Everything you need to know about this weekend’s Belgian Grand Prix
Start Belgian GP
Posted By: James Allen  |  19 Aug 2014   |  10:25 pm GMT  |  153 comments

Spa Francorchamps has many claims to fame; popularity among drivers, a superb collection of high speed corners, unpredictable weather. But the factor which will probably stand out this weekend is that it is the highest engine power factor circuit on the F1 calendar.

The track is 70% full throttle and the run from La Source hairpin to the braking point for Les Combes features 23.5 seconds of constant full throttle. And in this first season of the hybrid turbo power units, that will have a significant bearing on the result.

Add to that the fact that, with only five engines per driver permitted for a season and some drivers already struggling with reliability, we could see some drivers saving engine mileage in Free practice and we could see some blow-ups as engines reach end of life. So engine strategies could be as important as race strategies this weekend.

It should be a serious challenge for the drivers this year, with the restriction on rear downforce under the 2014 rules, the 270km/h Eau Rouge corner will not be taken easily flat out, as it was in recent seasons under the old rules.

The Spa Francorchamps circuit 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.

Always one of the key issues for teams to decide in their strategy planning –and this will be more important than ever with the difference in performance between power units – is 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 is always important and several drivers have found themselves with a less than ideal combination of gearing and down force, with the result that they hit the rev limiter on the Kemmel Straight and lose speed.

Qualifying rarely determines the final race result; the pole sitter has only won the race four times in the last 13 years. Overtaking is not a problem at Spa and the DRS wing makes it very straightforward anyway.

Throw in a more adventurous tyre selection from Pirelli than in the last couple of years at this track and you have multiple elements that could add up to an exciting race.

Spa track map
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 to Low downforce. Top speed 322km/h (with Drag Reduction System active on rear wing) – 312km/h without.

Full throttle – 70% of the lap (high).

Time spent braking: 14% of lap. Number of brake zones – 9. Brake wear- Low.

Total time needed for pit stop: 21 seconds

Sergio Perez, Nico Hulkenberg
Form Guide

The Belgian Grand Prix is the twelfth round of the 2014 FIA F1 World Championship and comes after the teams’ enforced two week factory shutdown, during which no development 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 team maintains a clear advantage over the rest of the field, however Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo claimed his second win of the season at the last round in Hungary, before the break, helped by changeable conditions and excellent strategy work by his team.

Last year Red Bull won in Spa; part of the tactic was to run low downforce to allow overtaking on the straights. Mercedes went for higher downforce on Hamilton’s car and although he took pole, he lost the lead to Vettel.

This year the superior performance of the Mercedes hybrid power unit is likely to tell and this should help Williams, which has been it’s most competitive customer engine team.

It is a circuit on which another Mercedes customer, Force India, has always gone well. They will be counting on a significant points haul this weekend to assist with their battle for fourth place with McLaren, also powered by Mercedes.

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

Weather Forecast

The forecast for this weekend is for cloudy weather, with a chance of rain on Saturday qualifying day.

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

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.

Likely tyre performance and other considerations

Pirelli tyre choice for Spa: Medium and soft. This is the fifth time this season that Pirelli has brought this combination.

It is a more adventurous selection than the last two seasons, where Pirelli brought medium and hard tyres. This reflects a growing confidence on Pirelli’s side after the problems of 2013 with tyre failures.

Hungary showed once again how the performance level between two tyre compounds from this 2014 range can open up many strategic possibilities and the race, as well as being thrilling, was a case study for strategists.

The soft will be the qualifying tyre, clearly, but the race will be interesting and trading off pace for durability will be key. With a long lap, almost 2 minutes around you gain and lose more than at most venues by being on the right or wrong tyre at a particular moment.

Spa is also hard on tyres with high degradation and wear. The medium was good for up to 20 laps last year, but many drivers ran it for only around 15 laps. This year’s tyres are not the same as 2013, we have tended to see one more stop than last year at many venues.

With hard and medium tyres at Spa we saw one stop strategies, which is what Pirelli is trying to avoid this year. In 2012, 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 the fastest way to do the race and so getting the maximum preparation time in Free Practice is crucial.

The soft tyre is designed for higher temperatures, so crucial to getting a competitive lap time will be setting the car up so that it switches the tyres on in the all important middle sector.

Red Bull F1 pit stop
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. A safety car, if it is long enough, could push teams to switch from two stops to one in the hope of stealing a result.

Chance of a safety car

The chance of a safety car at Spa is statistically 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.

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 2014 start performance is concerned drivers have gained (+) or lost (-) places off the start line this season on aggregate as follows:

Net gained positions
21 Gutierrez

16 Maldonado
15 Bottas

14 Chilton

14 Kobayashi

13 Ericsson
11 Sutil, Raikkonen
10 Massa, Hulkenberg

9 Hamilton

8 Bianchi

4 Alonso
1 Button

Net held Position

Rosberg, Perez

Net lost positions

19 Vergne

7 Ricciardo

4 Grosjean

4 Kvyat
1 Vettel, Magnussen

Melbourne Notes: Kobayashi, Massa eliminated in a first corner accident; Perez, Gutierrez pitted at the end of Lap 1; Bianchi, Grosjean started from pit lane.

Malaysia Notes: Perez started from pit lane, Bianchi pitted at the end of lap 1

Bahrain notes: Vergne pitted at the end of lap 1 after contact

China Notes: Sutil lost power at start and dropped 8 places, retiring soon after.

Monaco notes: Maldonado did not start, Ericsson started from pit lane, Perez crashed Lap 1.

