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Why Red Bull are favourites for Spa
Why Red Bull are favourites for Spa
Posted By: James Allen  |  26 Aug 2010   |  8:11 am GMT  |  259 comments

It seems a very long time since the last race, after a summer break incorporating a two week compulsory shut down of all F1 team factories.

This is probably because the championship had such momentum going. In addition to a thrilling title battle, there were two huge moments in the last two races before the break, with the Ferrari team orders episode and then the Schumacher/Barrichello battle in Budapest.

At Spa this weekend the energy will no doubt return.

Spa is unique for sights and atmosphere (Darren Heath)

Red Bull start the weekend as clear favourites, after their crushing performance in Budapest. Spa is a very different kind of track, but their car will still have a big advantage in the long middle sector of the lap, which runs from just before the Les Combes chicane to Stavelot. There are a lot of corners in that middle sector and the double left hander at Pouhon is one of the best on the circuit, a two-parter with an entry speed of around 180mph.

Significantly this sector is 45 seconds long, compared to barely half a minute for sectors one and three. There’s no doubt that the Red Bull will be giving something away in sheer horsepower to the McLaren and Ferrari in those sectors, which feature two long straights. But it won’t be as much as you might think – if you look at Montreal, the Red Bull was only a few hundredths slower than the McLaren on the final sector with the long straight. There’s no doubt that sector two will be their trump card, thanks to the phenomenal amount of downforce they can produce.

The Darren Heath photo which sparked the flexi wing issue

In the two races before the break, there was a lot of talk about flexing front wings on the Red Bull and Ferrari. The FIA has said that it will run more strict tests this weekend, but has not told the teams what it will do, so it will be interesting to see if that makes any difference to relative performances.

If Red Bull does prevail, it will be the first time in 11 years that a team other than McLaren and Ferrari has won at Spa and would be a strong statement in that respect.

Another key to this weekend is going to be the performance of the F Duct, the drag reducing rear wings, on the cars. Spa is probably the circuit where the F Duct will have its biggest effect, as teams will be able to run more downforce for the medium and high speed corners, knowing that they can dump drag on the long straights. It will be interesting to see how it works out but it should be worth half a second a lap.

Renault are introducing their F Duct this weekend in response. The team has not introduced it until now as it has been focussed on getting the blown diffuser perfected in recent races. The wisdom of that strategy was shown by Vitaly Petrov’s ultra competitive showing in Budapest. The Renault was the fastest car in the speed traps in Montreal. Now with the F Duct on the car, meaning more downforce for the same drag, lead driver Robert Kubica shouldn’t be too far off the front runners.

Also now that most of the leading teams have now got this season’s two technical must-haves, which really affect lap time – the F Duct and the blown diffuser – it’s back to fine tuning details on the cars. Ferrari has a significant upgrade this weekend, particularly in the back end of the car. There was a rumour in Italy that this involves a new or significantly upgraded gearbox to maximise the diffuser, but we will see.

Ferrari are feeling confident (Darren Heath)

Ferrari is feeling confident, though. Alonso has finished the last two races in first and second places and of the three teams fighting for the title, he is the only driver who has the clear mandate to go for the title. The others are still fighting their team mates. Whether that decision to back Alonso in Hockenheim will cost Ferrari or its drivers points, we will find out before Monza. Former FIA president Max Mosley has called for Ferrari to lose points over the team orders charge. Mosley has a long running feud with Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo, so you would expect him to come out with this position.

But current FIA president Jean Todt runs things differently from Mosley, in that he plays no part in the disciplinary process once it has been launched. I still think that what will primarily come out of the hearing is a clarification of what is and is not allowed when it comes to team orders in F1. The team may also lose constructors’ points.

Force India finished second at Spa last year (Darren Heath)

Force India had a strong weekend at Spa last year, taking pole position and narrowly losing out to Ferrari for the race win. This year they don’t expect to perform as well, because the F Duct, which most of the competitors are using, neutralises the characteristics of low or high drag cars. Teams aren’t forced to make such a compromise on set up as they can have downforce and straight line speed.

During the break, Force India lost a court action from Italian wind tunnel company Aerolab for unpaid fees and has been ordered to pay over €1 million. However the team has a separate action going in the UK over IP rights as it claims that some of its IP went to fellow Aerolab user Lotus.

There were some threats about the teams assets being seized in the Monza paddock, but Force India has said that it will pay the money, while pursuing the IP case in the UK.

Barrichello with Ayrton Senna in 1993 (LAT)

This will be a very special weekend for Rubens Barrichello, who celebrates his 300th Grand Prix, and almost unimagineable milestone a few years ago when the calendars featured fewer races and the cars were less safe. Barrichello has contributed a lot to F1 since his 1993 debut with Jordan and he showed, as he kept his foot down when Michael Schumacher tried to squeeze him into the wall in Budapest, that the fire still rages in his belly. He has been working on a new contract with Williams for 2011. I don’t know if it’s done yet, but it’s likely to be pretty straightforward, so if they are feeling sentimental they may announce it this weekend.

Schumacher has a 10 place grid drop (Darren Heath)

Schumacher, meanwhile, accepted that he was over the top in Budapest and was handed a ten place grid drop for this weekend trying to put Barrichello in the wall in the closing stages of the last Grand Prix.

Don’t forget we have a competition going here on JA on F1 around that. Guess where Schumacher will qualify (after he has added in his penalty) and where he will finish. The first correct answer will win a copy of my biography of Schumacher “The Edge of Greatness.”

Leave your answer in the comments section below.

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  1. Sikas says:

    I think he’ll qualify 19th and finish just out of the points in 11th.

    1. terryshep says:

      I’ll go for qual 19th and finish 8th.

      Incidentally, much as I love him, I think Rubens was blinded by the moment in Hungary and once committed to the action, he simply pressed on, no matter what. Also, there must have been a certain amount of faith in Michael’s ability to leave him an inch or two.

      The consequences, had there been someone leaving the pits at that moment, would surely have been Rubens’ responsibility – there was definitely a point at which he should have withdrawn. Maybe if it hadn’t been Michael…?

      1. Dominic says:

        I thought there was a man on the end of the pitlane to warn drivers leaving the pits of any oncoming cars, at which point it becomes their responsibility. I believe Bourdais was penalised in such an incident (minor contact, nothing too serious) in 2008.

