Analysis: How Belgian F1 Grand Prix could affect the rest of the championship
Strategy Report
Posted By: James Allen  |  29 Aug 2018   |  6:08 am GMT  |  184 comments

This was an unusual Belgian Grand Prix in many respects from a strategy point of view.

Spa is normally up there as one of the toughest races of the season for tyre degradation and we normally see a lot of strategy moves and position changes as a result.

But this year low degradation tyres meant that only one position changed in the race due to strategy calls; the loss of position by Sainz and Renault. There was very little other movement.

At the front this was also due to the fact that a wet qualifying session and engine penalties had split up the faster cars. Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel were isolated at the front with the Force India drivers on row two acting as buffers to the Red Bull of Max Verstappen early on.

This opened up a sizable gap and meant that the leading pair could duel without interference or tactics from the team strategists employing second drivers, trying undercuts and so on; the first time this has happened this season.

Valtteri Bottas started at the back while Kimi Raikkonen was out of position due to a strategic error in qualifying, which meant that he was not out on track at the end of the wet session when the conditions improved and lap times came down. So he started sixth. To make matters worse, he was then taken out by Ricciardo at the start with a puncture and car damage.

So the leaders had a clear run.

Late race Safety Cars also traditionally shake up the order at Spa; this year that didn’t happen and so this race had the distinction of being the first in the hybrid era (since 2014) where cars finishing in points-paying positions were lapped.

Spa often comes down to tactics on rear wing level versus straight line speed and to the all-important burst on the opening lap and after a Safety Car restart down to Les Combes chicane. We’ve seen the Belgian Grand Prix decided on this dynamic many times and this was another such occasion.

The Ferrari had less wing than the Mercedes, but perversely more grip out of the La Source hairpin and more sustained power delivery on the straights. That was enough to give Vettel the lead on the opening lap.

And when there was a Safety Car restart after a pile up on the opening lap, Hamilton had a sub optimal entry into the Bus Stop chicane, which compromised his chances of getting close enough to get a slipstream ‘tow’ from Vettel into the headwind that was blowing down the straight down to Les Combes. So Vettel had the upper hand.

The only time Hamilton came close was by stopping a lap earlier for tyres and closing the gap as Vettel responded a lap later. With over three seconds lead, Vettel was not under threat of an undercut, but some readers might wonder why Ferrari waited for Mercedes to stop first before pitting. After all it brought Hamilton to one second behind and put a lot of pressure on Ferrari’s pit crew to execute the stop perfectly.

The reason is because if they had done it the other way around, Vettel would have been vulnerable to a Safety Car deployment. Had that happened just after he stopped, when Hamilton had stayed out, the Mercedes driver would be able to stop under the Safety Car, losing less race time and would have taken the lead.

The decision is based on risk and probabilities and the risk of that is considered higher than of Ferrari’s pit crew making a mistake.

Tough weekend for the number two drivers

Raikkonen and Bottas both had difficult race weekends. Bottas finished fourth, but started in 17th place due to engine penalties and, knowing that would be the case before qualifying, chose to start the race on soft tyres. An early forced pit stop for front wing damage after the opening corner melee was not as damaging as it might have been because he was able to make the stop under the Safety Car and to fit a new set of supersoft tyres at that stage.

This was an interesting decision as the thinking that had put him onto the soft tyres for the start – the desire to run a longer opening stint than the cars ahead and gain track position – was still valid.

But Mercedes felt that having the softer tyres for the restart would be more valuable to get faster tyre warm up and pick up places. Vandoorne also pitted under the early Safety Car for medium tyres, but this proved not to be a fast race tyre. It is essentially last year’s soft compound tyre and although the teams know a lot about that tyre, it is a slow tyre compared to the supersoft.

Big decisions on Strategy going forward

So how might the Belgian Grand Prix affect the way the rest of this season’s championship is run?

The title contenders are clearly now Vettel and Hamilton.

It will be interesting to see how much longer Mercedes leaves it before deciding to co-opt Bottas into a supporting role to Hamilton in the quest for the drivers’ championship. The objective for race strategy at Mercedes has always been to seek the race win and the best combined race result for the points in the Constructor’s table.

But you can deploy the number two driver in sub optimal strategies, which don’t help his final result, but which to can force the opponent into compromising his strategy.

With the Ferrari looking like a superior car, the role of Raikkonen and Bottas in the outcome of the races will now be critical to the chances of their lead driver team mates.

Raikkonen has long been deployed on sub-optimal strategies to affect Mercedes’ decision making and help Vettel and we’ve seen a lot of that this season already.

But Bottas has been allowed to run his own race up to now and will no doubt want to continue to do so.

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

Race History Chart

Kindly provided by Williams Martini Racing, click to enlarge

The number of laps is on the horizontal axis; the gap behind the leader is on the vertical axis.

A positive sign is an upward curve as the fuel load burns off. A negative sign is the slope declining as the tyre degradation kicks in.

