Mercedes ‘have been practising starts for Spa’

F1 Fanatic Round-up

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In the round-up: Mercedes’ executive director Toto Wolff says the team have been working on their start procedure for the next race when new restrictions come into force, after two races in which the team started poorly.


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Toto Wolff Q&A: It was a fantastic race - just not for Mercedes (F1)

"We’ve been practising Spa-starts on Friday. Probably we’ve traded the future for the present. You always should live in your time - we’ve probably that experienced today."

McLaren realistic despite double points (F1i)

"The next two races are going to be very difficult for us. High-speed... I'm sure there are going to be some penalties as well, so nice to get this before the summer break."

Rosberg can't explain Hamilton's 2015 qualifying dominance (ESPN)

" I don't understand why it's such a big difference to last year, at the moment."

Kimi Raikkonen bemoans luck after Ferrari miss out on Hungary one-two (Sky)

"If I didn't have the speed I would not be here. I know when to stop and if I didn't have the speed or passion to do it I wouldn't come here, I would stay home."

Lewis Hamilton admits to 'bad performance' at Hungarian GP (BBC)

"I pushed right to the end but there were so many obstacles. It's like there were two different directions and each time I chose the wrong one."

Kerbs likely cause of Hulkenberg crash (Autosport)

"This is the only circuit like this, and Ferrari had a front wing failure too (with Kimi Raikkonen in practice), and Kimi also lost a camera pod in the race. That's all down to vibrations and how you mount the parts."


Comment of the day

Does Fernando Alonso’s inclination to look beyond Formula One make sense?

If you are Fernando Alonso and you are looking to join another series (I am assuming WEC or IndyCar), you are going to end up in a very top team (provided he takes a wage cut) simply based on the fact that you are Fernando Alonso. Would you prefer to do this and show the world that you are a champion in multiple categories as opposed to trundling around in a car which cannot go ten minutes without exploding?

I know I would.

From the forum

Happy birthday!

Happy birthday to Spud and Mikef1!

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On this day in F1

Daniel Ricciardo won the Hungarian Grand Prix on this day last year after the Safety Car hampered the progress of early leader Nico Rosberg.

Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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62 comments on “Mercedes ‘have been practising starts for Spa’”

  1. Regarding COTD, Its about payoff. Yes the McLaren Honda isn’t great this year but whats to say they won’t be higher up the grid next year & the year after?
    Who woudl have thought a year ago that Ferrari would have 2 wins this year having made pretty big gains in every area.

    Simply walking away after 1 bad year is silly & something the great drivers usually don’t do, They stick it out & more often than not get paid back down the road when it all comes together.

    As to his complaints about restrictions… He does know that WEC will introduce testing restrictions & development restrictions next year right?

    His complaints about the tyres are right though, About time F1 moved away from the bubblegum-deg tyres, Its been a failure & its pretty clear most fans (based on the 2 recent fan surveys & fan comments here & elsewhere around the web) are now against that whole high-deg thing & would now like to see some proper racing tyres come back.

    1. OmarR-Pepper - Vettel 41 wins!!! For Jules (@)
      27th July 2015, 1:49

      The thing is. with tyres that resist the whole race, they would still run a procession, the bad air coming from the car in front is the main deterrent to race properly. So lets advocate and hope rule makers find a way to “clean” the air flow and you will see better racing, even with these tyres.

      1. @omarr-pepper It was found by Lotus in the late ’70s, then banned in the early ’80s.

        It should return soon.

        1. I’ve said it before and I will say it again, the Lotus 88 should be revisited.

      2. You’ve been living under a rock for the last few months I think…

        1. OmarR-Pepper - Vettel 41 wins!!! For Jules (@)
          28th July 2015, 1:32

          @williamstuart I mean everybody being able to race without overheating the engine for being on the chase.

    2. Actually RogerA, development restrictions are already in place in the WEC – there are already limits on the amount of testing which can be undertaken and development of the powertrain is completely banned during the season. Furthermore, the ACO is currently considering imposing tighter development and testing restrictions because there are concerns about rising development costs in the LMP1-H category.

