Monthly Archives: August 2016

FIA to investigate headrest failure after Magnussen’s crash at Belgium

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The FIA confirmed yesterday that they will be conducting an investigation into how Kevin Magnussen’s headrest detached after his crash at the Belgian Grand Prix.

Magnussen lost control of his Renault on the exit kerb of Raidillon, hitting the barriers at around 180mph causing the race to be red-flagged. He was conscious and walked away from the wreckage but did suffer a small cut to his left ankle overall, however, the car did its job to protect the driver.

Although shaken by the incident, Magnussen is optimistic he will recover in time to race at this weekend’s Italian Grand Prix.

Replays of the accident showed the headrest flying out of the car after the first impact, it is understood the crash was recorded at 42g. The headrest was recovered by marshals and along with Magnussen’s helmet, has been handed to the governing body for further research into what actually happened

The headrest device is designed to support a driver’s head and neck during a high-speed crash, with two quick release mechanisms which are easily removed without tools.

The FIA will be looking to see if this unusual incident can be prevented in the future during its ongoing task to improve the safety in the sport while also protecting the drivers as best as they possibly can.

Magnussen needs FIA clearance to race in Monza

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Following his huge accident at the Belgian Grand Prix on Sunday, Kevin Magnussen will undergo further medical checks on Thursday to decide whether he is fit to race at this weekend’s Italian Grand Prix.

Magnussen sustained heavy bruising to his left ankle when he crashed at the top of Spa-Francorchamp’s famous Eau Rouge corner, with the impact registering 42G as he hit the barriers.

He was immediately taken for a series of precautionary checks at a nearby hospital in Verviers before being released the same day to return home to Denmark. He has since undergone further checks in Denmark that all indicate he will be fit to race at Monza this weekend.

However, circuit doctors and the FIA will complete a final assessment in Monza on Thursday to ensure he is fit to compete in the weekend’s on-track sessions.

In a statement to the media yesterday, Magnussen stated that he feels much better and wants to get back to racing in Monza this weekend:-

‘I’m feeling much better, which is very good news. I’ve had several checks that show I am fit to race in Monza and I am sure I will be in the car this weekend. We were running in the top ten in Belgium and I’m very motivated to repeat this again in Italy.’

2016 Belgian Grand Prix Post-Race Press Conference Transcript

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Here’s the official transcript of the 2016 Belgian Grand Prix Post-Race Press Conference as provided by the FIA as follows:-

DRIVERS

1 – Nico ROSBERG (Mercedes)

2 – Daniel RICCIARDO (Red Bull Racing)

3 – Lewis HAMILTON (Mercedes)

PODIUM INTERVIEWS

(Conducted by Mark Webber)

Ladies and gentlemen, what a weekend here in Belgium! A sell-out crowd. Maybe a driver up here that you might not have wanted but what a weekend! Nico, well done. Crazy start to the race, red flag, big shunt with Kevin Magnussen, run us through it?

Nico Rosberg (referred here after as NR):- Yeah, thank you very much. No, it’s been a great weekend, very, very happy with that result of course. I understand that some of you are disappointed. I understand that you wanted Verstappen to up here. Another year, he’s very young. He has many years to go. You’ve been amazing this weekend. So many of you have come, it’s been very impressive to see, great atmosphere. Thank you to my team of course, great car they have given me. A very special day. And of course congrats to Lewis, from last place to third must have been pretty impressive.

Thanks Nico. Daniel, up here again, Spa, great podium, you couldn’t have expected much more? How was it, saving tyres, going long and splitting the two Mercedes?

Daniel Ricciardo (referred here after as DR):- Firstly, thank you for doing that [Webber drank sparkling wine from Ricciardo’s race boot]. I think we just made our country even more proud. It was cool, you know. Obviously it was pretty messed up at the start, a lot of virtual safety cars and then the red flag. We knew we had a bit of damage actually from the first corner but we fixed the front wing and got back out. I mean, it was a bit of a race by myself but obviously I enjoyed the pace and to keep Lewis behind was a good achievement today.

Well done, buddy. Lewis, wow! So, Lewis that was a record comeback to a podium here in Spa. Twenty-first on the grid to third place, I imagine you couldn’t really believe you could hit the steps today?

Lewis Hamilton (referred here after as LH):- Firstly I’ve got to say a big thank you… this crowd is incredible. I know a lot of these people came out for Max, which is amazing and that’s great for the sport, but I just want to say a big thank you to everyone for supporting me today. The team did an amazing job this weekend. I changed three engines. I’m actually ahead of these guys on engines, which is a good thing. Thanks to the team. Just a remarkable day: beautiful weather, great crowd and a great race.

It was that, sensational, well done, Lewis. Nico, your 20th victory, first time winning here in Spa, you have the momentum now for Monza. How do you feel the car will perform there and you know, nibbling away, a couple point off Lewis this weekend: back end of the season, mate, how are you looking forward to that?

NR: It’s been great of course to get the win today on this special track, you know, it’s a legendary track, but Lewis starting from the back made it a lot easier this weekend and I’m sure he’s going to be back in Monza and it’s going to be a big battle as always.

