Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Spa-Francorchamps, 2017

2017 Belgian Grand Prix Star Performers

2017 Belgian Grand Prix

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Lewis Hamilton, Daniel Ricciardo and Romain Grosjean are F1 Fanatic’s stars of the Belgian Grand Prix weekend. Here’s why.

Stars

Lewis Hamilton

Mercedes found themselves under greater pressure from Ferrari at Spa than many expected them to be. But Lewis Hamilton dealt with it coolly, taking a record-equalling 68th career pole position in style while his team mate missed out on the front row.

Hamilton had Sebastian Vettel on his tail for much of the race and came under threat when a late Safety Car period allowed Ferrari to play their tactical trump card: A fresh set of ultra-soft tyres. However the Mercedes driver managed the restart perfectly and later revealed he eased the throttle approaching Eau Rouge to spoil Vettel’s best chance to overtake him. It worked beautifully, and from there on he resisted the pressure for his fifth win of the season.

Daniel Ricciardo

Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull, Spa-Francorchamps, 2017
Ricciardo reached the podium again
Poor Max Verstappen. This could easily have been him, as he was in an even stronger position before another cruel early retirement. He’d pipped Daniel Ricciardo in qualifying too.

However it detracts little from another fine drive by Ricciardo, whose persistence allowed him to bring his Red Bull home in front of a Ferrari and a Mercedes. His opportunistic move on Valtteri Bottas at the restart was a highlight.

Romain Grosjean

The Haas didn’t look quick enough to reach Q3 this time but Romain Grosjean very nearly put it there – he caught traffic at the end of his qualifying run.

In the race he kept his head as he battled with the Force Indias and eventually capitalised for a strong seventh place. Having been 12th at the end of lap one, this was decent progress.

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Strugglers

Sergio Perez

Sergio Perez, Force India, Spa-Francorchamps, 2017
The Force India pair collided again
Both Force India drivers had some explaining to do after Spa. Sergio Perez took responsibility for squeezing Esteban Ocon into the wall at the start at high speed, but he protested innocence over the later incident which spoiled both their races.

Realistically both were partly to blame, and as in Baku the fact they are team mates made it worse. In Perez’s case it cost him and the team points.

Esteban Ocon

At the time of the second collision Ocon was aggrieved that a strategy call had dropped him behind Perez. After that he seemed impatient to make a move stick – it’s hard to imagine his run at Perez coming out of La Source was going to work.

That said it wasn’t unreasonable of Ocon to expect Perez wouldn’t squeeze his team mate to the extent that contact was made.

Fernando Alonso

Fernando Alonso gave it everything he had – up to a point. He benefitted from his team mate’s two to qualify well, though his power unit couldn’t cope with him tackling Pouhon without lifting. At the start he briefly held an improbably seventh.

Then, inevitably, the Honda’s lack of grunt dropped him back swiftly. After a series of terse exchanges on the radio it seems he parked a car which might have continued. However justifiable his frustration, giving up is not the mark of a sportsman.

And the rest

Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari, Spa-Francorchamps, 2017
Raikkonen was on it in practice
Kimi Raikkonen was going great guns during practice and was on course for a front row start after his first qualifying effort, only to fluff his second run and end up fourth. In the race his car had just come good when he collected a stop-go penalty for failing to slow for yellow flags – a rare but costly lapse. He made amends by taking fourth off Valtteri Bottas, who was never on Hamilton’s pace at Spa. The other Ferrari driver was obliged to settle for second place, though a win might have been possible.

It might have been a great weekend for Jolyon Palmer, who showed a new lease of life in the Renault until suffered a clutch problem in Q3. That plus a gearbox change penalty left him mired in the midfield from where he struggled to emerge. Nico Hulkenebrg did his usual solid job to take sixth.

After a silly crash which ruined his Friday and an elimination in Q1, Felipe Massa recovered to take a respectable eighth. Lance Stroll made little impression. Daniil Kvyat was hampered by technical problems in the build-up to the race given which 12th wasn’t a bad result, though again his team mate managed to nick a point.

Marcus Ericsson out-qualified his team mate but points weren’t on offer for Sauber. Pascal Wehrlein didn’t even make it beyond lap two due to a suspension problem, while Stoffel Vandoorne persevered with his McLaren.

