Felipe Massa wins the 2008 Belgium Grand Prix! In a race rife with passing, strategy, changing conditions and ultimately rain in the last two laps; it was edge-of-the-seat racing for the entire 44 laps.The race seemed all but concluded with Kimi Raikkonen, 3-time Spa winner, passed Lewis Hamilton on lap two after Hamilton spun at La Source. But in the waning moments of the race, Lewisâ€™s advantage on the prime tire started to show. He reeled Kimi in and as the rain came down with two laps to go it turned into a battle of the titans.
Kimi was doing all he could to hold Lewis off. Both drivers gingerly driving dry-weather tires in the rain were nose to tail in the final laps of the race. Two laps from the end, Hamilton made a move on the entry of Bus Stop chicane, and collided with Kimi Raikkonen as they battled for the lead.
Kimi pushed Lewis wide on to the run-off area where he short-cut the chicane and resumed in the lead. Lewis, according to Ron Dennis, was told immediately to let Raikkonen through, fearing a penalty from race stewards. As Kimi re-took the lead, Lewis immediately tucked under Kimiâ€™s tail, used the slipstream effect and overtook Kimi within several feet as they approached La Source (the very next corner).
Eventually Kimi, admittedly not settling for anything less than a win, pressed too hard and placed his Ferrari in the wall and out of contention. This left Lewis as the winner, Felipe Massa in second and through a brilliant strategy of a late stop for intermediate tires; Nick Heidfeld finished third.
Stewards for the Belgium Grand Prix reviewed their video footage of the incident between Kimi and Lewis and found that Lewis had not fully relinquished the lead to Kimi. He merely let Kimi pass when he tucked under his tail and slipstreamed his way past Kimi for the position. Cutting a chicane must gain a driver no unfair advantage on the driver in front of him. The stewards felt that Lewis had not only eliminated the gap between them but used the proximity to gain an advantage in passing for the win. They penalized Lewis a drive-through penalty which equated to 25 seconds being added to his final time as the race was concluded. This relegated Lewis to third place.
The penalty has not helped Kimi Raikkonen at all and perhaps his bullish attitude about not accepting second place has cost him a victory. If Kimi would have remained calm, took second behind Lewis; the race would be his and the championship a completely different complexion. As it is, Felipe Mass has climbed within two points of Lewis Hamilton going in to the last five races with Kimi being passed by Robert Kubica for third in the standings.
While many have groused about a lack of passing in F1, I can tell you that this race was replete with passing and terrific racing. A lot of that has to do with the track and should be a clear reminder to the organizers that the current model of Tilke-designed tracks has left us wanting in the enjoyment arena. Spa has been the most exciting race of the season and is it any wonder that the nearly 4 mile long track would produce what was once best in F1; real racing! Real passing! Real driver input! Real strategy and team tactics!
1. Massa Ferrari 2. Heidfeld BMW Sauber 3. Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 4. Alonso Renault 5. Vettel Toro Rosso-Ferrari 6. Kubica BMW Sauber 7. Bourdais Toro Rosso-Ferrari 8. Webber Red Bull-Renault 9. Glock Toyota 10. Kovalainen McLaren-Mercedes 11. Coulthard Red Bull-Renault 12. Rosberg Williams-Toyota 13. Sutil Force India-Ferrari 14. Nakajima Williams-Toyota 15. Button Honda 16. Trulli Toyota 17. Fisichella Force India-Ferrari 18. Raikkonen Ferrari