Weekend racing: Vettel, Alonso, Hamilton at Belgium
Sebastien Vettel won today's Belgian Grand Prix, with Fernando Alonso second and Lewis Hamilton third.
It was very exciting at the start but once the race settled down it was a pretty routine event. There was one minor collision and Kimi Raikkonen had to withdraw because of a brake failure but those were about the only incidents that made the fans perk up.
The first lap was a stormer, though. Lights out saw pole winner Hamilton lead into the first turn with Vettel slotting into second and everybody else bunching up to take the turn.
Once around the corner and on the run down to the Eau Rouge kink, Vettel tucked into the slipstream behind Hamilton and Alonso was rocketing through the field from ninth-place starting position.
Shortly thereafter, Vettel went past Hamilton to take the lead he never reliquished and Alonso was fourth by the end of that first lap and easily on his way to his second-place finish.
Hamilton gave it the old college try throughout - at one point telling his team that he was "getting everything I can get out of this car" - but couldn't keep pace with his two main rivals.
A huge crowd was on hand to watch Nico Rosberg finish fourth, Mark Webber fifth, Jeson Button sixth, Felipe Massa seventh, Romain Grosjean eighth, Adrian Sutil ninth and Daniel Ricciardo tenth.
Meantime, Saturday night at Bristol, Matt Kenseth won the NASCAR Sprint Cup race. In California, Dario Franchitti won the pole for this afternoon's IZOD IndyCar Series Grand Prix of Sonoma.
Jordan Szoke of Brantford is on the pole for the final Mopar Canadian Superbike Championship race at Le Circuit Mont-Tremblant in Quebec, where the national championship will be decided today.
And the ASN Canadian Karting National Championships presented by Canadian Tire will see the final races run off at Goodwood Kartways near Stoufville.
Lots to report on in the Monday morning roundup.
This is going to be what could be called an eclectic column with no particular order or cadence. Here goes:
Lewis Hamilton was lucky to win the pole today for the Belgian Grand Prix. Of course, to be lucky, you have to be very good and Lewis Hamilton is certainly that.
Spa Francorchamps circuit has to be the craziest race track in the world. It can be sunny in one part and teeming with rain in another. So they get to Q3 with the usual suspects shooting for pole (the only surprise was that the next alleged Red Bull golden boy, Daniel Ricciardo, didn't make it out of Q1).
The session started and it was dry but then it began to spit. Paul di Resta got out early and laid down a time and the TV commentators spent just about all of the rest of the session suggesting that nobody was going to be able to beat it.
And they were right - for awhile. It was very wet during the middle minutes and nobody could get close to the Force India-Mercedes driver. But then it dried up and as the time expired there were still three very fast racing drivers out on the circuit.
And this is how it went as they flashed across the line: Webber, P1; Vettel, P1; Hamilton, P1.
Everybody was so thrilled and excited and surprised that nobody could speak. Voices were breaking everywhere. When the Mercedes team told Hamilton he was on pole, all you heard initially was a gasp.
Great fun. Hopefully, the race will be as good. If you want more, here's a report from PlanetF1 (click here for link).
Three more things before leaving F1:
One, Ricciardo did not turn in a good performance and to make matters worse, he finished behind teammate Jean-Eric Vergne, who also didn't get out of Q1. Yes, the Toro Rossos were dismal but if you're destined to be sliced bread you have to perform and Ricciardo didn't.
Two, don't bet against Kimi Raikkonen either staying at Lotus (most likely) or going to Red Bull to replace Webber. That Ferrari rumour is just that: a rumour. Alonso would not allow Kimi to play on the same team.
Three, I can still remember that God-awful pileup at the start of the 1998 GP at Spa. That was when David Coulthard spun and just about wiped out the entire field. It was as bad as the 1966 start at Indy. The crash started and it never seemed to end with tires and parts flying everywhere. My friend Gerald Donaldson has a great blog on the incident at his personal website. Check it out (click here for link).
