Porsche 919 Hybrid Evo, Spa-Francorchamps, 2018

Will F1 beat Porsche’s ultimate Spa lap time? Five Begian GP talking points

2018 Belgian Grand Prix

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Formula 1 returns from its summer break to tackle one of the most thrilling circuits on the calendar.

Lewis Hamilton has the lead in the drivers’ championship but Ferrari are expected to be strong this weekend. And there’s the small matter of bragging rights over the fastest ever lap of this circuit.

Here’s five talking points ahead of the Belgian Grand Prix.

How big is Ferrari’s engine advantage?

Ferrari has clearly made a step forward with its engine in recent races. But is it really as significant as its rivals, particularly Mercedes, have claimed?

As F1 went into the summer break much intrigue surrounded the gain Ferrari had made with its engine since its last hardware upgrade. The SF71-H’s pace over a single flying lap – in dry conditions at least – looks strong.

But as Kimi Raikkonen pointed out after he was unable to pass the Mercedes drivers in the closing stages of the German Grand Prix, Ferrari’s newfound edge doesn’t seem to count for as much in race trim.

The long straights of Spa (and, next week, Monza) will provide a perfect litmus test of just how many prancing horses Ferrari’s engine is worth.

Is Mercedes going to react? Ahead of the summer break they admitted they don’t fully understand what trickery Ferrari may be up to with its engine. The team was expected to bring a new specification power unit for this weekend’s race, but as yet they haven’t confirmed their plans.

Driver market moves

Fernando Alonso, Daniel Ricciardo, Carlos Sainz Jnr and Pierre Gasly have all confirmed major career moves during the summer break and Spa will be our first opportunity to discuss their decisions with them.

It was Ricciardo’s bombshell decision to leave Red Bull set the driver market in motion. The move clearly caught his team by surprise, and while they have now responded by giving Gasly his chance to shine, the question of who they can put into his vacant seat at Toro Rosso remains.

McLaren has confirmed it will have at least one new driver in its line-up next year to replace Alonso. But will Stoffel Vandoorne keep his seat? Lando Norris’s practice run on Friday will be the first time McLaren has ever run a test driver in FP1, and indicates he may be under consideration for a 2019 race debut.

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Force India back from the brink

What effect will Force India’s rescue from administration have on the team? A vital injection of funds to pay creditors and push its car development forwards is just the beginning.

Is Lawrence Stroll, whose son Lance remains a Williams driver, going to adopt a hands-on role at the team? Will there be changes among the senior management?

Most importantly, will it aid their fight to beat Haas and Renault to fourth in the drivers’ championship?

Next year’s schedule

Liberty Media is expected to reveal the 2019 F1 calendar ahead of this weekend’s race. The schedule for next season is usually known before the end of the summer break, so they’ve cut it fine.

Do they have any surprises in store? Miami is off the table until 2020 at the earliest, but there have been rumours around fresh efforts to keep Germany on the calendar.

Will F1 reclaim the record?

Porsche unofficially beat the track record for the Spa-Francorchamps circuit with its LMP1-based 919 Hybrid earlier this year. Neel Jani’s lap of 1’41.770 was 0.783 seconds quicker than last year’s pole position time by Lewis Hamilton.

Will F1 beat that target? This year’s cars have been quicker than last year at all bar one of the circuits visited so far in 2018. The typical gain has been up to a second, so it could be close.

And of course, Spa’s unpredictable weather could play a role.

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Are you going to the Belgian Grand Prix?

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Who do you think will be the team to beat in the Belgian Grand Prix? Have your say below.

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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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19 comments on “Will F1 beat Porsche’s ultimate Spa lap time? Five Begian GP talking points”

  1. I would love to see F1 fail to beat Porsche’s Spa record! It would make for great conversations and marketing.
    I’m sure not all F1 fans caught up with the news of Porsche doing their record breaking tournee. And if Porsche’s record at least gives F1 a good run for its money (doesn’t get beaten during an early free practice), then it will create excitement that both the F1 and the general motorsport world needs.

    The headline produces by the feat might inspire other automobile giants to follow suit and create some sort of a rivalry in chasing records. That would be fantastic.

    1. is comparing tomatoes with potatoes.. f1 could also put a car with unrestricted fuel flow and other things… the record should be made with the restrictions each organization set on the cars

      1. Hey JJ, you can only compare what you have: one spec formula vs another spec formula. Formula against formula F1 lost. Maybe we can do better this year.

      2. @j3d89
        “is comparing tomatoes with potatoes..”
        No. It is comparing minutes:seconds:fraction-of-a-second to minutes:seconds:fraction-of-a-second. What do you not understand about that?

        f1 could also put a car with unrestricted fuel flow and other things…
        – Duh! Of course they could. They haven’t though. Porsche could build a Formula 1 car. Hey, Audi could build a Formula 1 car too. Formula 1 cars could have 4 litre, 2000bhp engines if FIA only chose to, so what? We are talking about the real world, not potentialities.

