Tous Avec Jules #17
Sochi 2014
Russian Grand Prix
Teams head to Spa: Close fight for victory expected
News
XPB.cc
Posted By: James Allen  |  20 Aug 2013   |  8:25 am GMT  |  109 comments

The Summer Shutdown has ended and F1 is going racing again!

The Spa Francorchamps circuit, home of the Belgian GP, has a very strong history in F1, going right back to the first year of competition in 1950 and is one of the drivers’ and engineers’ favourite tracks. It has the longest lap of any modern F1 track at over seven kilometers.

Last year one of the key issues for teams to decide in their strategy planning was whether to go for a low down force set up, with less wing, to help straight line speed in sectors one and three, or whether to go for more down force to help with sector 2. Gearing was also important and several drivers found themselves with a less than ideal combination of gearing and down force, with the result that they were hitting the rev limiter on the Kemmel Straight and losing speed.

All of this led to a mixed up grid with two Saubers and a Williams at the front, Red Bull struggling for pace, with Sebastian Vettel in 10th place on the grid and Lewis Hamilton down in seventh with the wrong set up, tweeting his team mate’s (correct) set up sheet in frustration.

Spa provides one of the sternest tests of an F1 engine, with around 70% of the lap spent at full throttle. The run from La Source hairpin to the braking point for Les Combes features 23.5 seconds of constant full throttle. For this reason teams rotate the engine use from their allocation of eight engines per driver for the season, so they do not use the same engine at the next race in Monza, another tough one on engines.

Spa these days, with high downforce cars and DRS wings, is flat out for most of the lap.

Qualifying is not hugely significant to final race result; the pole sitter has only won the race four times in the last 12 years. Overtaking is not a problem at Spa and the DRS wing makes it very straighforward anyway.

In addition to the long straights there are quite a lot of high G-force corners, similar to Silverstone, which take their toll on the tyres. This year Pirelli has brought medium and hard tyres, which will be very durable. After the dramas of Silverstone and the tyre failures, Pirelli will want a quiet, conservative weekend in Spa.


Track characteristics

Spa Francorchamps – 7.004 kilometres. Race distance – 44 laps = 308.052 kilometres. 19 corners in total. Average speed 238km/h. Circuit based on public roads.

Aerodynamic setup – Medium downforce. Top speed 322km/h (with Drag Reduction System active on rear wing) – 312km/h without.

Full throttle – 70% of the lap (high). Total fuel needed for race distance – 144 kilos (high). Fuel consumption – 3.2kg per lap (high)

Time spent braking: 14% of lap. Number of brake zones – 6. Brake wear- Low.

Loss time for a Pit stop = 18 seconds (average)
Total time needed for pit stop: 21 seconds

Fuel effect (cost in lap time per 10kg of fuel carried): 0.38 seconds (high)


Form Guide

The Belgian Grand Prix is the eleventh round of the 2013 FIA F1 World Championship and comes after the teams’ enforced two week factory shutdown, during which no development or fabrication work may be carried out.

However many teams will have been planning a significant Spa upgrade in the weeks prior to the shutdown.

The Mercedes was the car to beat before the break and this race will be an important test of whether it has overcome its tyre management issues. Hungary indicated that it has, but the high loadings on the tyres at Spa will really show it. The Mercedes will be very fast in Sectors 1 and 3 on the lap, with the long straights and a couple of low speed corners, while the Red Bull is always fast on the middle sector, where downforce is key.

The Lotus is good everywhere and may well be able to benefit from its Double DRS device, to gain extra speed on the straights. However if it is not switching properly, the potential loss is greater than the gain. Last year Lotus struggled with tyre warm up on race day and was not able to challenge for the win.

It is a circuit on which Force India has always gone well.

As far as drivers’ form is concerned, Kimi Raikkonen has always been outstanding here, winning four times. Sebastian Vettel won in 2011 while Lewis Hamilton, Jenson Button and Felipe Massa have all won here. Fernando Alonso has never won at Spa.

Weather Forecast

Spa is notorious for fickle weather. With such a long lap, it can be raining on one part of the circuit and the rest can be dry. Also the temperatures can fluctuate dramatically, so it can be 25 degrees one day and 15 degrees the next. This can have a significant effect on the cars. The forecast for this weekend is for unusually warm and sunny weather, with temperatures around 22 degrees.

However this can change very quickly and it’s always a good idea to factor in a wet weather plan.


Likely tyre performance and other considerations

Pirelli tyre choice for Spa: Medium (while markings) and hard (orange markings). This is the first time this combination has been seen with the updated specification of tyres, post Silverstone.

In 2011 Pirelli brought the soft and medium tyre to Spa, last year they went to medium and hard and the result was a win for Jenson Button in the McLaren on a one-stop strategy.