PRESS CONFERENCE

Q: Nico, many congratulations on that 20th victory. You haven’t put a foot wrong all weekend: pole position, the win, did you ever feel under any pressure in that race.

NR: In the race, the start, of course, is always pressure, and then after that Daniel was quite quick in the beginning of the second stint. But in general, yes, I had everything under control because I just had an awesome car out there, and Lewis wasn’t there to battle it out, which made it a less-difficult weekend. But really pleased to get the win, of course.

Q: Any nervous moments this afternoon?

NR: Nervous at the start. Yeah, why not? After that, after that, it was OK. Safety Car restarts are always a bit more challenging but it all worked out fine.

Q: Daniel, it’s your third consecutive podium. Do you think you can catch the guys on your left any time soon?

DR: Hopefully! As you said, three podiums in a row where… we’re definitely making inroads, it’s the second race that we’ve at least finished in front of one of them – obviously Lewis started towards the back today but I think our pace wasn’t too bad. I think the real start of the race eventually was after the red flag.

I was second and Lewis was fifth. I think we held our own quite well. Nico had a little bit more pace but I think generally we’re making inroads, which is really positive. Monza I think will be our most challenging circuit in the second half of the season – but then we’ve got Singapore to look forward to – and Suzuka. So, really pleased, again thanks to the team. Obviously three good weekends, it’s been fun. Yesterday, obviously I was qualified fifth but I knew we would have a good race car today and it proved right – so I’m really pleased.

Q: Lewis, what a race by you. Last row of the grid to the podium. It’s a new record here at Spa. Talk us through it.

LH: What an incredible weekend it’s been. It’s obviously been a much different weekend to anything we have ever really experienced. First of all I’m incredibly proud of my guys in the garage and back at the factory for building these engines and changing these engines this week. I think before, even on Thursday there was an engine swap, warming one up, then warming another one up.

A change after practice one, a change after practice two, so I had three new engines this weekend. So to come away with the points that we have today, I’m extremely proud of everyone. I honestly didn’t know what was going to happen in the race. I was trying to keep my head down all weekend and focus on the long-run paces. It seemed to work and pay off.

Congratulations to the guys next to me, this is great for Mercedes and still great for the championship. I’d have had an even better summer if I went into the summer knowing I’d come out nine points ahead still after three new engines. So I’m very grateful.

QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR

Q: (Angelique Belokopytov – AutoDigest) Lewis, it seems that press conference has missed you. How do you feel to finish in P3 after coming from the back – and more showing to the ones who have doubts about the fact that you’re back and fighting with Nico for the Championship?

LH: Yeah. I really can’t believe that we came up so far to be honest. I really had no… I woke up this morning knowing how difficult it would be on these tyres, y’know, lots of blistering. But you can never predict what’s going to happen in the race. The great thing about motor racing is that, since I was eight years old, every Sunday has been different.

Your car’s positioned in a different way, your starts a bit different, something happens up front, previous races there were no incidents, today there was. Today was really about trying to approach it with… make sure you had the right approach: not too aggressive; not too easy. I think today, collectively as a team we had just the right balance. This is the best result I could have hoped for.

Q: (Livio Oricchio – GloboEsporte.com) Daniel, you were following the pace of Nico but at certain moments and especially in the last stint, the gap started becoming bigger. What happened exactly? Was there any difficulty in the car?

DR: No, to be honest the car was pretty good. You know the only time I wasn’t happy with the car was the first few laps before the red flag. The incident at turn one… some debris hit the front wing and I had some damage so up until the red flag I wasn’t too happy but we changed the wing during the red flag and then the car was good. I think obviously Nico just had a bit more pace than us but in terms of balance I think we were doing all we could. So I think Nico was just controlling it but everything was fine from that point of view. I don’t think we could have done too much more.

Q: (Dan Knutson – Speed Sport/Auto Action) Lewis, yesterday you told us you might not even crack the top ten. How much did the safety car and the red flag help you get up to third?

LH: Well, that was obviously a part of it but I think I was already up to fifth before the red flag or maybe not, maybe I was sixth or something like that before the incident. Of course, those things I needed in the race to help progress through. As I said, I didn’t know how long these tyres would last. I think our performance today was stronger than I expected and so I think still, at the pace we were going, I think a top ten finish was still possible. But third is something that was definitely helped by the safety cars, VSC.

Q: Lewis you were fifth at the red flag. At that point, did you think you could even challenge for the victory?

LH: I didn’t, simply because… naturally I was pushing to try and get there but I was obviously… I’ve been racing a long long time and with these tyres, knowing how difficult it is just to get past one car, so I spent a bit of time behind Hulkenberg, I think, and then there was already such a decent cushion between myself and Daniel.

If the tyres were better, for example, I could have pushed and closed the gap and actually had a fight with Daniel but that’s not the case and so I just had to manage them for as long as I could, but I had to stop more than these two guys in order to make that passing manoeuvre.

Q: (Oana Popoiu – F1Zone.net) Nico, how difficult was it to win this race?

NR: Well, it wasn’t the toughest race ever, of course, because Lewis wasn’t there. That’s for sure. And the car was great in the race so of course everything still needs to come together and the start is critical and then with the red flag and everything it becomes a bit more complicated and messy. But I got ahead, I got a little bit of pressure from Daniel at the beginning of the second stint because he was on soft tyres but after that I really had good control of everything.

