Vettel and Webber separated by fractions as Red Bull top Belgian Grand Prix practice
Red Bull Racing
Posted By:   |  23 Aug 2013   |  3:39 pm GMT  |  102 comments

Red Bull Racing have entered the second half of the 2013 Formula One season with their tails firmly up, as they completed a dominant one-two on the first day of practice at the Belgian Grand Prix. Sebastian Vettel set a fastest time, 6/100ths of a second faster than team mate Mark Webber.

Although the team were quick to point out that Friday times mean little, with varying fuel loads making a big difference to lap times, the Red Bull cars looked well balanced and fast in both single lap and long run pace.

With the Ardennes forest offering up its expected rain shower in this morning’s Free Practice 1 session, the afternoon gave the only meaningful running, in bright sunshine and allowed for the teams to gather some dry data ahead of what is expected to be a weekend of sunshine and showers at Spa-Francorchamps.

However, the question of reliability regarding Pirelli tyres was once again thrust in to the limelight when Vettel suffered a right rear puncture eleven laps into a long run. The right rear tyre is the one which gets the highest loading at Spa.

Following the session Fernando Alonso confirmed that he too had suffered a right rear puncture – a slow puncture – on his final lap in the session.

“On the Red Bull it looks like something had been rubbing the surface and then cut through it,” explained Pirelli boss Paul Hembery, who said that the damage was from something external, rubbing between the floor of the car and the tyre. “On the Ferrari there are two clear holes through the tread. What could cause that? We have seen some cuts on other tyres, so there’s something out there that’s causing it and we need to go out on the track and see what’s out there between Turns 13 and 15.”

Hembery said that the problems were “completely different” from Silverstone where a series of failures led the Italian firm to bring in a change of specification for the remainder of the season.

Alonso’s tyres had done seven laps, Vettel’s had done 11. Vettel was on a medium tyre, Alonso on the hard.

The drivers expressed concern about this latest tyre issue in the drivers’ briefing on Friday evening and asked the FIA to look into it and offer them some reassurances as to what would happen in the race if there were problems. They want to avoid a repeat ofnSilverstone where they were obliged to continue with some recommendations on changing tyre pressures.

There is sure to be much discussion in the next twenty-four hours as to why this problem has occurred and whether it was a case of a simple puncture or something more serious.

Sebastian Vettel, using a lower-downforce configuration in relation to his team mate, topped the session by a small margin to Mark Webber. Illustrated by their individual sector times, in which Vettel held the upper hand over Webber in the first and third sectors, where straight line speed is of pivotal importance, the Milton Keynes squad were able to gain useful knowledge from each side of the downforce spectrum.

“We don’t know what happened when I got the puncture in P2,” said Vettel. “We lost the rear right, very suddenly, so we need to have a look – Pirelli is working on finding out why it happened. Other than that, it was a positive day.”

Webber, running a higher level of rake on his RB9 found himself 7/10ths of a second quicker through the the fast sweeping turns of the fourty-nine second long Sector 2, but due to the superior straight line speed of Vettel ended the session just 6/100ths of a second adrift.

Interestingly, Vettel was 4kph quicker through the speed trap than the next quickest car.

Beyond the top two there was a large gap to those behind, headed by Lotus’ Romain Grosjean. The Frenchman was over 8/10ths slower than Vettel, a small gap compared to some of the usual pacesetters.

Nico Rosberg, 9th, and Lewis Hamilton, 12th, failed to end the day within a second of Vettel as they focused on evaluating new aerodynamic developments with heavy fuel runs in preparation for the GP. Hamilton didn’t get a clean lap on fresh medium tyres. The pair completed almost two race distances during the three hours of running today.

Kimi Raikkonen, under much media pressure this weekend also had a low-key session with a sixth place finish at the session close. Lotus’ ability to heat up its tyres quickly should aid them in qualifying tomorrow as Mercedes struggled with this particular aspect. However Raikkonen is keen for the weather to stay warm as Lotus has struggled to heat the tyres up to perform in the wet. He had some problems with the front wheels in the morning session.

The Lotus race pace was also strong, on par with Red Bull and as ever this year in a strong position for the GP.

The Ferrari pair were fourth and seventh respectively, with Felipe Massa being the pacesetter for the Italian squad.

Fernando Alonso, after topping FP1, did not set a qualifying simulation time on the medium tyre until late in the session, as he chopped and changed the rear wing and downforce configurations.