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The article reads

“Late race Safety Cars also traditionally shake up the order at Spa; this year that didn’t happen and so this race had the distinction of being the first in the hybrid era (since 2014) where cars finishing in points-paying positions were lapped.”

I thought maybe it should have read “where no cars finishing in points-paying positions were lapped”, but the BBC reports that Ericsson, finishing in tenth place, was lapped.


Again with the falsehood

Bottas being asked to move aside anyone?


Saarang, when was that?


I take issue with ‘he was taken out by Ricciardo at the start’.

Picky and while strictly that is a fact it ignores the context of the first corner melee and the fact Ric’s rear wing get smashed up. Implying dirty or incompetent driving, which I dont think was the case. Kimi was part of the collateral, as was Ric.


James, you wrote “But Bottas has been allowed to run his own race up to now…” What about the “wingman” thing? The whole article does not say much. You wrote “It will be interesting to see how much longer Mercedes leaves it before deciding to co-opt Bottas into a supporting role to Hamilton…”. And this is your conclusion? This appears to be the point of the whole article. But this already happen. If you cannot see that, then I am really puzzled. Are you going to publish my comment this time, or you will conveniently not publish it? You published my comment in “Lewis Hamilton fears for rest of season after rival Vettel powers to Belgian F1 GP victory” and then you removed it.

It is not true that you can decide not to publish something that is not in favour of LH just because this is your website. I don’t know if you understand why, but that is wrong. You have to be impartial, or, if you don’t want to, you have to declare that you support LH.


John, a huge amount of anti Hamilton posts get published on this site every week. If yours was refused, it must have been way over the top!


Oh please, give it a rest! Which comment in the other thread? Re-post it here. Unless you said some rather inflammatory things (rude, crude, or nasty) then I’ve no doubt that JA would post it.

JA has no favourites. He just reports on the happenings in the sport.

As for Bottas, I think he was used in both Germany and Hungary, but in both cases Mercedes were right to do so. Really he should be a relegated no. 2 now. It would be one thing to be 87 pts back but lying 2nd … in that case it’s game on. But he’s 87 pts back with their main team rival 70 pts ahead, in a quicker and more versatile car. So they have to be backing their lead car, even if it means swapping them around for the lead. It wouldn’t be nice to see, and hopefully Lewis can make sure he’s out front and doesn’t need the help, but if it came down to it, Mercedes would have to be prepared to act.


Even tho ferrari look fast i just cant see them winning every remaining race.

Mercedes are reported to have a update for this coming race, with low drag wings we will actually see the true diff on power levels.


They will all have Monza-spec updates, lowest drag wings, etc.


Have to say it’s nice to see you back James, hope you can drop by more often. 🙂


dow anyone have an explanation to how force india was able to use that mercedes engine to such good effect yet mercedes failed to do so?


@Aveli. It’s quite simply actually. The force indias were the recipient of a double tow and even lower drag than either ferrari/mercedes. Important to note, they caught lewis and seb at the end of kemmel using the slipsteam. Seb had already overtaken lewis coming out of Radillion, showing how ridiculous ferrari’s PU is. Lewis is right to be worried.


thanks oblah but surely the force india drivers didn’t get a tow on every straight for the whole race. why did they finish ahead of haas and sauber?


As KRB mentioned in a previous thread the Ferrari had excellent traction especially out of La Source which obviously then helps them get to their top speed quicker.

The Ferrari engine isnt the main difference between the two teams at this stage, granted Ferrari have made gains in that department and after four years many woukd say about time too, its the chassis they have that seems to be giving them the edge this season over the Mercedes.


Perhaps a big part of the Ferrari speed gain is due to the new floor and aero. IF that is correct then the status quo still exists in the midfield with the Merc power unit outperforming the Ferrari.


Spa just suited the FI and they had a perfect storm of getting it all hooked up ….OR something else

Sometimes the simple answers are not out there in the public domain and asking the simple questions will get you all sorts of guesses rather than the data you seek.


aveli, Force India/jordan has always have a monopoly with spa. Their car is just built for that track.


does the data show vettel winning from pole or is it my eyesight?


Squint harder, turn , the graph on it’s side and then close one eye.

Now does it look like the traces do not go all the way back to zero on the horizontal axis.?


James would love if you could do a piece on the Renault engine since the final and newest one will be in use by Red Bull in Monza. This is the same update that by my recollection was promised last year, and Renault claimed it would provide a significant step up. Then they delayed it from last year.. and delayed it all through this year until now. And now they’ve said it sacrifices reliability. And it’ll provide 0.3 seconds per lap at Monza. Talk about underwhelming after such a long wait.

Would love to know why Renault won’t use it and why they’ve failed on all their engine promises. And of course, the icing on the cake is that Mclaren won’t use the latest version at all this year on their car because they’d have to make adjustments. To a car that is fundamentally flawed and they can’t fix… because they don’t need significant step I suppose. 😑


Does a competent team forget to add fuel to their car in Q3?