  2. @AussieGrit

    Five people podium ceremonies. That’s not a bad idea. Not a bad idea at all Mr Webber.

    1. OmarR-Pepper - Vettel 41 wins!!! For Jules (@)
      27th July 2015, 13:55

      @Prof-kirk especially when hia best friend is “Mr. 5th”.

      1. Mr 5th finished first, second or third 97 times, he must have been doing it wrong :P

  3. The comments from Toto through Alan’s tweet are not very encouraging. It maybe possible that Merc did a deliberate poor start to have Seb take the lead but things went south immediately after that for Merc which they did not anticipate.

    Mr E has the last laugh in the sport at all times !!!!!

    1. @tmax Yep, because Lewis and Nico will be happy with that…they both are fighting for championships points… specially Nico. Also to sugest Mercedes heads will be so dishonorable as to play alone…

      Also isn´t there a law where if you tamper with a sport that is involve in gambling you can be arret under fraude charges?

    2. did u even read the linked article…. wow!!! he said they were practicing starts on fridays not on race day.

      1. Errrr, I’m pretty sure he’s referring to Alan Baldwin’s tweet:
        ‘Toto Wolff says Mr E told him before the race “‘Bloody don’t win this race, it’s important for Formula One”‘

        … Though I do not believe for one moment that they lost on purpose. First of all, it’s F1, anything can happen during a season, so not having as many points as possible is a major gamble. Second, if they even considered doing it, they would never tell anyone about the request from Bernie.

      2. @f1007 wow. Did you even read my comment. I never mentioned anythin about the Spa start practice. I was just speaking about the race start and Totos comments in Alan’s tweet.

    3. Conspiracy! Conspiracy! 9/11 was an inside job! Obama was born in Kenya! Conspiracy! Conspiracy!

    4. You go and tell Hamilton to lose a race on purpose.

      I think you’d have a better chance getting Maldonado to stop crashing into things. Just barely.

    5. I am quite sure that it was a joke.

  4. About McLaren. They really need to take these hectic weekends as they come. Their pace in Hungary was appalling. Interesting to see that in the low power rating circuit of budapest the pack was tight but in spite of the ERS improvement, McLaren was shockingly slow. The McLaren is seriously compromised, no performance on high speed no performance in low-med speed, I can’t imagine how painful SPA and Monza will be for McLaren.

    1. ColdFly F1 (@)
      27th July 2015, 8:17

      I do see McLaren improvements; they were not that slow. @peartree
      In Hungary they were genuinely faster than the Saubers, overtook a Toro Rosso and Lotus, and seem to be as fast as the FI’s. And without checking the detail, it seems (in Hungary at least) they could fight with Williams.

      1. I agree, the real weakness is the engine McLaren cannot get the most out of the rest of the package until the engine improves not just raw power but driveability as well. With Honda spending tokens prior to Spa – they have to take a large step forward in the next two races both of which are benchmarks for PU package performance, especially Monza.

        1. The Blade Runner (@)
          27th July 2015, 11:09

          Agreed. I’ve just posted the following on another thread but it is probably more appropriate here:

          I don’t think we can read a lot into McLaren’s improved finishing positions. Good fortune played a huge part in getting both drivers into the points.

          If you consider that Hamilton, Rosberg and Bottas finished out of position due to “collision related issues” and that Raikkonen, Perez and Hulkenberg got DNFs. Without these McLaren would have more likely been circa 11th and 15th.

          Hardly a significantly positive indicator. Especially on a track that was more likely to suit them than others on the calendar.

      2. @coldfly Mclaren as fast as the FI and could fight with Williams? I agree with the rest of your comment but you went too far with this. Mcaren was lucky with others’ misfortunes but at no point were they as fast as the FI, who were having a compromised weekend themselves. And even at this track Williams were up to a second/lap(but mostly half a second) faster.

