Jenson Button has cruised to victory in a Belgian Grand Prix that featured a frightening first corner incident involving championship leader Fernando Alonso.
The Ferrari driver was the innocent victim in a multi-car collision triggered by Romain Grosjean veering into the path of Lewis Hamilton in the race’s opening metres. The out-of-control Lotus and McLaren then collided with Alonso and the Saubers of Sergio Perez and Kamui Kobayashi as the trio attempted to round La Source. Kobayashi was the only driver able to continue in the race, with the others lucky to simply walk away unscathed.
Ahead of the drama, pole-sitter Button was never seriously threatened, running a one-stop strategy to eventually lead home Sebastian Vettel by 13.6s.
From 10th on the grid, Vettel had emerged from Turn 1 in just 12th position, leaving Red Bull to switch the German to a one-stopper. A strong first stint enabled the two-time champion to emerge from his tyre change in fifth place before rising to second as all of those ahead, with the exception of Button, pitted for a second time.
Kimi Raikkonen took the chequered flag 11.7s adrift of Vettel to round out the podium. Running second early, Raikkonen soon lost position to Nico Hulkenberg and Michael Schumacher before an early first pitstop locked the Finn into a two-stop afternoon.
Raikkonen’s chances of pressuring Vettel on the run to the flag were dashed when the Lotus driver found himself stuck behind Schumacher’s Mercedes. The German had appeared to be planning on stopping just the once, but a lack of pace in his second stint eventually led to a second trip to pitlane and a final finishing position of seventh.
Hulkenberg cemented an impressive run with fourth place ahead of Felipe Massa, who passed Mark Webber in the closing stages. Webber spent much of the second half of the race stuck behind Hulkenberg as a lack of straight-line speed ensured a difficult afternoon for the Australian.
Jean-Eric Vergne and Daniel Ricciardo scored solid points for Toro Rosso in eighth and ninth respectively, while Paul di Resta also made it a double points finish for Force India.
It was another difficult day meanwhile for Pastor Maldonado, who added to the early excitement by jumping the start and subsequently spinning ahead of the fracas at the exit of Turn 1. The Williams driver would retire on the restart after further contact with Timo Glock.
Narain Karthikeyan would later join the healthy retirements list with a spin into the barriers around the back of the circuit. The Indian had earlier endured a minor pitlane collision with Heikki Kovalainen, whose own race included two spins on the way to 17th place.
At the front of the field, the results see Vettel move ahead of Webber to take second in the championship standings, with the German now just 24 points behind Alonso. Webber is a further 12 points back in third, while Raikkonen has now overtaken Hamilton for fourth.
The Formula 1 World Championship now heads to Monza for next weekend’s Italian Grand Prix.
See below for the full race result
|2||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull Racing-Renault||44||+13.6 secs||10||18|
|3||Kimi Räikkönen||Lotus-Renault||44||+25.3 secs||3||15|
|4||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India-Mercedes||44||+27.8 secs||11||12|
|5||Felipe Massa||Ferrari||44||+29.8 secs||14||10|
|6||Mark Webber||Red Bull Racing-Renault||44||+31.2 secs||12||8|
|7||Michael Schumacher||Mercedes||44||+53.3 secs||13||6|
|8||Jean-Eric Vergne||STR-Ferrari||44||+58.8 secs||15||4|
|9||Daniel Ricciardo||STR-Ferrari||44||+62.9 secs||16||2|
|10||Paul di Resta||Force India-Mercedes||44||+63.7 secs||9||1|
|11||Nico Rosberg||Mercedes||44||+65.1 secs||23|
|12||Bruno Senna||Williams-Renault||44||+71.5 secs||17|
|13||Kamui Kobayashi||Sauber-Ferrari||44||+1 Lap||2|
|14||Vitaly Petrov||Caterham-Renault||43||+1 Lap||19|
|15||Timo Glock||Marussia-Cosworth||+1 Lap||20|
|16||Charles Pic||Marussia-Cosworth||+1 Lap||22|
|17||Heikki Kovalainen||Caterham-Renault||+1 Lap||18|
|18||Pedro de la Rosa||HRT-Cosworth||+1 Lap||21|
|Ret||Narain Karthikeyan||HRT-Cosworth||+15 Lap||24|
|Ret||Pastor Maldonado||Williams-Renault||+40 Laps||6|
|Ret||Sergio Perez||Sauber-Ferrari||+ secs||4|
|Ret||Fernando Alonso||Ferrari||+ secs||5|
|Ret||Lewis Hamilton||McLaren-Mercedes||+ secs||7|
|Ret||Romain Grosjean||Lotus-Renault||+ secs||8|
See below for the updated championship standings
|15||Paul di Resta||28|
|24||Pedro de la Rosa||0|