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Raikkonen Edges Fisichella to Win Belgian Prix for 4th Time

SPA-FRANCORCHAMPS, BELGIUM — Set in the hilly Ardennes forest, the Spa-Francorchamps circuit has often been the scene of crazy Belgian Grand Prix races, usually due to bad weather.

But on a cool and sunny day Sunday, it was the unique characteristics of Formula One’s longest, and one of its most challenging, tracks that created the most topsy-turvy race of the season with surprise leaders and the usual contenders either dropping out in accidents or struggling for speed.

Through it all came the most unlikely battle of the season, that between the reigning world champion team, Ferrari, and its driver Kimi Raikkonen, and the team that was at the bottom of the standings with no points, Force India, and its driver, Giancarlo Fisichella.

Fisichella scored a surprise pole position Saturday, in the first pole for the team owned by the Indian billionaire Vijay Mallya, who owns the Kingfisher beverage and airline companies. And had Raikkonen not passed him near the start of the race after the Finn profited from a felicitous off-track excursion and then a safety car period after a pileup that took out some other contenders, Fisichella would have won the race.

In the end, Raikkonen drove just the race he needed to win for the first time for his Ferrari team this season and take his own first victory since the Spanish Grand Prix in April last year. It was the Finnish driver’s 18th victory, and his fourth at Spa, where he won in 2004, 2005 and 2007.

“Today is a great win for us,” Raikkonen said. “All drivers like it here, it’s so up and down to drive, it’s in the forest, and just everything that you like here. It’s a nice place to win.”

more at http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/31/sports/autoracing/31iht-prix.html

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