Canada Notes: Gutierrez started from pit lane; Bianchi and Chilton crashed lap 1; Ericsson pitted lap 1

Austria Notes: Grosjean started from pit lane

GB Notes: Raikkonen and Massa eliminated in 1st lap accident
Germany notes: Massa eliminated in 1st lap accident, Magnussen and Ricciardo dropped back as a result
Hungary Notes: Hamilton, Magnussen, Kvyat started from pit lane

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.

However, this season with high penalties for unsafe release and wheels coming off, teams have focused on consistency of stops. Nevertheless, the target is around 2.5 seconds to change all four wheels.

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 21.608s
2. Ferrari 21.634s
3. McLaren 21.812s
4. Lotus 21.818s
5. Mercedes 22.001s
6. Williams 22.111s
7. Toro Rosso 22.202s
8. Sauber 22.500s
9. Marussia 22.892s
10. Force India 24.040s
11. Caterham 34.086s

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

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Mercedes one-two again, otherwise over to you Ricciardo 🙂


Vettel may be in for an outside chance if Mercedes have reliability issues.

He's always mighty come the 2nd part of the season.


Trouble is he can't drive this car better than his teamate!

The only reason he is mighty in the 2nd half is the upgrades Red Bull put on the car last year.


If the Mercedes falter, I am pretty sure it will be a Mercedes that takes the honours - Mercedes engine that is. Wouldn't be surpised if all 3 steps on the podium are occupied by Merc PU's.


It's not just you C63.

I just happily assumed that James and his minions are trying to fix the problem of us getting replies before those replies are moderated.


Hi James or anyone else.

email notifications of replies have stopped - is this just me or is there a system problem?



If the works team shoot themselves in the foot again then I could see Williams picking up the pieces, but I'm not so sure about FI and McLaren.

I'm thinking it could be a mix of Ricciardo, Vettel, Bottas and Alonso again (though not necessarily in that order).


Hard to argue with that mate. I reckon a Merc engine 1,2,3... Hope not but hey.

It will be interesting to see how the Ferrari engine (Alonso) fairs against the Renault engine here. I think it will be daylight to the Merc engines. Maybe JB will be on for a points haul here.


How about Bottas for a win?, it's possible I feel. Also engine blow ups as mentioned by James, but it could be yet another very good race. Am looking forward.


backwards for me.


It's definitely possible, and as much as I like Ricciardo I would have no problems if it was Bottas that was standing on the top step this time 🙂

I'm really looking forward to it also - it's one of my favourite races every year 🙂


I hope it rains on sunday and both Williams cars , both Red Bulls, both the Mercedes and Alonso are involved in a pile up similar to that witnessed in the 1998 Belgian GP . Then Kimi can win for the 5th time at Spa.


did raikkonen not hit the wall hard in the rain at spa 2008?


He did. Brilliant battle at the end in 2008, neither drive wanted to finish 2nd even though they were miles ahead of everyone else. As soon as the rain started falling the Ferrari had zero grip, as it was easier on it's tyres than the Mclaren. Didn't help he was on hard tyres.

Spa is without doubt the best drivers track in the calendar, the best track in the world. It's no coincidence all the best drivers have great records at this beautiful circuit. Senna, Michael, Kimi to name a few


He sure did! That was some great racing, basically "let's see who can go faster in the rain w/o putting it into the wall" stuff. From what transpired, the answer to that question was 'Hamilton'. That was totally on-the-edge stuff, the kind of racing that gets the blood really flowing. And then the stewards wrecked it afterwards.

Anyways ....

If others have mentioned this below, or on other threads, I apologize, but it seems to me that there should be NO real decision to make in terms of going with a low or high downforce setup. Everyone has to be on low downforce, b/c the ICE is going to be tasked with doing more of the work here, as the 4 MJ per lap from the ERS will only be available for 44 laps, instead of the usual 55-70 laps at other tracks. 44 x 4 = 176 MJ of energy for the race that is supplied by the ERS. Fuel could be a concern then, so then shedding any unnecessary drag would be the way to go. Drivers will have to find the right balance in this low-DF config if they're to do well.


He'd still loose to Force India and McLaren!


LOLz, even I'm Kimi fan but thats way too much expect. Never say Never though.

Hope Kimi has better weekend (read Clean), and he takes the fight to nando.


I'm not sure about rain, but add a sprinkle of Maldonado and you have yourself a plan 🙂


Cruel, Random, very cruel. But...........the truth hurts sometimes! 😛


Let's hope you're wrong about that Gaz


He's a been somewhat quiet recently - perhaps he's saving himself up for a "big" performance.


Crazy talk regarding crashes !!





Just hope there are no mechanical sagas bad/slow pit stops . Or any favouring the so called German by Mercedes.

Lets hope Golden Balls doesn't park his car in the middle of the track & prevents anyone doing a fast time at Spa. Like he did at Monaco the dodgy geezer. No blatant team orders either.

Come on Lewis 🙂


Are you sure you wouldn't prefer football? You could chant at your rival in the stand.......


Wasn't the ill fated Roger Williamson a Leicester lad?

Roger tragically died at the 1973 Dutch GP at Zandvoort when his car hit a barrier, overturned, and caught fire. Despite the brave attempts by David Purley to rescue him, poor Roger was trapped in his flaming March. He didn't even have a broken bone or even burns; he died of smoke inhalation and suffocation.

I'm sure had Roger not met a grisly end he could have beaten Nigel Mansell as the first Midlands WDC. Anyone who says Formula 1is too safe and a "sissy's sport" such just think back to that awful day in July 1973 when Formula 1 lost a potential WDC just for the sake of a few well trained fire marshalls.