Q: (Mike Doodson – Auto Action) Lewis, this business of changing engines, three engines in a weekend, is confusing for the press and even more so for the public. It happened to work out for you today  and congratulations but what do you really think as opposed to what your team thinks about the principle of punishing a driver for the shortcomings in your own equipment?

LH: Well, firstly, I don’t say anything my team wants me to say so everything you hear from me is from me. These are the rules, the shortcomings we’ve experienced, there was just an opportunity for us to grow and we have. This is a team sport and we win and lose together so collectively; if I make a mistake the team’s punished and if the team make a mistake we are all punished together.

But I think today and this weekend has shown that a great group of good people in the garage worked incredibly hard to change these engines. It’s not an easy process and of course, if the regulations weren’t so technical, we wouldn’t have to make so many changes but that’s how they obviously like it.

I’m pretty sure it’s not cheap but I’m only looking at the positives this weekend and to get third, only lose ten points to Nico but a freebie for him today but he also did a great job and as he said, it wasn’t such a difficult race for him but for me it was a good race and I’m just grateful, as I said, to be up here.

Q: (Barna Zsoldos – Nemzeti Sport) Nico, considering your starting positions, how disappointing is it that you could only make up ten points in the championship fight against Lewis?

NR: It’s not disappointing, I’m happy with today. I’m happy to have won the race, it’s been a great weekend for me and that’s it. Fair play to Lewis, he did a good job.

2016 Belgian Grand Prix Race Review

F1 Grand Prix of Belgium - Race

On Saturday, we saw Nico Rosberg taking Pole Position for the Belgian Grand Prix ahead of Max Verstappen and Kimi Raikkonen.

The start of the Belgian GP.

The start of the Belgian GP.

The Belgian Grand Prix is underway! Nico Rosberg gets a great start. But the chaos of the first lap began at La Source, when Max Verstappen got bogged down off the line and was jumped by both Ferraris behind him. Verstappen switched to the inside of Kimi Raikkonen for Turn 1, who was then squeezed by Ferrari teammate Sebastian Vettel — who would not have seen Verstappen on the inside. Vettel hit Raikkonen, spinning around in the process, before Raikkonen and Verstappen made contact.

On the run down the hill, Verstappen’s front wing came loose, while Raikkonen’s car sprayed sparks from the rear for the rest of the lap — all three men pitted at the end of the lap. The floor of Raikkonen’s car appeared to catch fire at the rear during his stop, delaying him significantly in the pit lane.

Further back in the field on the crazy first lap, Pascal Wehrlein speared into the back of Jenson Button at Les Combes, waving his hand angrily in the direction of the McLaren driver. Wehrlein appeared to have more drive around the outside and was trying to undercut the McLaren driver on exit of the corner. Both men retired from the race.

Nico Rosberg leads on Lap 2 of the Belgian GP. All rights reserved to Sutton Images.

Nico Rosberg leads on Lap 2 of the Belgian GP. All rights reserved to Sutton Images.

On lap Two, Rosberg leads Hulkenberg by 4.1 seconds. But Carlos Sainz Jr’s right rear exploded on the Kemmel Straight. The Toro Rosso driver kept his car going but ended up spinning on the exit of Les Combes, before retiring further down the road with his rear wing hanging vertically off his car.

The Renault of Kevin Magnussen after the incident on Lap 6.

The Renault of Kevin Magnussen after the incident on Lap 6.

After a brief Virtual Safety Car period, the drama continued, with Magnussen spinning violently at the top of the hill at Eau Rouge and colliding heavily into the barriers on Lap 6. The Renault driver limped away from the incident, went to the hospital for checks and only had a sore ankle as a result of it. After four laps behind a Safety Car, the race was red flagged so marshals could repair the damaged wall.

The red flag had come at a perfect time for Fernando Alonso and Hamilton, who had both started on the medium tyre and were sat fourth and fifth, with many other drivers pitting immediately after Magnussen’s crash after the deployment of the Safety Car.

Kimi Raikkonen catching Max Verstappen in the early stages of the race. All rights reserved to Sutton Images.

Kimi Raikkonen catching Max Verstappen in the early stages of the race. All rights reserved to Sutton Images.

The race resumed under the Safety Car on Lap 11 with Rosberg still leading the field. Raikkonen and Verstappen once again battle with each other with both drivers pushing the limits and each other, even though Verstappen’s method of defending could be seen as dangerous.

Lewis Hamilton running in third place of the race. All rights reserved to Sutton Images.

Lewis Hamilton running in third place of the race. All rights reserved to Sutton Images.

By  Lap 15, Hamilton is catching Hulkenberg for third place on the track. Meanwhile a battle for eighth place between Kvyat, Grosjean, Vettel, Bottas and Gutierrez is ongoing on the track. Three laps later, Hamilton managed to pass Hulkenberg for third place Hulkenberg but was soon complaining about his tyres sliding a lot, prompting a pit stop on Lap 22 and taking on the soft tyres.