Button was able to comfortably do the race with only one stop. His second stint, on the hard compound Pirelli tyre, was almost 170km. Sebastian Vettel finished second also on a one-stop strategy. They were helped by four early laps under the safety car after the start-line pile up triggered by Romain Grosjean, which took less out of the tyres than normal when they were heavy with fuel. This led a number of teams to switch strategy from a two to a one-stop, but not everyone pulled it off. If we see a safety car again this year, teams will clearly think of gambling along similar lines.

As Pirelli has now moved back to the 2012 tyre constructions, albeit with slightly softer compounds, the trend for the second half of the season is again towards fewer stops. This race will be something of an acid test, given Spa’s high loadings on the tyres.

The medium tyre will be easier to warm up and will be the main qualifying tyre. The hard will be more difficult to warm up, but is more durable. Last year, after the opening stint on mediums, most teams defaulted to longer stints on the hard tyre for the rest of the race. One of the key things for teams to establish in Friday practice is whether there is a faster way than this.

Two years ago, Pirelli had problems with blistering on some cars, most notably the Red Bulls, when they ran extreme camber angles. This led to very early first pit stops in the race, which dictated strategy.

Last year’s work on blister resistance helped to avoid a repeat of the problem and after Silverstone this year, Pirelli has successfully brokered with the FIA the right to dictate how its tyres are used by teams to a certain extent.

Number and likely timing of pit stops

The time needed for a stop at Spa is average at around 21 seconds. Although it’s a long pit lane, with a slow exit, the cars staying on the track must navigate a slow hairpin so the lost time isn’t as great as it might be.

Based on the tyre considerations listed above, the majority will probably go for two stops, around laps 13 and 28, but there is a possibility of a one stop strategy, pitting around lap 20. A safety car could push teams to switch from two stops to one.


Chance of a safety car

The chance of a safety car at Spa is statistically very high at 80% and 1.4 per race. Rain is one reason, but also accidents tend to be high speed and so there can be quite a lot of debris. Last year’s race saw a safety car after the pile up at the start triggered by Romain Grosjean, for which he received a one race ban.

Recent start performance

Starts are a critical part of the race and strategy can be badly compromised by a poor start, while good starts can make strategists change their plans in the hope of a good result. Much can change.

As far as 2013 start performance is concerned drivers have gained (+) or lost (-) places off the start line this season on aggregate as follows:

Gained:

+17 Van der Garde*****


+16 Massa



+14 Di Resta


+13 Maldonado


+13 Perez


+10 Gutierrez


+9 Sutil***


+8 Button


+3 Chilton


+3 Vettel


+2 Alonso


+1 Pic


Lost

:

-2 Raikkonen



-2 Hulkenberg**

-3 Bottas


-4 Bianchi******


-7 Hamilton


-8 Grosjean
-10 Ricciardo



-11 Rosberg

-12 Webber*


-17 Vergne ****



*Webber dropped from second to seventh after a clutch problem in Australia
** Hulkenberg did not start in Australia *** Sutil suffered puncture from contact with Massa in Bahrain ****Vergne retired following collision. *****Van der Garde and Maldonado made contact in Monaco. ******Bianchi started from pit lane in Monaco after stalling


Pit Stop League Table

Of course good strategy planning also requires good pit stop execution by the mechanics and we have seen tyre stops carried out in just over two seconds by F1 teams.
It is clear that the field has significantly closed up in pit stops.
The league table below shows the order of the pit crews based on their fastest time in the Hungarian Grand Prix, from the car entering the pit lane to leaving it.

1. Red Bull 21.343s
2. Mercedes 21.454s
3. Ferrari 21.597s
4. Lotus 21.643s
5. Williams 21.880s
6. Toro Rosso 21.996s
7. McLaren 22.107s
8. Marussia 22.159s
9. Sauber 22.303s
10. Caterham 22.384s
11. Force India 22.723s


The UBS Race Strategy Briefing is written by James Allen with input and data from several F1 team strategists and from Pirelli

Featured News
MORE FROM JA ON F1...
Share This:
Posted by:
Category:
109 Comments
  1. hodo says:

    Hi James hasn’t Raikkonen won 4 times? I may be wrong. Anyway he is my pick for the weekend, his track record here is to good too rule him out and it looks like lotus have solved some of their top end speed problems they had last year, even without passive drs. I’m going Hamilton second and vettel third just because he is always there or there abouts. Can’t wait, favourite race of the year!

    1. blackmamba says:

      I think Romain will out shine Kimi this weekend. He is showing some pretty decent form and if he qualifies ahead of Kimi then he just might record his first victory in F1.