        1. ColdFly F1 (@)
          29th July 2015, 12:36

          @montreal95, I know it seems a bit far fetched, and it does not ‘feel’ yet that they are at that level.
          But if you check the lap times between Bottas and Alonso from lap 55-69 (the only time they were both in ‘clean air’ over a longer stint); both were doing very similar lap times, and Alonso even gained 1sec over those 14 laps.

          1. @coldfly True, however this neglects the fact that Bottas’ car was damaged after his puncture. He said that it didn’t behave properly afterwards

          2. ColdFly F1 (@)
            29th July 2015, 22:22

            That could be a reason @montreal95.
            But Bottas did not race away from Alonso in the other stints either. Between 23-35 Bottas gained just 2sec in 12 laps. And for many of those laps Alonso was defending against Sainz in his DRS zone. And when Alonso lost Sainz (lap 30) he gained 1 sec on Bottas in 5 laps!

            The ‘could fight with Williams’ in my original post might be a bit too far fetched. But I see a significant improved McLaren, now able to mingle with the whole mid field.

        2. @coldfly I certainly agree with you that Mclaren had made progress. I’m very happy for them by the way. While I’m not a Mclaren fan, a failure of this project would be extremely bad for F1. My only point was that you went a bit too far with this :)

      3. @coldfly @fastiesty In Q1 they looked better, the whole field looked better, but in the race in the 1st half they didn’t, then all hell broke loose and they got their best results of 2015. After the SC in 15-20 laps or so Alonso managed to lose 49 secs to Seb.

    2. @peartree On a positive note, from a straight comparison in Q1 (everyone on softs except Ricciardo) McLaren was only 1.67 seconds off the fastest (HAM – Mercedes), now they are at full power/ERS. Next comes the spending of tokens to improve the package.

    3. At least, the chassis seem good. With empty tanks, they performed much better despite being down on power.

  5. I think it has been clear all this weekend that Mercedes have been preparing for the race start change, this was most likely the reason behind Nico stalling during practice, I don’t think the team confirmed? Didn’t notice other teams doing it to anywhere near the level of practice as Mercedes, however that could just be that it wasn’t shown on TV.

    What is surprising though is that they would of decided to do the new procedure during the race when they would understand that other teams were not likely to do such a thing and the risk of losing position at Hungary makes it a strange decision. However maybe they are thinking to the future or maybe they were thinking to the future a little to soon. It’s no coincidence that since the start procedure rule changes were announced Mercedes have had some bad starts compared to the rest of the grid. Maybe that will pay them back at Spa and beyond, We’ll have to wait and see.

    In terms of race performance and Ferrari beating Mercedes in a dry race with no technical issues on the Mercedes cars, It’s interesting but maybe a little flattering for Ferrari given that the car who was directly behind them has been struggling for pace all weekend, Hamilton on the other hand was showing strong pace unfortunately for him he just wasn’t in the right position on the track to exploit that, which apart from the start would seem to be his own fault, A good recovery in parts for Hamilton yet not his cleanest of races by any means, and I’m glad he has come out and said the it was his fault. He got lucky today in many regards but then again luck comes and goes, ROS has lucked into a few things this season himself, that’s just racing.

    Would it have been Hamilton behind the Ferrari I think the fight at the front end of the grid may have been quite different given the pace he showed over the weekend. But racing is full of well if this would of happened then this could of happened, at the end of the day Mercedes had a bad day and Ferrari didn’t and I think it was a nice touch that Ferrari were on the podium given this weeks events.

    As a Hamilton fan I was disappointed he couldn’t pull off the win today but he can’t win them all and he will have bad days in the office just like every other driver on the grid. However it was a great race, my head hurt at times trying to figure everything out, so many incidents. It has shown yet again that this generation of F1 can produce some amazing races at times.