There was also nearly a collision in the pit lane between Hulkenberg and Alonso on Lap 24. With Alonso nearly released into the path of the Force India, the two men exited side-by-side with Hulkenberg marginally ahead on the outside. Alonso grazed Hulkenberg’s car with his tyre and did well to keep the car out of the wall, keeping position and staying inside the white line on exit.

Lap 25 sees Rosberg still leading Ricciardo by 10.8 seconds. Kvyat and Gutierrez are battling each other for twelfth place as Verstappen is defending against Vettel for ninth place but within two laps, Vettel is able to pass Verstappen for eighth place and Verstappen is able to repass on the Kemmel straight.

Felipe Massa struggling to keep Sergio Perez behind him. All rights reserved to Sutton Images.

Felipe Massa struggling to keep Sergio Perez behind him. All rights reserved to Sutton Images.

The battle between Alonso, Massa and Perez is ongoing for fifth place; with Massa struggling to defend against the Mexican driver especially. At Les Combes, Perez is able to pass Massa for sixth place.

But Hamilton’s stint on the soft tyres lasted just 11 laps, with Hamilton pitting again on Lap 33 for the used mediums. He emerged in fourth ahead of Perez and quickly dispatched Hulkenberg, though Ricciardo was too far down the road for the championship leader to harbour ambitions of finishing second.

Away from the battle for the podium, Verstappen and Raikkonen’s battle continued in the second stint, with the Dutch teenager forcing the 2007 world champion wide at Les Combes. The incident then prompted a series of explitive-laden radio tirades from Raikkonen, who complained Verstappen’s only interest “is hitting me off the circuit”.

Nico Rosberg wins the Belgian GP ahead of Daniel Ricciardo in second place and Lewis Hamilton in third place. All rights reserved to Sutton Images.

Nico Rosberg wins the Belgian GP ahead of Daniel Ricciardo in second place and Lewis Hamilton in third place. All rights reserved to Sutton Images.

But Rosberg leads Ricciardo on the final lap of the race by 14.2 seconds and wins the Belgian GP which is his first win at the circuit and has reduced Hamilton’s lead in the championship to nine points

Ricciardo is a credible second 14.3 seconds behind Rosberg, Hamilton finished in a brilliant third place 27.6 seconds behind Rosberg, Hulkenberg was a credible fourth 35.9 seconds behind Hamilton and Perez finished fifth 40.6 seconds behind Rosberg

Vettel was sixth 45.9 seconds behind Rosberg, Alonso was a brilliant seventh 59.4  seconds behind Hamilton, Bottas was eighth 1.00.1 seconds behind Rosberg, Raikkonen was ninth 1.01.1 seconds lap behind Rosberg and Massa was tenth 1.05.8 seconds behind Rosberg.

Lewis Hamilton still leads the Driver’s Championship with 232 points, Nico Rosberg is in second place with 223 points, Daniel Ricciardo is in third place with 151 points, Sebastian Vettel is in fourth place with 128 points, Kimi Raikkonen is in fifth place with 124 points, Max Verstappen is in sixth place with 115 points, Valtteri Bottas is in seventh place with 62 points, Sergio Perez is in eighth place with 58 points, Nico Hulkenberg is in ninth place with 45 points and Felipe Massa is in tenth place with 39 points.

Mercedes still lead the Constructors Championship with 455 points, Red Bull is in second place with 274 points, Ferrari is in third place with 252 points, Force India is in fourth place with 103 points, Williams is in fifth place with 101 points, McLaren is in sixth place with 48 points, Toro Rosso is in seventh place with 45 points, Haas is in eighth place with 28 points, Renault is in ninth place with 6 points and Manor are tenth with 1 point.

Conclusion

With Alonso having a solid drive to seventh place and gaining good solid points for the team, it was a shame to see Button retiring from the race after a great performance in qualifying. But it was the best that Fernando could do with the strategy he was on even though he would have wanted more from the weekend after the last two races haven’t been too kind for him but never the less, he managed to pick up much needed points for the Constructors.

I feel that McLaren have had an average weekend and have shown that despite their best efforts that the McLaren team have a lot of work to do in order to try and extract performance from their car but they are making small gains that are paying off for them in the last few races and they need to use this as inspiration for Monza next week.

Massa had a battle to finish in tenth place. He battled with Bottas and Vettel for most of the race and he deserved to get a point for his efforts today and it will help his confidence for the next few races as a result.

Raikkonen did an okay job to get ninth place and had a great battle to get there after battling with Verstappen for most of the race. This point for himself and Ferrari are vital and only shows just much of a driver Raikkonen is despite not having the car underneath him to challenge for a better result this weekend.

Vettel had a bit of an action packed yet defensive race to finish sixth, but he scored more points for the Ferrari team who seem to be extracting a little bit more pace and performance out of their package. But there is still a lot of work to be done but the fact that Vettel scored points again shows that he can deliver on the track.

Perez did a good job to get fifth place and deserves a mention. He drove a solid race  despite winning the battle with Massa and he did a great job to secure some much needed points for his team after a good performance this weekend and it is clear that the car was working well for them as a result. This will only help him prepare for the rest of the 2016 season.