Over to you

Vote for the driver who impressed you most last weekend and find out whether other F1 Fanatics share your view here:

2017 Belgian Grand Prix

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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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46 comments on “2017 Belgian Grand Prix Star Performers”

  1. I’m actually not sure whether I agree with Ricciardo his place under ‘stars’? Ricciardo was once more the prime opportunist and overtook Bottas after the SC, which was indeed a beautiful move but also once more he was behind Verstappen, was running in sixth without any chance of getting more. The fact he did get third is remarkable but how much can you really put down to Ricciardo himself.

    1. I agree with this. 0,5 sec behind Max in Q3 and in the race he really only needed to pass the struggling BOT after the restart. He gained 2 positions from Max’s retirement after RAI going flat out under double yellow caused by it.

    2. So even when a driver puts in “a beautiful move” overtaking another driver for the podium, in an inferior car, you’re still questioning him.

      1. no I don’t, but to call him one of this weekends stars is questionable. Because of the arguments above. Especially the huge qualy gap

        1. Verstappen is getting it done in qualy but his setup and style might also factor into his reliabilitie issues. He should take a hard look in the mirror instead of pointing fingers at the team and threatening he might braken his contract, like a baby throwing his toys out.

          He gets the same material Daniel gets, yet it keeps happening to him and only him. That’s saying something. When he does finish he onlyhas 1 podium to show for it.Meanwhile Ricciardo keeps his head down and is there when he needs to be time and time again

          1. Max is not responsible for the failures. This is what the team said and this is what even RIC said after checking the data with his engineer.

            This time it was a sensor around a spark plug. After the race they reseated the plug and the PU worked right away. A software issue.

          2. He gets the same material Daniel gets, yet it keeps happening to him and only him.

            This is turning into the same bs as when Webber was at Red Bull. Everyone was CONVINCED Red Bull were sabotaging him. Back then it supposedly was to protect Vettel. Now Verstappen is too harsh on his material… Pick a story and stick with it. We’ve got enough Patrickl’s as it is.

            As for your fact. Here’s the real fact. Ricciardo has been hit by realibility problems three times. In Australia, Russia and during qualifying in Silverstone. Verstappen has been hit four times. In Bahrain, Canada, Baku and now Spa. So it’s clearly not happening to him and ‘only him’….

          3. You forget Austria, the clutch and also a floor issue in qualy plus failures in practice

            Don’t remember the GP of those

            Redbull is not really doing a good job this year with reliability

      2. If you’re honest Ricciardo’s move on bottas wasn’t as spectacular as some people make it out to be. Bottas got the restart horribly wrong, at the exit of turn one he was already at least five car lengths behind Vettel. And was then overtaken by Ricciardo and Kimi. he was just napping at the restart. Even Massa would have got past him on that restart.

        I’m not saying Ricciardo isn’t a good driver, and i do rate hime higly. But he wasn’t one of the stars this weekend.

        1. Ric was outstanding with his pass on Bot and then to pull a gap on Ferrari in a inferior car..as for Max well, who is to say he would of finished above Ric…just like the previous race Max is very known to overdrive the car and makes mistakes.
          Ric is a better all round driver than Max IMO at this stage of their careers.

          1. known to overdrive the car and make mistakes… fine, give us examples. his only mistakes this year were in Hungary where he took out Ricciardo and Austria Q3. Last race he didn’t overdrive the car, if you overdrive a car you can’t do one of the longest stints on a set of tyres.

          2. Indeed, verstappen hardly ever makes mistakes, his retirement rate is all due to reliability this year, even one of the crashes, in austria, was due to a clutch problem at start, it’s only because of that that he was behind enough to be taken out by kvyat.

          3. @bogaaaa, We’re still waiting

          4. PRM Max took ric out took a chunk out of vets front wing and banged into massa and ruined his own race..all Mistakes!!! Vet overdrives and at this point in his career is overrated!!!

  2. If GRO is there, i would have also put Hulk on the star performers list. He’s gotten the best out of the car and he’s not going to rank any higher than sixt anytime soon, in races where the big 3 teams (ofcourse, without VER) keep finishing races.