      1. hodo says:

        He has great speed when he has it together but seems to suffer terribly when his confidence is shaken. He has had an appalling run in f1 at spa taking out a couple of cars in his first year including the championship leader then we all know how last year went. I hope I am wrong but I think these races may play on his mind a bit and we may see a very reserved approach from him this weekend.

    2. BogRacer says:

      While one can’t overlook Kimi’s record at Spa, I’ll put all my tenners on Hamilton. The fastest current car + the fastest current driver + the ultimate driver’s track which favours a car with a high top speed = a Hamilton wash. FP1, FP2, FP3, Pole, Win.
      The usual suspects will contend, but I suspect Lewis’ closest challenger will be his teammate.
      Podium= Hamilton, Vettel, Rosberg.
      Button and Perez will surprise and trouble Raikkonen, Grosjean and Alonso making for a close fight for 4th. The Force India boys will fight hard with each other with Massa getting in the way to round out the top-11.
      Ya hurd’t here furst!

      1. Mike Martin says:

        Epic:) +1

      2. Quade says:

        I don’t think McLaren will surprise anyone, they’ve been making some decent strides in performance. I think they’ll do pretty well in the race. My prediction is for:

        1. Lewis
        2. Rosberg
        3. Kimi, Grosjean or Vettel
        4. Jenson
        5. Alonso or Massa

  2. Paige says:

    Mercedes certainly looks good for qualifying. It has a straight-line advantage, and it has been quick in medium-speed corners in qualifying- ala Silverstone. If they can keep the tires together in the race as they did at Silverstone, this looks like a Mercedes weekend. If not, I would place a bet on Lotus. They have the current Spamaster on the grid (Kimi), and their ability to manage tires should show up there. And of course, Red Bull is always a threat to win, but I wonder if they will be really disadvantaged with their straight-line deficit.

    In any event, I think this one is shaping up to be the best Belgian Grand Prix in a while. The grid has never been so competitive, with cars being so well matched given their advantages and disadvantages. All of this tends to show itself at Spa.

    1. aveli says:

      prophecy is the least profitable profession. qualifying and race normally show their relative performance.

  3. goferet says:

    Whoop, it’s about time the fans got their F1 fix and yes we return to the scene of the crime after 2012′s epic first lap shunt.

    Truth be told, am disappointed to know there will be no rain at Spa for in my book, rain is what produces mega races at Spa otherwise we see pretty straight forward races with the pole fellow pretty much having an easy win e.g. 2007, 2011 etc

    As for last year, I recall it’s thanks to the rain during free practice that turned the grid on it’s head as drivers didn’t have proper running to ascertain the best setup.

    Regards the tyre choice, I think it’s the right one for with the harder compound tyres, the drivers can push to the maximum which Spa was specifically built for.

    On the topic of upgrades, it seems the top teams just cancel each other out since they all bring upgrades so we’re basically left with the status quo in terms of performance.

    1. Richard says:

      Not necessarily it depends which team makes the biggest improvement or indeed which car has sufficient scope for improvement.

    2. Quade says:

      Upgrades? Ferrari was showing a downward trend among the top teams, so lets see if they pick the ball or Lotus, Red Bull and Merc drop it.

      McLaren and Force India could also upset normal expectations.

  4. goferet says:

    Some Spa stats:

    The Belgian Grand Prix was held at the old, longer Spa track from 1950-1970.

    The modern, shorter version of Spa opened in 1983.

    i) Schumi 6 wins, Senna 5 wins, Clark + Kimi = 4 wins, Fangio + Damon = 3 wins.

    ii) Since 1983: Ferrari 7 wins, Williams 3 wins, Mclaren 11 wins

    iii) Since 1996, only twice has a none Mclaren/Ferrari won i.e. Vettel in 2011 and Damon in 1998.

    iv) Before Schumi’s 1996 win, Ferrari’s last win at Spa was in 1966 (none of Schumi teammates won this race likewise, none of Senna’s teammates won)

    v) The only Ferrari drivers to have won more than one Belgian race are Ascari, Schumi and Lauda (however, Lauda’s wins came at the Zolder track)

    vi) The only Mclaren drivers with more than one win are Senna and Kimi

    vii) Fangio is the only pilot to have won the Belgian race in 3 different teams

    viii) Senna & Clark are the only ones to have won 4 back to back races. Schumi and Kimi have won 3 back to back.

    ix) Since cars have been racing at Spa (1925), Senna is the only ace to have won more than one race from pole and he did so in 4 consecutive years.

    Lauda too won two races from pole but this was at the Zolder circuit.

    x) Since 1983, only dominant cars have won here and gone on to clinch the title i.e. Vettel in 2011 and Schumi 2002/2001.

    Schumi in 1995 and Senna in 1991/1990 are the possible exceptions were winner didn’t have a dominant car and yet still went on to become champion.