Hulkenberg had a credible race to finish in fourth and has to be my driver of the day. It is a result that Hulkenberg needed after a tough few races and he should be happy; especially gaining the position during the race. He drove superbly and he could have challenged Hamilton for his first podium in F1 had things had been different.

But in a race where many expected him to finish and to maintain the momentum he has so far, he has managed to gain some points for the team and put himself in good stead for the rest of the 2016 season.

Hamilton deserves a mention. He drove a solid race to third place and battled his way through to get these points. Just a fantastic weekend for him and the Mercedes team and showing that he cannot be discounted on putting in the best performance on the track, even when the odds are against him.

Ricciardo drove a solid race to finish second today and has to be my driver of the race. He may not have had the race he wanted; and didn’t have a chance to try and get past but he did a great job to secure a podium yesterday. And once again, luck helped him achieve this but he was in the position to make hey. But what a fantastic job from him all weekend and this will only give him a slight satisfaction heading into the next race in Monza.

All that is left to say about this race is that Rosberg deserved to win at Belgium and he needed to in order to show that he cannot be discounted as a driver.  His driving was brilliant and controlled throughout the race. Mercedes has built on the results that they have gained so far since pre-season testing and have shown that they are still the best team on the grid at the moment. All credit to Nico for doing a superb job this weekend and winning his fifth race of the season and decreasing the championship lead as well.

With the Italian GP in a few days time, if this season will be Rosberg’s at last or can Hamilton, Ricciardo or Vettel challenge him for wins along the way. But what is for certain is that Formula One is building up rather nicely.

2016 Belgian Grand Prix Post-Qualifying Press Conference Transcript

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Here’s the official transcript of the 2016 Belgian Grand Prix TePost-Qualifying Press Conference as provided by the FIA as follows:-

DRIVERS

1 – Nico ROSBERG (Mercedes)

2 – Max VERSTAPPEN (Red Bull Racing)

3 – Kimi RÄIKKÖNEN (Ferrari)

TV UNILATERAL

Nico, many congratulations. Was that session as smooth on the inside as it looked from where we were sitting?

Nico Rosberg (referred here after as NR):- No, we had a difficult weekend up to now, especially this morning. We were seriously off the pace on one lap, so it really wasn’t so easy coming into qualifying. But we got the job done in the end. We really made quite a few changes on the car coming into qualifying and we found the right way. It all came together and it was feeling good, so I’m very pleased about that one.

Congratulations. Max, coming on to you, this is you first ever front-row start and you become the youngest every driver to start on the front row of the grid for a grand prix. Just 0.1s behind Nico, do you think pole position was on today?

Max Verstappen (referred here after as MV):- Yeah, I mean, you can always do a better job. But also I think also Nico could have done a better lap; it’s always when you put everything together. But I think in the end to be so close to them on a track with some long straights, we can be very pleased with that.

The whole weekend has been very smooth, even though I had some little issues this morning. From there on the mechanics did a great job and in qualifying the car was working really well, as you could see in sector two. I’m just very pleased to be second here in front of my fans, it’s just a great motivation when you see them next to the track.

Congratulations to you. Kimi, how is the car performing this morning, it looked like there were some nervous moments in Q2 when you went back out for a second run?

Kimi Raikkonen (referred here after as KR):- No, it was our plan. There wasn’t really anything odd going on. Obviously in the last qualifying I ran wide in the first try and that wasn’t ideal. But the second run was pretty good, but comparing to my Q2 lap I lost a few tenths in the last chicane, so obviously the pole position was there, so it was a bit disappointing because obviously once we are close by there it would have been nice to get it. But tomorrow is the race and I think if we compare it to the previous few races we have to be satisfied with where we are after qualifying.

Thank you Kimi. Coming back to you Nico: you’re on pole, your main championship rival will be starting from the back tomorrow, just give us your thoughts going into the race?

NR: Well, happy to be on pole but the only thing is it’s going to be a very challenging race, because the tyres are extremely difficult out there this weekend and strategy and everything, it’s going to be very, very interesting. I think we’re going to see a bit of everything, let alone with Max being on supersoft and Kimi on soft. Is that the case? Yeah, Kimi on soft. There are going to be a whole load of things going on. It’s definitely not going to be an easy one.

PRESS CONFERENCE

Nico, you said a moment ago that you had a few set-up problems yesterday. Can you elaborate on what they were and what you did to resolve them?

NR: We just weren’t quick, because it’s very, very hot out there and because the Pirelli pressures are very, very high for this weekend and so it was just a bit of a different world out there and we really had to change a lot of things and adapt but great to see how we managed to turn it around and get there eventually, just in time for qualifying, because even just this morning in FP3 we were quite a bit off the pace still.

Thanks Nico. Max, coming to you, what does it mean to you to break this 55-year record that had belonged to Ricardo Rodriguez, to be the youngest driver to get a front-row start?

MV: To be honest, not that much. I’m just very happy to be on the front row in Spa in front of all my fans. I mean, it’s great to break a record but I want to break other records.

Thank you Max. Kimi, just your thoughts, a few more thoughts please going into tomorrow’s race, because you have opted for more supersoft tyres than any of the other front-running teams, do you think that will compromise you?