By all accounts, people who watched Roger race in Formula 3 said he was way better than James Hunt - it's just James managed to survive that lethal era of motor sport.


Rugby Union can't stand Football. Bit too dull for my liking.

Leicester Tigers Mate Top Club 🙂


Pkara, could you please tone down the name calling and conspiracy theories.


Tge = The

Tgat = that

Beake = Brake

Douvt = doubt

Sorry about spellibg mistakes 😉


Come on how many times can a car malfunction this is F1 its all in tge detail.

Rosberg parked his car at Monaco !! Got away with it. If tgat was Lewis he'd probably get 4 GP ban. 300 hours community service & have to give a public apology to the free world.

Pit stops are slow they even said that he wasn't hitting the pit box in correct position ...come on . In one of the races he even went on the radio saying "his beake balance had been left in default" & he had to reset his brake balance before the launch at start of a Grand Prix.

Meanwhile Golden Balls has an easy ride. So no name calling just looking at the situation as is this season . No douvt there'll be a few more hiccups in the Lewis garage which will be classed as engine problems...again.


Are you being ironic?


Golden Balls?

I really should frown but I just like it too much - well done 🙂


Curiously, Lewis has never won at Spa on a bone dry event. Can he rectify that anomaly this year?

Let's just hope Mercedes put all the right nuts on the right bolts, and check their components very thoroughly! Sloppy reliability from them is getting a bit predictable, and anymore would devalue the WDC if it came down to "Mr X" having niggly issues out of his control.

Gosh, even Ferrari can make this new breed of technology reliable! Albeit, not very fast...............


RE IJW: Well of course, I'd want a Mercedes, albeit prepared properly!

RE Aveli: Absolutely agree. Sloppy preparation at a Formula 1 level - a leaky fuel tank? - is unacceptable.

RE KRB: Also agree, that 2008,(cough) "race stewards decision" was appalling. Still, Lewis won the WDC in the end so justice took its natural course.

As for 2010, well, Lewis likes exploring all parts of the circuit, doesn't he? It's what makes him so compelling to watch!

RE Pkara: Perhaps Lewis mechanics should swap sides and (cough) "prepare" Rosberg Junior's car eh?

Nah, no conspiracy theories here, lets just hope Mercedes F1 get their Quality Control act together. In the last 5 race weekends, they have 4 weekends with reliability issues - which at this level is way too much.

alexander supertramp

I'd be very suprised if Spa remains dry this week-end. We have had a lot of rain the past 10 days and more should be coming. James, can we expext any significant running during practise if it's raining friday or will drivers stay inside?


Well Gaz, it wasn't as though he only won in 2010 b/c of the rain ... he was cruising when the rain came, and it was the rain that very nearly put him out! Of course there was the race in 2008, which most people I would suspect would say he won.


more like sack their dodgy fitter.


Gazboy I think my comment went down the coloumn. So heres a quick post.

I totally agree with you mate, regarding no more Gremlins in the works. Lets hope for an 'even stevens' fair crack at ths whip for Lewis. No more malfunctions or flamers on the Lewis side of the garage. Looks like a mixed weather quali & maybe rain on Sunday. I hope its a dry race & no team orders just a full on race to the chequered flag 🙂


Regarding your last point.

Which would you prefer; a fast car which is a bit unreliable, or a reliable car which is a bit slow? In other words; a Mercedes or a Ferrari? 🙂


No, please, no British-bulldog-spirited ass-kicking, he's much more better-off when he stays calm and focussed


Well, he probably is, look at what happened in all the races he had approached with this ass-kicking mentality


Point taken Bart softly softly Dunkirk Spirit 😉


If Ferrar finish 7th and 11th, Lou will totally lose it and start running around in the Ardennes forest in his underwear


Headline reads:

BIGMOUTH SPOTTED IN ARDENNES FOREST!!! - Scientists remain dubious.


Why the Fiat Top Brass are not even more dubious about Luca Di Monty is baffling............

What's that old cliche about Nero fiddling while the Roman Empire burns.............


😀 I can just imagine that surreal dreamscape 😀


I hear that mad scotsman who used to run on the track during races lives still in that forest.

Luca would get the fright of his life.


As a Mclaren Button man, forget about qualifying which he is rubbish at and and focus on set up for the race expecting to pass so low down force please. He has a history of driving well here so I am hopeful if even if he qualifies outside the top ten he can drive his way to a good point position if he can have the top speed to overtake.


Would really really love to see a Williams car bring it home this weekend. Rooting for Bottas to finally get to that top step on the podium.

alexander supertramp

Monza on the other hand.. big opporunity for Williams

alexander supertramp

Don't expect too much if it rains, which is pretty likely.


My Spa wishlist: 1-Bottas 2- Hamilton 3- Ricciardo


That would be something ... if the King of Spa can make it 5 wins. He has never finished off the podium here. This time last year he had just signed for Ferrari, and well, you wouldn't believe it, but the Lotus team ended their own driver's points finish streak: a visor strip somehow found its way into the right front brake pads in saturday f.p. and managed to stay there .... right through quali and first pit stop! He actually was wheeled onto the grid for the start with smoking brakes!

Lotus had decided they were team Grosjean from Spa on and Kimi never had a problem free race again.

This time Ferrari is team Alonso, but if Kimi looks to be up for a good result there are many strategies they can employ in quali and race to prevent wins for one, or both, of their drivers!

I would say Hamilton could win with eyes shut, unless Rosberg catches him napping.


No one could win in Spa with their eyes shut.

This is the track which favours the boldest, and with the loss of rearend downforce, we could get a bit of diffusion of the power unit dictating the order of results.

