The inconsistencies of the weather in Spa served if anything to highlight the tiny inconsistencies in driver performance that ultimately make the difference between a place on the podium, an early bath and all things in between.
Whether Lady Luck, her less favoured counterpart Bad Luck or even the hand of the Lord was in attendance last week could be an area for endless debate. The racetrack in the Ardennes Mountains has always been a beautiful picture of unpredictability. To leave ones destiny in the hands of such fickle fortune tellers is to go against the reason why each of the twenty-four competitors don their helmets.
It’s said that fortune favours the brave. If such an adage is indeed true, then Lewis Hamilton’s position on the podium can be easily explained. Mark Webber continues to any idea of bad fortune with typical Aussie grit. The contentment he feels at having kept a firm hand on the destiny tiller is palpable whenever he speaks these days. He seems a man happy to be in a position to make his own luck. Barring any team intervention over the remainder of the season Webber will be hoping to make the most of that good fortune paid for by years of struggle.
In what is amounting to essentially a mini championship with an ever-smaller number of contenders vying for the crown. Three of the five protagonists had ultimately fruitless weekends that could be put down to bad luck of some form.
Sebastian Vettel continues to air his proverbial driving laundry in the spotlight that is the front of the grid. It is worth remembering that mistakes are part and parcel of the experience, and it is easy to forget that he has been in the sport for only 3 seasons. But or all the criticism his erroneous driving has deserved in recent months, a driver with such obvious talent is more than capable of ironing out those unsightly triple creases before long.
Speed on the track will need to be matched by an increased speed in judgement if Vettel is to become the driver the Red Bull are hoping for. So far there have been more mental than mechanical failures to speak of on Vettel’s part. Both will have to come to an end soon if he is to become the sports youngest world champion.
From young pretender to elder statesmen: Rubens Barrichello – in his 300th race – may well have been excused for not knowing how much water was at the bus stop but the same cannot be said the Red Bull driver.
Jenson Button’s ability to keep his nose clean of late has had as much to do with his driving traits as it has to circumstance. Button has never really been the type to pick a fight with drivers willing to throw mud. Couple that with a seeming inability to wrestle either a recalcitrant McLaren or the rest of the grid into submission means any idea of Button becoming a two-time world champion may well remain just a British media dream.
Follow the misfortunes of Fernando Alonso’s event-laden outing back far enough and you find him on his first and second runs in Q3. Alonso sighted the decision to run a set of used options for the first run as the reason for his poor grid position in Belgium. Being unable to improve on that time on new tyres meant tenth place, which in Spa meant entering a lottery of slim odds.
With six races to go, every set-up decision, every result in practice, qualifying and race will be magnified. Talent, determination, lots of reliable horsepower and even more downforce are needed to win this championship. If the drivers want luck they had better bring their own.