January 7, 2009

The Turning Point: Spa 2008

Looking back at the past season you could argue the Belgian Grand Prix was the moment when everything changed.   Ferrari finally realized its number one driver was not going to work out at the same time when Lewis Hamilton needlessly incurred a controversial penalty which would set the stage for  the closest season finish ever with Felipe Massa.

Kimi Raikkonen drove very well at Spa, he was decisive and made a valiant final stab at holding on to his #1 status. It would all have worked too, the Finn was well in control of the race until rain came in the final laps and Ferrari ran up against its major issue of the 2008 season: the inability to get enough heat in the tires.  In the rain, with dry weather tires, Hamilton had a better performing car, the grip conditions were so horrible that even a tiny advantage was the key to his being able to keep it, mostly, on the road.

This is a post for the seriously addicted, it is the complete race from onboard cameras, from warm-up lap to victory lane. If you are sick like me you will watch the whole thing, if not, you might skip about 1hr and 20 minutes in and see the incident everyone talked about endlessly.   I think it's pretty clear cut but I'll refrain from further comment save to say that watching the last few laps from closer to the driver's prospective, I have nothing but increased admiration for all. They may as well have been driving on ice.

As an aside, I wonder how many would join me and petition for live multicasting of Grand Prix to be available World Wide. I would happily pay to have a service like Germany's Premiere or Italy's Sky TV offer, especially if available reliably via the web.

You'll find the clip after the jump.


  1. Hi!

    Spa 2008 was just amazing. And you have a point - Massa took that win (even though I'm sure he didn't feel good about it) and perhaps without that win, he wouldn't have been in contention for the title in the final round.

    Kimi was just amazing, for the first time since...say...2005, we saw the Flying Finn again. He still struggled in qualifying, he admitted he made a mistake in sector 2. But starting 4th on the grid, he had a fantastic race taking the lead. It felt so good, as a Kimi fan.

    It was like going to heaven and hell though, the ending was just ARGH! So much adrenalin both Kimi and Lewis had in those final few laps so I do applaud their races, even if they made little mistakes. As you said, it was more like an ice skating championship! Kimi did fine, considering how the F2008 was in the wet all season, just not at Spa. Kimi got heavily criticized after Spa, as if he can't drive in the wet. We all know that's not true. Lewis went off twice as well. Kimi just slipped out of the corner exit/crashed after losing the lead, he was pushing as much as he could, he wanted the win and not second place. And that's what racing should be about!

    p.s about the chicane incident, well, I've had enough of that subject too (having written and discussed it a lot on my own website). I just want to say, Lewis made the mistake by attempting to pass on the outside like that. Watch his previous races and racing, he's either always messed it up or cut the chicane (France 2008?). Kimi braked slightely early because he was being cautious with his not-very-good-in-the-wet Ferrari. Then Lewis could have followed Kimi around, in hindsight it's easy to say, but the fact that he didn't really lift off on the straight supports the following fact that he had an advantage into the first corner to pass. It's such a short straight - he wouldn't have passed Kimi if he followed around the chicane.

    It was damn good to watch though. Hope we get to see more racing like this in 2009! (With Hamilton a bit more respectful and professional though)

  2. I was fortunate to attend Spa this year and can say first hand that my heart was wrenched in the most vicious fashion imaginable.

    Sitting at Eau Rouge, next to a polite but fanatic British couple who probably don't even watch nor care for F1 aside from their nationalistic obsession for Hamilton, I saw the storm clouds brewing and actually joked half way through that the rain would come with 3 laps to go. Ugh. I could shoot myself for making that claim.

    I don't particularly care for what anyone thinks, I'll come right out and state what I believe. Hamilton had absolutely no claim at Bus Stop and therefore he had no claim that Kimi had pushed him off. The whole situation was the ridiculous result of an over eager pretender to the crown, who could've easily overtaken Raikkonen anywhere in the ensuing laps. Had he waited to their next approach at Les Combes he'd have netted his victory, but of course Hamilton revels in presenting himself as "persecuted."

    Anyway, Kimi drove like The World Champion that he was, and despite the horror that followed I will take to my grave the simple fact that he just didn't sit in that cockpit and accept it . . . he fought back with every ounce of gumption in his being against a lesser driver who simply stole the moment with the benefit of a better car developed by his former teammate who now drives for Renault.

    Bring on '09

  3. The funniest thing about the last ten minutes or so are how fast they go by in this video. I remember watching the Spa race thinking the last few laps went on for what felt like hours but then it's over so quick on this.

  4. As both Jim and Evenstar is saying that Hamilton was too eager to take the nr1 position. Hamilton hade made up much ground in a few laps and he would have easely overtake Kimi during next lap.

    The incident where the williams car came on the track again was making me angry. Stupid of hamilton to take the outside but more stupid from the williams side!

    I ain't a Kimi fan but seeing him drive like that showed me why he won the 2007 title. I think as many others that without this incident Massa wouldn't be at a place where he almos to the 2008 title.

    Thanks for a wounderfull site! Although it's really hard to study when you post clips like this!

  5. I think my favorite moment is on lap 2 when Kimi passes Hamilton after E.R., adjusts his engine maps and looks over at the Mclaren...all while doing probably 180 mph on a slippy track... awesome moment there.

  6. I thought at first that the penalty given to Hamilton was unjust, but after watching his onboard it is clear that he doesn't lift after cutting the chicane. One could argue that that was where he gave the lead back to Raikkonen, but it's not true. Hamilton had one wheel on the grass, so he had to lift. Once back on track, he had the hammer down all the way to La Source.

    Thanks AOO, what a great way to watch a race. Also being sick, I watched the whole thing with a smile of admiration and a long lunch!

  7. @AC: Yeah I agree! Even earlier on in the race when Kimi passed Lewis after Eau Rouge for the lead, he quite literally single-handedly made that move as he was using one hand to adjust probably the braking bias as they ran up to the next corner. (It happens all the time but it just looked funny through the onboard camera)

    @Toby: McLaren said they gave evidence to the FIA/stewards showing telemetry that Hamilton did lift off or 'give' the lead back. I seriously doubt that's true. He was already planning of making the move even before Kimi got infront of him - cheeky bugger! lol sometimes watching Hamilton is like he races as if he's on the Playstation or something. Granted he has a talent and is quick, but he lacks dicipline and maturity and wisdom. Yes, he's a rookie too, but he made far more mistakes in his second F1 season than his debut season, ironically.

    I agree with other sentiments here that he perhaps felt too eager to pass, when he really could have done it all in once nice sweep like Kimi did on him, on a straight. Easy.

  8. first of all: i luve teaxis, and i'm as crazy as you (mening watching full racen from onbopard with natural sound)

    abdout this race: well. in my view the williams that parked in the midlle of the ideal line forced kimi to go wide and subsequently crash.


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