There were a lot of development parts on show today, with teams doing comparison work across their two cars to evaluate them. The loss of most of the FP1 session to rain, cut the available time. This has pushed Lotus and Sauber to not continue this weekend with their passive DRS systems, due to lack of information.

Vettel’s tyre problem aside, the only major incident of the session was a high speed accident for Guido van der Garde, who lost the Caterham at the 150mph Paul Frere corner and smashed into the barriers.

BELGIAN GRAND PRIX, Spa-Francorchamps, Practice

1. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 1m49.331s 22
2. Mark Webber Red Bull 1m49.390s +0.059s 34
3. Romain Grosjean Lotus 1m50.149s +0.818s 34
4. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1m50.164s +0.833s 27
5. Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso 1m50.253s +0.922s 28
6. Kimi Raikkonen Lotus 1m50.318s +0.987s 33
7. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1m50.510s +1.179s 21
8. Sergio Perez McLaren 1m50.536s +1.205s 27
9. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m50.601s +1.270s 33
10. Paul di Resta Force India 1m50.611s +1.280s 27
11. Adrian Sutil Force India 1m50.629s +1.298s 30
12. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m50.751s +1.420s 27
13. Nico Hulkenberg Sauber 1m50.972s +1.641s 33
14. Pastor Maldonado Williams 1m50.991s +1.660s 28
15. Jenson Button McLaren 1m51.195s +1.864s 28
16. Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso 1m51.447s +2.116s 26
17. Valtteri Bottas Williams 1m51.568s +2.237s 28
18. Esteban Gutierrez Sauber 1m51.644s +2.313s 26
19. Giedo van der Garde Caterham 1m53.157s +3.826s 21
20. Charles Pic Caterham 1m53.251s +3.920s 29
21. Jules Bianchi Marussia 1m53.482s +4.151s 28
22. Max Chilton Marussia 1m54.418s +5.087s 12

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Sorry that something went wrong, repeat again!

I often find that with the B&W ND110 filter I have to add an extra stop to what the exposure ‘should’ be (it’s more like +11 stops) – do you find the Big Stopper more accurate?


I hope that its a fully dry race, or just a drizzle at the start and then a dry race. Maybe then Jenson can make up some places.

If wet, then a Red Bull charity benefit 🙁


I love the assumption by some that Pirelli just doesn’t know how to make tires, as if any other manufacturer would not have found the current tire contract challenging.

It is probably safe to say Pirelli do know a thing or two about designing and manufacturing quality, durable performance tires…that might even be able to handle the odd bit of road debris. 180 WRC event wins are pretty good testimony.


Ridiculous to even think otherwise.

Some people have the sheep excuse because they have taken others opinions as fact. As for the others, well some people are just _ _ _ _ _ _.


Excuses instead of solutions from Pirelli again.


Can I suggest that the tyre problems some cars are having may have something to do with rain slots cut into the first 11 places on the only takes a couple of rough edges with these delicate Pirellis- I reckon if you look at all the tyres they will be scuffed even after the first high speed load over the slots. Then you have the high speed corners to finish them off once they are compromised !

As to the Lotus “heating up its tyres quickly”- that’s the first Ive heard of it. I thought they need slightly more laps to get them in their optimum range but seem to keep them in that range longer- also why they struggle in cold conditions- Please clarify thanks James.

Mercedes have not set up their car yet for low down force configuration. When they do it today- look out !. This will be a battle between Mercedes and Red Bull with Ferrari and Litus scrapping for the left overs. Felipe knows how to race well at Spa and with his career on the line-I think he might surprise ! Kimi will give everyone another overtaking lesson at Spa and make us all smile 🙂 .


luqa +1

-i’m over the tires as well. problem will be worse next year with more powerful engines and the same tyre footprint. there’s no way the tyres are going to cope. it’s a joke.

f1 with its enormous budgets are too scabby to pay for decent tyres.


When was the last F1 w/e when *none* of the field had a puncture?

Is it me or does the current generation of F1 suffer more punctures than previous generations? Although it can lead to exciting strategies and out of place racing – it’s just a matter of time before someone has a ‘big-one’. And it’s not just the tyres [elephant in the room] as the front wings don’t help either…


Mercedes sandbagging again?


Watching hamilton’s onboard it looked like the car was all over the place and not balanced at all with a lot of understeer so I dont think they were sandbagging much. However, we have seen mercs struggling on fridays in the past, only to see them take pole position on saturday.


Not sure sandbagging covers it. They have been trying out different parts, and seeming went the wrong way with set up, but I suspect today they will improve.