The answer is yes in the case of Ferrari. But that’s presuming they are indeed “competent”. Was it then deliberate?

Team radio shows that Kimi was continually giving detailed and precise feedback to his engineer about his broken wing and receiving muddled and not overly competent responses.

I don’t have much info on his current guy, but it seems Kimi has not been served by a top quality engineer since he returned in 2014. He needs a guy who knows about timing and about not sending him out in traffic, and such matters, etc etc.

There is not much between Kimi and Vettel. Vettel is quicker more often than not in quali, but it’s by very small margins. Seb is clearly the speediest on the grid currently. It’s also clear that Kimi would be more on a par with him in the standings if it weren’t for 3 DNFs that were all down to the team. We all remember the buffoonery of Bahrain where a wheel gun was set to ‘tighten’ instead of ‘release’.

With petrol in the car, Kimi would most likely have got pole here, or at very least a front row start. He would have taken the candy from Ham just as easily as Vettel did with the power advantage the Ferrari had here.

‘Number 2’. This is a guy that would have wiped the floor with the likes of VET or HAM when he was with McLaren. Pushing 39 he is still mighty quick, smooth and consistent and deserves to have a team who gives him better backing.

Alas, he is stuck with scuderia Ferrari.


It never ceases to amazing how deluded some fans can be. Kimi is no where near seb’s speed. Sure he’s doing marginally better this year and ferrari is doing its utmost to hinder his progress, but being objective – Vettel has his number. His results are more an effect of ferrari’s superior pace rather than brilliant driving.

I do agree, all things being equal – he stood a good chance of being on pole and potentially giving ferrari a front row lockout. Then ferrari would be forced to swap them without appearing biased. Bare in mind, had it rained harder, he’d be on pole.

You really lost me about the supposed mclaren kimi. Complete tosh. Kimi left a mclaren designed by newey for ferrari where he was matched by massa. Yes, massa, I did not stutter, who was nothing more than MSC’s lackey. Lucked into the 07 championship and was nowhere in 08.

Kimi’s fans love to wax lyrical about the mid 2000’s, but he remains a very narrow driver. Unlike lewis and fernando, he needs a very specific car to express his great speed. When the car suits him, he can be incredibly fast but the same can be said for any formula one driver. And no, I don’t think he’d match lewis or fernando. Not now, not then. Such absurdities are the same excuses vettel fans use for 2014. Laughable. 😀


How deluded some fans can be. Yes you have shown that many times before and this post is just another example. Also by referring to yourself in the first person deluded isnt the only word that springs to mind.



Sorry, but it has to be said.


Kimi left a mclaren designed by newey for ferrari where he was matched by massa. Yes, massa, I did not stutter, who was nothing more than MSC’s lackey. Lucked into the 07 championship and was nowhere in 08.

He won double the races Massa won in 2007, 2 more than Hamilton and Alonso and suffered 2 reliability retirements running in podium positions, the most of all the championship contenders. He wasn’t nowhere in ’08, the performance was closer but he was also extremely unlucky on several occasions. I think you’re getting confused with Kovalainen who really was out of his depth.

Keep the facts coming Oblah.

Have you read the article states Ferrari ran less wing than Mercedes at Spa?? This contrasts with you stating Mercedes ran less wing as a fact on the race report several times.


Hmm, in 2008 the average starting position for the Ferrari/McLaren drivers was this:

Avg Start Pos

MAS 2.94

HAM 3.89

RAI & KOV 4.39

Avg Pts Per Finish

MAS 6.06

HAM 5.76

RAI 4.69

KOV 3.53


(mostly the two year-end links at bottom)


Rockie, and why was that?


I agree KRB Kimi struggled in large parts of the season to qualify with the F2008 for whatever reason but in the races he was generally fast.

He had an unlucky stretch of races, Canada, France, Silverstone and Spa.

He could have won all those races, Canada we know what happened there. France cracked exhaust whilst leading.

And Silverstone and Spa, if they were dry races I honestly believe Kimi wins both. He was much faster than Hamilton on his Friday practice race simulation, I was there at Silverstone ’08. Even you must accept the F2008 was pants in wet conditions. It was well documented one of the F2008’s main flaws was it lost all temperature in it’s tyres as soon as a drop of rain fell. So I would say that is bad luck yes.

I’m not saying Kimi was as good as Lewis in the wet but he wasn’t exactly shabby at McLaren, he won wet races.

Those 4 races did Kimi’s championship in.



You’re totally right.

Racefans- what a giggle. What a site to get stats from!

btw Massa was gifted Spa and Magny Cours to name but 2 races he would never have won even in his dreams. Still didn’t make the title lol.


Quoting this shows you weren’t watching in ’08, considering Kimi carried more fuel than Massa most qualy sessions.