With so many variables at play, this race should favour the more strategically competent, and the most strategically competent so far in 2014 has been Red Bull (with Ricciardo, anyhow).

I'd personally love to see a number 7 victory at Spa, and while not ruling it out as a possibility, it must be considered a low possibility.

Nonetheless, I see high potential for variability at the sharp end, based on the following variable considerations:

1. less rear down force

2. different tire

3. changeable weather

Flat out at Eau Rouge has become normal, but it may not be so this year; so, depending on the car, it may reduce top end for some drivers, regardless of total power potential.

Further out teams that want to go for it, at risk (Ferrari, McLaren, Force I), should go for variable scenarios based on probability, with one car, i.e. assume a safety car, go for a one stop strategy, to start with; this might be good for Force I and/or Ferrari. A team may consider a rain-assumed strategy. I would split strategies, based on driver gamble.

Top teams, now including Mercedes, Red Bull, and Williams, may also want to consider split strategies, though for varying reasons. Mercedes has the fastest car, no matter what, split strategy for Mercedes is to mitigate driver war. For both Red Bull and Williams, split strategy to gain advantage to get win, under circumstances of different variables. In dry, expect Bottas to be right there in the Hamilton-Rosberg war; to me, Bottas seems quite a bit more mentally tough than either current Mercedes driver, and is it possible that Mercedes (read Toto - manager of Vlatteri) are considering poaching him as early as the 2015 season?!?

I love to see a five-times Spa master emerge at the end of the weekend.


sorry, Stephen t, you missed one guy Kimi would need to beat , and that is nico hulkenberg.


Nah middle sector requires a downforce than sectors 1 and 3 . Mclaren and Force India will probably lose a bucket load of time in the sector 2 by running very low downforce. The Ferrari has more downforce than those Force India and Mclaren anyway meaning the Ferrari would be quicker than the Mclaren and Force India anyway even if all these team ran higher downforce setups.

The middle sector will crucial in helping those runners using Ferrari and Renault power gain time during a lap over the Mercedes customer teams. On a dry day the works Mercedes team is out of reach.


What I meant to say was the middle sector requires more dowforce than sectors 1 and 3


The Ferrari men are my dark horses here. Nando has never won so will be itching for a victory and a Kimi win here would really put the cat among the pigeons. I suspect Vettel will continue his good first half race form. Can he put together a 2nd half to beat Dan? Williams I think are missing something in the strategy game.


Lewis needs to be remarkable here..

Rosberg will show again he can be consistant

Ricciardo will be best of the rest

Tipping a win for Hamilton. Kimi may be the stand out here, I tip him for DOTD.

McLaren will fall further from the tree.

Perez and Hulk will scrap, but I see mechanical failure for one of them.

JEV will probably look to impress potential teams and drive a stand out race


Some of us count Belgium 2008 firmly in the Hamilton column. Lewis = 2 wins.


I reckon if Hamilton has that as a "firm" win, Kimi has an even firmer argument re:that race.

Speculation apart, what a damp squib the result for that race was. Kimi and Lewis have an epic battle and the race win goes to err......Felipe Massa


And you are all wrong.


+1 Keith




He went off track only because there was a huge run-off and he could gain advantage. Lifted off but then immedietly took Kimi's slipstream. Should've waited a couple of corners before making another move on Kimi. That was the view of every driver interview by the Italian tv at Monza, 2 weeks later.

He would have won it anyway as that Ferrari didn't quite work in cold/wet conditions.



Well, the problem is he should have braked to remain on the black stuff, which would have made him lose more ground to Kimi. He didn't.

He took a risk, did't make it and DIDN'T pay the price for it. He lifted off but was it enough? I don't think so.

Let me say it again, had there been a gravel trap, e would've stayed on track and lose much more time to Kimi.


Kimi forced Lewis off the track which meant Lewis straight-lined the corner and took the lead. However, not only did Hamilton let Kimi take back the lead, he also--and this is the very crucial point--he also then crossed the track behind Kimi before overtaking him on the other side of Kimi's car. He did nothing wrong and everything right: if you let another car overtake you and then you cross behind that car then, by definition, he's in front and, equally importantly, he has the momentum at that stage. Hamilton re-took the lead at the next corner just through his driving skill.

The stewards took the win off Lewis by re-interpreting the rules of the sport. Shameful.


It doesn't matter how many cm in front of Kimi he was. The fact is Kimi had the racing line and forced Lewis to brake. Lewis, instead of braking hard to remain on the track, chose to cut the corner and thus gain an illegal advantage into the next corner where he made a move on Kimi. That was where, as Webber said, Lewis broke the rules. I remember Mark went as far as to say Lewis would never have tried a pass there had there been gravel and not an asphalted run-off area. Hardly anything by the rule book.

I thought it'd been unfair at first, there's a lot of people in Italy who actually don't understand the reason for that punishment, but I changed my mind.

I have nothing at all against Lewis and I don't blame him for trying to be smart. I think it's the asphalt outside the corners on most tracks that's creating some unclear situations. An old honest gravel trap would definately make drivers think twice before going for it when chances of a pass are rather low just because they can then take to the runoff.

If that move had not been penalised, you would probably see such situations at almost every race as most tracks have large asphalted run-offs.


They invented a rule to penalise Hamilton retrospectively. So bizarre.


There is nothing in the rules to say a driver has to wait attack, having given a place back. It was, as Niki Lauda said at the time ‘the worst stewarding decision ever seen at an F1 event’


"Should’ve waited a couple of corners before making another move on Kimi" That was never in the FIA rule book in 2008, it's was a rule fabricated by the Stewards that day, and in the following year made a legal rule.