KR: No, it shouldn’t. You never know what will happen tomorrow, but ideally we should be just fine. Tomorrow will tell but obviously it’s probably more tricky than anyone expected, because the conditions are not exactly normal Spa conditions. It’s a bit tricky with the tyres, but it’s the same for everybody and I think what we have is enough for what we want to do, so it should be fine.

QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR

Q: (Louis Dekker – NOS.NL) For Max, how frustrating was it this morning knowing that there’s tens of thousands of Dutch people and not be able to drive?

MV: I think it was even more frustrating for myself knowing that I couldn’t get the laps in. Of course it’s great to drive in front of your fans, to show yourself – but I couldn’t get my references in for qualifying. But luckily it was not a big issue and we solved it in time. From there on it was just a very good qualifying.

Max, do you think you could have found more pace in qualifying, had you been able to run this morning?

MV: That’s always very difficult to say. I think it just gives you a better reference straight away. On the other hand, we should be on our limits quite easily and I think after one run in qualifying it was there again. So maybe, maybe not.

Q: (Oana Popoiou – F1 Zone) A question for Kimi. Ferrari seems to be back to a better shape this weekend, can you tell us what is different from the previous races?

KR: I have to say, like I said earlier, it’s nice to be so close but obviously we’d rather be on pole position. I thought we had a good chance. I lost some time in the last chicane but… these conditions, it’s very hot, it’s tricky with the tyres for everybody… I don’t know. If we would know, it would be much easier to be at least in this position always. It has changed quite a few times this year, depending on circuits and conditions, so… who knows?

Q: (Livio Oricchio – GloboEsporte.com) To Max. You start on supersoft tyres and your team-mate with soft tyres. We knew this weekend the supersoft does not permit too many laps. What is the strategy exactly you are planning?

MV: To start on the supersoft and then see where we end up after a few laps. We have some different strategies out there but I think at the end of the day, yeah, I have to box a bit earlier – but after this there are a lot of laps to go and we’ll see what happens.

Q: (Michael Schmidt – Auto Motor und Sport) Max, why in the first place did you not try it on soft in Q2? Didn’t you have trust to do it?

MV: Because I decided, together with the team, that I wanted to run the supersoft. I think that’s the best strategy to go into tomorrow – but we’ll see how it pays off.

Q: (Heikki Kulta – Turun Sanomat) Kimi, how crucial is the first stint of the race for the result? There seems to be different kinds of compounds for the top drivers.

KR: Obviously the start and the first laps is very important in every race. I don’t think it will decide what happens for the whole race. It will be quite a tricky race for everybody with the tyres and with the conditions. It’s not going to be very easy but hopefully we make the right choices when it comes and get the best out of it – but for sure it’s not going to be very easy.

Q: (Dan Knutson – Speed Sport / Auto Action) Following up on what Kimi was talking about, for Nico and Kimi, how do you see the start playing out? Very short run down to the beginning but the guy behind you has very sticky tyres.

NR: I’m feeling good about it. Starting first. Usually you can manage to keep first position all the way up the hill but yeah, of course, need to get a good run through Eau Rouge but it will be OK.

Kimi?

KR: I don’t think there is an awful lot of different on the start between the tyres. Theirs is maybe a little bit better with the supersoft but as long as we do a proper start it should be fine.  

Q: (Mike Doodson – Auto Action) We all know about Eau Rouge and how exciting it is but also that circumstances change each year. Which is the hairiest corner on the circuit for you all this year?

NR: The hairiest is maybe turn 10, turn 10 is pretty challenging because if you run a little bit further out and you get onto the Astroturf it can flick you off into the tyre barrier so that’s one of the toughest ones.

MV: I agree.

KR: Every corner can go wrong but Eau Rouge has been less of a challenge for some years but I think in the race it might become a bit more tricky again. Overall, I think there are a lot of nice places – corners – here.

Q: (Walter Koster – Saarbrucken Zeitung) Nico, pole number 28, do you regret that your teammate has not fought with you and therefore is this pole less important? I know, pole is pole.

NR: I’m very happy because it was a battle out there, everybody behind was very very close and I managed to get the lap and get the pole so I’m definitely very pleased with that one. That’s it.

Q: (Louis Dekker – NOS.NL) Kimi and Max; Kimi, you’re again just behind Max Verstappen. It seems like you spend a lot of time this year looking at his back. Do you know how to overtake?

KR: Who knows in the first corner but it’s a normal race and we will see what happens? Try and make a good start and go from there.

Q: (Michael Schmidt – Auto Motor und Sport) Kimi, in the first outing in Q3 you had been on the gravel I think in turn 14; did that compromise your last run in terms of taking risks?

KR: Not really, obviously it would have more easy if I hadn’t run out. The lap was also very good, the first one but really in the last chicane I got a bit of understeer and lost a couple of tenths compared to my Q2 lap. For sure we had a chance to put it on pole and I guess it would have been more easy not going off in the first run and having a decent lap there but that’s how it is.

Q: (Livio Oricchio – GloboEsporte.com) Nico, it looks like Red Bull and Ferrari are closer on this track. Do you have this impression? Do you think during the 44 laps, considering the tyre question in this Grand Prix, they can even challenge Mercedes more?