        As for Schumacher, I’ll go for 22nd and DNF (23rd, i.e. 2nd driver to drop out).

      2. Col says:

        Ah is this the new method of defending a position this year? Force the other driver either off the road or into some one else’s path and then claim it’s their own fault for not slowing down? Sounds like cheating to me but then we are talking about Michael….

      3. terryshep says:

        Offering an overtaking driver the option of going off the road or packing it in and having another go at a better time, has always been the norm in all classes of racing, you should have a glance at Mark Webber’s ‘robust’ defence against Vettel at Copse at Silverstone, or even Alonso against Massa at Beckett’s on the same lap. It’s a judgement of the overtaker whether he wants to risk it or not, a bit like the Highway Code, really.

        In the Webber/Vettel case, had there been a wall there, we’d still be hearing about it. Just because there isn’t, it doesn’t change the case. Webber’s move was actually more overt than Michael’s, he did at least leave Rubens the option – and the room. Rubens chose to take it and we should be grateful – it’s kept us going for a blank 4 weeks!

    2. Greg T says:

      I’ll go for qualifying 19th and finishing 12th.

    3. I like 20th and finishing 10th.

  2. Charlie says:

    I’m going to guess at 18th place for Schumacher.

    Can’t wait for the racing to restart, it seems like months since the last race, almost like we’ve had the winter break and it’s the start of a new season… which I suppose with things so tight in the championships it almost is. Getting excited!

    1. Charlie says:

      woops didn’t notice that we were meant to guess a finishing spot too…

      Big gamble here, I reckon Shumi is due some luck, plus a wet race, and I reckon he is starting to get things together, especially after the break so I’m going for a fourth place finish after a storming and spectacular drive in the wet! (here’s hoping!)

      1. Zobra Wambleska says:

        It would make for an interesting race to see this prediction come true, but that kind of a drive would have been tough against the current competition with the young Schumacher. I’m afraid he’s now past his pull date and won’t make much of an impression.

  3. salty popcorn says:

    I think he will start 18th and will not finish. I seem to recall participating in this before though?

  4. richard thompson says:

    Qualify Last and finish 15th


    …and if it rains?

  6. Hisham Akhtar says:

    Schumacher will start dead last and will scrap a point (10th place).

  7. Craig Haywood says:

    My prediction is that Schumacher will end up 19th on the grid, he’ll have to go some from there to end up with some points but not out of the question.

  8. colm says:

    Qualify – 19th
    Finish – 15th

    1. pp says:

      qualify 17th
      finish 7th

  9. colm says:

    But it is going to rain so anything could happen!

  10. I’m expecting a wet qualifying or race so the potential for a mixed up grid is high. I would also think despite saying they are commiting all resources to the 2011 car, that there maybe a small upgrade package. With this in mind, I think he will qualify 17th and finish 6th.

  11. Stephan Roux says:

    Schumi will qualify 19th (9th)

  12. MikeG says:

    Hi James,

    long time reader/listener/follower/supporter but first time poster. Roll on weekend, unlike the teams my holidays dont coincide with a factory shutdown so i’m F1 starved with no respite!

    My prediction is that Schumacher will qualify 18th after the 10 place drop and finish 14th. Oh how times have changed.

    1. Rob says:

      Serves him right for all his cheating over the yrs!!!

      1. Eamonn Mc Cauley says:

        Hamilton lied to stewards at the start of 2009. Mclaren was caught cheating 2007. Mclaren and Willams worked togather against MS in 1997. Onbody seems to remember seems to remember that.

  13. kaushal says:

    where Schumacher will qualify (after he has added in his penalty) and where he will finish?

    My answer: Qualify: P20
    Finish: P14

  14. Dino says:

    Schumi will Qualify 21st and not finish the race.

  15. Jaco says:

    Schumacher will qualify 18th. Spa baby!

    1. Jaco says:

      Oh and he will finish 9th.

  16. Monji says:

    My guess is that Schumacher will qualify 9th.

    1. Craig says:

      I missed off some details… qualify 14th and finish 9th

  17. Ben Miller says:

    F1 is back – at long last !

    Schmacher to Q20th and finish 13th

  18. Graham N says:

    MS will qualify 9th and drop to 19th. GN

    1. rafa says:

      for him to qualy 9th he’s gotta actually do -1p. interesting…

  19. Peter Sainsbury says:

    20th position

    1. Peter Sainsbury says:

      And finish 12th

  20. Sachin Jain says:

    Schumacher will qualify 18th on the grid and he will DNF.

  21. Iorwg says:

    Should be a great race.

    Schumacher to finish 11th..

  22. Richard says:

    Michael will qualify in 7th place, but will probably

    1. James Allen says:

      You mean 17th – the guess is after the penalty

  23. Niall says:

    To qualify: 21st
    To finish: 14th

  24. Simon Harbour says:

    Michhael will qualify 21 st

  25. Chris says:

    Michael will qualify 18th

  26. Jonny Kiehlmann says:

    Qualifies P22, finishes P8

  27. bryan says:

    He will qualify last and if there is any justice, finish last as well, should i win the book please donate it to a cause of your choice.

    1. Eamonn Mc Cauley says:

      He will qualify 20th and win it. No F1 driver has give more to good causes.

  28. Darren Andrews says:

    Schumel Schumi will qualify 18th and finish 11th.

    Love the blog James, are you going to do another book at the end of the season same as last year? Sign me up for a copy now if so…there, finished pumping up your tyres for now!

    1. James Allen says:

      Yes, I’m starting to go through the posts from January to August now. I’ll be writing a lot more fresh copy looking back on the events of the year this time.

  29. Chris says:

    As a McLaren fan, I’ve been desperately searching for at least one pundit to say ‘they’ll be right back in the hunt from Spa onwards’ or something similar. No luck so far – but good article all the same, James.

    1. Chris says:

      Also, Schumi toqualify 19th, DNF

    2. Joe Sydney says:

      Well it it is too early to predict how things will turn out. From the looks of it not even the mclaren engineers know how they would compete. The problem is that ferrari and red bull are also bringing updates so it is how much they can improve over the competition ey?

