Ferrari, Mclaren and Renault were left with a mountain to climb at the beginning of the 2009 season when Brawn took victory after victory through Jenson Button.
Of the three former champions, Alonso, Hamilton and Kimi it was the latter who surprisingly showed the greater promise as the three traditionally fastest teams began edging themselves back up to the front.
Although Hamilton scored the first victory it was Kimi who scored the first podium and produced the finest consistent results in a car incapable of winning the title this season. This is something you wouldn’t have dared to predict after Raikkonen’s lacklustre follow up to his championship winning season in 2008. He appeared a driver in decline.
A great delight then to see the flying fin emerge victorious in the grand prix at Spa in Belgium. Ferrari’s first victory of the season and Kimi’s first for over twelve months came at the track which the drivers, teams and fans worldwide adore. A triumph at such a track is highly regarded, and now his tally at the longest track of the season totals four.
In a track that the fin dominates he elevated himself up to the front at the start, with a slight help from his Kers system, and then credited himself with a leading drive where pit stops aside he led from the start.
However, the win was not as easily won as he would have liked.
The driver of the day must be awarded to Force India’s Giancarlo Fisichella. The forgotten Italian rose to the top in qualifying and demonstrated extreme raw pace within the race to take his place on the podium with a second place finish, scoring both Force India’s first points finish and first podium finish. Celebrations ahead of the next grand prix are bound to be in abundance, and rightfully so. The team will receive an extraordinary boost in revenue as a result of this weekends events, and hopefully will make their future in the sport ever the more possible.
You have to feel somewhat sorry for his team mate Adrian Sutil, who if not ironically for Kimi Raikkonen would have picked up two points finishes already, most notably in Monaco last year. Adrian didn’t finish in the points, yet his tenacity shown in flawless overtaking manoeuvres during the race coupled with Giancarlo’s heroics showed that Force India will no longer be considered as the weak link in the field of twenty. It is therefore understandable that they have relative optimism heading into the Italian Grand Prix in a fortnights time.
In a season where the underdogs became the ones to beat, the trend now seems to be in reverse, bearing in mind that Ferrari gained a much needed win and a team who used to be in the image of Minardi claimed an ecstatic race weekend result.
We may now be facing the increasing possibility that the title leading cars may suffer the embarrassment of facing massive reductions in their race winning abilities. Such pressure may become so overwhelming for the likes of Button who in recent races is counting on his rivals misfortunes to keep hold of his previously commanding points advantage.