Sorry Bart. You're wrong here. Hamilton went off because he was forced off by Kimi. He was half a car-length ahead entering the (new) bus-stop chicane, but was on the outside, which allowed Kimi to keep the corner and claim the apex. Hamilton didn't run off to deliberately gain an advantage. Hamilton let Kimi past on the short straight to La Source and relinquished whatever advantage was gained when he returned to the track in front of Kimi. Remember, Hamilton was half a car IN FRONT of Kimi at the entry to the corner before being forced off. Fair play to Kimi, he was racing for the win and did everything a racing driver should while defending a corner - but Hamilton did everything by the rule book too! The stripping of that win from Hamilton was arguably the dodgiest call by F1 race stewards of the past decade.


And just so you know it caused ructions at every club meet over here for a long time.

Virtually every drivers briefing had the question asked!


There is no - absolutely no, mandatory 'time' to sit behind a car after letting it past. Nowhere in the rules is it defined and in a wet race there are even more chances of such occurrences. LH did everything right that day and given the way such chicane drive through even in the dry are being regarded or treated this year, you really are on a hiding to nothing trying to suggest LH was in the wrong.

By the way - did you really expect Italian TV and all the racers Lewis was beating to have any different opinion?

It changed the rules right there and then so let's be sensible and stop the partisanship - LH was robbed of that win.

And where where the stewards while Kimi was playing bumper cars during the race by the way?

We all know what FIA stood for back then...



If Lewis couldn't grasp that, someone at McLaren should have told him. Where was Ron when words of wisdom were needed?


Last laps - where is the foul? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5K9P9z_Lwa0


All the people saying 'Kimi forced Lewis off', Kimi had the inside line, the optimum line into the corner. Lewis could have braked hard and made the corner but he didn't want to lose any ground. He should have done, cos he would have won anyway given how much superior Mclaren were in the wet compared to Ferrari, he would have easily. Ferrari were terrible in wet all 2008. Massa spun about 5 times at silverstone


Ferrari was crap in wet that season, they were better in dry conditions than Mclaren cos they used tyres more gently, but in the wet or even cold conditions they couldn't switch tyres on properly. Even before it started raining he was struggling cos the tyres lost temp. He did well to keep going for the win with much less grip than Lewis Mclaren which had much better mechanical grip. Even so it was harsh to give Lewis the penalty cos he would have won anyway regardless of that move.


Wow.... Forgot how badly Kimi Behaived after he was overtaken.....lol

Ran off the track then into a wall..... 2008 - what a season.


Great point about Eau Rouge, James. Looking forward to seeing them actually have to *drive* through it again rather than planting the throttle and treating it as part of the Kemmel straight which the previous aero regs allowed. It has been called the 'best corner in F1' but recent years were making a nonsense of that.


Off topic, but no relevant article to say this.

Weekend just gone, Renault 3.5 series was on the Moscow Raceway. No-one said anything about they should not be there, no-one protested.

Right or wrong, I believe something that applies to one series, such as not wanting F1 to go to Russia should apply to all motorsport, not just one.

So if no-one has a problem with Renault 3.5 going over there, I don't have a problem with Formula One going there.


Only British politicians don't want F1 to go to Russia.


Very few know or care about Renault 3.5, hence no noise.

None of that makes the case for F1 supporting Russia any stronger.


Nor do I.

In all honesty I cannot help but feel that most people have no problem with it. It's just a few people who are very loud. Let's not forget that every single country has issues somewhere along the line, but people don't ask for their grands prix to be cancelled, or we would have none left!


That's a valid point and you're right, but I don't think that Renault 3.5 gets anywhere near the media attention that F1 gets.

If F1 does decide to go there then I think you might see some protests.


And what is the global political impact of Renault 3.5 again?


James or anyone else, how likely is it that the Andre Lotterer story is true? If it is could it even happen would he be allowed to by Audi?

I have been really impressed with him and have been a fan. I have thought about how would he fair in F1 several times. It would be exciting seeing a champion from a different discipline race in F1. It wouldn't be in the best, but it would be interesting. Plus he is very talented and has current single seater experience so he could help move them up the standings.

I really hoped Seb Loeb or Valentino Rossi would have tried there hand in F1, they did well when they tested.


Whenever I see a conflagration like this, I wonder again if Porsche/Audi are considering entry to F1.

The new Porsche (top category) Le Mans car seems to be a great testing bed for development of power for F1, particularly the way Porsche has done it.

Audi had, understandably, misgivings about Porsche entering Le Mans and going head-to-head with the perennial top mark, Audi, since they are the same corporation.

Are Porsche/Audi using the Porsche LMP1 category entry as a test bed for a F1 entry?

If they are, it is much easier to purchase an existing team, than to build a new one from scratch; maybe the sale of Caterham is to a brokering consortium?!?

If testing the waters, why not send your LMP1 ace to check out the baseline and the competition itself?


Would have loved to see Loab during his pomp......


"It would be exciting seeing a champion from a different discipline race in F1"

Michael Andretti springs to mind 😉

Jacques Villeneuve did well though.


It's been confirmed and Toyota have released him from his Super Formula duties in Japan (they're racing at Motegi this weekend). As far as I know it's a one off so Audi weren't particularly involved since the next WEC race isn't until mid September.


From what I've heard it is only for the one race.


Just cannot work out why he wants to do this...the car is a liability and he's not even Belgian


The circus is back in town which can only mean happiness for the fans.

For sure, this weekend we will finally find out how strong each of the different engines are but with Red Bull already talking of damage limitation, it will be interesting to see which mid-field teams can sneak in a bag full of points.

