More rain to keep drivers guessing at Spa

2013 Belgian Grand Prix pre-race analysis

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Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Spa-Francorchamps, 2013A couple of showers made for an exciting qualifying hour for the Belgian Grand Prix. And Spa looks set to serve up more of the same in tomorrow’s race.

Light rain is forecast in the morning which is expected to get heavier in the middle of the day – just in time to coincide with the race.

The start

Rain before the start of the race may mean it has to be started behind the Safety Car. However Spa’s new drainage channels on the start/finish straight, which cut across the first 11 places on the grid, may help reduce spray and increase the chances of a standing start.

How they might affect the quality of starts the drivers get is not clear. They did not seem to have much of a bearing on the starts in the GP2 and GP3 races held after qualifying.

Spa is one of the trickiest starts of the year, with a fairly short run leading into the tight La Source hairpin. It’s a magnet for accidents and last year saw an especially dramatic one caused by Romain Grosjean when he lurched across from the left-hand-side of the grid to the right. Grosjean starts on the same row this year but on the opposite side, and hopefully has learned his lesson after last year’s antics earned him a one-race ban.

Spa’s long straights means getting out of La Source is no guarantee of staying ahead. Pole sitter Lewis Hamilton will be alert to the threat of the Red Bulls which are very quick in the first sector and could pounce on him on the blast to Les Combes.

On the third row of the grid are two drivers who arguably punched above their weight in qualifying – Paul di Resta and Jenson Button. It will be key for the Lotus and Ferrari drivers behind them to clear these two early in the race


Fernando Alonso, Ferrari, Spa-Francorchamps, 2013Because the top ten drivers qualified on wet weather tyres everyone will have a free choice of what tyre they can start the race on. In dry conditions, Pirelli expect teams to make one or two pit stops.

But it seems likely rain will dominate the tyre choice and make for an unpredictable race.

Rain would suit some teams more than others. As Kimi Raikkonen noted, Lotus haven’t been particularly strong in the rain: “When it was dry in the second qualifying session we were fastest, so if it?s dry tomorrow we should be okay for the race.”

Ferrari seem to have made a step forward and were quick in today’s dry running. Although they only qualified on the fifth row, Fernando Alonso believes they have potential: “I feel reasonably confident for the race,” he said.

“Of course, we must make up a lot of places, but at least we have the knowledge that we have closed the gap to the favourites and that we can be competitive in the dry.”

Here’s all the data from qualifying for the Belgian Grand Prix:

Qualifying times in full


Q2 (vs Q1)

Q3 (vs Q2)
1Lewis HamiltonMercedes2’00.3681’49.067 (-11.301)2’01.012 (+11.945)
2Sebastian VettelRed Bull2’01.8631’48.646 (-13.217)2’01.200 (+12.554)
3Mark WebberRed Bull2’01.5971’48.641 (-12.956)2’01.325 (+12.684)
4Nico RosbergMercedes2’01.0991’48.552 (-12.547)2’02.251 (+13.699)
5Paul di RestaForce India2’02.3381’48.925 (-13.413)2’02.332 (+13.407)
6Jenson ButtonMcLaren2’01.3011’48.641 (-12.660)2’03.075 (+14.434)
7Romain GrosjeanLotus2’02.4761’48.649 (-13.827)2’03.081 (+14.432)
8Kimi RaikkonenLotus2’01.1511’48.296 (-12.855)2’03.390 (+15.094)
9Fernando AlonsoFerrari2’00.1901’48.309 (-11.881)2’03.482 (+15.173)
10Felipe MassaFerrari2’01.4621’49.020 (-12.442)2’04.059 (+15.039)
11Nico HulkenbergSauber2’01.7121’49.088 (-12.624)
12Adrian SutilForce India2’02.7491’49.103 (-13.646)
13Sergio PerezMcLaren2’02.4251’49.304 (-13.121)
14Giedo van der GardeCaterham2’00.5641’52.036 (-8.528)
15Jules BianchiMarussia2’02.1101’52.563 (-9.547)
16Max ChiltonMarussia2’02.9481’52.762 (-10.186)
17Pastor MaldonadoWilliams2’03.072
18Jean-Eric VergneToro Rosso2’03.300
19Daniel RicciardoToro Rosso2’03.317
20Valtteri BottasWilliams2’03.432
21Esteban GutierrezSauber2’04.324
22Charles PicCaterham2’07.384