  30. Paul Lewis says:

    Schumacher will qualify 18th, finish 10th

  31. robert says:

    michael will qualify 18nd and finish 12th

  32. Scott says:

    Qualify 19th Finish 14th

  33. Sasquatsch says:

    Qualify: 22nd
    Finish: 12th

    (And its Rubens 301st GP, Apparently he can’t count or deliberately forgets his DNQ (1 time) but counts his DNS (3 times))

    1. Dominic says:

      I’ve heard a variety of figures, but Imola ’94 doesn’t count, whereas situations like Spa ’98 do count as he did in fact start, but was unable to take the restart due to injury or lack of spare car.

      1. Sasquatsch says:

        Depends how you count. I am under the impression that every attempt to start a race counts (a DNQ is even worse than a DNS).

        Apparently Barrichello counts all the races he qualified for, including the races he did not start in (not even entered the formation lap).

        IF you count the races he actually started in then the count in Spa is 298.

  34. Andrew Burley says:

    Michael with qualify 21st and finish 10th

  35. Andy W says:

    Schumi will qualify 8th start 18th after his penalty and finish 13th, unless it wins in which case he will finish 5th.

    I am just curious as to why you say Red Bull are the ‘clear’ favourites, and why you seem to have forgotten about McLaren? To me there is a tight 3 car – 5 driver race for the pole and win of this race and at the moment I am struggling to differentiate between the respective strengths of Red Bull (and there amazing ability in the middle sector), Ferrari who now seem to have their car sorted with an on form Alonso and McLaren who have the best F Duct, the best engine and 2 drivers both hungry and talented enough to win.

    1. Andy W says:

      wins – rains even

  36. F1 Novice says:

    My Red Button finger is getting twitchy already :)

  37. Andreas says:

    He will qualify 21st and finish 13th.

  38. jamie norman says:

    Schumacher with qualify 17th and finish 3rd
    If he can turn his season round anywhere, it’ll be here, if not….

    Despite the bravado, I think he really needs a whole weekend to come together for him still, as he’s overdriving at mo. I think if/once a whole weekend comes togther for him, he will get better from there, however if he can’t string a decent weekend together soon, it will get more and more difficult, as he’s only human and like the rest of us feels pressure, and the more pressure he feels, the harder it will get

  39. Craigy J says:

    Look at Darren Health’s beautiful photo of the Spa circuit at the top of this story and you are reminded why we cannot afford to lose race tracks like this. Tell me of a modern circuit with those sorts of gradient on the track and such a breathtaking backdrop provided by the trees.

    Also all the building look like they could be made from Lego. That’s what we want in a racetrack!!! It LOOKS fun! Come on Mr Tilke! Get your multi coloured blocks out next time you’re designing another souless shell of a track.

    1. Brent McMaster says:

      Absolutely agree. Spa is on my bucket list(Canadian), I only hope Ecclestone doesn’t drop it in the next 4 or 5 years.

    2. Nick Thornton says:

      Have a look at the new Indian track. I think you will like it

  40. Dave says:

    I’ll go with 16th, purely because (at the time of me writing this) no one else has guessed 16th!

    James – I’m a big big fan of your blog but I have a request – might be too much work but certainly would be useful. It’d be great if you could you add track layouts to the site, that you can link to when mentioning corner names. I know most of the track layouts, but don’t really know many of the corners by name, so when talking about Les Combes and Pouhon it’d be really useful to be able to click on them and see a map of the track with the corner names listed.


    1. James Allen says:

      That’s a really good idea, thanks

  41. Dave says:

    Ooops – didn’t add where he’ll finish.

    I’ll go with qualify = 16th, finish = 8th.

  42. Robert McKay says:

    “If Red Bull does prevail, it will be the first time in 11 years that a team other than McLaren and Ferrari has won at Spa and would be a strong statement in that respect.”

    Nice statistic. Hadn’t realised the big 2 had carved up Spa so comprehensively over that period.

    Of course we all remember Jordan in 1998 but it is a little bit surprising noone else “unexpected” has won it since then, not even Renault during their championship seasons.

    1. Charlie B says:

      “…not even Renault during their championship seasons.”

      That’s because one year the race was not run due to circuit improvements, and the other was 2005 where Kimi Raikkonen when won and arguably, the McLaren was the better car.

      1. Robert McKay says:

        Good point, I’d forgotten about the year it dropped off the calendar :-)

        Still it is a surprising stat given the potential for inclement weather and surprising results.

    2. Dan says:

      That was a surprising stat. Force India came one KERS battery charge away from a win last year, and Williams was a favorite during its years of BMW giving them the most powerful lump on the grid, but I guess it goes to show that the two top teams typically employ the top drivers and those top drivers excel on a driver’s track like Spa even if the car isn’t the perfect match for the circuit.

  43. Aaron Paterson says:

    Schumacher will start in 15th and finish in 5th. Beat That.

    Go Hamilton!!

  44. Ben G says:

    Grid – 22
    Race – 7

    PS – the probability of getting it right is 1 in 676…

    1. Bruce Hoult says:

      No, it’s much lower than that. So far this season he’s qualified somewhere between 5th and 15th and finished between 4th and 15th (and one DNF). There are only 143 combinations in those ranges. Most of the remaining 543 combinations are very unlikely.

      In fact the chances are strong he’ll qualify (before the penalty) between 7th and 11th. WIth the penalty he’s not going to make it into the top 8 by the end of the race, but equally he is unlikely to fail to overtake all the HRTs, Virgins, and Lotuses and probably the Saubers as well, so I’d say there’s at least a 60% or 70% chance of it being one of those 5 x 9 = 45 combinations.

      I got first dibs on both qualifying and finishing 11th (21 after penalty) so we shall see :-)

      1. Ben G says:

        Yes, quite right, for MSC in this case it is lower than 676, given he cannot start higher than tenth – I meant the probability generally for choosing any combination grid slot and finish. And in fact I got that wrong anyway, as there are only 24 cars not 26, so generally it is 1 in 624.

        For Spa, the probability of getting MSC’s positions are 14 (grid 11 or 12 or 13 etc, which is 1 + 1 + 1 etc), multiplied by the possible result of 1st down to 24th. So that makes 1 in 336.

        Topless… I think it can’t be 24 or a DNF, which gives 15 x 24 = 350, as you are effectively creating an extra car.