Luckily for the teams, it appears we won't have a Friday washout as that has proven to be a disaster in the past in terms of finding the right set-up however, a wet quali may throw up a couple of pleasant surprises.

Regards the DRS, I believe it must have been shortened a couple of seasons back because it has been pretty tricky overtaking at Spa of late.

Yes, the best DRS has been able to do is get the drivers wheel to wheel and in most cases the pass doesn't stick.

As for the lack of downforce in 2014, perhaps the team have got it back because the fans were afraid we were going to have mayhem in Monaco but everything turned out okay.

Anyway, it will be an interesting weekend at the Cathedral of motorsport as the Mercedes powered cars have their own battles.


Its true that the long lap means you gain / lose more time PER LAP than at other circuits through tyre choice, but why does that matter? Its only the time lost / gained per stint or over the race that matters.


Just re-read the article and realise I may have misinterpreted the point. Apologies for that. I take it James is referring to the fact that if you find yourself on the wrong tyre for whatever reason, you lose a long time getting back to the pits to sort it.


Gearing is always important.....

Does anyone know whetjher the cars have used their 8th gear so far this season? I believe it's been sat in the gearbox gathering dust. But no longer - surely this is the weekend when it finally gets to take a turn in proceedings. I bet it can hardly contain itself, such is the excitment it must be feeling on the eve' of the eve' of it's debut 🙂


Don't forget that starting this year the teams have to run the same ratios at all tracks,although IIRC there is one redo of the ratios during the season. With the huge torque the cars have now gearing won't be as important; most teams aren't running above 12,000 revs with a 15,000 limit; fuel flow is constant above 10,500 revs, however. Anyway, with fixed ratios, a pretty much unused 8th gear, and lots of torque gearing may not be much of an issue.


Technical Regulations on Gear Ratio’s

9.6.1 Each competitor must nominate the forward gear ratios (calculated from engine crankshaft to drive shafts) to be employed within their gearbox. These nominations must be declared to the FIA technical delegate at or before the first Event of the Championship. For 2014 only a competitor may re-nominate these ratios once within the Championship season, in which case the original nomination becomes immediately void. Ratio re-nominations must be declared as a set.

Major upgrade for SPA and Monza could be this simple. To make the car go faster, you need a bigger wheel in the box. The new power units have a lot of grunt. Does anyone know if any team has changed there ratio’s?


Some have, some haven't. It'll be interesting to see if any teams wants to make their "joker" change on the ratios for Spa and Monza.


This is an appeal for the 8th gear. Despite international efforts this lonely ratio has been abandoned. Please help. Rev generously. Thank you.


I've seen some drivers use it briefly, but just wait 'til Monza 😉


Bless it.


I know Red Bull used it at one race, can't remember which one. Maybe Germany.


Classical race, and always unpredictable. Can't wait!

BTW "Everything you need to know"?? Now, really, this looks like something straight out of a third rate woman's magazine! With 5 large photos and a little bit of text claiming it's all there is to know about dieting, or some such really-not-so-simple thing. Same about Belgian GP.

Alastair Purves

Everything you need to about the Belgian GP... but were afraid to ask!


Soooo...we're reading JA to find out out about racing and strategy tips, and the F1 drivers are reading women's magazines for weight loss tips.

Does that sound right?


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.

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

2) Since 1983: Mclaren 11 wins Ferrari 7 wins, Williams 3 wins, Red Bull 2 wins

3) Since 1996, only thrice has a none

Mclaren/Ferrari won i.e. Vettel in 2011/2013 and Damon in 1998.

4) 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)

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

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

7) 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.

8) Since 1983, 10 out of 28 have won from pole whereas since 1950, 15 out of 45 have been victorious from pole.

9) With the exception of Senna's 4 back to back wins, Vettel + Jenson and Brabham + Phil Hill are the only drivers to have won back to back races from pole i.e. 2011/2012 and 1960/1961.

10) Since 1983, the only nationalities to have been successful at Spa are; 5 Brits, 2 Brazilian, 2 Finnish, 2 German and 1 French

11) Fangio, Damon and Schumi have the record of having gone the longest between wins - 3 years.

12) The only drivers to have won at Spa twice and gone on to win two titles are Vettel, Schumi, Senna, Fangio and Ascari.


Just like Lewis in Canada, Kimi has either won or retired at Spa.

The current record is 4 wins to 4 DNFs with the 3rd place finish in 2012 being the exception.


Mexicos Pedro Rodriguez won back in 1970 so maybe Checo can pull it off with the Mercedes engine

Of course that means Ros, Ham and Bot dnf and he avoids crashing with Mas and Hulk


Spa is the most rain affected race on the European calender in modern times: 1985, 1989, 1992, 1995, 1997, 1998, 2000, 2005, 2008 and 2010 were all "blessed" with some precipitation.

The late, great Pedro Rodriguez was the last driver to win at the original 9 mile Spa circuit in 1970. Bear in mind in 1970 an F1 car was a can of beer with 2 axles and 4 wheels with a driver at one end and an engine at the other, and Pedro's average - AVERAGE! - race winning speed of 149.94 MPH just shows how incredibly fast and dangerous the original Spa circuit was.

In 1970, an F1 car's engine pumped out about 440 BHP, and although they had new fangled front and rear wings an F1 car was quite skinny on downforce, so for a driver to win a race at an average of 150 Mph is quite an incredible achievement.

In a sports car race, also in 1970, Pedro achieved a fastest lap speed of 163 Mph! The original Spa was even more lethal than the old Nuburgring - it had houses, barbed wire, sheer drops, cliffs, you name t, everything.