Sector times

DriverSector 1Sector 2Sector 3
Lewis Hamilton32.034 (11)47.387 (10)29.646 (7)
Sebastian Vettel31.779 (3)47.257 (7)29.431 (4)
Mark Webber31.820 (6)47.174 (6)29.647 (8)
Nico Rosberg32.019 (10)46.946 (3)29.587 (5)
Paul di Resta31.788 (4)47.823 (12)29.314 (1)
Jenson Button31.815 (5)47.169 (5)29.657 (9)
Romain Grosjean32.104 (12)46.903 (2)29.642 (6)
Kimi Raikkonen31.914 (7)46.661 (1)29.721 (12)
Fernando Alonso31.773 (2)47.138 (4)29.398 (3)
Felipe Massa32.017 (9)47.286 (8)29.717 (11)
Nico Hulkenberg32.002 (8)47.377 (9)29.664 (10)
Adrian Sutil31.743 (1)48.023 (13)29.337 (2)
Sergio Perez32.114 (13)47.443 (11)29.747 (13)
Giedo van der Garde32.465 (14)49.438 (14)30.133 (14)
Jules Bianchi32.757 (16)49.461 (15)30.345 (15)
Max Chilton32.656 (15)49.720 (16)30.359 (16)
Pastor Maldonado34.296 (19)55.901 (20)32.875 (19)
Jean-Eric Vergne34.501 (21)55.811 (18)32.775 (18)
Daniel Ricciardo34.411 (20)55.522 (17)32.653 (17)
Valtteri Bottas34.273 (18)55.878 (19)33.195 (21)
Esteban Gutierrez34.010 (17)56.841 (21)32.976 (20)
Charles Pic34.629 (22)58.309 (22)34.446 (22)

Speed trap

PosDriverCarSpeed (kph/mph)Gap
1Mark WebberRed Bull302.7 (188.1)
2Paul di RestaForce India302.7 (188.1)-0.0
3Sebastian VettelRed Bull299.5 (186.1)-3.2
4Adrian SutilForce India297.1 (184.6)-5.6
5Nico HulkenbergSauber294.9 (183.2)-7.8
6Fernando AlonsoFerrari294.6 (183.1)-8.1
7Jenson ButtonMcLaren294.5 (183.0)-8.2
8Kimi RaikkonenLotus294.5 (183.0)-8.2
9Giedo van der GardeCaterham293.0 (182.1)-9.7
10Nico RosbergMercedes293.0 (182.1)-9.7
11Esteban GutierrezSauber291.7 (181.3)-11.0
12Felipe MassaFerrari291.5 (181.1)-11.2
13Sergio PerezMcLaren291.1 (180.9)-11.6
14Lewis HamiltonMercedes291.1 (180.9)-11.6
15Romain GrosjeanLotus290.9 (180.8)-11.8
16Max ChiltonMarussia289.4 (179.8)-13.3
17Jules BianchiMarussia288.3 (179.1)-14.4
18Pastor MaldonadoWilliams286.8 (178.2)-15.9
19Valtteri BottasWilliams285.7 (177.5)-17.0
20Daniel RicciardoToro Rosso278.0 (172.7)-24.7
21Charles PicCaterham273.4 (169.9)-29.3
22Jean-Eric VergneToro Rosso270.7 (168.2)-32.0

Over to you

Share your views on the Belgian Grand Prix in the comments.