    1. Jimbo says:

      “v) The only Ferrari drivers to have won more than one Belgian race are Ascari, Schumi and Lauda (however, Lauda’s wins came at the Zolder track)”

      You forgot Raikkonen, won two races for Ferrari around Spa in 2007 and 2009.

    2. Antti says:

      Kimi won twice as a Ferrari driver as well.

    3. Ash says:

      Kimi won in ’07 and ’09 so should be included alongside Ascari, Schumi and Lauda as a multiple Ferrari winner.

    4. egoFret says:

      . . . addendum . . .

      xi) Since 1925 no driver has enjoyed a completely rain-free career at the circuit.

  5. Lasse says:

    Kimi has 4 wins, not 3.

  6. kingszito says:

    All I need is 90% racing and 10% tyre management! We don’t need fake entertainment, this is not WWE, it’s F1. Please allow the best drivers in the world to race!

    1. Daniel Bryan says:

      Woah, you mean WWE is fake?

      I reckon F1 could do with some more characters though like the WWE what do you think?

      YES YES YES

      1. Doohan says:

        It is the most…….. ELECTRYFING MOTORSPORT OF ALL TIME

      2. ManOnWheels says:

        So who do we place in which car?
        “Million dollar man” Ted DiBiase – Ferrari
        “Macho man” Randy Savage – Ferrari
        Big Boss Man – Mercedes
        Rick “the model” Martel – Mercedes
        Honky Tonk Man – Red Bull
        Jake “the snake” Roberts – Red Bull
        Hulk Hogan – McLaren
        “The Ultimate Warrior” – McLaren
        Shawn Michaels – Lotus
        Marty Jannetty – Lotus

        ..

        Oh, did I mention I’m a bit stuck in the 90s?

  7. goferet says:

    Fun fact:

    Since 1983, only 5 nationalities have won at Spa >>> French 2 wins, Finnish 5 wins, Brazil 6 wins, Germany 7 wins, British 7 wins.

    But in Finland, Germany and Brazil’s case, one driver has been responsible for the bulk of the wins whereas Britain has had 5 different winners.

    So my guess is that, Massa and Vettel may end up becoming 1 time winners at Spa just like Mika.

  8. Spyros says:

    Excellent report, as always!

    The summer’s great, but we’ve missed the action, after so much time debating on nothing but rumours!

  9. Horno says:

    I don’t understand:

    “The track presents one of the highest possible usages of the DRS with over 60% of the lap. Only Monza is higher.”

    DRS is limited this season?

    1. WiLL says:

      Probably a cut and paste from last year

  10. spactus says:

    hello James since you mentioned different setup, one yr on from twitter gate,isnt it time,some journo told us exactly what happened.with Mclaren having a competitive package,and a centralize garage what was the point of vastly different setup?many suspect that Lewis Twitting the info was his passive aggressive way of saying that the team setting him up to fail or more to the point to be beaten By Button.once the Twit came out Mclaren went into media over drive, to demonize Lewis,and the true story of Lewis being undermined got buried Lewis should have just man up and say or twitted what he suspected.we have seen Mclaren bully Ted Kravitz into changing his story when they reported on Button mocking lewis.he had to,as not to loose access.
    Although this is old news now,but why has no one questioned mclaren offering one of the top 3 drivers in F1 a pay cut,why no one questioned twitter gate,no one question 3 consecutive race from Japan to India last year where Lewis had parts incorrectly installed on his car that effectively ended his tittle run?Im just saying

    1. Kidza says:

      I have wondered the same myself. As a Hamilton fan I’m just glad he left McLaren. Mercedes are by far more prepared to back him up for the title push. McLaren would not switch Jenson and Lewis(at Suzuka) when clearly Jenson was out of the championship and Lewis still had a small chance. No doubt what Ferrari would have done under similar circumstances!

    2. Andrew Carter says:

      Due to insufficient practice running from the rain and the nature of the track there was a lot of guessing between the teams on whether to go fo a high downforce set up and gain time throught sector 2 or a low downforce set up and gain through 1 and 3. McLaren decided to hedge their bets and split the set ups, but whether this was the drivers choice or the teams I dont know, though I suspect it was the drivers because Jenson wouldnt take a set up if he didn’t think it would work. In the end low downforce proved the way to go, as was shown by most of the grid.

      Lewis posting of the pic has been a self deffence mechanism by many, a way to prove to people that it wasn’t his fault for being so far off Button. But McLaren were right to be very pissed off with him as he revealed sensitive technical information. A Red Bull engineer described the ride hight info as gold dust because it gave them a very good understanding of the cars aero platform.