      2. Bruce Hoult says:

        And indeed he qualified 11th and will start 21st :-)

        Bring it on!!

    2. Andy says:

      Even with pure guesses, knowing nothing of the relative strengths of the teams and assuming race positions do not correlate with quali positions, the probability is higher (1 in 416) as he can not qualify in top 10. ;)

      Of course, knowing that there is a strong correlation between quali and race positions increases the probability to guess right significantly.

    3. Really? That sounds quite high…

      I’m no mathemeticion, but I make it 351 (mathematically)

      There are 14 positions he could potentially qualify in (11th to 24th), and 25 possible race results (first through to 24th or DNF)

      Multiply the 14 by the 25 and you get 350. Throw in the possibility he may not turn up (remember we’re talking maths) and therefore not qualify at all, makes it 351.

      Have I missed something?

  45. Joakim says:

    I think Schumacher will qualify 17th and finnish in 5th place.

  46. Rungs says:

    Not much mention of McLaren in this piece, which doesn’t bode well for Hamilton, Button and co!

    Really hope they don’t fade out of contention and come back strong over the next two races – the season has been so exciting so far, it would be a pity if Red Bull aren’t even challenged in the run-in. Especially if the FIA are going to sting Ferrari with a points-penalty.

  47. René Brandenburg says:

    MS will qualify 17th and finish 8th

  48. Critch says:

    Qualify 18th
    Finish 7th

  49. Vinoo says:

    He will qualify 16th after the penalty

  50. Howard Hughes says:

    He’ll qualify 16th and finish 4th.

  51. Qualify in 20th and finish in 12th.

  52. Eoghan says:

    To qualify: 20th
    To finish: 10th

  53. Andrew says:

    My guess:

    Qualify : Last
    Finish : P14

  54. W says:

    Schumi will qualify 17th and finish 7th…

  55. Harvey Yates says:

    Thanks for that, James.

    The projections and such all depend on the weather though. It is pretty pointless depending on forecasts. I stayed in a German hotel just ten miles from the circuit and woke to teaming rain on race day. By the time sausages was over it was sunny and on the drive to the circuit it rained, then dried out, then became so misty I felt the need to find out were the fog lights were on our borrowed car. It was a lovely, warm and dry race.

    My companion, a seasoned Spa visitor, told me not to ask our hosts what the weather was going to be like as they’d only laugh.

    On an interesting note, we drove along a road which, on the German side was perfect but at the border became potholed and all but impassable in our TVR T350. On questioning the hotel staff on it in Germany they went all French and just shrugged. The Belgians were more forthcoming: it was the road used by the first thrust of the German invasion. There’s nothing like being subtle.

    Nothing like it in fact.

    So anyone has a chance, F-ducts, flexible wings and grid drops not withstanding.

    And talking of notwithstanding, surely the stewards must have intimated what these new tests would be. If not it seems very unfair to me. They’ve pushed the regs to the limit but have conformed to them. What are engineers supposed to do? Are they going to test the front wings for smell, colour or knowledge of Sanskrit?

    This seems almost like a punishment. Foul is the word that springs to mind.

    It is a surprise to find that McLaren are bringing nothing new to Spa. Or are they just keeping mum?

    Renault might well be up there at the front with their F-duct. They were contenders before its fitting. They should be worth watching.

    If the Ferrari mods do as you suggest and continue their move towards Red Bull then Alonso might well win. But what about Massa? If there is a bit of precipitation and he ends up in front of Alonso it will give everyone a laugh. What will Ferrari do then?

    We will want to keep tuned in to the Ferrari radio full time.

    You seem to be suggesting that there will be no points penalty for Alonso and Massa. I’ve got to say I don’t think that fair. They cheated. I don’t think the other drivers should have their points increased but to allow the drivers to profit from their deliberate and planned rule breaking would set a very odd precedent.

    Would the FIA canvas the teams for their opinions as to what the penalties should be?

    You say the rule will be clarified. Do you mean changed? It is clear that Ferrari broke the rules as they exist now.

    One thing is certain: this is a big test of Todt.

    Good old Rubens. 300 eh! Shame the film title is already taken. And what’s this about the Williams team being sentimental. Really?

    Sorry to be critical but did your all but penultimate paragraph contain a literal in the first line? Should it read that Schumacher accepts he’s over the hill? To be fair, I don’t think he tried to put RB into the wall. He just drove dangerously and nearly put him into the wall: a significant difference.

    I’m really looking forward to this weekend. It should prove exciting. Lots and lots of imponderables.

    What a season.

  56. Jason Greer says:

    Qualify: 22nd
    Finish: 16th

  57. Stuart Fenton says:

    The ol’ German will start last. Finish 13th after a battle with Jaime

  58. Carl 21 says:

    qualify 21st

    finish 12th.

  59. Faisal says:

    I think Michael will start ahead of two HRTs and finish somewhere between 12-15. However with rain, he might just finish top 10

  60. Elle says:

    My guess is he’ll qualify 21st after the penalty and finish 13th.

    Hope Rubens has a good race.

  61. **Paul** says:

    Schumacher to qualify 17th and finish 8th

    1. **Paul** says:

      PS – McLaren are still my favourites for Spa, they have so much straightline speed that I think even if RBR are faster they’ll be able to pass them on lap 1 and keep the RBR cars behind them in sector 2!

  62. Kalim says:

    Michael Schumacher will qualify 15th and finish 7th.

  63. Arjen says:

    Schumi will start the race from P23 and will not finish the race (DNF).

  64. Luke A says:

    Hi James,

    Have you heard about the new “tougher” FIA tests that are set to be introduced at Monza? I have just read the article on autosport and it looks like they will be focussing much more on the floor.

    Something else interesting is that it will revise the rules on skid blocks:-

    “Furthermore, it is understood that the FIA is to revise the regulations regarding skid blocks, to ensure that joints in this area do not allow freedom that could help the floor to flex.

    From the Italian Grand Prix it is understood that the skid block can comprise of no more than two pieces, and that no piece of the skid block can be less than one metre long. A number of teams are understood to use several sections of skid block on the underside of their floor.”

    Do you think that this and the addtional floor tests will hurt many of the teams much? Will it require them to make major modifications to the car? Furthermore, and most importantly, while Red Bull are expected to pass the new tests at Belgium, have you heard any rumour that they may be a little more worried about these focused on the floor at Monza?