This is why I like and admire Roger Penske. The Detroit News reports that the first wave of new donated public safety vehicles — 10 ambulances and 15 police cars — arrived in the Motor City on Thursday. Penske, vice-chairman of the Downtown Development Partnership, was instrumental in getting $8 million donated to purchase the new wheels.
Another 13 ambulances and 85 squad cars will be delivered in the next few months.
As well as Penske Corp., money from Quicken Loans Inc., General Motors Co., Ford Motor Co., Chrysler Group LLC and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan made up the $8 million.
Given a chance, and time, Penske will save that city. During the ceremony, this is what he said: “The sun shines on Detroit again. We’ve got a tale of two cities: We read daily about the financial situation, but so many good things are happening.”
Speaking of Penske, his IndyCar series drivers Helio Castroneves and Will Power, were second and third quickest in practice Friday for Sunday's GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma. Scott Dixon was fastest.
The only Canadian now that Alex Tagliani is on furlough, James Hinchcliffe of Oakville, was 14th fastest. As is now a pattern, he was the slowest of the Andretti Autosport cars.
Denny Hamlin, meanwhile, woke up and won the pole for tonight's NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Bristol Motor Speedway. Hamlin has not seemed to be himself this year since he had that nasty crash at California Speedway early this season. He won this Bristol race a year ago so that might have had something to do with his resurgance.
Before leaving Bristol, it should be noted that Kyle Busch won his second race of the Bristol meeting, Friday night's Nationwide Series event. He won the Camping World trucks race on Wednesday night. Can he sweep? Tune in tonight.
Of course, for start times of all the weekend's races, don't forget to go to Wheels Presents George's TV Listings for Race Fans at wheels.ca (click here for link).
It will feature all of the stars of the Canadian series - two-time national champion Scott Steckly, F.R. Fitzpatrick, D.J. Kennington (defending champion) - plus at least three of the truck series regulars - Ty Dillon, James Buescher and Jed Burton - who will use the stock car race to warm up for the headline event at 2 p.m. that afternoon.
New to the stock car field will be Andrew Ranger, who is no stranger to CTMP. Ranger won the NCTS race at Circuit ICAR earlier this year and finished second to Kennington at Trois-Rivieres a few weeks ago but wasn't scheduled to race at Old Mosport because of a commitment to race in a U.S. ARCA Series event.
But that race car was bashed up pretty badly on the dirt mile at the Illinois State Fairgrounds last Sunday and won't be repaired in time so Ranger has switched gears and will run the NASCAR Canada event instead.
Several other drivers will be making their return to the Canadian Tire Series on Labour Day. David Thorndyke of Oshawa, who last raced when the series was at CTMP on the Victoria Day weekend, will be back and with a new associate sponsor, ThreeWorks Snacks, joining the No. 67 Lubesource Chevrolet program.
The Canadian Touring Car Championship is also on the program at CTMP next weekend and anybody who's ever seen those cars race knows that they'll again be in for a treat.
Finally, if you want to see some terrific racing, and get a glimpse of some of the young drivers who will represent Canada on the world stage in the not-too-distant future, I urge you to head out to Goodwood Kartways near Stouffville today and/or tomorrow for the 15th ASN Canadian National Karting Championships sponsored by Canadian Tire.
John Force is having a hard time of it. Castrol and Ford are both gone. Are these just programs coming to a natural end or is the NHRA the value it once was?
And speaking of value, I'm reading tea leaves and I sense there's something going on with Go Daddy and auto racing.
For instance, l still can't believe Kurt Busch possibly going to Stewart-Haas.
Or is that a signal that we are about to see something that none of us saw coming: the complete withdrawal of Go Daddy from racing?
The new CEO signalled a change in the direction of their marketing when he was interviewed by the AP at the Honda Indy Toronto in July.
Hinch doesn't have a deal for 2014 yet and I just can't see Kurt keeping his mouth shut with Danica Patrick on the same team, which suggests to me she might not be there.