A crash seconds after the start of the Belgian Grand Prix eliminated championship contenders Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton from the race and Jenson Button sailed through the afternoon en route to his second win of the Formula 1 season.
Romain Grosjean collided with Lewis Hamilton as the two jockeyed for position heading into the first turn of the race and ended up taking Fernando Alonso with them into the garage as the afternoon came to an early end for the three along with Sergio Perez.
Once the excitement, and subsequent clean up, was over and done with, Button took command of the Belgian Grand Prix and finished more than 13 seconds ahead of Sebastian Vettel, who clawed through the field after starting in 11th position. Kimi Räikkönen finished in third place.
“To get a victory here, lights to flag, is very special for me,” Button said. “This circuit is so special to most drivers. The way that it flows, the history here.”
“It hasn’t been an easy year for me,” said Button, who’s been mired in a string of mediocre results after winning the opening race of the 2012 Formula 1 season in Australia. “We’re going to enjoy this for a little longer before we head to Monza and hopefully do the same.”
The first-turn crash was costly not only for points’ leader Alonso and championship challenger Hamilton, but it also cost Grosjean.
“The stewards regard this incident as an extremely serious breach of the regulations which had the potential to cause injury to others,” announced the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) in a released statement.
The French pilot was deemed to have caused the crash and handed a 50,000-euro fine and banned from participating in next weekend’s Italian Grand Prix.
“The stewards note the teams conceded the action of the driver was an extremely serious mistake and an error of judgement,” the FIA statement said. “Neither the team nor the driver made any submission in mitigation of penalty.”
Despite the early retirement at Spa, Alonso remains on top of the Formula 1 drivers championship standings. Two-time defending champion Vettel slips into second, 14 points behind the leader, and Mark Webber drops to third, although just one point ahead of Räikkönen.
The Formula 1 schedule next takes the drivers to Monza for the Italian Grand Prix on Sept. 9.