      1. Quade says:

        Anybody watching McLaren at the time knew the tweet was a reaction against being on the wrong end of politics. Drivers should not be subject to politics or demonising media storms, so its good he left McLaren.
        Lewis was angry that the team made those setup decisions.

      2. Andrew Carter says:

        I’ve never seen it confirmed anywhere that they weren’t his decisions, or that he opposed them before qualifying. It was the one blip last year where Lewis seemed to revert back to his inept 2011 spec self.

    3. K says:

      Everyone but Hamilton fan agreed it was a silly move by Hamilton. You just cannot do that. There is no conspiracy, it was just Hamilton being not so smart and childish.

    4. aveli says:

      all that has already happened. it’s always better to look forward to what is happening.

  11. Kris says:

    I want to be the first to say it. Massa has never “won” here and Hamilton has won twice.

    1. Andrew Carter says:

      Massa probably performed the worst of everyone that finished in the top 10 at least that day, having him considered the winner always feels wrong.

    2. kingszito says:

      Hamilton has won just once here. Maybe you are referring to his 2008 “win”, which was taken away from him after a 20 second added time penalty for not “properly” giving back position to Kimi after cutting the chicane. Massa inherited the 2008 win as a result of the 20 second added time penalty.

    3. Richard says:

      I know there’s a lot of animosity about it, but Lewis was deemed by the officials to have gained an advantage from leaving the track during that 2008 race. At the speeds Bus Stop is taken, I’m confident in saying that Lewis had the capability to stay on track if he’d backed off, but as he didn’t he got a time penalty. It’s a shame we have to have these arguments every time, but in the end he won the WDC anyway, do we have to bring things like this up all the time? I remember the race like it was yesterday and loved the racing, it was just really exciting!

      1. aveli says:

        is this not when a new rule was invented for an event which had already taken place? it’s all in the past now.
        which team is raikkonen likely to drive for in 2014? red or golden black?

    4. I will says:

      Hamilton won it twice fair & square.

    5. Elie says:

      Let me be the first to correct you.Hamilton lost one for cutting the grass 2008-(25sec penalty)That was the one Felipe ended up winning!

      1. Richard says:

        Yes it was so, but many people think it unfair as he did give the place back, but was deemed not to have waited long enough to take the position back again. I think it was a bit unfair as he clearly would have won the race had he left it after the next bend to pass. He knew he had the speed and was in a hurry to get the job done. I also think it was in an era when the FIA seemed to be a bit neavy handed with penalties dished out to Mclaren no doubt due to the flack they often got from Ron Dennis.

      2. Elie says:

        Not really look at Grosjeans pass on Felipe at Hungary, and Sebs pass on Fernando (Monza 2011?). I don’t have a problem – I think the most critical thing in racing is that you stay “on track”& the greats of the sport – Prost in particular where incredibly good in this regard!

      3. Richard says:

        Elie, The FIA were often criticised for not being consistent enough in the way they handed out penalties. All drivers from time to time leave the track often when given no choice by those that they are racing. The FIA are now more consistent, but there was a time when Ferrari seemed to get a way with it and McLaren were penalised. That being the case it is difficult to compare eras.

      4. Quade says:

        As someone mentioned in another post, a brand new rule had to be invented after the race to justify Lewis strange punishment. Its what you call magic.
        I’m sure the monitoring of that brand new rule ended with that race as well.

    6. Stuart Harrison says:

      :)

    7. Thabang says:

      Here here…

    8. BogRacer says:

      Here Here!

    9. BogRacer says:

      It was a ridiculous penalty given all the circumstances involved, evidenced by the fact that we’re still discussing it today. I’m a huge fan of Raikkonen, but let’s be clear on the actual events:
      1-Kimi ran Lewis off at the chicane. Lewis was fully alongside, even marginally ahead on the outside, but Kimi took an offensive line and forced Lewis to either cut the chicane or collide with him. (This is Kimi’s right and in no way am I admonishing him for doing so.)
      2-Lewis gave the position back immediately after re-entering the track on the short straight down to La Source before out-braking Kimi into the hairpin.
      3-The team clarified with the race director that Lewis had done enough which was confirmed by Whiting during the race.
      4- THE KEY FACTOR: Kimi crashed out on his own on the damp entry to the final chicane a few laps later, making Lewis’ pass moot given that it had absolutely no effect on the final result.
      An insultingly stupid penalty by the stewards that day. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but any racer or fan with a real understanding of motor racing can see that the penalty was farcical. It reeked so badly of bias that the FIA felt obliged to changed the steward slection process and appoint a former GP driver who ACTUALLY UNDERSTANDS WHAT’S GOING ON IN A MOTOR RACE!
      OK, rant over….

      1. Me says:

        Rant all you like, I should imagine for the majority of racing fans (at least me) that it’s all forgotten about now.

