Jenson Button from McLaren put on a flawless performance to win Sunday's Belgian Grand Prix, a race highlighted by a massive crash on the opening lap.
Button, the pole sitter, led from start to finish in the 44-lap race at the 4.352-mile, 19-turn Spa-Francorchamps circuit. He crossed the finish line 13.6 seconds ahead of two-time defending world champion and last year's Belgian GP winner Sebastian Vettel from Red Bull. Button recorded his second win of the season and the 14th of his Formula One career. His first victory this year came in the season-opening Australian Grand Prix.
"What can I say," Button said. "To get a victory here from lights to flag is very special, especially since this hasn't been the easiest year for me. It's been a very special weekend. We're going to enjoy this for a little while longer before we head to Monza (Italian Grand Prix on Sept. 9)."
While Button quickly pulled away from the field at the start, a multi-car crash occurred heading into the first corner, involving Ferrari driver and current points leader Fernando Alonso, as well as Button's teammate, Lewis Hamilton, and Romain Grosjean from Lotus.
Grosjean and Hamilton made tire contact when Grosjean attempted to jump ahead of Hamilton at the start. Hamilton hit the rear of Grosjean, who then sailed over Alonso's car. Sergio Perez from Sauber was also involved in the incident. There were no injuries; however, Alonso appeared to be shaken up as he slowly climbed out of his damaged car.
"It was a good start, but then it was a big boom," Grosjean recalled. "I completely lost control of the car. The main thing is that everybody is okay."
Button and Vettel both capitalized on a one pit stop strategy, while the other front runners made two stops. Vettel started 10th after failing to make it into the third and final segment in Saturday's qualifying.
"It was a crazy race from where I started," Vettel said. "The start was not so good, and after the first corner where a lot of cars went off, it was pretty crazy. Fortunately, we came back with a fantastic strategy. The car was quite good in the race, and we were able to pick up some pace."
Kimi Raikkonen from Lotus finished third, followed by Force India's Nico Hulkenberg and Alonso's teammate Felipe Massa.
"It was not the easiest day for me and the team," Raikkonen said. "The car was not exactly to our liking. I was fighting to get the best out of it, and we managed to get some key points. That was the main thing."
Alonso remained atop the world championship standings, but Vettel moved to within 24 points of the leader. Mark Webber's sixth-place finish dropped the Red Bull driver from second to third in standings, as he trails Alonso by 32 points.
"I'm fine, except my left shoulder hurts a bit," Alonso said after his 22nd- place finish. "I went to the medical center immediately after the accident, but everything is alright. The pain only comes from the whiplash."
Hamilton is 47 points behind Alonso, while Button moved to within 63 points of the leader following his win.
"I don't really want to talk about the start," said Hamilton, who placed 23rd. "I think everyone saw what happened. It's just a shame. This wasn't a great day for my world championship hopes either, but I certainly won't be giving up."
Michael Schumacher, who competed in his 300th grand prix, finished seventh in his Mercedes. Toro Rosso drivers Jean-Eric Vergne and Daniel Ricciardo placed eighth and ninth, respectively, while Paul di Resta from Force India completed the top-10.
Just before Schumacher pitted for the first time, he almost made contact with Vettel in the chicane. Race stewards were investigating Schumacher's side-by- side incident with Vettel after the event had concluded. Stewards also investigated Webber for an incident he had with Massa late in the race.