2013 Belgian Grand Prix

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    Images ?? Daimler/Hoch Zwei, Ferrari/Ercole Colombo

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    29 comments on “More rain to keep drivers guessing at Spa”

    1. By getting out late, Ferrari missed out on the extra lap. And wow… did that lap make all the difference for the top 3!

      1. Shreyas Mohanty (@)
        24th August 2013, 18:17

        @joshua-mesh And I heard Alonso had a spin as well, would have lost 1-1.5 secs there.

        1. In the Brazil we heard Alonso spun on his first lap, which was 12 seconds slower than Di Resta.

      2. No, Ferrari didn’t get out late, Alonso lost almost 8 second in that lap.

    2. There is a 70% probability that it’ll rain at 2 pm on the track tomorrow. Hamilton is obviously in the box seat, given his past record in such conditions at spa. He crossed the line in first positions, in the only two wet and semi-wet races (2008 and 2010 respectively). Vettel has a hard task on his hands and Alonso even harder.

    3. For a dry race, I consider Red Bull the favourites. They’ve been fast in all conditions all weekend, and they look to have a considerable straight-line speed advantage over the Mercedes (and Lotus) cars. If it rains, then Hamilton might have a better chance of converting his pole position, and his higher-downforce setup might work better. Also, the Mercedes drivers have one set of new inters left (they ran the entire Q1 on one set), though I’m not sure how much of an advantage that is.

      Judging by his Q2 sector times, Alonso has gone down a reasonably low downforce route as well, so if he has the race pace and a good start, P3 should be a possibility in a dry race. I can understand the frustration of Alonso’s fans, though, as it’s going to be difficult to overhaul Vettel unless Sebastian runs into trouble.

      I’m also looking forward to seeing what the STR guys can do. Especially Vergne has looked quick for much of the weekend, so perhaps they can bring it home in the points tomorrow.

      1. They don’t have a speed advantage – the speed trap is at the top of Eau Rouge.

        Hamilton’s name was in the top 5 for the quickest speed check available on the live timing and neither Red Bull appeared, so looks like the usual story of red bull being quick through corners and having good acceleration due to lower gear ratios, but they’re not actually faster at the top end of the gear box.

        Out of interest, anyone have access to the full speed check data from the other points of the lap which are measured?

        1. The problem is that after Eau Rouge & Blanchiement (precisely in the start finish line) there will be DRS zones so even if both Red Bull will run in trouble after the start or during pit stops or whatever cause they will not have any problem passing cars in front of them because they will be rocketing in Eau Rouge & Blanchiement and then they will use DRS

    4. Force India seems monster in sector 1 and 3, Kimi and Alonso needs to catch them by opening lap, otherwise race is over for them.

      1. Chance of both of them passing both Brits is very very slim – someone is going to be stuck behind a very well designed road block, slow where they can’t be passed and lightning where they can.

    5. Whoever can keep it on the track while going the fastest and make the right tire switches from wet, intermediate and dry at just the right times will have better chances to prevail. I love it when these driver and team skills come into play in an F1 race. My ideal race tomorrow would be enough wet racing to mix things up and enough dry racing to see some good hard racing.

      If wet, there will likely be a couple of spin-offs tomorrow, let’s hope not at the start. My prediction for drivers to excel in the wet-dry would be Hamilton (pole position helps, he’ll be ahead of the spray at the start), Vettel ( also up front and sometimes does well in the wet), Kimi (Lotus may not be great in the wet, but Kimi is), JEV (will finish ahead of Ricciardo in the wet), maybe Bottas (can do well in wet) and I think Button will do well (smooth, patient, experienced and starting from a decent position).

      Final wild prediction, in a really wet race with a safety car or two we may see a Marussia or Caterham finish in the top 10. If so, hope it’s Bianchi.