    To me, although I see that the FIA has to give the teams time to get ready for the new tests as there will be an actual change in the regulations, I think it is a little unfair if Red Bull use a wing at Spa that would not pass the tests at the next race. A fairer solution would be to make Red Bull bring the car in its exact replica state of Spa and have that tested out too and if it is found guilty, to dock their points for Spa.

    Thoughts? This is probably worth an article.

    1. Martin says:

      If the regulations are changed for Monza, then what is raced at Spa is irrelevant. The simple fact is that as tested, and the tests form part of the regulations, the Red Bull has been legal in qualifying and race conditions all season. James has written previously that the Red Bull has been changed overnight based on rulings by the FIA that the interpretation is too creative.

      Also you shouldn’t assume that it the Red Bull that is pushing the underfloor rules the most.

  65. Ben bailey says:

    I think its becoming increasingly clear that red bull and ferrari are favourites for spa at they have cars that do not comply with the regulations on no flexing bodywork,be it the wings (the obvious answer but seems unlikely) or a very clever and articulated floor. What is disappointing is that unlike brawn last year this is not a clever interppetition of the regs like the double diffuser but a cynical way of circum navigating the deflection tests. We know this because the fia is banning the use of articulated floors at monza. Why would you have an articulated floor if not to have a flexing floor that is illegal. Sorry but this news has tainted this championship for me as the RB cars have run this most of the year. No wonder they were so much faster in the quick stuff than the non flexing cars…

    1. Luke A says:

      I agree completely!

    2. Patrickl says:

      Let’s wait and see if the RB cars actually go any slower after the tests have been fully installed.

  66. john brink says:

    Hi James. I think that he will qualify 6th and move back to 16th. He will finish 3rd – Hows that for confidence in my F1 hero

  67. theothercoldone says:

    Since Schumacher started his career here many moons ago (and was a Mercedes driver also at that stage, until Eddie ‘the pundit’ Jordan was paid for his services to replace Gachot!). I’m going to say that he qualifies 7th so will start 17th on the grid, and not finish, due to a mechanical problem.

  68. James Bond says:

    Q – 23

  69. William says:

    Schumacher will qualify 23rd and will not finish the race.

  70. sw6569 says:

    qualy 23rd finish 15th

  71. SkyTom says:

    Schumacher will qualify 1st (11th) and finish the race in 9th.

  72. mo kahn says:

    Schumacher is already concentrating of 2011. For him this is the year of aclimatisation. Next year, (as I’ve been advocating since the start of the season) is where he’ll display his true colours. So this is year is all about winding down the laps.

    Spa is unpredictable when it comes to the infamous belgian weather. It can rain at one part of the track while the other remains bone dry. So the elements play an equally important role in Spa as a car or driver would. The only one man which conquered all of these elements and won was the true King of Spa – Kimi Raikkonen. Since he is not racing, a certain percentage of excitement is already in deficit.

    So, Spa this year will be to search for the New King of Spa and its unlikely anyone can match Kimi here. For Spa is a very special world to every single formula one fan. Its a championship in itself.

    There is a great possibility of Rain at Spa, its a part of the Package. And if it rains then it’ll be Hamilton, for He is unmatched in rain (since Shuey is aclimatising). No Webber or Vettel can match Hamilton in rain, so the Redbulls will be ruled out of contention for the win.

    However, it is the Ferraris that is holding interest for me with their major back end upgrade.. An unknown element. So in rains it’ll be Lewis v/s. how the Ferrari new back-end would react.

    If it remains dry then I’m not quite sure Redbull would be able to dominate as everyone is predicting them to, for I still feel they carry a driver deficit for the car is light years ahead to anything on the grid. And Bernie is Right when he says Schumacher would’ve won the Championship had be been racing a Redbull.

    For there are only Four Drivers that are the class above rest

    1. Michael
    2. Alonso
    3. Lewis
    4. Kubica

    Vettel: needs to get his act together and not keep self-destructing himself.

    Webber: He is giving his everything he is got this year, which is applaudable, but the question is.. is he taking everything out from that masterclass of a machine? I strongly think not.. for this you need to ask yourself one question: Where would Michael, Alonso, Kimi, Lewis, Kubica would’ve been in this stage of the Championship and leading by how much in relation to where Webber is (which he is leading) and leading by how much.

    To sum it up.. Kimi will be missed and Ferraris new back end will be watched.

    Happy Spa everybody :)

    1. Pawel says:

      By now Schumi has shown reluctance to give the gifts to others only. In order to display true colors he needs a better car. Apart from car performance there are rumors his real problems come from lack of on-board track control system. Which may pose question mark on his driving skills…

  73. Chris George says:

    I think he’ll qualify 18th and finish 10th

  74. Abhi says:

    MSC will qualify 17th.
    Finish 11th

  75. Paul says:

    I think schumi will qualify 11th (21st post penalty) and cross the finish line in 8th place. It would be great to see some classic Schumacher at this most classic of race tracks!

  76. Stephen W says:

    Have i made a prediction yet…………..?

    Well if not here goes.

    Qualify 20th.

    Finish 9th.
    Alonso for pole! Oh and a win!!!!!!!!

  77. Richard says:

    Qualify 21 and finish 11

  78. David Smith says:

    Qualify – 22nd
    Finish – 14th

  79. Martin says:


    I was interested in the comment on the new Ferrari gearbox. I remember reading on Autosport a comment by Adrian Newey about the gearboxes having to be homologated for four years from this year. I only every found this one reference. I commented on it once on the site and the response (rpaco I think) was that this was probably a Concorde agreement thing. The interpretation I took at the time was that Newey stayed with the pullrod rear suspension and its different gearbox configuration even though pushrods were better for the double diffuser as Adrian was investing in the next three years of single diffusers.

    Do you know anything about a gearbox freeze?

  80. Paul says:

    Qualify 19th after penalty

    Finish 10th

  81. Galapago555 says:

    Schummie will qualify 17th (7th plus 10 position penalty) and finish 8th.

    Seems we will have a very rainy weekend… ;-)

  82. Gavin Marshall says:

    Start 19th, finish 12th

  83. Mattij says:

    Schumi will qualify 21th, and finish rather impressively in 9th!