      2. BogRacer says:

        There are certain watershed moments in sports and that was one of them for F1. Look at the emphasis on the rulings regarding leaving the track since the incident (Vettel v Button at Hockenheim ’12, Grosjean v Massa in Hungary, etc). More importantly, the competence of the stewards was called into question and the stewarding system was changed after the incident.
        Judging by the number of comments on the subject I’m not sure that it’s at all forgotten, nor should it be.

  12. Andrewinwork says:

    Excellent write up but why do you keep using the picture of Kimi on his way to a Gary Glitter look alike party?

  13. Scuderia McLaren says:

    Alfonzo Samuronzo – Singapore 2008 – Just sayin.

  14. goferet says:

    This race will be an important test
    of whether Mercedes has overcome its tyre management issues
    ————————————————–

    Lewis said if their tyres could hold on in the Hungary oven, they’re pretty much good to go at virtually any circuit.

    Remember Silverstone has high speed corners and yet the team did well there although the low track temperatures played their role.

    1. gregmon says:

      Getting my fingers crossed!

  15. goferet says:

    My pick for victory this weekend is none other than the Samurai.

    Despite the fact that none of the teams Alonso has raced for has won at Spa whilst he was an employee, I think this year will be different.

    For starters, 4 of the last 5 winners have been first time winners and if you add that to the fact Alonso had a DNF in 2012 plus a difficult race in Hungary 2013, well I see the planets align in his favour this time.

  16. AlexD says:

    What we need is a DNF from Vettel and one of these three to win: Kimi, Alonso or Hamilton. This way we will have a more or less open fight till the end and will see whether any of these 3 teams can actually pick a consistent fight on Red Bulls.

    1. Andrewinwork says:

      A DNF here is not so likely for Vettel. He’ll qualify high up as always which should keep him out of the first lap carnage, after that his engineer will be reminding him that some points are better than none so it’ll be a no risk policy here and Monza with the chasing three having to take all the risks. Even if Merc get both their drivers in fron of him folowed by Kimi and Alonso, Vettell will just keep the scroeboard rattling remorselessly on. And I’m a Merc fan

      1. AlexD says:

        There is nothing wrong with being a Merc fan. You probably add it to say that you are not biased. Likely or not, we do not know. What I was trying to say is that I would hate to see a boring end of the season where there is no close fight for the title

      2. Andrewinwork says:

        I get your point entirely, the sport needs a new champion if only to breathe some life into it.

  17. Tytus says:

    Ehem, Kimi has actually won four times in Spa. 2004, 2005, 2007 and 2009. ;) Great article otherwise. Always love reading your stuff!

  18. Richard says:

    I would like to think Mercedes could win this, but their are so many variables, and unknowns I really would not care to gamble. Perhaps Lotus being easier on the tyres can make it count this round!

  19. Heinz says:

    With all that is happening in the driver market, there are some drivers who will be giving a little more than 100% at Spa:

    -Alonso, whose position at Ferrari had seemed unassailable

    -Kimi, who may find the pressure easier to cope with

    -Ricciardo, who will seek to show how deserving he is of Herr Marko’s confidence

    -Felipe Massa, who must hope that a miraculous win might keep him in F1 till the end of the season, though not beyond

  20. Stewart says:

    Hasn’t Kimi won 4 times at Spa James?

    1. James Allen says:

      Yes, silly mistake thanks

  21. Miha Bevc says:

    Red Bull will be very vulnerable this year if they will again go for their low top speed / hi downforce setup. Mercedes will be on pole and I don’t see Red Bull overtaking Mercedes on the straight even with DRS and KERS… Vettel could do something at the bus stop chicane (like last year), but not on Mercedes drivers I guess.

  22. micks@sa says:

    Lotus 1-2!

  23. Carl Sheen says:

    “The track presents one of the highest possible usages of the DRS with over 60% of the lap.”

    Isn’t DRS limited in all sessions just to the activation zones this season?

  24. Ali says:

    got a bronze weekend pass to the elgian gp. my first trip and a kimi win will make it extra special

  25. Ash says:

    Brilliant analysis as always! I’m sure Romain will be somewhat cautious on the run into T1 this time.

    Kimi for the win!!

  26. Tom in adelaide says:

    Vettel DNF please. If possible, taken out by Webber. Maybe throw in a post-crash punch-up too. And a pie in Helmut’s face would be the icing on the metaphorical cake.

    1. Tim says:

      If that happened, it would be worth the sky and TV licence fee combined – fingers crossed ;-)

    2. Glennb says:

      That’s *4* wishes Tom. Everyone knows you can only have 3 ;) Maybe drop the Marco pie thing mate :)

    3. Jude says:

      Or better yet, maybe the driver you support should have a DNF.

