It’s been fairly common this year to see the drivers who start on the racing line at an advantage. But at Spa the surface is new and the racing line crosses the grid hatchings. In the two GP2 races neither side of the grid seemed to offer a clear advantage.
Both Ferraris have gotten away from the line well this year, so there’s no reason to expect either will lose out to the McLaren unless they get in each others way.
The run to the first corner is longer than it used to be, meaning drivers will be approaching the tight La Source hairpin (with cool brakes and tyres) at higher speeds than they used to. We have seen contact at the first corner on several occasions, even between team mates, such as David Coulthard and Mika Hakkinen in 1999.
Kimi Raikkonen, Felipe Massa and Fernando Alonso will surely all be wise to Lewis Hamilton’s aptitude for scything his way to the front at starts. Starting fourth on the grid, with his team mate third, he will surely have conjured up several approaches to depriving Alonso of that position around La Source and down the plunge towards Eau Rouge.
The wide tarmac run-off at La Source could lead to several drivers emerging from the corner side-by-side, in which case we will get to see them drop down the hill to Eau Rouge, each daring the other to back down. But the modern Eau Rouge also has tarmac run-off and we may see some battles still being fought down the Kemmel straight into Les Combes.
The opening battle will be crucial as the fast corners in the middle part of the track may make it difficult for cars to get close to each other.