  84. VonSpeeX says:


  85. silencer says:

    My guess would be schumacher will

    Qualify: 17th
    Finish: 8th

    finger cross

  86. rafa says:

    quali 22nd and dnf. Go michael!

  87. Jacob says:

    Schumacher will be 18th in qualifying and 10th at the race!

  88. Brent McMaster says:

    Schumacher-start 17th finish 11th. The photo of the Red Bull it looks like the front of the nose is flexing, like the Concorde, as well as the wing tips.

  89. Andy B says:

    Qualify 18th – finish 13th

  90. Chris H says:

    In for a penny.

    Qualify 21st.

    Finish 11th

  91. andy mcc says:

    i think he will qualify 20th and finish 12

  92. Greg says:

    Mr. Allen – I already have your book, and I couldn’t put it down. As a massive Villeneuve (elder and younger) fan, I had to know more about Schumacher. I couldn’t have asked for a more insightful book. So please take me out of the running for the prize.

    However — I’d wager he’ll qualify 18th, and finish ‘lucky’ 13th.

    I’m not a big fan of his, but I like his new relaxed attitude at Merc. I do hope he gets back on it because regardless of his antics, he’s fantastic to watch.

    Keep up the great work.

  93. James Donald says:

    Schumacher will qualify 21st, finish 10th.

  94. Barrie says:

    If a new Ferrari gearbox is part of Ferrari’s upgrade, then only Felipe Massa will have the full package, as he is due a new gearbox at Spa. Fernando Alonso will not get a new gearbox until Singapore.

  95. Caanan says:

    I predict Schumacher will qualify 20th and finish 11th.

  96. Jim says:

    Qualify last and crash out in the first 2 laps…

  97. tim fry says:

    im going for 21st! and after his driving this season im suprised he hasnt been around this position at all of the races

  98. May as well do something different…

    After penalty, He’ll be 13th and Finish 3rd!

    Going to SPA! I’m getting into the Merc garage for the race, so will have to pretend to support MSC and ROS this weekend. I’m McLaren fan…

  99. Neil says:

    Schumacher to qualify 21st

  100. Neil says:

    Schumacher to qualify 21st and finish 11th

  101. Dan says:

    I think MS will start 17th and finish 10th.

  102. Aussie Racer says:

    Q: 15
    R: 6

  103. stuartrav says:

    Hi James,

    Schumacher will I think qualify 18th and finish 11th. I have my fingers crossed for the book!

  104. KenN0898 says:

    MS will start in 19th position after the 10 spot penalty and will finish the race in 15th place

  105. Ozzi says:

    Sorry, that was meant to be Schumacher qualify 19th and finish 12th.

  106. Kedar says:

    I am guessing he will start from the pitlane, in the event he does am I eligible for the book autographed by you James?

    1. James Allen says:

      If no one else got there first. Where will he finish?

  107. Red5 says:

    Good luck Rubens. It has been a long journey.

    As for Schumi – He’ll take pole and win from the front.

    Sorry, that should be start from the back and finish out of the points, 11th.

  108. Luke R says:

    I could be wrong, surely suffering from wishful thinking, but I have a feeling Michael will be a surprise this weekend.

    Quali – 16th
    Finish – 5th.

    Also, I don’t think it’s reasonable to overly chastise Adrian for building a supremely fast car. There are rules which govern the design and construction of the cars, and then there are tests which determine whether or not the cars follow those rules. The FIA cannot simply say, “Flexing wings are not allowed,” or “Flexing floors are not allowed.” As Martin Whitmarsh was quoted as saying in, I think, Autosport (although I’m sure it was also elsewhere), you can’t have an infinitely rigid wing or floor. So, the FIA have to set the parameters as to what constitutes flexing. The best designers look for what is not in the rules. Adrian obviously saw something missing in the rulebook and went for it. That’s not cheating. That’s brilliance. If the FIA didn’t want him to do whatever it is he’s done, they should have done a better job of writing the rules.

  109. ohjens says:

    So glad we’re back. Will they cut down on the break when there are more races on the calendar?

    Schumacher to qualify 21st and DNF.

  110. Mat Arkle says:

    MSC will qualify 24th

    MSC will finish 15th

    Main reasons are Mercedes is a high drag car with poor f-duct so he will qualify 14th+10pp.

    In the race he will get past the 6 slowest cars and attrition will make up the rest.

  111. Andrew C. says:


    qualify 11 + 10 – start 21
    passes 12 cars to finish 9

    rosberg finishes 5

    Andrew C.

  112. sixtenths says:

    Never mind Schumi, there is a title race going on… Spa is looking to stay wet, one driver out there is frequently performing way better than all his peers in the wet, as he is at overtaking in all conditions. A win for Lewis would be great for the title fight too :)

  113. bg says:

    MSC to qualify 20th and in the race DNF.
    Great site James!

  114. Brandon Merrell says:

    Michael will start 19th and finish 13th.

  115. Brandon Merrell says:

    Clarification. Someone already said 19th > 13th.

    I change my guess to qualifying 19th and finishing 8th.

  116. SHIPARCH says:

    I think Schumy will start 21st with the added penalty and finish the race 12.

  117. Jonathan Vogt says:

    Quali 21st and finish 15th.

  118. Ash says:

    Qualify 20th, race DNF.

    1. bg says:

      I think I got that one first!

  119. Arnoldo says:

    He will start 16th, finish 5th

  120. randy leach says:

    qualify 21 (11)
    finish 11

  121. Ibrahim Patel says:

    starts in the pits…and finishes 11th

  122. F1 Kitteh says:

    he will qualify 23rd and finish 9th.

  123. JohnBt says:

    Finally Spa is here!!!

    Scattered rain on raceday!

    Shumi 18th – finish 13th.

  124. Shilts says:

    I reckon he’ll start 23rd and finish 15th.

  125. Andrew Davies says:

    In comparison to previous races this season, I think Schumacher may actually finish higher up the field simply because of the predicted rain and it’s Spa! Regardless of the justified (and unjustified) criticism, I don’t suppose he’s lost all his mastery in the wet. Guess he’ll start 15th on grid, and finish 4th.