      James, thanks for the great article, as always. I think you’re being too soft by allowing silly, spiteful comments like the one above on your site.

      1. Thomas in Adelaide says:

        Lighten up fella, it’s called a joke. I don’t support any driver or team in particular, I like competitive racing. The fact is Vettel is two wins ahead of the pack. A few DNF’s will spice up the rest of the season.

      2. Quade says:

        But he earned those points. No?
        Let the others earn theirs.

      3. Me says:

        @Quade

        Crikey, you’ve made a comment I agree with.

        Who do I complain to?

  27. jawsf1 says:

    isnt that what james has said above?

    1. James Allen says:

      No there was a mistake – fixed now. Thanks to readers for pointing it out

      1. Sarvar says:

        Force India has a pretty good chance to win

      2. Dren says:

        If they had better drivers, I’d say they would have a chance.

      3. Louis says:

        Sure, if FI choosen Bianchi instead of Sutil…

  28. Anil says:

    Should be a great race and hopefully a great one for the championship! Mercedes will be strong and the track should suit the Ferrari too. I expect Force India and Mclaren to be very strong too and I suspect Vettel may have a fight on his hands to pick up points.

  29. Peter says:

    Mercedes will be very fast, but Kimi is just very hard to beat in Spa. Its going to be an interesting race. Best circuit in the world in my opinion.

  30. All revved-up says:

    A classic track. Wish there were more like it. Is DRS even required at this track?

  31. gregmon says:

    That moment of the year when I start thinking about F1 and nothing else in my mind… Bring on Spa! Yeah! ;-) Where will Kimi be heading to? Ricciardo to get the Bulls seat? Alonso & the Scuderia temporarily separated in the house? And will Mercedes AMG+ Nico/Lewis show the same developement rate, speed and promise of the first part of season? Hope so… Come on! ;-)

  32. Chris Acton says:

    Really looking forwards to this one, just hoping the the title chase closes up to be honest so Seb does not get things all his own way. Despite his impressive drives this year I hope someone gets to make things interesting and a DNF for Vettel would not hurt the season’s tension build a little.

  33. Carl says:

    Can’t wait!

  34. shri says:

    Let the action begin.

    4 teams closely matched for pace will make the 2nd part of season exciting.

  35. Elie says:

    James minor thing 44x 7.004= 308.0176

    Can’t wait to see Kimi at Spa again it’s one of the greatest spectacles in modern motor racing!. But I gotta say those Mercs are specials for Spa that Mercedes engine and harder tyres with. fired up Lewis Hamilton. As James rightly mentioned – Force India are always strong- will they make that revival- I see Sutil going well there.Although Im sure the Bulls will have found another gain with a new aero package. Very interesting tussle, lets just hope that Lotus double DRS switches nicely to keep them in the game.
    Early prediction Hamilton fighting out with Raikkonen right down to the wire, Sebastian fighting it with Fernando very close behind.

    1. KRB says:

      There’s a 124m offset between the start and finish lines, that explains the difference. :-)

      1. Elie says:

        The diff is less than 4m. Hang on !-is it when lights out whole car crosses start line-when chequered flag – when front wing tip crosses ??

  36. Alexander Supertramp says:

    First time I’ll be attending a live race, can’t wait to hear the sound/see the cars!Hope everyone enjoys the end of the F1 break ;)!

  37. Oz Geeza says:

    SPA,a place where Fisichella had a golory?,
    well almost, he truly gave Kimi a hard time,
    what save Kimi his Ferrari was equip with
    KERS,Fitsi did not have that luxury.
    For my money Alonso is odd/on to win this weekend F1 at SPA.
    A)To prove the point to so many but in particular to Luca d M, that he’s a still the
    ONE,and the bench mark for everyone else on
    the F1 grid.
    My gripe in passing to those would-be’s who
    subscribe to J.A,which is truly second to
    none site on the Net,who quote how Ferrari
    Engines are not in the same league as Renault
    or Merceedes in the power plants,and they do
    not have the resources of the said.
    Fact:Renault full year profit for 2013 €92,m
    Ferrari for the same year €136.m
    For those of that opinion is time to switch
    of from the funny tabacky and be real.

    1. Elie says:

      And how many times has Fernando won Spa ?
      Ferraris engine performance is not the problem it is easily a match for Renault engines cars and one would think the same or not far off Mercedes. The proof is acceleration down the long straights how many times have we seen Felipe and in deed Fernando pass people in these situations.
      Also the Ferrari top speed on big circuits is good- at the same time there engines are not on the rev limiter like Lotus and Red Bull- meaning they can run taller gearing.. So you are very wrong on engine performance.
      Your comments make no sense – Renault are only an engine supplier not a Full factory team like Ferrari. What has profit got to do with it.? Edpecially when younsay Ferrari is more profitable.! Ferrari spend around €300million a year on the team. Only Red Bull spend that same sort of money – no one else!
      I think you should stop smoking the funny tabacky!

