We are back after the long summer break everyone, back at the most beautiful track we have on the calendar. Arden is right after COTA in my heart in terms of how amazing the race is to behold. It is often claimed that Monaco is the crown jewel of the F1 season, but I have to argue that while it lacks the glitz and glamor of the opulence of the Principality it makes up for it in shear speed and difficulty. The track in the Arden, a mysterious forest full of the echoes of decades of racing.
With the summer break over, the silly season in high gear, and hopes of a Honda Resurgence, SPA was always going to be a weekend to watch. The weekend was clouded in rumors about the future of Lotus F1, as they appear to be in more money trouble. Red Bull looks to be gunning for a Mercedes power plant, making the current relationship with their French friends at Renault even more strained. Will Renault let Red Bull go and buy Lotus? Time will tell. That and HAAS F1 still has yet to name their driver lineup, giving the driver market even more of a question mark. One big hole in the market has been filled however: Ferrari went against speculation and decided to take up Kimi’s 2016 option, leaving the iceman one more confirmed year in the sport. This of course means Bottas is suspected to stay at Williams for the next year.
With all that settled, the racing began. Free Practice session has a few unfortunate moments, such as Rosberg suffering a massive blowout at 200 MPH, barely avoiding the walls. That and Pastor Maldonado making an amazing save. Just kidding, he binned it after giving it too much gas on a kerb. That Lotus took a heavy beating, and set them back massively for the rest of that day. That combined with Romain needing a new gearbox, it was a rough start to the weekend for Lotus.
Also a rough weekend for McLaren, after high hopes for more power, they together racked up a 105 grid spot penalty. Yes. Five plus F1 grids worth of penalties for using as many engines as they could this weekend, hoping to use full power engines for each session they could. A flashback to the early 2000’s where everyone was swapping engines all the time, using single engines for each session. But, not even a V12 could help Fernando and Jenson this weekend, with both of them firmly back at the end of the grid.
Qualifying was shocking to say the least. Ferrari’s out of place due to speed and failures, and the Lotus duo was up there in Q3 with both cars. And the Williams of Bottas were the winners of Q3. That and the Mercedes duo locking the out the front row meant it was all to play for at the start.
I’m not going to go into too much detail of the race because, like Hungary before it, is must watch racing. Hard charging from Romain Grosjean, Max Verstappen, and Vettel meant that there was always something to watch. That plus a few notable breakdowns and a blowout late in the race meant it was edge of your seat racing from start to finish. Please, please, do yourself a favor and go back and watch this race. You won’t be disappointed.
And finally this week, I would like to extend my heartfelt sentiments to Justin Wilson’s family and friends. It is cruel that a head injury has taken another great driver. We must do something to prevent these head injuries, and not lose another driver. I hope everyone reading this has a safe and happy week, and consider giving to the trust fund for Justin’s kids.
Wilson Children’s Fund, c/o INDYCAR, 4551 W. 16th St., Indianapolis, IN 46222
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