    Interesting to hear your comments on earlier postings about the FIA’s proposed new tests to bottom out the regulations on flexible body work (including floor). It seems clear to me that RBS and Ferrari have designed their cars in order to manage the existing tests of the regulations, rather than designing cars to meet the letter/purpose of the regs. Equally it will be interesting to see how the Tifosi will react come Monza if Ferrari is punished for team orders, and should its less flexible car be back in mid table!

  126. James says:

    Qualify 21st
    retire from race (is this allowed?)

  127. Momo says:

    Schumi’ll qualify 13th.

    1. Momo says:

      Sorry, and finish 9th.

  128. Chris-J says:

    I think Michael will qualify 20th and finish 8th.

    Incidentally, I’m glad he has apologised to Rubens for his actions in the last race, but one wonders if this was a genuine act or an act forced by the backlash he has received from many fans and the media? Michael never could handle being seen as the villan, just remember his attitude and body manner on the the podium on that fateful day in Austria 2002!!

  129. dren says:

    He’ll qualify last, break a wing on the first lap, and finish 13th.

  130. Nick172 says:

    Schuey will:

    Qualify – 19th
    Finish – 11th

    1. Nick172 says:

      Someone got there before me. can I change this to 18th quali and 8th race. Cheers.

  131. BRNDLL says:

    I say he will qualify 18th and finish 8th. Thanks for this chance at your book. I bought your last one. Great stuff.

  132. Darren says:

    Qualify 19th will finish 7th after a cracking drive

  133. OppositeLock says:

    Since the design of the Red Bull wing has been run by Charlie Whiting (and approved) I find it curious that the FIA will impose an additional test at Monza on top of the stricter test for Spa. Since the FIA know exactly what is going on with the wing, surely they can design a test designed specifically towards limiting the flex operation of the RB wing.

    Granted, they have not seen the inner workings of the Ferrari wing. Perhaps it is aimed at them.

  134. Michael C says:

    qualify 20th finish 8th

  135. Michael C says:

    bugger ! just noticed I have been beaten to the previous prediction sorry – quali 21st finish 8th

  136. Tim Horton says:

    Im going to say Qualify in 18th and finish the race in 10th.

  137. Ramesh says:

    qualify 20th,
    finish 9th

  138. Sam says:

    Qualify 22nd
    Finish 9th

  139. Andrew Minett says:

    Schumacher will qualify in 20th and finish in 12th. Can’t wait to see this race!

  140. Arul D says:

    Shumi, will qualify in 9th place and finish in 9th Place.

  141. Tim. says:

    Q 16th
    He will not finish the race. he will take himself out and one other car..not his team mate nor RB!

  142. AndyK says:

    Im gonna go for a decent 17th and finish in 9th

  143. Neil Jenney says:

    I think MS will qualify 17th and then crash into Rubens on the first lap, ruining RB’s 300th GP. He’ll DNF but 2 other cars will already be gone on the first corner so… 22nd?

  144. Gaspar says:

    Schumacher position in the grid : 17 (7) . He will be finishing 4th .

  145. Qiang says:

    Schumacher will start the race 21st and finish 3rd.

  146. paddy says:

    I think 16th place after quai and 4th in the race i expecting a lot of fireworks up front. Bring on Spa go Mark Webber!!!!!

  147. tom glasberg says:

    I gues qual 21st and finish 9th

  148. Andy V says:

    I think he’ll qualify 21st as he won’t want to waste tyres by getting to Q3 if he’s starting near the back anyway. He’ll end up having a decent race and finish 9th.

  149. SPIDERman says:

    SCHUMACHER will get q3 position 6, start the race 16th on the grid and will finish 3rd on the podium
    this purely if it rains as expected
    The Mclarens have a problem with ride height and unless they do something to ride their cars lower then they can kiss both tittles goodbye.
    I HAVE studied their cars and the feraris plus the red bulls in relation to downforce,stability in corners,ride height and turning angles,and have concluded that in relation to the other two cars ie redbull and ferari ,the mclaren looks like or appears to be like a giraffe on stilts
    …AND also the mclaren appears too long and does not glide through the corners as easily as the redbulls do.

  150. Iain Towler says:

    Schumi will qualify 5th (15th) and finish 8th.

  151. Matt says:

    Start = Pitlane
    Finish = DNF

  152. mo kahn says:

    I have a gut feeling: Irrelevant to where he starts, pitlane included.. Win is on the cards for the driver with most wins: 6.

    Only fools write off Mighty Schumacher.

    I’ll go with Schumacher for the Win :)

  153. Neil says:

    start 21 finnish 8

  154. Daniel says:

    Qualify 23rd
    Race 16th

  155. Nick F says:

    My guess:

    Schumacher qualifies: 19th place
    Finishes: 12th

  156. goodduck says:

    Schumi will start at the back of the grid will not finish the race.

  157. EK says:

    Schumi qualifies 18th and finishes 12th

  158. Jake says:


    Am I right in thinking that there is an explicit rule that no part of the front wing is permitted to flex below a certain hight compared to the bottom of the car? If so, surely, it shouldn’t matter whetehr the FIA tests are passed, if they are clearly breaking the rules they should be punished. I’m sure it’s not difficult to work out from images exactly how low these wings are going.

    Also, I’ve heard the FIA is going to increase the weights on the front wing load test to 100kg, yet, due to the fact that a F1 car will produce at least 200kg of load through downforce (again something i’ve heard, comfirmation would be good), these tests will still be irrelevant.

  159. Sinnae404 says:

    Qualify 20th
    Finish 7th

  160. F1 Novice says:

    Schumacher – Quali: 23rd finish: DNF

  161. Jarek says:

    Q: 19, R: 14

  162. ColinZeal says:

    Schumacher will quailify 23rd and finish 10th

  163. ishaktar says:

    Qualify 23rd but start in pits.
    Finish 12th.

  164. IR-ONE says:

    Qualify – 22nd
    Finish – 13th

  165. Marybeth says:

    From Motorsport.com 8/24/10 ‘Raikkonen predicts strong weekend for Ferrari’
    “Of course, you have to have a good car, and even though the Ferrari last year was not a top car, it was good enough,” he said. “I guess they will be in a strong position (in 2010),” he added…. “Red Bull do not have as good an engine and will not win as easily,” predicted the 2007 world champion.”

  166. Bog says:

    I predict Michael will qualify 20th and will finish 10th.

