Belgium’s Spa-Francorchamps is one of if not the circuit I look forward to the most on the F1 calendar. Rich in history, always a thrill to watch and usually very, very wet. This year is no exception with rain not only hindering some teams during practice but arguably the decider in what was a very wet qualifying.
I always include tyre choices in the track maps for these F1 Parade Lap’s but so far it looks to be irrelevant with forecasts predicting a wet race tomorrow.
Coming out of the long August break, Lewis Hamilton clearly had a fire in his belly to take out his teammate this weekend but the gods of weather and racing had other ideas as the deluge of rain forced mistakes in all three qualifying session. The only one to his favour in the Q2 where he managed to take less time recovering from a slide on the same part of the circuit as his team mate Nico Rosberg and pegging a faster lap as a result, but it was all in vain as too many mistakes caused him to miss out on poll again in the final stage of Q3 putting him along side Rosberg on the grid.
Despite this setback Hamilton remains confident for the race ahead stating that he is not disappointed with his second place on the grid.
“I’m not disappointed,” said Hamilton, “If you look at previous years, second is the best place to start here so I feel quite blessed that is the case.”
“I started on pole here last year and Sebastian flew past me down the top straight, so I think it gives you the most opportunity here at the start,”
He added that it was a relief to be at the front after car failures left him starting from the back of the field in the previous two races in Germany and Hungary.
“I’m just happy to be up here,” he said. “I was nervous going into qualifying, not knowing if the car was going to make it through and grateful for all the hard work the team put in to make sure we have no problems. It’s a great feeling to be back up here.
“I’ve had some good experiences and bad experiences but it’s OK. Who knows, it might be a blessing in disguise.”
Meanwhile behind the two Mercedes, Sebastian Vettel pull out a stunning Q3 performance to take third on the grid away from Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso. Followed by RedBulls Daniel Ricciardo and Williams Valtteri Bottas who both struggled in the rain.
Who do you think will take out top spot in the race? How many safety cars, if any, do you predict? Are you cheering on HAmilton or Rosber? Let us know in the comments below or join the conversation in the Forums.
1. Nico Rosberg Germany Mercedes-Mercedes 2m 05.591s
2. Lewis Hamilton Britain Mercedes-Mercedes 2m 05.819s
3. Sebastian Vettel Germany Red Bull-Renault 2m 07.717s
4. Fernando Alonso Spain Ferrari-Ferrari 2m 07.786s
5. Daniel Ricciardo Australia Red Bull-Renault 2m 07.911s
6. Valtteri Bottas Finland Williams-Mercedes 2m 08.049s
7. Kevin Magnussen Denmark McLaren-Mercedes 2m 08.679s
8. Kimi Raikkonen Finland Ferrari-Ferrari 2m 08.780s
9. Felipe Massa Brazil Williams-Mercedes 2m 09.178s
10. Jenson Button Britain McLaren-Mercedes 2m 09.776s
11. Daniil Kvyat Russia Toro Rosso-Renault 2m 09.377s
12. Jean-Eric Vergne France Toro Rosso-Renault 2m 09.805s
13. Sergio Perez Mexico Force India-Mercedes 2m 10.084s
14. Adrian Sutil Germany Sauber-Ferrari 2m 10.238s
15. Romain Grosjean France Lotus-Renault 2m 11.087s
16. Jules Bianchi France Marussia-Ferrari 2m 12.470s
17. Pastor Maldonado Venezuela Lotus-Renault 2m 11.261s
18. Nico Hulkenberg Germany Force India-Mercedes 2m 11.267s
19. Max Chilton Briton Marussia-Ferrari 2m 12.566s
20. Esteban Gutierrez Mexico Sauber-Ferrari 2m 13.414s
21. Andre Lotterer Germany Caterham-Renault 2m 13.469s
22. Marcus Ericsson Sweden Caterham-Renault 2m 14.438s
107% time: 2min 16.029secs
all times unofficial
Belgium’s Spa-Francorchamps circuit is among the most historic on the Formula One calendar, having hosted a (non-championship) Grand Prix as long ago as 1924, and remains one of the most popular venues with drivers and fans alike.
Run on narrow public roads, the original Spa layout was an amazing 14.9 kilometres long and notoriously dangerous. The lap distance was reduced slightly over the years, with some corners eased, but when the ‘old’ circuit staged its final Grand Prix in 1970 it still measured just over 14 kilometres and remained staggeringly quick – Chris Amon set that year’s fastest lap at an average speed of just under 245 km/h.
Spa did not return to the calendar until 1983 and then in drastically revised form, with lap distance cut to just under seven kilometres. Somehow, though, the circuit’s magic was retained. Around two thirds of the lap used the original layout and the legendary Eau Rouge corner remained intact. Only the new Bus Stop chicane on the run down to La Source drew criticism.
More than twenty years on Spa remains the longest circuit on the calendar. Its mix of long straights and challenging fast corners, coupled with its picturesque setting, means that most drivers still rank it among their favourite tracks. The weather is still notoriously changeable (it can often be simultaneously raining on one part of the track and dry on another) and Eau Rouge, with its high speed and sudden elevation change, maintains its reputation as one of Formula One racing’s most technically demanding corners.
Such is the challenge of Spa that only the truly great drivers can really claim to have mastered it. In fact just six men have won the race more than twice – Juan Manuel Fangio (three times), Damon Hill (three times), Kimi Raikkonen (four times), Jim Clark (four times), Ayrton Senna (five times) and Michael Schumacher (six times).
|Race Date:||24 Aug 2014|
|Circuit Name:||Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps|
|First Grand Prix:||1950|
|Number of Laps:||44|
|Circuit Length:||7.004 km|
|Race Distance:||308.052 km|
|Lap Record:||1:47.263 – S Vettel (2009)|
Roger Baillie (@Rojn8r)