012 in Spa Francorchamps, Belgium. (Photo by Vladimir Rys/Getty Images)

Jenson Button had never won at Spa-Francorchamps, but he put that right yesterday with an emphatic victory on the majestic track that every driver loves. Steering clear of a tumultuous crash in the first corner which eliminated his team-mate Lewis Hamilton, World Championship points leader Fernando Alonso, Sergio Perez and Romain Grosjean, Button led every lap in a peerless display that left him beaming from ear to ear.

Amid cheers from the crowd, who saluted a very popular success, he said: "It was a perfect race. All weekend the car felt reasonably good. This was the first circuit we've come to which requires low downforce so we were able to try something different. To lead from start to finish gave me a very special victory. This is such a wonderful circuit, the way that it flows and all the history, so it's really nice to win here and to be part of that history now. This hasn't been the easiest year for me, so this was a very special weekend."



After the race the stewards banned Grosjean for one grand prix and fined him €50,000 (£40,000) for triggering the first-corner accident. It made him the first driver to be banned from a race since Michael Schumacher in 1994.



"I accept my mistake," Grosjean said. "I misjudged the gap to Lewis. I thought I was in front of him. It was a small mistake, but a big incident. I'm very sorry, and I'm just glad nobody is hurt. That's the main thing."



Initially Button was chased briefly by Nico Hulkenberg as the German took full advantage of the first-corner mêlée, but the Force India driver was overtaken by Michael Schumacher and the pre-event favourite Kimi Raikkonen.



Schumacher's Mercedes later faded with the loss of sixth gear and the need for a second tyre stop that the team had hoped to avoid.



Raikkonen's Lotus also disappointed. "The car was not very nice to drive for the whole race," Raikkonen said. "I wasn't expecting an easy race and it turned out to be very difficult. For the first few laps on new tyres the handling was good, then I would have no front-end or rear-end grip."



The Finn overtook Schumacher in the Bus Stop chicane on the 31st lap, only to be repassed immediately in the DRS zone after the Eau Rouge corner, but he finally made it stick with a dramatic pass on the entrance to Eau Rouge two laps later.



Theirs was but one of a series of close battles, but through it all Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull made up for a disastrous qualifying with a clever strategy which enabled Vettel to emulate Button's single pit stop and vault ahead to win a crucial 18 points back from Alonso.



"After the first corner probably I was the only one not to improve after a very poor start," Vettel said. "But after that the pace was there. I wanted to come in for fresh tyres, but the team said 'stay out' and that was the right strategy. It enabled us to come back and finish second. After the first lap nobody expected that. I'm very happy."



Vettel also defended Schumacher, who nearly caused an accident by cutting in front of him to head into the pits on the 19th lap. "I don't think he deserves a penalty," Vettel said. "It was nobody's fault, and we didn't hit. I'll talk to him and that's the way to deal with it. When I hit Jenson here two years ago, I called him and apologised. That's the way it should be in sport."



Pastor Maldonado was handed a five grid-place penalty for Monza for jumping the start, and another for a collision with Timo Glock.



Belgian grand prix race details



FIA Formula 1 Belgian Grand Prix, Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium



1 J Button (GB) McLaren 1hr 29mins 08.530secs



2 S Vettel (Ger) Red Bull 1:29:22.154



3 K Raikkonen (Fin) Lotus F1 Team 1:29:33.864



4 N Hulkenberg (Ger) Force India 1:29:36.373



5 F Massa (Br) Ferrari 1:29:38.375



6 M Webber (Aus) Red Bull 1:29:39.774



7 M Schumacher (Ger) Mercedes GP 1:30:01.904



8 J-E Vergne (Fr) Scuderia Toro Rosso 1:30:07.395



9 D Ricciardo (Aus) Scuderia Toro Rosso 1:30:11.512



10 P Resta (GB) Force India 1:30:12.313



11 N Rosberg (Ger) Mercedes GP 1:30:13.641



12 B Senna (Br) Williams 1:30:20.059



13 K Kobayashi (Japan) Sauber-Ferrari 1:31:04.649



14 V Petrov (Rus) Caterham at 1 lap



15 T Glock (Ger) Marussia at 1 lap



16 C Pic (Fr) Marussia at 1 lap



17 H Kovalainen (Fin) Caterham at 1 lap



18 P la Rosa (Sp) HRT-F1 at 1 lap



Not Classified: 19 Narain Karthikeyan (India) HRT-F1 29 laps completed, 20 Pastor Maldonado (Ven) Williams 4 laps completed, 21 Sergio Perez (Mex) Sauber-Ferrari 0 laps completed, 22 Fernando Alonso (Sp) Ferrari 0 laps completed, 23 Lewis Hamilton (GB) McLaren 0 laps completed, 24 Romain Grosjean (Fr) Lotus F1 Team 0 laps completed.



Championship Standings - Drivers: 1 F Alonso (Sp) Ferrari 164pts, 2 S Vettel (Ger) Red Bull 140, 3 M Webber (Aus) Red Bull 132, 4 K Raikkonen (Fin) Lotus F1 Team 131, 5 L Hamilton (GB) McLaren 117, 6 J Button (GB) McLaren 101, 7 N Rosberg (Ger) Mercedes GP 77, 8 R Grosjean (Fr) Lotus F1 Team 76, 9 S Perez (Mex) Sauber-Ferrari 47, 10 M Schumacher (Ger) Mercedes GP 35, 11 F Massa (Br) Ferrari 35, 12 K Kobayashi (Japan) Sauber-Ferrari 33, 13 N Hulkenberg (Ger) Force India 31, 14 P Maldonado (Ven) Williams 29, 15 P di Resta (GB) Force India 28, 16 B Senna (Br) Williams 24, 17 J-E Vergne (Fr) Scuderia Toro Rosso 8, 18 D Ricciardo (Aus) Scuderia Toro Rosso 4, 19 V Petrov (Rus) Caterham 0, 20 H Kovalainen (Fin) Caterham 0, 21 T Glock (Ger) Marussia 0, 22 C Pic (Fr) Marussia 0, 23 N Karthikeyan (India) HRT-F1 0, 24 P de la Rosa (Sp) HRT-F1 0.



Manufacturers: 1 Red Bull 272pts, 2 McLaren 218, 3 Lotus F1 Team 207, 4 Ferrari 199, 5 Mercedes GP 112, 6 Sauber-Ferrari 80, 7 Force India 59, 8 Williams 53, 9 Scuderia Toro Rosso 12, 10 Caterham 0, 11 Marussia 0, 12 HRT-F1 0.

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