James surely redbulls go with webbers set up due to the possibility of rain. And although Vettel was quickest in the first and last sectors and had the highest top speed in the speed trap(even though it seemed the trap was at the start of kemmel straight after eau rouge) webber was still fourth quickest overall in the speed trap . What where there cars actual top speed at the end of the kemmel straight? (Did webber hit the limiter due to gearing and downforce a lot sooner than vettel ?


SUT 321, BOT 320, ALO 319, PER 317, HAM 317, VET/WEB 315

Vettel would clearly hit the limiter faster than webber because his car is carrying less downforce hence giving him better acceleration.



Would be nice if you shed some light on upgrades as from now on both titles mostly depend on them.


you mean the full list, team by team and expected gains?



Pirelli says Seb’s tyre seems to be scrapped in the wall while Alo has 2 distinct holes.

My conclusion is Red Bull have a moving floor at the rear. They spent a lot of time on “heat coating” in that area.



Well the floor was quite visibly moving up and down when punctured tyre was hiting the edge of it. Whether this was caused by damage or not we don’t know at this point.


In my opinion mercedes were just finding their feet on friday, if you don’t go wrong how can you move towards correct. The same happened in hungary and who won the race in the end.

DDRS didn’t seem to work for anyone which is a real waste of engineering time and money.

It is most likely that most teams will run towards the side of lower downforce so that they get better straight-line speed allowing for overtaking on the two long straight sections.

Red Bull seemed to show too much of their hand today, getting over confident like they did in hungary. I expect to see a close battle between red bull and mercedes in quali like in hungary (remember it was only 0.039 seconds between p1 and 2) with lotus trailing behind and ferrari maybe challenging them although their supposed ‘BIG update’ has been a bit of an anticlimax with their usual correlation issues…

Mclaren and ferrari look good in the changeable conditions of fp1, if the race is wet anything can happen and tire choice will be critical especially with the microclimate around the Spa Fancorchaps circuit.

Force india look good also and all of the other midfield teams have stayed quite level in terms of performance/ position.

Van der Garde I feel sorry for although it was a rookie error, only two corners damaged in the crash but a penalty could be implied if the compression to the drive shaft damaged the gearbox. Despite that he dropped it with only around 20 mins to go in fp2 which means it didn’t cost him too much track/ setup time.

I expect a close battle between Mercedes, Red Bull and lotus in the race but I believe that if a red bull or a mercedes are let into clean air they may run away with the race, lotus I am not too sure about. Ferrari trailing behind with mclaren behind with their main man (Button). The midfield battle should be great, never discount the torro rossos because they are very good through high speed corners, maybe that may lay the final nail in the coffin for ricardo in getting the race seat at Red Bull.

My prediction

1) Lewis Hamilton (Taking a gamble on this one but he needs this race win)

2) Sebastian vettel

3)Kimi Raikkonen

James, Your thoughts?


Yes lots of reasons why Merc weren’t pushing on Friday

We’ll see true picture in FP3


If not FP3 then qualifying. Personally I hope the rain stays away, but somehow I doubt it.


Tire drama is back.

How can Hembrey say debris is responsible for this? I remember Bridgestone never had such problems and their tires last a lot longer.

Bring Michelin and Bridgestone back. Show Pirelli how to make a real F1 tire.

Throw the tire degradation out of the window. Make 2014 a pure powertrain race.


How can it be “a pure powertrain race” with multiple tyre suppliers. History shows an often large gulf between performance, and I don’t want to see the joke like, unlimited supply to Ferrari again.

Much prefer a single supplier to level the field out a bit.


Michelin looks to be coming back to F1. But they will do it with the condition that the tire work properly. Rather than degrading deliberately.


Well. Single supplier? I can agree with it. Not sure if it is a level plain field.


If it isn’t too late, the FIA should mandate 4 stop for Sundays race.

Its too late to do anything about todays tyres, which are already the hardest available – cancelling the race is not an option.

5 drivers have already approached the FIA with concerns; Alonso, Button, Vettel, Lewis and Webber.


A serious question:

If we do see one or two punctures / deflations / delaminations during the race on Sunday, how likely is it that Charlie will black flag it?


Tires, Tires Tires- here we go again! Hembrey is always talking out of both side of his mouth and deflecting legitimate criticism and safety concerns regarding the “boots”.

If Pirelli cannot design and build a tire that does not delaminate at speed or puncture after driving over anything larger than a grain of sand they should seriously consider getting out of the business.

They know what the expected loads are at any circuit, so deal with it and don’t put drivers lives at risk from flying debris or loss of control- regardless of the cause.


