Force India create history, finish 2nd in Belgian GP

Force India’s Giancarlo Fisichella created history by giving India their first-ever Formula One race point,

finishing a sensational second in the Belgian Grand Prix, even as Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen
overtook the Italian, who started from the pole, to win the race.

Fisichella said he had achieved the goal of scoring points for his team Force India, partly owned by Indian business tycoon Vijay Mallya.

It was Raikkonen’s first victory in 25 races and Ferrari’s first this year. It was also his first since the 2008 Spanish Grand Prix, and the 18th of his career.

It came on a day when the drivers’ championship battle was given a shake, if not tipped upside down, thanks to a multiple collision on the opening lap.

That accident, which took out four cars, removed drivers world championship leader Jenson Button of Brawn GP and fellow-Briton and defending champion Lewis Hamilton of McLaren Mercedes.

Button said: “I got a very good start. I got past Lewis, I made up four places. As we were going down the straight through turn five, Grosjean out-braked himself. It is so frustrating to be taken out like that.”

Hamilton shrugged off his fate, commenting: “It’s just one of those days.

For Button the damage to his car and his title hopes was limited as his main rivals failed to capitalise with big-scoring results.

His lead ahead of Brawn team-mate Rubens Barrichello was cut by only two points from 18 to 16 while German Sebastian Vettel of Red Bull jumped back to third, by finishing third.

Vettel now has 53 points behind Barrichello on 56 and Button on 72 with five races remaining.

Raikkonen, champion in 2007, whose place in the team is under threat amid unconfirmed reports that Spaniard Fernando Alonso of Renault has signed to replace him next year, was delighted at ending Ferrari’s barren run of 11 races without a win after a barren first-half of the season.

Fisichella lost the lead he had established at the original start – the safety car was sent out during the first lap due to the accidents – when he was cautious at the re-start and Raikkonen surged into the lead.

But he finished up coming home only nine-tenths of a second behind the Ferrari, proving that the Force India’s Mercedes-Benz engine was the most effective on the circuit and certain to be a threat at the Italian Grand Prix next month. Behind the leading duo, who battled for victory, came Vettel ahead of Pole Robert Kubica, fourth for BMW Sauber, team-mate German Nick Heidfeld, with Finn Heikki Kovalainen sixth for McLaren Mercedes.

THE MONETARY GAINS

Fisichella’s podium finish will also bring monetary benefits to Force India:

• Force India’s travel expenses get taken care of next year, meaning Vijay Mallya’s expenses are brought down. For each lap an F1 car completes in a race, the cost is nearly $1,300 in fuel, tyres and brake wear.
• The 8 points mean that Force India, if it doesn’t finish last, get a share of the television rights money, which is rumoured to be the vicinity of $1.5 billion, at the end of the season. The teams have access to 47 per cent of the television revenues that Formula One Management earns. Each race produces a revenue of $229 million.
• Force India sponsors would’ve got major airtime courtesy the track position. For brands and sponsors, this is return on investment.
• Fisichella is also likely to be paid a point bonus as per his contract. Drivers can get upto $25,000 for every point they score.

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