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Controversy at the Belgian Grand Prix

Sep 11, 2008
Fans of Formula One racer Lewis Hamilton are reeling. First, they were elated at his win at the recent Belgian Grand Prix. Later they cried 'foul' when he was stripped of that title.

The reason judges demoted him from first to third place? An illegal maneuver helped Lewis Hamilton overtake the front runner, Kimi Raikkonen. However, Hamilton ceded Raikkonen's position shortly after cutting the chicane. Hamilton went on the cross the finish line in first place to take the Belgian Grand Prix.

Lewis Hamilton's victory for Team McLaren was short-lived though. Hamilton was demoted from first to third place for cutting the chicane. It was an end-of-race rain shower that caused Hamilton to slide off the track. Raikkonen then passed him again. However, Raikkonen quickly lost control on the wet track. A crash took him out of the race for good with less than five laps to go.

Spa Francorchamps in Belgium's spa region is notorious for its inclement weather. Not only does it rain frequently, the weather tends to turn on a dime. Drivers in Belgian Grand Prix have come to expect this. Little has changed weather-wise since the very first Belgian Grand Prix in 1925. Racers are typically prepared for rain. Drivers known for superior wet-weather road-handling skills even welcome it. It's frequently rain that gives them their edge over less competent racers.

It appears that Lewis Hamilton underestimated the possibility of bad weather. He and nearly every other driver chose dry tires for the race. The only one with foresight seemed to be Renault's Nelson Piquet Jr. Despite this, it wasn't enough for a top three placing for Piquet.

Lewis Hamilton managed to recover from some wild spinouts to take first place. He was followed closely by Team Ferrari's Felipe Massa and Team Sauber's Nick Heidfeld. Ultimately, it was Massa and Team Ferrari that would be declared the winner of the 2008 Belgian Grand Prix. The decision resulted in a two point loss for Hamilton. The loss narrowed the gap between Hamilton and rival Massa to a hair's breadth.

A chicane is a series of tight semi-circular barriers on a race track. Chicanes are not unique to racing. City planners may install them in streets. They are designed to slow down the flow of traffic. Ultimately, they are a safety measure. Chicanes are a safety measure on race tracks as well. Racers are forced to slow down before entering the chicane. This prevents them from losing control on subsequent curves. The Spa Francorchamps has several hairpin turns and sharp curves. The frequent rain only makes these curves more dangerous.

It appears that slick roads may have caused Lewis Hamilton to cut through the chicane. It was unlikely that his maneuver was intentional. Intentional or not, the illegal move may end up costing Hamilton the title.

Hamilton has only a handful of races left in the 2008 in which to make up for the loss at the Belgian Grand Prix. Hamilton's fans wait eagerly to see if Hamilton will be able to recover. Fans of sidelined racer Raikkonen feel, on the other hand, that justice was served. Raikkonen may have taken the race if not for his unfortunate crash. Raikkonen has won the World Championship three out of the last four years.
About the Author
Grand Prix information for Monaco is available via yourmonaco.com/grand_prix

Other Monaco information is also available from the Monaco guide, they also have direct contact for Monaco hotels

Monaco is a tax haven and financial centre and yourmonaco has details of the banks in Monaco
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