    6. Each car only gets 4 sets of inters, and by my count the top 10 cars must’ve taken the best out of at least 3 sets (practice yesterday, Q1 and Q3). Does anyone know for sure who has what still available? If it’s another mixed bag tomorrow in terms of weather, then it could be the drivers outside the top-10 in the box seats…

      1. Only the Mercs got through Q1 on one set of inters so they have an extra one left each. The others have all used theirs but I still don’t think there is much advantage to the Mercs.

      2. @jackysteeg, I think all drivers get three sets, plus one set they can only use on Friday. Hamilton and Rosberg have used two sets each – as they kept cruising around on the inters, before setting one final quick lap at the end of Q1 – while the others in Q3 have used all three sets: two for Q1 and one for Q3.

        I don’t know how big a deal it is to have some laps on the inters, though. The drivers who went out too early at the end of Q1 (like Williams and Toro Rosso) complained that their tyres were worn after one lap, but perhaps the tyres were only running too hot, and after a cooldown they will be fine again for a longer run.

        1. I was not aware there was an extra set for Friday! I wonder, the Marussia’s and van der Garde made the move to slicks in Q1… perhaps a chance for their first points tomorrow?

          1. I think they would need an even bigger shunt in the first corner than the one caused by Romain last year, one that takes out quite a few contenders. At the moment they are running 1-3 seconds a lap slower than the Williams in most races, so that’s a tall order to score points. I would say they had zero chance.

            1. It’s unlikely, sure, but definitely not impossible. The conditions could be similar to Brazil last year, where they came as close to getting a point as they ever have. It’s a long shot, but a little bit of chaos in the race and simply keeping it on the track could be enough to score a point. Especially if most of the other guys have used up all their tyres.

      3. Could be a big factor, especially if the weather keeps changing wet/dry dry/wet. Could also force some riskier tire changes than normal. The more the weather changes during the race, I really would not be surprised to see some surprise top 10 finishers.

    7. Chris (@tophercheese21)
      25th August 2013, 4:05

      If it’s wet then my money is on Hamilton and Rosberg.

      The Mercedes has been absolutely mighty in the wet.

    8. Thunderstorms are predicted by BBC at the very start which could make an exciting action packed race and linger around for the whole entire race just maybe

    9. I would like to point out three things before today’s race:
      -I’d love to see Mark win this one, although it might not be that easy;
      -Catching up for Alonso and Kimi is ever more difficult with such poor qualifying results;
      -It may well be that Hamilton is becoming Vettel’s main title challenger.
      With the likelihood of mixed conditions again, we’re in for a promising race! Let’s hope it shakes the standings a bit!

      1. Chris (@tophercheese21)
        25th August 2013, 9:17

        I’d like to point out one thing:
        You didn’t actually point out anything. Those were just predictions and hopes for the race. Lol

        I also hope Mark can Atleast get a podium. He’s very strong around Spa.
        Really hoping for a Lewis win though.

    10. Anele (@anele-mbethe)
      25th August 2013, 9:51

      8/ 11 poles for Mercedes, how long before the ” its just the car ” comments surface..hoping for a great race

    11. Can someone enlighten me concerning the DRS in a wet race?
      I seem to remember that if it’s declared a wet race, DRS is not available . . . or did I just dream that?

      1. DRS is disabled when the cars are on inters/wets, and/or when Charlie Whiting decides it’s too wet to be safe to use.

      2. Chris (@tophercheese21)
        25th August 2013, 11:07

        DRS is disabled if the conditions aren’t safe enough.
        If its slippery, why let them go any faster?

        However, it can be enabled with drivers still on intermediate tyres, if the track is dry enough.

      3. It’s normally at Charlie’s discretion when to disable it. In theory it is disabled when it’s wet, but I’m sure it remained enabled throughout Q3 yesterday. So I think it only gets disabled when it’s full wet conditions, rather than intermediate conditions.

        1. Hamilton said it was disabled when he did the SkyPad thing.

          1. Thanks to all!

    Comments are closed.