    1. Eh, @woodyd91, when you wrote this

      What is surprising though is that they would of decided to do the new procedure during the race when they would understand that other teams were not likely to do such a thing and the risk of losing position at Hungary makes it a strange decision.

      did you read the article? Because Toto mentions that they tried the Spa procedures on FRIDAY and that probably meant losing some preparation for the race on sunday, not that they actually did a start with the procedure planned from Spa onward.

      1. @bascb I actually re-read the article earlier but after i posted my comment, When i read it originally it was around 3 in the morning so didn’t spot the Friday mention. Unfortunately there is no edit button here.

        Looks as if though all the practise they did through the weekend was all with Spa in mind and not this weekend which caused the bad starts.

        1. That explains it then :-)

          Yes, looks like they were getting trapped into their own world of feeling secure enough for the weekend to think about Spa. A bit of the same overconfidence that led to their meltdown strategy in Malaysia then led to a meltdown of Hamilton, and a bad tyre choice for Rosberg (The team finding out on Friday night about a setup issue also didn’t help Rosberg, he never even got into good speed apart from Q2) @woodyd91

    2. @bascb and @woodyd91 – Either way it looks promising for the coming races. It’s good they made the starts harder, another moment for a driver to shine after the computers take over for half of the race.

      Also I’m pretty sure other teams would have done tests on the new starts too, maybe they were just more successful.

      1. Not really. It looks like the starts will be total lottery and not dependent of driver talent.

        1. Don’t know where did you get this. Bite point finding is a task a driver is able to do and is not a lottery in any way.

    3. @woodyd91
      What I find perplexing is that while the new rules for manual starts after the summer break were not introduced until July 2nd, Hamilton had been suffering with poor starts since Spain. Monaco and Canada’s short runs to Turn 1 saved his bacon on both accounts.

      1. @kingshark

        Hamilton’s previous issues were caused by changes to the clutch spring that were made, This is where you saw Hamilton getting some questionable starts compared to Nico, They supposedly fixed this issue with changing Lewis’s car back to 2015 clutch spring and Rosberg stayed with the 2014 spring iirc, now however they are both getting poor starts, Mercedes starts have always been pretty solid and it’s only the last couple of races that they have both had poor starts together, this is clearly an area Merc need to look at, providing of cause that the other teams are preparing to the same degree as Merc are.

        We will wait and see what happens in Spa but I think there will be a variety of start performance up and down the grid.

  6. What happened with Lewis today goes to show that even with a dominant car is very difficult to win races.

    More respect for Hamilton, Schumi, Senna, Prost and Vettel for the great numbers they have achieve.

  7. @celeste …and no excuses from Lewis, just ‘I messed up’. Not that most people will notice…

    1. Yeah. It was a few amazingly (and uncharacteristic) dumb moves by Hamilton, but he owned up to them immediately. No “BUT I…” when he was told he got the drive-through, just an “okay”, and an apology to his team a few moments later.

    2. @psynrg exactly, he owned it and probably would not have a meltdown like yesterday in the near future, at this point I think that fans hold drivers like Lewis (and Sebastian last year) in a different standard. Verstappen and Riccardo have had more incidents this years, yet I don´t see anyone criticizen them or written that they drove “as a man comming back home after a Dog and Duck after 8 pins”…

  8. I think that it´s very easy to see why and how Lewis has turned the Merc pair’s head-to-head qualifying battle this year. He simply doesn´t make the same amount of mistakes during quali this year as he did in 2014 and as he is faster than Nico..

    Easy, peasy, Japanesey.. :)

    1. and his car didn’t catch fire in Hungary during qualy this year

    2. it seems that Hamiltons career is littered with mistakes, that make him not a top 2 driver in the series but a 3rd best. 2014 was case in point, his pace should have demolished the 2nd level driver in Rosberg, yet Rosberg kept him close in the title fight and beat him to the most poles… this was more the case of Hamilton under-achieving then Rosberg over achieving. Hamilton lost the titel in 02 and 10 because of his errors. he made heaps of wheel to wheel mistakes in 11 crashing with Massa many times. This past race was more signs of Hamilton not coping when he is not in P1