And yet, and yet...............imagine a modern F1 car going around the horrors of the Masta Kink or Burneville????


RE IJW: Yes it was. That was the original Spa circuit - the daunting, mega fast, flat out blast around the Forests of South East Belgium. Incredible to think that 400 BHP 3 litre F1 cars raced there..................different times I guess.

RE Goferet: Although I wouldn't classify Pedro as one of the all time greats, there's no doubt in the late 60s and early 70s he was one of the finest drivers in the world, with a bravery and courage that today would be considered foolhardy. As well as being a handy F1 pilot, he was a sportscar ace and was nigh on unbeatable in the wet - in 1970 he won at a sportscar race at a soaking Brands Hatch by the unbelievable margin of 5 laps!

Certainly, Checo has a lot to live up to when it comes to Mexican drivers..............


Wasn't the old Spa layout shown in the "Grand Prix" film? Brilliant film by-the-way. They showed it on the BBC a couple of months back.


@ Gaz Boy

Hahaha the only wet track I can think of that throws up more drama than Spa is Monaco.

But considering the globe is suffering from global warming I think it really might be a while till we get a wet race.

And how is this for irony, we had a wet Hungary but might have a dry Spa.

As for Pedro, I was surprised to know Perez wasn't the first Mexican F1 pilot Lol...


Er not quite true. Lewis got a 3rd place at Canada in 2013 . Kimi had a 3rd place at Spa in 2012.

alexander supertramp

Lewis did not win nor did he retire in Canada last year, third place.


@ alexander supertramp

Aah had forgotten Lewis' 3rd place in Canada 2013.


A brief history of F1 safety:

Due to the fact the old Spa track was 8.7miles (14km) long, comprising of nothing but straights and fast corners through rural villages, it was the most feared and most dangerous track on the calendar that even saw a barbed wire decapitation of a Brit racer in 1960.

However, it's stated that most drivers in the 50s/60s preferred the danger element of the sport as it gave them satisfaction to do something dangerous and survive it e.g. Drivers of that era preferred not to wear seat belts so they could be thrown out of the car in a bid to avoid injury by fire.

But in 1969 as the cars had gotten faster with the introduction of aerodynamic wings in 1968, Jackie Stewart under the Grand Prix Drivers Association pushed for improvement in F1 safety after he himself nearly got killed at Spa 1966 when he crashed through a woodcutter's hut, hit a telegraph pole and landed upside down, drowning in his own inflammable fuel.

It's because of the dangerous Spa circuit that the Belgium race was cancelled in 1969 and 1971 then ultimately the race relocated to Nivelles and Zolder circuits from 1972-1984.


That should say that's 9.31 miles with 25 corners . Stupid Ipad predictive text.


I imagine the pre war Spa circuit was more terrifying as that was 14.9 km that's 9.31 Miles with 25 correct a layout first used for a GP in 1929. The layout you are referring to is the configuration the track used from 1947-78.


@ C63, I believe that 8th gear was used in only one race by two drivers so far this season,

Gear ratio changes is only permitted once this season, from those declared at the start of the season.

There might be those that have already took-up that option, while there might be some which still have that option.

SPA and Monza 12th/13th race) will for sure trigger-off the penalties due to the PU allocation limits.


In a way I hope someone's engine does let go at Spa so we can see Kimi charge through the resulting smoke cloud at full throttle like in 2002.


Think that would now be seen as very irresponsible on the basis he left his foot-in at Silverstone and was heavily criticised for it.


While conserving fuel and looking after his tyres 😉


I'm betting on 3 catastrophic PU failures this weekend. Sod's law indicates that Lewis will be one of them 😉


2004 Kimi gave a masterclass in how to restart at Spa after the SC, and lead Schuma all the way to flag in a second rate McLaren. Fantastic.

Folks who are new to F1 and go along with the Kimi is rubbish talk should view that race on you tube


Only because Trulli,Montoya,Button,Barichello and Alonso had collisions and contacts, and Schumi had severe tyre graining on mediums . One swallow does not make a summer, and Kimi went on to lose even with the fastest car on the grid in 2005, barely nudged Massa/Hamilton to 2007 title, lost to Massa in 2008 and was trailing 2009 until Massa's injury , had Grosjean have his measure in 2013 and has comprehensively been beaten by Alonso this year.


Yes his car was so reliable in 2005 compared to Alonso's wasn't it



splendid! You hang on to that view.

Promise me you won't ever let anyone change it.


Given how hard this is on Engines and hamiltons recent run of luck, I wonder what the odds are of him even reaching the end of the race 😉


I'm hoping Williams can challenge for the win this weekend, very fast and efficient on the straights and they proved pretty good on the sweeps of Silverstone.


So hopefully not 23.5 seconds of full throttle then...


The amazing spa. I've been lucky enough to race and win there myself, sidecars. Its an experience I will never forget. It was awful conditions, mist, fog, soaking wet. Brilliant. Bloody leathal in an outfit but that's the way we like it. The thing I will remember is the flow, it was like falling i to a trance racing there. Its just a pity that F1 doesn't value it and the other proper tracks. Also taking away the sand trap at monza is a joke. Its far to easy and safe now. People say you can't make it more dangerous? You bloody well can. It should require skill and balls in equal measure. That's what Motorsport is. That man with the most skill or money or best equipment normally wins. Unless he comes up against a lion at a lethal race track. That's what the sport lacks. Heros who don't care about PR. look at road racin and guy Martin. A proper character. Oh and eau rouge was as scary as it looks. We can go flat in the dry, just. In the wet no way.