NR: Definitely, it’s a very different situation out there with the temperature and the tyre pressures that we have and they are very close, yeah, and so tomorrow it’s going to be a very very demanding race against both of them. I think the best long run for now is from Red Bull on Friday. I think.

Q: (Barna Zsoldis – Nemzeti Sport) Nico, starting from pole in Germany and Hungary as well, you lost the first position quite early. Any negative thoughts or feelings because of that?

NR: It’s even shorter to turn one here so that’s a very good thing.

2016 Belgian Grand Prix Qualifying Review

F1 Grand Prix of Belgium - Race

But heading into Qualifying, it would seem that Mercedes are looking like the teams to beat heading into the session that look set to gain Pole Position ahead of the race on Sunday. But Ferrari, McLaren, Ferrari, Toro Rosso or Force India may spring a surprise and throw a spanner into the works based on their early pace and promise within the Practice sessions.

Let the battle for Pole Position begin…

Sebastian Vettel tops the timesheets in Q1. All rights reserved to Sutton Images.

Sebastian Vettel tops the timesheets in Q1. All rights reserved to Sutton Images.

In Q1, we saw Sebastian Vettel topping the timesheets with a lap time of 1.47.802, Kimi Raikkonen was second, Nico Rosberg was third, Nico Hulkenberg was fourth, Sergio Perez was fifth, Max Verstappen was sixth, Daniel Ricciardo was seventh, Valtteri Bottas was eighth, Esteban Gutierrez was ninth and Romain Grosjean rounded off the top ten finshers.

At the end of Q1 we lose Felipe Nasr, Esteban Ocon, Daniil Kvyat Marcus Ericsson, Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso.

Nico Rosberg tops the timesheets in Q2. All rights reserved to Sutton Images.

Nico Rosberg tops the timesheets in Q2. All rights reserved to Sutton Images.

In Q2, we saw Rosnberg topping the timesheets with a lap time of 1.46.999, Verstappen was second, Hulkenberg was third, Perez was fourth, Raikkonen was fifth, Massa was sixth,  Bottas was seventh, Vettel was eighth,  Ricciardo was ninth and Button rounded off the top ten finshers.

At the end of Q2 we lose Romain Grosjean, Kevin Magnussen, Esteban Gutierrez, Jolyon Palmer, Carlos Sainz Jr and Pascal Wehrlein.

Let the battle for Pole Position begin…

Nico Rosberg claims Pole Position for the Belgian GP ahead of Max Verstappen in second place and Kimi Raikkonen in third place.

Nico Rosberg claims Pole Position for the Belgian GP ahead of Max Verstappen in second place and Kimi Raikkonen in third place.

At the end of Q3, Rosberg took Pole Position for the Belgian GP, with a lap time of 1.46.744. Verstappen finished in second place 0.149 seconds behind Rosberg. Verstappen’s front row appearance will be the first of his career and he will break another record to become the youngest driver to start a race on the front row at 18 years, 10 months and 30 days old.

Raikkonen finished in third place 0.166 seconds behind Rosberg, Vettel finished in fourth place 0.364 seconds behind Rosberg and Ricciardo was fifth place 0.472 seconds behind Rosberg.

Perez ended the session in sixth place 0.663 seconds behind Rosberg, Hulkenberg finished in seventh place 0.799 seconds behind Rosberg, Bottas finished in eight place 0.868 seconds behind Rosberg, Button finished in ninth place 1.370 seconds behind Rosberg and Massa finished in tenth place.

It would seem that Mercedes genuinely has the pace to challenge for the race win again this weekend despite their form in Qualifying. Both of the Mercedes drivers seem to have the cars underneath them to do this and have been consistent and fast throughout every session so far this weekend; even if Hamilton has a challenge on his hands to get a result this weekend.

You cannot discount Ricciardo, Verstappen or Vettel even to be challenging also for the race win and could also be the dark horses to take the win away from Mercedes (and also Ferrari in Mercedes’ case) that could see gaining some points on their rivals to kick start their Constructors Championship.

Hulkenberg, Perez and Raikkonen could also have a decent race and pick up some much needed points for their respective teams. Will it rain? I do not know. Who will win the Grand Prix on Sunday? I really don’t know.

But let’s see what happens tomorrow on the Spa Francorchamps circuit on race day on Sunday…

2016 Belgian Grand Prix Practice Review

F1 Grand Prix of Belgium - Race

Lewis Hamilton wins the German Grand Prix ahead of Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen. Ferrari, Williams and Force India all managed to gain some much needed points from the race.

The Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps is one of the classic Formula One tracks, but it is sometimes called “The greatest modern motor racing circuit in the world”. It is thoroughly enjoyed both by F1 drivers and spectators.

There are many reasons that drivers love Spa but mostly because it is fast, hilly, twisty, challenging and difficult to master. The circuit probably demonstrates the importance of driver skill more than any other track in the world. The Belgian Grand Prix is a challenge both in terms of car set-up and in predicting the weather.

Over the years, the Spa course has been modified several times. The track was originally 15 kilometers in length, today it is 7 kilometers with 19 sweeping medium and high-speed corners, 9 right turns and 10 left turns. It still retains much of its previous character and charm. Spa has the longest full throttle section in Formula One.

