In his latest exclusive feature on Crash.net, David Tremayne - three time Guild of Motoring Writers Journalist of the Year Award winner and multi-award winning F1 author - takes a look back over the Belgian Grand Prix and a dominant success for Sebastian Vettel…
It says everything about the level of domination that Sebastian Vettel
and Red Bull
Racing enjoyed at Spa-Francorchamps that it surprised even them.
Beaten in a topsy-turvy qualifying session by the skill and tenacity of Lewis Hamilton, Vettel took less than 30 seconds to deprive the polesitter of the lead. The Red Bull
was way faster through Eau Rouge, and simply drove past Hamilton's Mercedes as if somebody had chained it to the fence.
In practice Hamilton had said his W04 was 'all over the road', and clearly its low downforce set-up was nothing like as comfortable as the high downforce configuration with which he had beaten Red Bull
Hamilton and Mercedes came to Spa knowing that they needed to beat Vettel if they are to maintain a realistic chance of stopping him claiming a fourth World Championship. They left ever more aware of the size of that mountain.
So did Ferrari. There were signs of improvement in the F138 in practice, in dry conditions. But qualifying was a disaster, and the red cars started alongside each other on the fifth row. Alonso's remarkable race skills saw him drive another beautiful race to take second place, however, leaving Hamilton in his dust.
But Ferrari, too, knows that it has to take a much bigger step forward than it did in Belgium if the 2013 World Champion is to be Spanish.
The most worrying aspect of Spa, from rivals' points of view, was that Red Bull
is traditionally a little off the pace in low downforce configuration. But not this time. The RB9 has phenomenal handling and excellent mechanical grip, and this time Vettel simply blitzed his opposition.
But for another poor start, Mark Webber
would have been a lot higher than fifth. This time it was a clutch problem that blighted his chances even before the start, and the slippage off the line left him fighting his way back for the rest of the afternoon.