Don’t forget about Red Bull


Like Red Bull drivers, he was underfueled to have a lighter car for one or two timed laps. There was no mistake. It was Ferraris insurance to get one car on front row in case the rain would increase, hence lighter car = faster laptime, more rain = track getting slower not faster. Vettels car had fuel for more laps and was heavier initially but once the rain abated and the track got drier his side´s tactic proofed right. Unlike Red Bull they split the strategy and Kimi wouldnt be Kimi if he didnt have his back luck.


I agree I think Kimi could’ve got the pole at Spa, he was on it all weekend and looked more comfortable with the car than Vettel.

Generally though Vettel has the edge in qualifying. Although it is not a huge margin.

If Kimi can keep up his decent form the championships may come a lot easier for Ferrari than it looked a few races ago.


@Phil Glass,

While l enjoyed your praises of Raikkonen with regards to his own performance this season, l am a fan of his since he arrived in F1, l feel your reading of the Scuderia might be off.

Yes, had they fueled him an extra couple of laps, he may have gone on to pole, we will never know. What would Ferrari gain in acting purposely in such way?

l am really asking you Phil Glass. To play favorite to Vettel?

Look, Kimi was hard done, and for him but also the team it wasn’t the best of weekend. l just can’t see the logic in throwing away points being a policy for any team. l get that Ferrari’s focus is Vettel, but not to the extend you seem to believe. Marc


Then how would you describe or explain Ferrari actions concerning Kimi this weekend? You say you don’t agree with Phil Glass but give no counter arguments.


l don’t have a counter argument other than that it makes no sense for the team to purposely ruin Kimi’s weekend. l think that they try to be cleaver and split the strategy. Had the rain kept coming down, Kimi would have had the better strategy. No? Marc


Marc, well sadly they are not just focused on Seb, they are also focused on devising strategies of all kinds to ensure Kimi does not threaten precious Seb. We’ll see if that pays off.

If you’re a fan since the old days, you will remember when Kimi was asked as a Sauber rookie if he had a dream to join a big team. He said “Yeah, but that’s too early.” A few weeks later he replaced Hakkinen at McLaren. 🙂


Thank you for your answer Phil. l remember Kimi in his Sauber days of course but not that particular quote. Regardless it turned out that he was ready for a big team. Marc


‘Raikkonen has long been deployed on sub-optimal strategies to affect Mercedes’ decision making and help Vettel and we’ve seen a lot of that this season already.’

James, if what You write is true, why did Ferrari give Raikkonen the preferential treatment over Vettel in France, Austria and Germany? Especially in Germany it was not easy to understand why they pitted the drivers in a way which meant that Vettel lost a lot of time on fresh tyres over the 13 laps he followed Raikkonen when Kimi was on much older tyres. This may or may not have contributed to the Vettel accident in Germany, because it made him vulnerable to a charging Hamilton and left him in a position where he had to take every risk to stay ahead in the fight for the Championship. In hind side, 18 points would have been better than none, however with a more ideal strategy for Vettel it could have been 25 points.


Kimi being fodder is part of his contractual obligation as per Mark Hughes. At mercedes, bottas is given equal opportunity to win, as shown in the past. The lead driver always gets strategic preference – as team result and the win takes precedence.


Preferential treatment – what are you watching. In Germany they left RAI on softs when they could have pitted him for new ultras and stay ahead of HAM and potentially won the race.


They put Kimi ahead of Sebastian through better strategy. I think that is what was meant.


another interesting analysis yet each race is an isolated event, no race influences another so we just need to quit trying to predict future events andvwait for them to occur.

we have all watched f1 for so many years and have seen that each race is a separate event yet so many are addicted to this prediction game. how does f1 has such an influence on fans?


The narrative being so liberally peddled about that Ferrari is the faster car on evidence is seems this is not the case.

Note the time gaps in recent races in quali

Spain LH vs SV +0.132

Monaco SV vs LH +0.193

Canada SV vs VB +0.093

France LH vs SV +0.371

Austria LH vs SV +0.334

Silverstone. LH vs SV +0.044s

Germany SV vs VB +0.204 (This is even smaller than last year’s average between Vettel and Hamilton in Hamilton’s favor when people said the cars were apparently “equal”)

Hungary SV vs VB +0.059s (Best indication We have to use data from FP3 as qualifying was wet)

Belgium SV vs LH +0.137s (We indication have to use data from FP3 as qualifying was wet)

At no point has a team in these sessions has any one team had a 0.5 advantage. in fact Merc have had the biggest gaps when they were on pole.

Last year whe the cars were apparently “Equal” the gaps were regularly bigger between a Mercedes and a Ferrari.

So this narrative that Ferrari by far have the fastest car is I think not factual. Sounds more like an excuses to me.


Qualifying is often a lottery, weather, rain, fuel level, traffic, tow from a team mate, unlimited use of DRS, engine modes, tyres choice, etc. Hence is not an indicator of pace over the full race and that’s where Ferrari is currently the fastest car.


