Title momentum up for grabs in high-stakes Italian Grand Prix

GP AUSTRIA F1/2016 – SPIELBERG (AUSTRIA) 03/07/2016
© FOTO STUDIO COLOMBO PER PIRELLI MEDIA (© COPYRIGHT FREE)

Nico Rosberg may have put an end to Lewis Hamilton’s four-race win streak with a lights-to-flag victory in last weekend’s Belgian Grand Prix, but his teammate’s recovery from the back of the grid to third prevented the German from retaking the lead in the championship.

That makes this weekend’s Italian Grand Prix a must-win event for Rosberg. Having lost out to Hamilton at favourite tracks like Monaco, Austria and Hockenheim, Rosberg needs to strike back at his teammate’s own hunting grounds if he is to keep his title challenge alive.

With traditional Hamilton tracks like Suzuka and Circuit of the Americas dominating the latter half of the season, it’s imperative that Rosberg builds on the momentum of Spa to take back control of the championship – just as he did at the start of the season.

“It’s great to add another classic circuit like Spa to the list of wins,” Rosberg said. “Hopefully that puts us on a good curve as we head to another legendary track in Monza.

“Last year obviously didn’t end so well for me there, so I’m hoping for a bit more luck and a little less fire this time… I can’t wait to make our Silver Arrow fly at Monza.”

But if Rosberg is heading to Monza emboldened by his performance in Belgium, so too will Lewis Hamilton, who also has the added psychological benefit of three recent Italian Grand Prix victories to his name.

“I had a perfect weekend there last year,” Hamilton said of his most recent Monza win. “Standing on that amazing podium, looking out over a sea of fans on the straight, has to be up there as one of the most incredible experiences a sportsman can have.

“It’s game on for me with the penalties out of the way and fresh engines ready to use. I can’t wait to get back out there.”

Spa, a chaotic restart

GP BELGIO F1/2016 – SPA FRANCORCHAMPS (BELGIO) – 27/8/2016
© FOTO STUDIO COLOMBO PER PIRELLI MEDIA (© COPYRIGHT FREE)

Formula 1 re-started after the summer break and everyone was hoping to watch an exciting race in Belgium. The spa is one of my favourite circuits and it didn’t let me down. From the first lap until the last one there were many battles, some of them forced collisions between the drivers some others were some easy overtakes from the faster drivers to the slower ones.

Rosberg took the pole position in Saturday’s qualification session, whilst his team-mate received a grid position penalty and started the race from the last row.

Max Verstappen started the race from the second position, followed by Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel, while his team-mate Daniel Ricciardo qualified fifth.

Lights out..

GP BELGIO F1/2016 – SPA FRANCORCHAMPS (BELGIO) – 28/8/2016
© FOTO STUDIO COLOMBO PER PIRELLI MEDIA (© COPYRIGHT FREE)

Lights out and the race starts, Rosberg has a good and clean start, but behind the two Ferraris collided with each other and Kimi Raikkonen damaged Max Verstappen’s front wing. Sebastian Vettel took the outside on the first corner, but he was very close to Kimi Raikkonen who didn’t have any space to turn because Max Verstappen dived in the corner from the grass and trapped Kimi Raikkonen between him and Sebastian Vettel.

Max Verstappen pitted and replaced his damaged front wing, with a fresh one, whilst both Ferraris lost places. Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton started from the last row of the grid and they moved up to fourth and fifth place respectively. Both drivers started the race on the mediums, which allowed them to do a longer stint with the same set of tyres.

Shocking accident..

GP BELGIO F1/2016 – SPA FRANCORCHAMPS (BELGIO) – 28/8/2016
© FOTO STUDIO COLOMBO PER PIRELLI MEDIA (© COPYRIGHT FREE)

On the eighth lap, Kevin Magnussen lost the control of his Renault, at the final part of the famous Eau Rouge, and crashed into the tyre wall. His Renault was destroyed, but Magnussen walked out of the car and he was transferred to the medical centre. Kevin Magnussen said on twitter that he went home with an ankle injury, but he will be fine for the Italian Grand Prix. The race was red-flagged after two laps were all the drivers were behind the Safety Car.

Re-start..

GP BELGIO F1/2016 – SPA FRANCORCHAMPS (BELGIO) – 28/8/2016
© FOTO STUDIO COLOMBO PER PIRELLI MEDIA (© COPYRIGHT FREE)

At the re-start, Daniel Ricciardo tried to remain close to the Nico Rosberg, but the German was unmistakable during the race and managed to increase the gap with the Australian. Lewis Hamilton passed Fernando Alonso and on lap 18 and managed to pass Nico Hulkenberg and moved up to the third position. A few laps later, Mercedes called into the pits the Brit champion and switched his tyres with a fresher set, this move gave an advantage to Hamilton over Ricciardo for the second position.

On lap 32, Lewis Hamilton made his final pit-stop, but he couldn’t catch and pass Daniel Ricciardo. Fernando Alonso, with his Honda-powered car, wasn’t able to defence his position from Perez and Vettel, hence he dropped seventh ahead of the two Williams and Kimi Raikkonen.