  38. Marcelo Leal says:

    I did think James would say again: “Alonso and Kimi are favorites, because ferrari and Lotus are easy on tyres.. Merceds will have problems…”.
    I bet Massa and Grosjean will beat their team mates…
    Last year there was a SPA f1 race? Alonso and Hamilton out in the first corner is no F1.
    If nobody take LH out (Button did this once, KK in other occasion, and Grosjean last year), he will run away with this one!
    P.s.: if he does not do a bold, fascinating move in a wet track to pass someone, and FIA do not decide AFTER race that overtake a Ferrari is ilegal.

  39. Tornillo Amarillo says:

    Grandioso report as usual James, thanks!

    Now, everybody (Alonso, Grosjean, Rosberg, Massa, Perez…) has to stop Vettel, BE HARD ON VETTEL! Sebastian has just to back off if someone put pressure on him!!!

    KIMI and HAMILTON have to try 1 stop. If it doesn’t work, well adopt at the end plan B of 2 stops.

    I’d like KIMI winning SPA!

  40. Mike from Colombia says:

    “…..and the DRS wing makes it very straighforward anyway”.

    How sad and angry it makes me feel to read this.

  41. Multi 21 says:

    “It is a circuit on which Force India has always gone well.”

    Spa has always been a track which produced a string of good performances for the team that became Force India: Jordan.

    Consider these:
    Schumi’s 7th on grid in his first race in 1991
    Barrichello’s pole in 1994
    Fisichella finishing 2nd in 1997
    Damon Hill winning Jordan’s first race in 1998
    Frentzen 3rd in 1999
    Trulli 2nd on the grid 2000

  42. Phil Glass says:

    OMG Spa already.
    This holiday went quick as lightening. I was sure there’s another week or two….

    Hot weather .. dry .. Kimi present!
    No need for guessing who might just on this occassion deny the mighty Kimster another famous Spa trophy.
    Yes, it will be his team mate next year: Fernando Alonso !!

    drinks on yours trulli.

  43. ManOnWheels says:

    James: Regarding the annual factory shutdown, do the teams place manufacturing orders with external companies for parts or designs to bridge the shutdown or would that be illegal?

    1. James Allen says:

      Parts which are externally sourced? Everyday life goes on, developments have lead times. The idea is to close for two weeks which

      a) saves money
      b) gives the hard workers a bit of a rest

      1. ManOnWheels says:

        I was rather thinking of something like having an external company revise a part’s design via FEM software, mold and bake carbon parts (if a mold already exists), mill molds (when a drawing already exists), while the own factory is closed, just to save time.

      2. Phil Glass says:

        James, may I ask are you commentating on all the practice sessions, quali, and race?

      3. James Allen says:

        At most races I do FP2,3 Quali and race for BBC Radio 5 Live

        This weekend, as BBC 2 TV is showing the practices, Ben Edwards will do FP1 and FP3

  44. PurpleSectors says:

    So F1 summer break is finally over. This is great!

  45. Dren says:

    I expect a one stop from Lotus and Force India. Kimi will be in the mix late, as usual. I see Mclaren ruining the race for a few teams. Button will be good here, maybe 4th or 5th. I’m pegging him for a one stopper as well. If Mercedes has sorted the tires, they should be the favorites. Red Bull should be up towards the top but they could have their hands full with a few teams. I’m curious how Sauber will do. I’m expecting a very similar podium to Hungary.

  46. Galapago555 says:

    James, I read here:

    “Loss time for a Pit stop = 18 seconds (average)
    Total time needed for pit stop: 21 seconds”

    Exactly the same figures that were included in the 2012 Belgian GP Strategy Briefing

    http://www.jamesallenonf1.com/2012/08/how-the-f1-teams-will-approach-the-belgian-grand-prix/

    I understood that speed limits on the pitlane have been reduced from 100km/h to 80km/h on the race day, therefore I expected that to be especially relevant in this track, with it’s long pit lane.

    Could you please clarify?

    1. Galapago555 says:

      So if they used to need 18s to cover all the pit lane at 100km/h, they should need around 22.5 secs with the new speed limit at 80km/h. This means that pit stops became 4.5s longer.

      Probably this should somehow influence the strategy.

LEAVE A COMMENT

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Top Tags
SEARCH News
JA ON F1 In association with...
Download the chequered flag podcast today
Download the chequered flag podcast today
Multi award winning Formula One photographer
Multi award winning Formula One photographer