That Ham is a superlative driver we know. The point is that Merc project is starting to get a little old. Car is good but not as good as Ferrari. The data such as top speed, acceleration from slow speed and curve speed slow medium – on fast full throttle is still merc thing… add also as a supporter of these “factual” data Toto Wolff who says bluntly that they have a lot of work to do. I wrote on a previous posting were the strength of Ferrari are which in many ways are very similar to RB… Next year seeing the progress of Honda engine it could very well be that Merc is behind both of them… they need to review drastically their design (they can do it if they fish from FI it is all about parameters and equations).


That assumes you think Vettel and Hamilton are equal drivers, which I for one don’t.

Plus race pace obvs.


It’s irrelevant if they are equal drivers or not – they are not peddling the cars around the track. It is and always will be the driver/car combo.


Of course it’s not irrelevant to which car is faster. If Ericsson was in the Ferrari and only just edging ahead of Hamilton, you’re seriously going to say the cars are about equal?


Mercedes Managed Championship

aka: MMC


I think F1 is keen on putting out the idea that Mercedes finally aren’t the fastest.. that it’s an actual contest instead of a walkover like the last 4 years.

And of course the Hamfosi have been building it up as part of their eventual scriptures. They started touting that things were even last year and Ferrari should have won. It all makes sense for the Messiah. #blessed.


Hamfosi sounds like something I would order at a deli. Would you like the spicy or mild Hamfosi?


So what’s your explanation then Cheesypoof?


your post dove-tails well with my long-running assertion of a MMC (Mercedes Managed Championship); that Mercedes prepared so well prior to the start of the hybrid formula, and compounded by the complexity of the power units, that they got so far ahead, they could hold back updates to manage the ‘perception of competition, since their run-away success was turning-off the core F1 fan/customer base.

One must however admit that Ferrari seem closer than they have been for ten years, or more.

This could be down to improvements in managing the perception… or… could it be? possibly not?!?

A sober reflection upon the facts supports our positions, the championship standings are the evidence of ultimate relevance, and Lewis is ahead by 17 points!

Incidentally exactly as per my pre-season prediction (if anyone challenges me on it, I did save the comment address for proof).

But Monza is a real test.

We may recall last year when Mercedes made a point of humiliating Ferrari, by annihilating them at their home race at Monza.

The rest of the 2017 season was history, from that point on…

Will they do it again?

It seems like hubris at the time.

This year, it has been text book management, from the front.

Let us not forget that we could have three more races with Vettel-Hamilton 1-2s and Hamilton would still lead the championship.

Also, Vettel gets mentally stronger when he perceives that he is in the lead; so we may not have so many … unforced errors!?

Ferrari is still behind on strategy an in-race team performance in general.

So, let’s see how it goes this weekend?


we could have three more races with Vettel-Hamilton 1-2s and Hamilton would still lead the championship

You sure about that Dean? Ham is only leading by 17 points.


Do I detect some back peddling on your previously firmly held and unshakable claim that Merc were just playing with the opposition ? I think I do…..



No need to remind me of anything mate. I think it best for you to get out and enjoy this beautifull English weather you’re having at the moment. As I will be doing this afternoon watching Brentwood play and off to the Cotswolds tomorrow. As a consequence I’ll miss the GP and you’ll have to tell me all about it.

Speaking of points tally and their relevance perhaps you can explain then why Nico wasn’t a deserving WDC in ’16? Looking forward to seeing how you extracate yourself out of that.



This is unrelated to this thread but a response to the reliability issues Lewis experienced in ’16 which you raised in the post race report, buried near the back of it which I’ve just noticed.

Firstly, I don’t know what particular individuals you are referring to when you stated “you blokes”. Perhaps you’d like to enlighten me and provide some evidence that I am or was amongst this particular group of individuals and what they stand for.

Secondly, I’ve posted several times about the strange anomaly that of the 8 Merc powered cars on the grid in ’16 only Lewis’ suffered mechanical failure. I also sighted Merc’s statement that they had failed to provide Lewis with reliability.

Thirdly, I stated that while the history books will show that Rosberg won the WDC history will also record that the reliability problems Lewis experienced played a part. Additionally I said that in terms of poles and race wins Lewis was the better driver that year.

Fourthly, and notwithstanding the above I’ve always maintained that DNFs due to mechanical failure are a feature of F1 and while unfortunate teams just have to work hard to minimise them occurring.

Fifthly, you obviously didn’t get the context of my post regarding the MVFC. I suggest you read it again and then reconsider it in the light of what I’ve said above.

Lastly I still maintain that it was more than unfair of you to hold the position that given Lewis’ problems in ’16 Rosberg was an undeserving WDC. When he crossed the finish line in Abu Dhabi he had the most points and on this basis deserved the title of champion.

Fair is fair buddy!!


Fair is fair buddy

No argument from me there Adrian – that’s why I shall remind you (and all the other Danny Ric fans) of their previous firmly held stance regarding DNF’s and points tally and how they don’t count and are all part of the game. If Danny Ric keeps breaking his car then it must be because he’s too hard on it – that’s right isn’t it?


25 minus 18 equals seven, seven times three is sixteen…..


