JAMES ALLEN'S VERDICT
This was a dull and processional race, about as exciting as watching Colin Kolles get ready for bed.
But it did have a terrific start, with Hamilton and Alonso side-by-side into Eau Rouge.
It is well known that there is only one line into the world’s most famous corner and a few brave souls have perished trying to disprove that theory.
The trouble started at La Source, where Hamilton tried to go around the outside of Alonso.
The Spaniard was having none of it and pushed Lewis out wide, before diving back inside to take his line into the apex and having a go at Massa.
That failed and then he had to deal with Hamilton who was coming up fast on his left as they accelerated down the hill.
Alonso pushed Hamilton off the track, over the kerb and the fake grass strip and onto the wide Tarmac run-off area.
Hamilton did not lift and when he came back on track he was a half a car length in front – but, crucially, on the wrong line for Eau Rouge.
Undeterred, he entered the corner side-by-side with his team-mate, but soon realised he would be launched into space if he tried to stay there and so he lifted off.
Thereafter he was unable to mount a challenge and he finished a rather disappointed fourth.
Afterwards he wailed about Alonso’s tactics. “He threw his car at me!” he said.
There has been a slightly worrying trend for Lewis since Silverstone.
This was the third time in five races that he has not made it onto the podium and he has now dropped 12 points to his team-mate in that period.
Alonso always said that he would be stronger in the second half of the season once he was fully up to speed with the Bridgestone tyres and comfortable with his new team and his new car.
He looks like he’s wearing the car now, so his pace is very strong, but he must be very thick-skinned if he does not feel the animosity towards his from sections of the McLaren team.
But today he bore out Ron Dennis’ words when describing Alonso’s confrontation with him in Hungary, which led to all the trouble at the World Council. Ron said “competitive animals know no limits”.
We have learned a lot about Alonso this year, not all of it nice, but there is no doubt that he is a formidable competitor.
This is a man’s game and although Lewis was angry with Alonso’s driving at the start, he will be forced to recognise that he has to give as good as he gets if he is to beat the Spaniard.
Split down the middle
This is now the ‘squeaky bum’ part of the championship. Alonso’s been here twice before and both times he held his nerve and came out as world champion.
It looks like he’s going to do it again this year unless Lewis can dig deep and find some new strength.
But Lewis is now suffering from the lack of cooperation from the other side of the garage on set-up. Alonso is keeping his data to himself and his experience is making the difference at the moment.
Once Lewis has a couple of years of experience under his belt he’ll be a match for Alonso, but right now he’s in desperate need of a boost from somewhere.
It will be no disgrace to finish second to Alonso in his first season. But after all that has gone on behind the scenes at McLaren this year, especially with the extraordinary confrontation between Alonso and Dennis at the Hungarian Grand Prix, it will be hard for Lewis to understand how the team could sit back and allow Alonso to beat him to the world title.
Hamilton is their future. Alonso wants to leave – taking the title with him if he wins it – and there is little enthusiasm to prolong this relationship from McLaren’s side.
Wouldn’t it be ironic if the legendary fairness and equality in McLaren’s treatment of its drivers, which made Alonso so angry, was the very factor which gave him the world title?
Ayrton Senna said, “Nice men don’t win.” And he was the pioneer of the win at all costs mentality, which was adopted by Michael Schumacher.
The German was heavily influenced by Senna in his early career and the signs are that Alonso has watched and adopted a lot from Schumacher.
Michael was tough and uncompromising on the track, giving nothing away to the opposition.
He also made it his business to stay close to Max Mosley and use his influence behind the scenes. Alonso met with the FIA president for lunch on Saturday and he seems to be playing the game now, after being on the wrong side of the ‘town hall’ in recent years.
One area where Schumacher excelled but where Alonso is seriously lacking, however, is in his relationship with his team.
Michael bought presents for everyone, never criticised the team in public and engendered such loyalty in his men that they would have walked through a brick wall for him.
Alonso is made differently. He’s had a whinge where he’s felt it necessary and he does not build the relationships like Michael did.
But he is a very strong man and a very clever one. I doubt that Ron, even though he battled with Senna and Prost, has had too many experiences like the ones Alonso’s given him.
Lewis has to be as selfish and as hard as him or he won’t be champion.
Too little, too late?
Ferrari need three more results like this one for Kimi to take the drivers’ title. I don’t think they’ll get them.
Fuji will probably suit McLaren more, while Shanghai and Interlagos do not have the characteristics to favour either team.
At some point, however, one of the McLarens has got to break down – after all, they have finished both cars at every race, all but two of them in the points.
This was a dominant win for Ferrari – not by as much as Turkey, but satisfying for them nevertheless.
Kimi has now won three times on his favourite track, while Massa never made up for a slow opening stint. He had too much front wing, which gave him oversteer.
He pegged the gap in the second stint and tried to reduce it in the third, but Kimi always had plenty in reserve.
When he is on this kind of form he is unbeatable. This is the Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari wanted when they hired him. It’s been on view a few times this year, but not as many as
Renault are certainly experimenting a lot with strategy this year, particularly on Kovalainen’s car.
Here they put him on a one-stop strategy, despite being faster than Rosberg in the low-fuel Q2 qualifying session.
So they had a faster car than the Williams here, but they ended up finishing eighth, while Rosberg was sixth. It didn’t work, in other words.
That was largely because Rosberg, Webber, and Trulli got in front of Kovy on the grid and then he lost more places at the start.
Still, he really looks the part now and I’m sure he’ll make a great team with Alonso at Renault next year…