Except the tyres did not delaminate. Vettels tyre had something rubbing into the side wall until it cut through and burst while Alonso’s tyre had two clear pucture holes in the tread and it deflated slowly.

Other tyres were found with damage. It indicates more that there was something on the track.


Pretty unusual to see Red Bull at the top of the speed trap, usually they’re mixing it with the Caterhams for top speed!


The Speed Trap is just after Eau Rouge eg at the bottom of the hill. So all the Speed trap says is that the Red Bulls are carrying more speed though Eau Rouge but the real top speed difference is at the end of Kemmel Straight.


– 2 different set-up for RB and both are very close in timing. Both cars have significant margin to the next driver 0.8 seconds.

– Maybe other teams have not shown their hand.

– Hope this changes tomorrow by end of Practice so as to have a competetive Quali and Race.

– Also hope we do not hear a single word of tyre problems this weekend apart from today. Would like to see Formula-1 and not Tire-1 racing.


I think its pretty clear red bull were running on fumes today so they could easily compare the performances between the two different set-ups. I dont expect them to be on pole quite frankly.


i mean yesterday.


Before hindsight who wants to take a bet Marks car suffers from a “problem” of some sort towards the end of fp3 then quali…


With that gap between them, I’m going to be smart with my betting money. The odds for what you’re describing are far too short!


+1. No bets when something is a certainty…..


i dont think that will happen as its not the strongest of renault engines cars so key is to maximise what can be achieved if not victory ..redbull will never risk it as mercedes threat emerging


Depends if he manages to lose 30 seconds on his teammate after being slow, then spin out. Good riddance to mark I say. Nice guy, but time to let the young ones shine.


What sport are you watching? I can’t even think of a time when Webber’s done that…


I think maybe he was thinking of Massa.



We all know Red Bull treats both it’s drivers equally and the car will be fine. Could be missing a wheel or two, but the car itself? Fine 🙂


I think it’s way too risky for Vettel to keep that low-downforce setup. There’s a high chance of rain, so having Webber’s higher downforce setup would be more beneficial, I think.


right compromise is the key irrespective of driver….49sec in middle sector and 59sec in 1st and 4rd sector(toal 1:47 as per last yr qualifying time)

Mike from Colombia

“Lotus’ ability to heat up its tyres quickly should aid them in qualifying tomorrow as Mercedes struggled with this particular aspect.”

So, Mercedes have gone from overheating to not being able to get enough heat in the tyres ?

On a separate note, the tyres just don’t seem to be safe enough. The FIA needs to get some balls and sort this out. We cannot have drivers risking their lives from unacceptable blowouts on some of these menacingly fast corners.




The most significant thing about the times in free practice were the reports that Lotus and Sauber are giving up on the passive DDRS for this race!

Lotus need something to push them over the top for qualifying, or they will never catch Red Bull.

As several posters here have pointed out, Mercedes does not always show on the Friday, even when they have taken pole on the Saturday.

I’m not counting Mercedes and their high-grunt power out of the contenders, yet.

If rain, it could be the best thing to happen to Alonso/Ferrari/Massa; I think they have the best record in wet, so far this year.

Bad though for Lotus, as they go down a bit in the damp; could be the same old slow to put the heat in the tires issue that Lotus have been hampered by in qualifying, but reaped in race.

Red Bull showing the fastest time is ominous!

Have they introduced their last big nuggie from where they’ve been hiding it?

If they gpo through the race at the top of the clock in top speed, not only will it give them the comapartive advantage in almost every aspect of car performance, but it will also score, what could be, a psychological knock-out blow to their rivals, and confirm their standing as the best available race seat on the grid, therefore able to take whomever they like.


Not sure what you mean with the best record in the wet by ferrari/alonso/massa? Vettel took pole in every quali session held in mixed or rainy conditions this year. In australia and malaysia by quite some margin.


Red Bull showing the fastest time is ominous and confirm their standing as the best available race seat on the grid….

Steady, you will be upsetting the SV fans with comments like that. They think he does it all by himself 🙂


Mercedes will be on pole tomorrow.


Red Bull do look strong here, but Mercedes haven’t dialed their car in to the track yet so I’m expect them to come up considerably tomorrow, if not for FP3, but for qualifying. The tyres failures look a bit ominous, and if it proves to be endemic, despite what Pirelli say, then we could have a race turned upside down by tyre failure, although it’s more lightly to be the weather in that regard.


James, who else got “Flesh Wounds”, cuts on the tires? Is it the drivers more likely to use a bunch of kerb in turns 13, 14 and 15?

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