“We’re trying to turn formula one from a motor sport into an entertainment brand that puts racing at the centre.

“Let’s not have any misconceptions — we are now a media and entertainment group.”-Bratches


Who ran into the back of Ricciardo at the start? Did anyone?


Alonso’s front wing clipped Riccardo’s rear wing causing a loss of down force which lead him to clip Raikkonen’s rear wheel who had to slow down to avoid hitting the Haas.


I did not

It was ALO’s flying front wing that hit RIC’s rear wing

I assume this “pushed/unbalanced” RIC into RAI




FA’s car damaged his rear wing while it was airborne.


good question, not yet answered by any video evidence.

if someone has any evidence indicating that this was not ‘driver error’, please do tell.


Deano, if you watch the slo-mo footage and focus on ALO’s front wing while he’s airborne, you can easily see when it clips Dans rear wing.


Dean, wasn’t Dan driving around with no rear wing preef enough?



Perhaps Deano thinks that Dan slammed his car into reverse at 100 + ks or something?


Adrian, maybe it just fell off?! Jos probably loosened the bolts when no one was looking…..



According to the well respected Mark Hughes Ricciardo’s rear wing suffered collateral damage as a result of Hulkenberg’s missdeamour for which he now has a 10 place grid drop.


I think his rear wing got clipped in the carnage. Not sure which car it was though.




The sooner F1 gets rid of Pirelli the better.

The tyres are dreadful and have had more of a dumbing down effect on F1 than anything else.


And now Michelin has said they’re not interested. NOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!

Please Michelin, please!!! Think of the fans, please … I’m begging. Make F1 Tires Great Again (MF1TGA!)!


f1 asked pirelli for those types of tyres.


Let’s put on “With a Little Help from My Friends” and watch this thrilling battle while Liberty Media sings the verse

“What would you do if I sang out of tune?

Would you stand up and walk out on me?

Lend me your ears and I’ll sing you a song

I will try not to sing out of key”


Chris, is that the Beatles original or Joe Cocker soul version?


Lol. Good question Phil Indeed. I think it might have started off with the Beatles but right now I hear the tunes of mr Joe Cocker

Let’s see about that…a few more covers could show up though:)


The Ferrari had less wing than the Mercedes



TomX. Fair enough.


Wasn’t much strategy in play was there? I guess it will be a similar story at Monza if it stays dry. The championship could go either way, Seb could dominate for the rest of the season and walk it, or Merc could fight back and we could have a close run in. May the best man win!


Tim, I suppose the Monza spec low downforce packages are a one off so who knows, could be closer than many are making out.


NickH, that’s true. The Ferrari has got good power though, let’s see what happens.



Reliability shouldn’t be an issue for either Merc or Ferrari so it will come down to which driver and Pit Wall (in terms of strategy calls) makes the least mistakes. Toto would do well to prioritise Lewis because no doubt Ferrari have and will continue to do this with Vettel. Both Bottas and Raikkonen need to play the team game and qualify as high up the grid as possible to ostensibly take points off Vettel and Lewis respectively.

Whatever legal “tricks” Ferrari are employing no doubt Toto will be working overtime to find counter measures.

All to play for Lewis and Seb because the winner will edge closer to matching Schmacher’s 7 titles.

As a Danny Ricc fan it will be interesting to see if the Renault Spec 4 PU actually delivers an extra 0.3 seconds per lap in Monza or blows up the engine.


Adrian. They have had that engine in the back room for long enough, it should be ready by now! It will be interesting to see the difference. Sometimes Renault’s claims don’t come true, at least we will have a direct comparison this time.

Did you see Cyrille’s interview before Spa where he said that Renault are the biggest manufacturer in F1, and can afford anything they want? More bluster from him, or a sign of increased investment? I hope it’s the latter.

I’m looking forward to the race, I can’t help feeling that Ferrari’s straight line speed will nullify any strategy efforts from Mercedes, but let’s see what happens.


When Raikkonen hits Hamilton, he claims on podium that it is Ferrari’s plan. Then off podium, he’s said it in heat of moment. When Vettel drives by him at great speed, Ferrari are ‘up to tricks’ on the podium. Off podium, ‘I didn’t mean they were cheating, but just we can’t make sense.’ How is Brundle present everytime he’s up to making unfounded accusations? I would call that the trick and the plan. Planting seeds of doubts where there are none. Truly poor loser.


@HorsePower Oh shut it! I’m tired of the constant twisting of LH’s words. He said ‘trick’ not “tricks” or “cheating” or anything. The very same term used by F1 itself to described the suspension systems used by both RBR and Ferrari last year.

It’s as if people go out of their way to intentionally misinterpret the man. An innocuous statement transformed so far beyond it’s obvious intention stinks of pitch mob mentality. Then they have the nerve to label us, his fans as mindless followers. When vettel rips into his team, it’s greeted with fanfare and “how italian he’s becoming”. Were the roles reversed, this sub – no formula one’s very infrastructure would implode!