        If a guy who is twice your size and strength assaults you and beats you up, will you reject that outcome claiming that it doesn’t count because you’re not in the same weight class??
        The Porsche Evo and F1 are not part of some artificial, organized competition. They are part of the REAL WORLD competition.

        the record should be made with the restrictions each organization set on the cars
        – LOL no? A record is a record. That’s as silly as saying that the 100m sprinting world record should be only allowed if the runner is the average height and weight. That’s nonsense.

        1. I would love to see F1 fail to beat Porsche’s Spa record!

          youre expecting that a restricted f1 fail in front of a unrestricted car, dont you see the big fail in your logic??, world records are about minutes and seconds, yea, but when someone set a world record, the other person that try to beat it will prepare the best machine possible, but you would love to see the restricted f1 fail vs the porsche LOL

          If a guy who is twice your size and strength assaults you and beats you up, will you reject that outcome claiming that it doesn’t count because you’re not in the same weight class?

          this is competition, not a bar fight, why you mix assault with weight class.. ? you see how flawed is your logic? if you talk about weight class youre talking about competition, you dont see heavy weight fighting the feather weight, when a boxer is in a higher weight and want to compete against other weight division, the boxer will have to enter the same weight category the other guy is… then you will see who’s better, porsche came with an unrestricted car then you should wait for f1 to do the same, otherwise is just nonsense to expect the f1 to attempt the same

          – LOL no? A record is a record. That’s as silly as saying that the 100m sprinting world record should be only allowed if the runner is the average height and weight. That’s nonsense.

          i have never seen midget attempting to break usain bolt records, only see guys with similar weight and height.

    2. @damon @cswilly @j3d89

      Porsche’s record is unofficial. It was simply a tech demo based on copied F1 technology anyway.

  2. Is Lance going to Stroll in a Force India this weekend?

  3. Last year this is the track Vettel side to side failed to overtake Hamilton on harder tyre right? Will Ferrari overturn the fortune this year? Or the extra 40hp is just overhyped?

  4. How big is Ferrari’s engine advantage? – Difficult to judge.

    Will F1 reclaim the record? – In ideal weather conditions, yes, of course.

    From the ”Force India back from the brink” section: Most importantly, will it aid their fight to beat Haas and Renault to fourth in the drivers’ championship? – No, I doubt it.

    Driver market moves: Interesting developments on this front during the break. A couple of less predictable ones.

    Regarding Next year’s schedule: I wouldn’t be surprised if the release of the first ‘provisional’ race calendar for next season is still going to get delayed once again.

  5. I wanna see Kubica this weekend! Surely williams have nothing to lose and can give him a shot.

  6. It seems there will be rain so the record might remain.

  7. Will F1 beat Porsche’s Spa record? Who cares? This is not an apples-to-apples comparison. Porsche set up one car to run flat out for the sole purpose of beating the record while the F1 cars will be in race trim, and under FIA rules for the entire weekend. If you gave Ferrari or Mercedes free reign I have no doubt they could set up a car, remove the fuel flow restrictions, low downforce trim, and ultra-soft tires on a clear track in good weather and they would smash that record.
    That said, given that Porsche broke the record by .8sec and that F1 has been breaking track records at 1 sec + over this season, barring rain, I would say that, yes F1 will likely break that record.
    If the record had been broken during a WEC race weekend, by an LMP1 under FIA regs, that would be something significant. Porsche’s Spa lap record is about as significant as breaking the Nordschleife record in a purpose-built car. Interesting, and very cool, but it doesn’t speak to the “superiority” of one series over another in terms of racing.

    1. Its not apples to oranges.
      F1 often claims they have the fastest cars in the world around a track and rightly so. If any car whatever the type or formula beats them around a track its a big thing.

      1. You’re missing the point: the Porsche that broke the record is NOT part of any formula.

        1. You are missing the point. The Porsche is a car.

  8. Lando Norris is getting a run out in practice, yes?

  9. Hey @keithcollantine, you’ve mentioned a couple of times that Ricciardo’s move was a bombshell.

    Was the paddock that convinced he was going to stay at RBR or had there been a solid indication that he was?

    I had thought all along that Renault was definitely a strong possibility (given their aspirations since rejoining F1) but recall an article (from RaceFans I think) where it was suggested that they weren’t prepared to meet his pay requirements. Was there an indication to the paddock/press that Renault wasn’t interested in securing his service or did it just come as a shock that a top tier driver was prepared to take a risk with them?

  10. Interesting that many people revelled in ‘Top teams not wanting Alonso’ ands yet they didn’t want Riccairdo either. So we all know what Hamilton and Vettel’s contracts say. Shame.

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