  167. Kishan says:

    Start 22 finish 10

    If I don’t win I will buy the book.

    Book I read earlier this year was biography about Tommy Byrne. Was he that good? Or were his memoires slightly Rose tinted???

  168. Vader says:

    Qualify 4Th (14Th after penalty)
    Finishes 9Th

  169. Jameson says:

    Qualify: 19th
    Race: DNF

    I’m going with his average qualifying position thus far (plus the penalty), and I’m thinking that there will be rain at the start and an incident involving traffic will take him out.

  170. Dan says:

    James, I agree that Red Bull will be the fastest, but I am not wondering… Even if they qualify 1 + 2, Surely they have a good chance of being overtaken in sector 1, lap 1 (I’m a RBR fan btw).

  171. Chinmay says:

    i think Schumacher will qualify 23 after his 10 place grid penalty and he will finish 12th…hope m lucky this time around…..cheers…:)

  172. Tristan says:

    Schubert will start 19th and finish 8th.

  173. Luke Osborne says:

    I’ll have a go as well at guessing the position MS will start and finish.

    I believe he’ll make Q3, grab 7th but obviously start 17th (assuming no-one else has any penalties as well). He’ll finish 11th.

  174. Ben says:

    Schumi will qualify 12th (22nd) and finish 12th

  175. Jeff Holst says:

    Schumi will qualify 11th and finish 10th.

  176. Chaitanya says:

    I believe Schumi starts 19th and DNF.

  177. Jay Nava says:


  178. Pawel says:

    Referring to leading teams competitivness I would add to technically must-haves the ground-touching-front-wings.

  179. mojo says:

    q 17th and finish 3rd

    the weather will be trolling :)

  180. Adam says:

    He will qualify 21st and go on to win the race.

    (No chance of course, but nobody else has said it so I may as well cover all bases in case of the truly unexpected happening).

    1. Johnny Carwash says:

      Why predict if there is no chance..?

  181. BMG says:

    14th, James i’m surprised you are going for a Redbull win when Redbull are saying they will struggle in spa. Do you know something that we don’t? I just put a $50 bet on Ferrari.

  182. TEX says:

    Qualify 20th.
    Finish 12th.

  183. Victor says:

    James, I agree with you on Max’s comments (a story not so different from the Webber/Vettel incident in Turkey – Max and Helmut Marko were the only guys to put the blame on Mark).
    Max has had a go on several top team owners/principals: Ferrari, McLaren, Renault. What I just realised is that Frank Williams (a top team a few years ago) is one of the few who, I think, avoided confrontation. For what it is worth.

  184. Jeff in Melbourne says:

    Hi James, I’m going to be bold (gambling on a wet quali and race) and say shumi will start 15th and finish 5th.

  185. Paul C says:

    Herr Schumacher lines up in 23rd and is classified 19th.

  186. Jim says:

    james, don’t know if you’ve seen it, but there’s a photo doing the rounds of the whole nose on the redbull bending down, not just the wing. Originated from ESPN I think. Could well be a photoshop job, but worth checking out maybe?


  187. Padmanabh says:

    Qualify : 21
    Finish : 10

  188. Linda says:

    ‘If Red Bull does prevail, it will be the first time in 11 years that a team other than McLaren and Ferrari has won at Spa.’

    …or rather the first year Kimi Raikkonen is no longer competing at Spa.

    Schumacher, qualify – 18th, finish – 7th

    1. mtb says:

      Kimi was not competing there in ’99 and 2000.

  189. F1Maniac says:

    Qualify: 19

    Race: 9th

  190. Dee says:

    Qualify 23rd and finish 17th

  191. Mr Anderson says:

    Qualify 21st
    Finish 8th

  192. Mr Anderson says:

    Qualify 21st
    Finish 8th

  193. Omar Kamal says:

    Start: 22
    Finish: 13

  194. Pawel says:

    Q: 22
    Finish: 14

  195. sebastiano says:

    I think he’ll qualify 15th and finish 8th

  196. Racyboy says:

    Start 16th
    Finish 8th

  197. Robert says:

    To Qualify 21st and to Finish 12th

  198. Dizzy says:

    Qual 23rd
    Race 23rd

  199. Christine says:

    Shumacher will start 21st on the grid and finish 11th although I suspect he could be a DNF on Sunday.

  200. Kristus says:

    MSH Q14 R2

  201. Deeren says:

    I think Schumi will qualify 23rd and finish 5th in the race.

  202. Olaf says:

    The great Schumacher will qualify 22nd and finish the race in 5th position.

    (Yes, the weather will play its part)

  203. He will qualify in 22nd place (12th + 10 place drop)

  204. Ronald Ooms says:

    Schumacher will start last ( 24th) and finish in 7th place.

  205. Badhangover says:

    Schumi will qualify 21th and finish 14th

  206. jjpm says:

    Qualifying : 21
    finish: 7th.

  207. Brandon says:

    Q 18 finish 8

  208. Juan says:

    Qualifying: 18th
    Race: 8th

  209. jjpm says:

    Have you said Michael will start in 21st. position on the grid ?
    check-it out :
    cid p-Finish pseudo
    014 dnf Dino
    024 14 Niall
    035 10 Andrew Burley
    038 13 Andreas
    045 11 Bruce Hoult
    059 12 Carl 21
    061 13 Elle
    076 08 Paul
    078 11 Richard
    084 09 Martig
    092 11 Chris H,
    095 10 James Donald
    100 21 tim fry
    103 11 Neil
    112 dnf ohjens
    114 09 andrew C,
    119 12 Shiparch
    120 15 Jonathan Vogt
    123 11 Randy Leach
    129 dnf James
    138 08 Michael C
    148 03 Qiang
    150 09 tom glasberg
    151 09 Andy V
    156 08 Neil
    178 10 Jeff Holst
    183 01 Adam
    190 10 Padmanabh
    194 08 Mr Anderson
    200 12 Robert
    202 11 Christine
    208 14 Badhangover
    209 07 jjpm

  210. jjpm says:

    Hi James,
    I’ll be delighted to receive your dedicated book!
    Sorry for all of you guys and gals! good game!

  211. Adam says:


    Quali – last
    Race – DNF

  212. John says:

    Someone already wrote 19th, DNF so I change to 19th and finish 13th.


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