From the hairpin at La Source to the chicane of Les Combes at the top of the hill; the cars spend more than 20 seconds at full throttle. This period at full throttle includes the passage through the legendary Eau Rouge.

There are many reasons that drivers love Spa but mostly because it is fast, hilly, twisty, challenging and difficult to master. The circuit probably demonstrates the importance of driver skill more than any other track in the world. The Belgian Grand Prix is a challenge both in terms of car set-up and in predicting the weather.

Over the years, the Spa course has been modified several times. The track was originally 15 kilometers in length, today it is 7 kilometers with 19 sweeping medium and high-speed corners, 9 right turns and 10 left turns. It still retains much of its previous character and charm. Spa has the longest full throttle section in Formula One.

From the hairpin at La Source to the chicane of Les Combes at the top of the hill; the cars spend more than 20 seconds at full throttle. This period at full throttle includes the passage through the legendary Eau Rouge.

As the longest track on the Formula 1 calendar, Spa-Francorchamps has its unique problem. The place is famous for its unpredictable weather and it often rains at one end of the track while the surface is dry at the other which has given us some great races over the past few years.

Practices 1, 2 and 3

The main headline from the Practice sessions is that Mercedes and Ferrari look to have the driver-car package to beat this weekend as weather conditions and tyre management which will test the drivers, teams and the cars throughout Friday and Saturday practice sessions.

Nico Rosberg tops the timesheets in FP1.

Nico Rosberg tops the timesheets in FP1.

Practice 1 saw Nico Rosberg tops the timesheet with a time of 1.48.348 followed closely by Lewis Hamilton with a gap of 0.730 seconds behind, Kimi Raikkonen was in third with a gap of 0.799 seconds behind, Sergio Perez in fourth with a gap of 0.926 seconds behind and Sebastian Vettel in fifth with a gap of 1.420 seconds behind Rosberg.

Daniel Ricciardo is sixth with a gap of 1.434 seconds behind, Max Verstappen is seventh with a gap of 1.517 seconds behind, Nico Hulkenberg is eighth with a gap of 1.740 seconds behind, Valtteri Bottas is ninth with a gap of 2.046 seconds behind and Esteban Gutierrez is tenth with a gap of 2.235 seconds behind Rosberg.

With twenty-five minutes left in FP1, Renault’s Jolyon Palmer advised his team via the radio that there was a problem with the car and that the car “didn’t feel right” after exiting the Les Combes corner. Palmer managed to slowly but more importantly safely back to the garage in order for the team to fix the problem, despite him losing drive.

Max Verstappen tops the timesheets in FP2.

Max Verstappen tops the timesheets in FP2.

Practice 2 saw Verstappen tops the timesheet with a time of 1.48.085 followed closely by Ricciardo with a gap of 0.256 seconds behind, Hulkenberg  was in third with a gap of 0.572 seconds behind, Vettel in fourth with a gap of 0.938 seconds behind and Perez in fifth with a gap of 1.015 seconds behind Verstappen.

Rosberg is sixth with a gap of 1.076 seconds behind, Raikkonen is seventh with a gap of 1.159 seconds behind, Grosjean is eighth with a gap of 1.334 seconds behind, Button is ninth with a gap of 1.334 seconds behind and Gutierrez is tenth with a gap of 1.563 seconds behind Verstappen.

An hour and ten minutes into the FP2 session, Renault’s Jolyon Palmer was going slowly around the track with suspected vibrations on the car. Palmer during the break between the sessions was given a brand new gearbox and is not having the best of weekends at the moment.

This then brought out the Virtual Safety Car as Palmer was assisted by the marshals safely off the circuit and to get the car back to the pits.

Kimi Raikkonen tops the timesheets in FP3.

Kimi Raikkonen tops the timesheets in FP3.

Practice 3 saw Raikkonen tops the timesheet with a time of 1.47.974 followed closely by Ricciardo with a gap of 0.215 seconds behind, Vettel was in third with a gap of 0.323 seconds behind, Bottas in fourth with a gap of 0.530 seconds behind and Hamilton in fifth with a gap of 0.661 seconds behind Raikkonen.

Hulkenberg is sixth with a gap of 0.765 seconds behind, Rosberg is seventh with a gap of 0.768 seconds behind, Massa is eighth with a gap of 0.809 seconds behind, Perez is ninth with a gap of 0.941 seconds behind and Grosjean is tenth with a gap of 1.298 seconds behind Raikkonen.

You would be stupid not to bet against the Mercedes drivers of Hamilton and Rosberg to gain pole position again this weekend. As the Mercedes drivers seem to be performing brilliantly at the moment and the momentum is with them from all the track mileage and their strong form from the last race. Vettel, Raikkonen, Ricciardo, Verstappen, Perez, or Hulkenberg also cannot be discounted for the pole also as they are consistently within the top ten places at the moment.

However, I think that Toro Rosso, McLaren and Force India have shown that they could throw themselves into the mix and could qualify well here to be in the hunt for some decent points this weekend. We all look forward to the qualifying session of the Grand Prix with excitement…