      1. This past race was more signs of Hamilton not coping when he is not in P1

        I wouldn’t say that, he has shown time and time again he can fight back from not being in P1, where Lewis needs to calm down is in the split seconds decisions he is making recently, he made the same mistake in Silverstone, pushing to hard to soon. It’s surprising and sort of came out of nowhere given his newer calmer approach since moving to Merc. However to say Hamilton can’t cope when he isn’t in P1 I wouldn’t agree, if anything out of the Merc drivers it’s Ros that can’t cope with being in the pack. Being almost 10 seconds behind the Ferrari’s while your team mate is matching their pace and going quicker in the mid pack isn’t a good sign for Nico’s ability at fighting back. Although Nico hadn’t found pace all weekend.

        However having said that, that racing spirit in Hamilton, while doesn’t always pay off, as shown by a couple of silly mistakes it has also lead to some of his best drives and great battles. Thinking of Alonso & Webber in Germany, Also Button & Hamilton in Turkey iirc. So while its easy to criticise Hamilton’s decisions when they go wrong, it’s also the case that they often go right. Apart from most of the 2011 season where Hamilton clearly lost his head during what was apart from a few occasions was his worst season.

        If drivers don’t make the odd mistake it means they aren’t trying hard enough, because no driver can ever be faultless, unless of course they are driving in such a way that mistakes don’t happen.

  9. @keithcollantine Kimi’s GP was full of luck.

    Bad ones.

    1. Greenwood: “Box this lap Kimi we’re retiring.”
      Raikkonen: “Too late.”

  10. But if I didn’t have the speed I would not be here. I know when to stop and if I didn’t have the speed or passion to do it I wouldn’t come here, I would stay home.

    Watching Kimi’s race, I felt like tearing my own face off in frustration.

    Being a Kimi fan is tough :(

  11. Biggest surprise of the weekend: Kimi used ‘passion’ in a sentence. But seriously what a fun race. There’s a lot more cool rationalism than hot air coming out of Maranello since Arrivabene…. arrivabene’d. Good on them. Maldonado needs to go race nascar.

    1. @maciek
      Yeah, I suppose Arrivabene’s prediction of three wins this year isn’t looking so silly now :)

      1. @george What odds can we get on Kimi winning at Spa? :P

        1. The world has to turn upside down for it to happen. Considering the luck Kimi has got this year and that Arrivabene mentioned that Spa might not favorable to them.
          Strange since the car does well in high speed corners and has the power to boot as well.

          But Kimi at Spa is always worth a punt.

        2. It will be very interesting to see Kimi vs Seb in SPA.

  12. This is probably a stupid question here but how can a driver practice start for one track at another track. Each tract has its own characteristics and practicing the Spa start at the Hungaroring is kinda’ like practicing on a simulator.

    1. Even with the changed characteristics, I can’t see there being much difference on the starts for the different tracks.

    2. it’s mostly the procedures that they need to do.

      Usually most practice starts take place at the end of pit lane, and that’s not representative of the track they’re on anyway.

    3. Then why do they even need to practice the start again and again for each race? If there is not much difference from track to track etc…

  13. Happy birthday @spud, and @mikef1

  14. Re COTD: ‘Nando to IndyCar, please. Oh if only Rahal wins that Championship this year, takes a Haas seat, and Alonso replaces either Castroneves, Carpenter, or Kimball at their respective teams.

    1. Alonso could win the Indycar championship in a Honda before winning it in F1 for Honda! more likely, I think Alonso is more looking at WEC though, and he will hang around for one more year in f1 to see if Honda can improve, – but maybe he will suprise us and jump ship, where ever he goes, we all know he is one of the best in racing history, so i will support him in anyseries, i can see Porsche make a super-team lineup for lemans 2016 or 17 with Webber, Hulkenburg and Alonso – now that would make headlines and blur the lines between racing “series”. it would bring motorsport more in to context then most f1 fans are used to.

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