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Last Updated: Sunday, 16 September 2007, 13:30 GMT 14:30 UK
Belgian Grand Prix
Spa-Francorchamps - 16 September, 2007
The Chequered Flag podcast



By Andrew Benson
at Spa-Francorchamps

Kimi Raikkonen celebrates his win in Spa
Victory gave Raikkonen his third straight success at Spa
Fernando Alonso cut McLaren team-mate Lewis Hamilton's world championship lead to two points as Kimi Raikkonen took a dominant win at the Belgian GP.

Raikkonen led from start to finish to head Felipe Massa in a Ferrari one-two.

Alonso and Hamilton briefly disputed third place on the opening lap before the world champion edged ahead to leave the Englishman to finish in fourth.

Raikkonen is now 13 points behind Hamilton with a maximum of 30 available leaving the title race finely poised.

It was the Finn's third straight win at the demanding Spa-Francorchamps track, widely regarded as the finest racing circuit in the world.

After converting his pole position into a lead at the first corner, Raikkonen was never under pressure from Massa.

"We knew we would be stronger here than in Monza," said Raikkonen. "It was the perfect race for the team.

606: DEBATE

"We're still in the championship and we'll keep pushing and see what we can do."

The McLaren drivers could do nothing about the Ferraris on a track that was always expected to favour the Italian cars.

Hamilton, who has been slightly off his team-mate's pace all weekend, made a brave attempt to pass Alonso at the start but was firmly rebuffed.

The two men went into the first corner side by side, and as Alonso legitimately used all the track on the exit of the corner Hamilton was pushed wide onto the tarmac run-off area.

It was a hard but fair move from Alonso, but Hamilton was not finished.

It's only one point and it doesn't change anything. The championship is very open, as it was before

Fernando Alonso

He did not back off, and instead pulled alongside Alonso as they headed down the steep hill into Eau Rouge, one of F1's most demanding corners.

The two headed into the left-right-left rollercoaster side by side, but Alonso sat it out with Hamilton around the first part, forcing him to the outside for the right-hander, at which point the novice had to concede.

"We arrived wheel by wheel into turn three or four but I was lucky to be on the inside and took the position from him," explained Alonso.

"Between third and fourth it's only one point in the championship and it doesn't change anything. The championship is very open, as it was before."

Hamilton tried hard to stay on terms the rest of the race, but the Spaniard kept him at bay - just as he had at Monza last weekend.

It briefly looked as if Hamilton might have a chance of beating Alonso when the 22-year-old made his last pit stop four laps later than his rival.

But Alonso was never truly under threat, and Hamilton emerged from his stop six seconds adrift.

And Hamilton survived a scare when he ran off the track at the 150mph Pouhon corner on the penultimate lap.

With the Japanese, Chinese and Brazilian Grands Prix still to come, tracks at which Hamilton has not driven an F1 car, Alonso's experience appears to be beginning to count, and some may consider him a marginal favourite for the title.

Fernando Alonso heads Lewis Hamilton in Spa
Alonso held off some early aggression from Hamilton in Spa

But Hamilton remains in front, and has proven time and again this season that he is far too good to write off.

"It's not over but it's getting close," said Hamilton. "I'm going to be aggressive in the next few races.

"I'm not too bothered about Ferrari, I think they're out of the picture. For me it's about beating Fernando."

Raikkonen, too, is now close enough to be a real contender if the McLaren drivers run into misfortune.

Behind the top four cars, in a largely uneventful race, BMW Sauber's Nick Heidfeld finished fifth, ahead of the Williams of Nico Rosberg and Mark Webber's Red Bull.

Renault's gamble on a one-stop strategy for Heikki Kovalainen did not pay off and the Finn finished eighth, fighting to hold off the faster BMW Sauber of Robert Kubica in the closing laps.

There was also an impressive showing from the new Spyker in the hands of German Adrian Sutil.

He challenged David Coulthard's Red Bull and ran ahead of Jarno Trulli's Toyota in the first part of the race.

But he made a mistake and ran off the track at the Les Combes chicane shortly after his first pit stop, and dropped back down the field.

Nevertheless, he still finished in 14th place just behind the Honda of Rubens Barrichello and ahead of both Super Aguris in a car that has until now been by some margin the slowest in the field.


Belgian Grand Prix result at Spa-Francorchamps:

1. Kimi Raikkonen (Finland) Ferrari 1 min 20:39.066 secs
2. Felipe Massa (Brazil) Ferrari +00:04.695
3. Fernando Alonso (Spain) McLaren 00:14.343
4. Lewis Hamilton (Britain) McLaren 00:23.615
5. Nick Heidfeld (Germany) BMW Sauber 00:51.879
6. Nico Rosberg (Germany) Williams - Toyota 01:16.876
7. Mark Webber (Australia) RedBull - Renault 01:20.639
8. Heikki Kovalainen (Finland) Renault 01:25.106
9. Robert Kubica (Poland) BMW Sauber 01:25.661
10. Ralf Schumacher (Germany) Toyota 01:28.574
11. Jarno Trulli (Italy) Toyota 01:43.653
12. Vitantonio Liuzzi (Italy) Toro Rosso - Ferrari 1 lap
13. Rubens Barrichello (Brazil) Honda 1 lap
14. Adrian Sutil (Germany) Spyker - Ferrari 1 lap
15. Takuma Sato (Japan) Super Aguri - Honda 1 lap
16. Anthony Davidson (Britain) Super Aguri - Honda 1 lap
17. Sakon Yamamoto (Japan) Spyker - Ferrari 1 lap
R. Jenson Button (Britain) Honda 8 laps
R. Alexander Wurz (Austria) Williams - Toyota 10 laps
R. David Coulthard (Britain) RedBull - Renault 15 laps
R. Sebastian Vettel (Germany) Toro Rosso - Ferrari 36 laps
R. Giancarlo Fisichella (Italy) Renault 43 laps

Key: R = retired

SEE ALSO
Hamilton fumes at Alonso tactics
16 Sep 07 |  Formula One
Raikkonen ready for title battle
16 Sep 07 |  Formula One
As it happened: Belgian Grand Prix
16 Sep 07 |  Formula One
Ferrari dominate Spa qualifying
15 Sep 07 |  Formula One
Belgian GP qualifying as it happened
15 Sep 07 |  Formula One
Ferrari set the pace in Belgium
15 Sep 07 |  Formula One


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