    1. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
      28th August 2017, 15:56

      Palmer looked much better than Hulkenberg on Saturday. I’m not sure if the star performers is based on the whole weekend but Palmer was best of the rest in P3. He also was 7th in Q2 even though his clutch broke in the middle of the session. His Q2 time was 3 tenths faster than Hulkenberg’s Q2 time. Then when Ocon, Perez and Hulkenberg did their Q3 run, they all were slower than Palmers Q2 time even though they all did US runs in both sessions. So even though Hulkenberg got 7th in qualifying, his Q3 time was 0.3 seconds slower than Palmer’s. Hulkenbergs race was great, but either his qualifying was not great for the capability of his car or Palmers was truly outstanding. I personally think Palmers was extremely good and Hulkenberg didn’t do a particularly good job that day. But yes, I guess he did get best of the rest anyway, but I am pretty certain Palmer will have managed 7th if it wasn’t for his issues. This may have changed his race result but we just don’t know. I would struggle to rate Grosjean or Hulkenberg but I would pick Grosjean if I had to go for one of them.

      1. As you pointed out, neither HUL nor PER or OCO improved on their Q2 times, so it’s fair to assume PAL wouldn’t have either.

        And while he was looking good up until his unfortunate car problem, he was nowhere in the race.
        He made hardly any progress despite 3 cars in front of him dropped out.

        His strong showing in practice and qualy could be down to his car being setup for one lap pace, a problem HUL seems to have gotten on top of.

    2. Hulk was one of the DotD, but as a star performer of the weekend not so much – he was being outqualified by Palmer, despite the fact that he was best of the rest. He was much better than him in the race though.

  3. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
    28th August 2017, 15:44

    I certainly can say Alonso didn’t have an impressive drive the race. The only highlight was his start. When Palmer attempted an overtake on him, Palmer may have pushed him a little wide, But Alonso did the same back. Then Palmer was still along side, Alonso pushed him right off the track at the next corner. This easily looked as bad as what Magnussen did to Hulkenberg recently. The loss may not have been as much but as he got pushed beyond the kerbs, it could have resulted in him spinning and loosing control. I’m not sure how this didn’t get investigated by the stewards. His attitude to everything later in the race and when he retired seemed extremely disrespectful too. I know he is a fine driver, but if he dislikes this car so much, he should let someone else drive. Perhaps Button knew Alonso wouldn’t enjoy this season and he may not continue. As Button is the reserve driver and still contracted to the team for 2018, I can’t see why they wouldn’t go for him if Alonso leaves, especially since Button wants a full time racing seat in 2018. I also remember him clearly saying at the end of his 2016 season that he may possibly be in F1 again after the following season. This just keeps looking more and more possible.

  4. I would have ranked Vettel up there as a star of the grand prix. He gave a blistering qualifying getting ahead of Bottas, he was nip and tuck with Hamilton the entire race, and ultimately lost the race by Hamilton getting his braking into Les Combes fractionally better.

    He got out raced by Hamilton ultimately, but importantly he had the measure of his team mate, unlike Ricciardo.

    1. It’s easy to get a measure of your teammate, if it’s Kimi though

    2. +1

      Both Merc and Ferrari number ones were in another league on Sunday.

    3. +1 Vettel and Hamilton were simply outstanding. Nearly no mistakes. Consistently quicker than their team mates.

  5. Um.. how do we know Alonso gave up and lied about the engine? Earlier this year the same thing happened, Honda said they saw nothing wrong with the engine, then later they found the problem. It’s an assumption. By the way, the team towing strategy was planned.. Alonso is to sacrifice next weekend and towe Stoffel. Alonso starts at the back of the grid in Monza because… you guessed it.. engine penalties.

    1. Regarding the first line, we, including the writer of this article, don’t. He’s just hatin’ on Alo.

    2. The pit wall chooses if/when to retire a race car…NOT THE DRIVER.

      Any other driver would’ve tried in vain to bring it home on 5 cylinders, 3 wheels and 1.5 wings…

      Alonso has an attitude problem… I know for a fact you didn’t miss any of his several radio messages… so don’t be disengenuinous.

      1. @cm-cm
        Exactly. Plus, Alonso has already said if he’s not in the points he will retire.

  6. Yes Alonso retired healthy car out of frustration but at least he drag McLaren far ahead in the first few laps and finished early at where McLaren belong. Unlike Bottas who I think deserved more to be at struggler driver this weekend.