Santa, we are going to need more tissues. Lewis is starting to lose it!


Sars, you’re alive. Good to have you back. 😉


Still got nothing to say about the race Sarsippious? Nothing at all? No? Ok then……


Lewis might do well in politics after F1!


Horsepower, I really think that one was done to death on the race report thread.


I see the report confirms the Ferrari had less wing than Mercedes 🙂


Less wingmans.



TimW still won’t believe it lol


Sbk. If James says it’s true, then I believe it. Does that mean you now believe that the Ferrari has more horsepower?


Indeed, Belgian race was unusual in that the wingmen weren’t up the grid to help their teammates.

In particular, I think this is where the rain helped Lewis’ race in that it put Kimi out of position thereby giving him a secure podium position

As for Bottas’ engine penalty, I can see this only benefiting Max as he was able to grab a podium position out of it

Regards the safety car restart, according to Lewis’, he didn’t put in much effort to overtake Vettel because he knew Vettel would just return the favour once they got back on the Kemmel straight

On the topic of wingmen, I think the best way they can help their teammates in their battle for victory is by qualifying further up the grid because with a good qualy position, this means you have a chance of taking points off the competitor therefore the better qualifying wingman may end up doing the better job


Hamiltons other wingman qualified P3, but yeah Kimi could have done better for Vettel.


Not good for Mercedes and LH sense of foreboding well placed. Mercedes had better have a nominated no 1, they’ll need both cars at max performance to blunt SV.


Lewis Hamilton is Mercedes contracted no 1 since he signed with them. They only allowed the other driver, Rosberg and Bottas, to win races as long as it was clear they had the fastest car and Ferrari and Red Bull are no serious title threats. Before you ask, Rosbergs 2016 WDC was a mistake in the F1 matrix as Rosbergs momentum in 2016 kept unexpectedly going and he simply refused to play the Massa, Barrichello, Webber, Kimi, Bottas part that was expected of him in the second half of the year.

With Ferrari now the slightly better car, Bottas isnt going to win any race in 2018 unless Hamilton dnf.


@Sarah Proof please. Big distinction between facts and opinions. If as you’ve said, 2016 was a “mistake in the maxtrix’ – why did Mercedes continually keep hobbling their ‘number 1’ driver. Lewis didn’t lose because rosberg drove better, contrary to popular belief. It was constant reliability problems. Why gift their ‘number 2’ a championship only for him to retire, leaving them driverless. I don’t understand the end game. Hopefully, you’ve blown the door open on this conspiracy. Thanks.


@Sarah -Rosbergs 7 wins on the trot through the end of 15 and early 16 were a sight to behold! But i also think it was mainly as a result of Lewis switching off mentally once he had locked up ’15. I had the distinct impression that he (in some sub-liminal way) was trying to create a challenge for himself to chase down -maybe to cure the boredom of domination. Of course he didn’t count on the mechanical DNF’s that made the task that much harder.


Yeah, that plus three engine failures.


Hamilton will be hampered by his mental insecurities unless Merc can turn around the performance deficit to Ferrari. Hamilton performs strongest when he has positive, forward momentum i.e the fastest car on the circuit.

Vettel needs Ferrari to start nailing the strategy. Poor strategic calls have been the teams weakness this season.

Vettel cannot afford another mistake like in Germany. Hamilton’s ability to capitalise on “off-days” and score solid points is the bar that Vettel needs to aim for in order to win this year’s title.

I love the way this title fight is shaping up and really hope that we can finally have the title fight in wheel-to-wheel combat on track, rather than purely on the points table.

KR and VB will no doubt be employed as strategic distractions, however this will only work if its two-on-one and not two vs two. Two vs two will simply see VB and KR squabbling further down the field, providing little assistance to SV and LH out front.

Consistent high points scoring (finishing in the top 4) in these final 8 rounds will be the key to winning the title. Neither Hamilton or Vettel can afford to drop any rounds.

Bring it on.


Marbles. Another in the long line of no stars, or 1 star appearing lately. This site is rapidly growing. Good to have you around. 😉

This notion of Lewis being mentally fragile has long since being dispelled. Then again, when you can’t fault his driving, career decision making, wealth and prodigious speed – mentality remains the only avenue left.

And no, lewis performs best under pressure. The higher the stakes, the best he performs. It’s been a staple throughout his career. He does however, pull up after the championship is won.


Oblah… I tend to agree with most of your comments but what the SMEG have stars got to do with someones comment being worthy? Plainly he’s wrong but not because he has 1 star etc. Personally I’d like this stupid star system removed. It’s beyond pointless


Shall I bow before ye grand 3 and 5 star commenters?

I think my lack of stars has more to do with my lack of commenting to be fair. I’ve been visiting this site for about four or five years and while I mostly enjoy the banter, I don’t always feel the need to add to it.

I think the large volume of no star traffic is coming from the MSN deal, which has been having somewhat of an impact on the attendance of the 5 star commenters around here too.

