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Belgian GP: My top 3 drivers of the weekend
Monday 03rd September 2012, 21:17 by Daniel Chalmers
© Red Bull Racing, Getty Images
Although the fallout from the crash at La Source may be dominating the headlines, there were some very strong performances during the weekend.
Here are my top three drivers from Spa.
3rd Nico Hulkenberg
Hulkenberg was one of the biggest benefactors of the turn one chaos, which helped him move straight up to third place.
However after the restart he didn’t just sink down the order like team mate Paul Di Resta did. He remained among the top runners for the whole duration of the race.
The only driver who was behind him once the safety car came in, and actually managed to beat him, was Sebastian Vettel.
His pace throughout the race was quite remarkable and he made his two stop strategy work brilliantly. He beat drivers who had more competitive machinery than him, including the likes of Mark Webber and Felipe Massa
Yes he got lucky on lap one, but he capitalised with a brilliant drive. As a driver in the midfield you have to take your few opportunities for big points when they arrive.
Before the summer break Nico’s form really began to pick up, and he has started to put Di Resta in the shade. If he can keep this up he could overtake Paul in the queue for a drive in a top team.
It’s a really fascinating team-mate battle with potentially so much at stake. Di Resta started it well on top but the tide is turning at present.
2nd Jenson Button
Button’s race may have been made easier by the first lap chaos, but I think he was so quick he would have won whatever happened in the race.
In Spa he was absolutely unstoppable. He was on another planet to anybody else. You have to try really hard to find a more dominant performance all season long. When Button is happy with his car he can match the sport’s best drivers, and the Belgium GP demonstrated that perfectly.
He made his one stop strategy work with ease and no stress at all, whereas for others it went wrong.
When there was a big decision to be made on setup it was Jenson who got it right, going for the low downforce option rather the high downforce option. It paid massive dividends.
It reminds of Monza 2010 when he chose to run with the F-duct (Lewis didn’t) and he almost won the race ahead of Alonso. He has the knack of making the right choice in these types of situations.
It was Button’s spectacular pole lap that puts him second in this top three. His qualifying form for McLaren has generally been very average, but he has found some sensational pace and suddenly turned things around.
He seems much happier with his car’s setup and I think the upgrades have helped. He is now back within sight of Alonso in the championship.
If he remains happy with the car for the rest of the season this may not be his last victory of 2012.
Could Spa be a breakthrough weekend for Jenson?
1st Sebastian Vettel
Vettel drove a brilliant race which has put him right back into championship contention. Not many would have predicted he would finish second after missing out on Q3 in qualifying.
The young German was one of the losers of the first corner incident which put him down in 12th position. However he fought his way through the field with some very bold moves. The most impressive was his move on his own team mate around the outside in the bus stop chicane.
He made similarly good passes on Massa, Bruno Senna and Schumacher. Because he was hitting the limiter very early on in the DRS zone he had to work hard for his passes. He couldn’t rely on being able to make slam dunk moves.
He then made his one stop strategy work to perfection, and continued to set competitive times even when his tyres were getting old.
Many have criticised Vettel for being a driver who can only get decent results when he starts at the front.
I think this is the type of drive fans have been desperate to see if Vettel is capable of producing. In Spa he answered all of remaining critics.
Do you agree with my top 3? Have your say in the comments.