+1000 - I salute you fellow competitor - bloody scary down that low is it not?

Great fun but oh boy - 170mph is scary there. 2" off the floor. I thought Thruxton was fast until a few of the old school tracks revised my opinions..


James: Can you provide a list of drivers at or close to their limit of five engines?



Just when you thought F1 had sunk to an all time low there was still room to fall. Lotterer's buddies at Caterham sideline Kobayashi instead of Ericsson, even though Kobayashi blows Ericsson away every time they get on the track. The real news however is that Caterham is a nothing team anyway and odds are that Lotterer will finish second last or last behind Ericsson, or not at all. The politics, pay drivers, and bad decisions are all it takes to shut the TV off on F1 once and for all. IndyCar is vastly superior to this F1 mess.


Sad day...


Apparently it's a one race deal.

I say Caterham just won the Lotterer.

Yes, I really will sink that low...


James I think your top speeds are a little on the low side. Lewis clocked over 340 in Germany so surely we should see 350 + this weekend ?


Like Canada and Silverstone, Spa is a fantastic circuit that fans and drivers both love. It always throws up good racing. Before the advent of DRS there was still good possibilities to overtake . It also has a gold standard in the history books. In short a perfect track. So I wonder how long before Bernie threatens to shut it down in favour of a Tilke designed boor fest in the desert


On a side note...

I'm surprised there is not more talk about Vettel this year within the media.

He has dominated the sport over the last four years, but many (including some current F1 Drivers) suspect it was all just about the car and rated Vettel as just "average".

He is now no longer in the best car on the grid and is struggling, he is also been solidly out performed by his new teammate.

The Ferrari is also not the best car atm, but Alonso is milking everything out of it and solidly out performing his new teammate... proving what an amazing driver he is.

Everyone has been looking forward to seeing Vettel in a "different" car against a "different" teammate this year in order to judge exactly just how good he is... that has now happened but people no longer seem to be interested?

Not only is Ricciardo a threat to Vettle now, but with his contract up next year, I would be surprised if he will stay with RBR if he continues to loose out to his teammate. If he then decides to leave (tail between his legs) it will also undermine the four DWC that he accumulated.

It will be extremely interesting to see how the remainder of the season pans out between Ricciardo and Vettel.

(Note: Anyone know where I can get the ring tone... "Sebastian, Daniel is faster than you" from?)


How do you know alonso is getting everything out of it? I agree that raikonnen has been miserable this year although most team decision weren't in his favour. But on my first point, everytime alonso finishes 5th,9th or 13th its always hes got the maximum out of the car. You dont know how good that car is maybe its not as bad as fred always implies. He had a great car in the first half of 2013 but somehow that same vettel you are talking about beat him fair and square. People like you make it sound if alonso is somehow a miracle worker, he's not great driver though dont get me wrong.


Dutch Johhny

How do you know Alonso does not get more out of the car or put a assertion as Ferrari have a fast Car?

Do you know how good the F14T car is or how you claim it is fast car? Are you better than Benson, DC, Gary anderson, Mark hughes and Davidson / EJ? I do not think so.

What makes you to say Alonso have not delivered? when Fernando simply nails results from the shoddy car week-in / week-out whereas his much fancied team-mates (KIMI / Massa) are a flop and not even good enough to drive the car. Alonso had a great car in 2013? Really the RBR have won the last 9 races on the row. After the summer break Newey have improved the car to a new level when Ferrari and Mercedes faltered.

Vettel beat him fair and square? Who is vettel ? The one gets hammered by Ricciardo every weekend. Vettel is a average pilot and his titles does not count for anything as we all have revealed this season what he is made of. So please stop the charade and hilarious thoughts. Vettel is not good enough and he will chastened by Dan ricciardo as we move into the second half of 2014 as well. The same goes to kimi, pathetic and one of the most vaunted pilot in the grid. Massa proved us how good is kimi

Alonso is simply the best and there will be no one like him. Fernando have delivered great results and his performances are more than miracle worker. Despite the poor and sub-standard cars he had to contend with for the past 5 seasons at Ferrari when compared with the likes of RBR and Mercedes. massa and kimi have struggled all the way to even drive these cars whereas Alonso turns up every wekk and does not mind what has been given to him by Ferrari. Yet delivers stunning performances and consummate drives

Alonso is Fable and Proverbial.


it's simply the best driver on the grid


The problem in all what you have said is, it's based on your judgement.

Vettel is a 4* champ say for argument sake Vettel comes back in the second half and finishes ahead.

And Ricciardo never wins a title trust me history would forget him, Vettel has made sure the history book is littered with his name.

Also the noise is about Alonso today if he as well does not win a title history would only remember his two titles the rest would be talked about between fans.

Hamilton has a car that's way better than the Redbull and still cannot put a season together like Vettel.


Yes, but that's partially because his team puts his car together like Mr Magoo.

(p.s. Bet you Ricciardo does win a title 😉 )


I'm hoping for more Redbull and Ricciardo miracles, more changing conditions and even a Williams Bottas win.

That to me would be a great weekend, the icing on the the cake would be both mercs retiring.

But I'm just a romantic.


I hope there's a Lottery story coming...a real slap in the face for KK.


Yes! Best grand prix on the calendar, made all the more exciting by the weather. Suffice to say I'll be going my rain dance this weekend.


Spa podium will be

1. Kimi

2. Valtteri

3. Lewis


On podium will be one Mercedes, one Williams and one Ferrari, not necessary in that order. Reliability issues are going to stop one of the Mercedes.


$5 on James...


I say Hamilton, Rosberg, Bottas

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