I wasn’t suggesting that his mental fragility was a career long issue, merely that in my opinion observing his behaviour this season, there have been moments where I feel Lewis has appeared insecure.

If he arrives at a race weekend and comes across in this way, he has typically had an average performance (by his standards) on race day.

He has deflected being out of position prior to races by saying that a podium would be an impossible outcome and gone on to achieve one, at which point he has said that he always thought he could achieve it.

He has pointed to the fact that Ferrari have a stronger car a number of times to take some of the pressure off himself and his own driving if he isn’t achieving wins.

This is some interesting psychology. Constantly playing things down means you look amazing when it goes right (in terms of your loyal followers expectations) and you don’t look too bad when it is sub optimal (usually in the form of heavy defence from a fan base convinced that Ferrari is cheating and everyone is out to get Lewis).

That is what I mean by his insecurities and that this may be a weakness he needs to address in the remaining races as he comes under increasing pressure from a strong Ferrari.

It is a weakness from the point of view that he hasn’t got enough confidence in his machine to feel he can definitely secure the wins. And also because if Vettel can sense this, he will use it to build his own confidence.

I am not, as you describe, looking for any avenue to fault Lewis. I think his performance on a race track speaks volumes about his incredible ability. I was simply pointing out the areas in which both Hamilton AND Vettel need to be cautious if they want to finish on top this season.

Don’t let your loyalties blind you.


Like max, lewis is a realist. He says what he feels and I for one respect that. Maybe you’d prefer a more optimistic view but then others would call him arrogant. Can’t win, can he.

Showing insecurities; sadness, disappointment, anger, paranoia, uncertainty are admirable traits. They represent an important aspect of the emotional spectrum. At times they can be a bane but overall they make him more relatable. Make no mistake, he’s said some questionable things but isn’t that what we want from this soap opera we call formula.

Is ferrari not the fastest car? Were it not for rain in the last three races, wouldn’t seb have won. Ergo, nothing said is a lie, or an elaborate psychoanalysis setup to prevent possible failure. You, my friend is reading too much in it.

Sorry for pointing out your star count, it’s been an epidemic as of late. I too, lurked for years before posting. Didn’t mean to be overly dismissive.

The championship will come down to hardware, reliability and driver errors. Both are capable world champions with more than enough confidence to burn.


You missed Lewis fenomenal luck. Bottas is a true defender, better than an outdated Kimi. Hope Bottas is proud enough about being caled ‘wingman’ for the entire world to hear. If he does not respond like a man then he is a nothing.


@ Alan F1…Of course the big unknown here is….what is in the contract?


Marbles, Spa was “wheel-to-wheel combat”… just not sure how exciting that turned out to be after all?


“Raikkonen has long been deployed on sub-optimal strategies to affect Mercedes’ decision making and help Vettel and we’ve seen a lot of that this season already.”

Give relevance to this statement. It is easier to do so when your other driver tanks qualy more times than not.

– When last did he challenge Vettel in qualy?

– When last was he on pole?

– When last was he on the front row?

– When last did he take victory?

– What is his delta to Vettel in qualy so far this season?

When you qualy out of position and you race a one of recovery then you should expect to be “used” to aid the driver who can take the win.


Tell me your place and get a pack of the best beer you like 🙂


Spot on mate, comment of the day!


He was certainly challenging Vettel in Spa and would likely have been very close if not ahead had Ferrari not bungled their strategy. He also outqualified Vettel in Hungary despite a compromised final run from following Grosjean. He was on the front row for the first three races of the season. He was deprived victory by Ferrari strategy calls at both Monaco (where he took pole) and Hungary last year and may well also have won in Malaysia given he was starting from the front row with a faster race car than Hamilton, before his car failed before the start. Yes, he is not as quick as Vettel but he has also had three retirements completely beyond his control – Vettel has had none. Assuming he’d have made the podium in each of these (not unreasonable given his performances in Bahrain, Spain and Belgium), at the very least he’d be on 191 points – less than a victory behind his teammate and well in the championship hunt. His performances in France and Canada particularly were infuriatingly bad, but by and large he’s been dependable and consistent when Vettel has often lost his head. He deserves better.


Seeing as how the race turned out, this race report is as informative as one could have expect from such a nothing happen race.

I hope that you will be challenged a bit more with the Monza one.

As you mentioned James, l am curious to see how Kimi and Bottas are used by the teams to help thr title contenders. l believe that Kimi will play a bigger role in that than Bottas, simply because l believe that he has a better change at beating Hamilton in qualifying than Bottas has over Vettel. If as it seems right now, the Ferraris are indeed faster, then Kimi will have plenty opportunities to play spoiler to Hamilton. That say, l get the feeling that Vettel will take care of business just fine on its own. We shall see. Marc


I agree, much easier to be spoiler if you’re ahead on the road in the first place. I think we would have seen that at Spa had Kimi’s weekend not been ruined from Q3 onwards.

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