    1. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
      28th August 2017, 21:56

      I don’t think Bottas was quite at the level to be a struggler. If he was, then surely Hamilton should have been in Monaco. His performance in qualifying cost him 2 more places than Bottas in this race. Bottas was in the middle stint of the race about the same pace as Hamilton and Vettel and he did often set the fastest lap. He hung at around 5 seconds behind for several laps. The start, he may have fell behind by nearly 8 but he didn’t look that bad. It was just his restart that let him down. And it does seem that the Mercedes struggled when it is close to another car as Bottas constantly doing quicker laps than Ricciardo and Kimi but then kept backing off it seemed. Nothing like as good as his team mate clearly but I wouldn’t say he was bad enough to be a struggler.

        1. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
          29th August 2017, 8:31

          Assume you mean Hamilton. But yes, I was incorrect there. But it still seemed that the main thing that let Bottas down was his 2nd restart. I still don’t think it was quite enough for me to consider him a struggler. Something that was surprising is that Perez wasn’t a struggler in Monaco. He wasn’t doing great to start with and then he took out Kvyat and damaged his front wing.

          1. I meant Hamilton, my bad

          2. The main problem for Bottas was his lack of pace before and after the safety car. He did not even come close to making a move for getting the places back when his tyres warmed up.

  7. Concerning the renewed Force India fiasco this time at the Belgium GP, my comments are as follows: I really have to question BOTH drivers IQs! This was not the first time that they had totally avoidable contact with each other. Not sure how many points they cost the team? What are the engineers and mechanics to think? Their hard great work gone up in smoke because of two totally egomaniac drivers! How old and how professional are they really!? I was a big fan of Perez, but to gain my fan ship back, he better thinks next time. Also Ocon is a bit to blame too as he should have KNOWN that to pass there is silly as Perez would have passed him after eau-rouge’s long uphill straight! They were both running 7 & 8 I believe behind each other. Instead of doing the smart thing in order to catch Hulk in his Renault a few secs ahead of them by drafting each alternatively lap after lap till they would have caught Hulk and ‘ganged up’ on him passing left & right at the end of the long straight!

    Now they need to JUST drive for the team where the team decides who will lead whom RIGHT FROM THE START. At Monza you got to give your team MATE a great draft during Q and Race! Since the Pink Panthers are so fast on the straight USE THAT ADVANGE TO THE FULLEST FOR THE TEAM! The Team (engineers, mechanics; sponsors, owners) are WAY MORE IMPORTANT than the drivers!

    Force India is lucky to have two hugely talented drivers; I just wish they were a bit smarter! Maybe they will prove me wrong at Monza!???

    Go Pink Panthers!

    Best regards,

    Alex

  8. Ricciardo? Hmmm. I think Vettel is much more deserving to be honest.

  9. There is no way to know where Verstappen would have finished.

    To say he could have easily finished on the podium like Horner did is just bs in my opinion, especially since Verstappen is so mistake/accident prone (see Silverstone and Abu dhabi 2 years ago, Australia/Monaco/Hungary/Belgium/Abu Dhabi last year, Spain/Austria/Hungary this year ánd add to that his frequent bad starts)

    Meanwhile Ricciardo rarely makes any mistakes and because of that he’s getting things done race after race, after race (unless he’s torpedo’d by his eratic teammate of course…)

    1. well, you can guess he will be in front of RIC at least. Because that’s where he is usually this season.

    2. especially since Verstappen is so mistake/accident prone

      Meanwhile Ricciardo rarely makes any mistakes

      Except already crashing out several times in qualifying… Actually, if this had been 2016 you would’ve been right but ever since Verstappen started outqualifying him Ricciardo’s has been making several mistakes. Of course his luck rectifies that most of the time anyway, but still.

      1. Ricciardo creates his own luck through consistency. He is not currently as quick as Verstappen in outright pace…. but he is a clinical driver, who makes the most of every opportunity. Verstappen is a bit more risky – he makes opportunities, but also makes a small number of mistakes.

        So Ricciardo is akin to Prost….. perhaps Verstappen is akin to Senna? I look forward to seeing them racing for a title!

    3. You have a vivid imagination

  10. Vettel drove a spotless race!

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