The Finn suffered a puncture after the collision with Verstappen and Vettel, and during his pit-stop fires created at the body of his Ferrari.

Kimi Raikkonen was frustrated and angry with Max Verstappen, mainly because of Max’s defensive moves when Kimi tried to pass him on the straight.

The Finn said: “If I had not braked, we would have had a massive accident. It will happen sooner or later if this doesn’t change. I am fine with good, hard racing but that is not correct.”

Next race will take place in Monza, where the Tifosi will cheer for the favourite team.

Victor Archakis @FP_Passion

Red Bull, Belgian Grand Prix Review

GP BELGIO F1/2016 – SPA FRANCORCHAMPS (BELGIO) – 28/8/2016
© FOTO STUDIO COLOMBO PER PIRELLI MEDIA (© COPYRIGHT FREE)

Red Bull continued their strong foundations built during the first half of the season as Daniel Ricciardo separated the Mercedes pair.

The Australian gained 18 points for his team as the Milton Keynes team extended their lead over Ferrari in the Constructors’ Championship.

“For the team to be coming away from Spa still second in the Constructors’ Championship, and having extended our lead over Ferrari, is more than we could have envisaged,” said Team Principal Christian Horner.

Max Verstappen ended in up in 11th place as he had a collision with Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen at the first corner:

“I didn’t start as well as I wanted but I got up the inside for the first corner then got squeezed by the two Ferraris.

“In the contact my front wing and the floor got destroyed so then the car was very difficult to drive and the race was gone. Still, I tried my best to come back especially for all the people who were cheering me on in the stands, but unfortunately I didn’t get in the points,” declared the pensive teenager.

Ricciardo showed his growing confidence behind the Red Bull as he has transcended last years’ points tally: “An impressive performance by Daniel today; a great disciplined drive, looking after his tyres and making an effective two-stop strategy work. To finish second, at the type of venue that we weren’t expecting to be our strongest, is an amazing result.

Magnussen Crash Overshadows Renault’s Belgian Grand Prix

After their best ever qualifying, Renault were hopeful of a double points finish at Spa, but a high speed crash involving their popular Danish driver, Kevin Magnussen overshadowed race day and left the team in a race to rebuild his car before Monza.

“Good start”

Both drivers got off to a good start, with an in form Jolyon Palmer fighting his way into 7th place followed by Magnussen in 8th. However the good form was not to last too long as Magnussen bottomed out at the exit of Eau Rouge and suffered a crash that caused his headrest to fly off. The crash, which had many worrying for the safety of the driver, brought out a safety car and eventually a red flag to repair the damaged barrier. Magnussen, meanwhile, limped to the medical car and had been taken to hospital by the time to restart took place.

KEVIN MAGNUSSEN – DNF

It is common cause that the Danish driver was lucky to suffer just cut to his ankle after the high G impact at the exit of one of F1’s most spectacular corners. The image of his displaced headrest will raise concerns regarding the safety aspect of the open cockpit vs covered yet again, which of course, is likely to be the last thing on Magnussen’s mind as he looks to be fit to race at Monza.

JOLYON PALMER- Started 13th Finished 15th

The British driver has been somewhat of a tour de force recently and the initial stages of Sunday afternoon saw him continue the form. However tyre degradation in the high temperatures saw him lose grip and he slipped back down the field.

“We had our best qualifying here. Both cars had a great start and ran in the top ten for a while. We could have had a strong race but the safety car pulled a lot of people back into play. It’s a shame not to get better results in the end but this weekend has been better than we expected overall. I saw Kevin crash in my rear mirrors. It’s not nice to see because it’s a really, really fast part of the track. I’m glad he’s ok.”

Renault will look to the high speeds of Monza to maximise the full package that has seemingly found its sweet spot in the last few races. The concern is the fitness of Magnussen and the question of the car which looked to have suffered total damage in the crash. If Renault are able to tap into the right downforce balance, they are likely to be in with the bigger teams in race day.

Rhea Morar @RheaMorar

Sauber Shift Focus To Monza After a Belgian Blowout

The nature of back to back races often leave teams with very little time to fix the issues arising from the previous weekend. The Sauber F1 team are hopeful to overcome the issues that hindered the start of the second season at Spa Francorchamps before they head off to the “Cathedral of Speed” Monza.

“A disappointing start”

The team admitted that the race was disappointing, more especially given the upgrades, with just one of the cars finishing the race. Felipe Nasr had a blistering start running in 11th place until he had to pit with a puncture and other race limiting damage.

Marcus Ericsson however had a frustrating weekend after much promise in free practice. The Swedish driver started in pit lane due to cooling system issues and after initially catching the field, he had to retire with gearbox issues.

DRIVERS RACE REVIEW AND MONZA PREVIEW

Marcus Ericsson – Started in Pits, DNF

“It was a tough day. When I went out to the starting grid we identified issues with the cooling system, so we had to make some adjustments. This meant that I had to start the race from the pit lane. It was a good first lap, I was able to catch the group ahead, but then suddenly I lost sixth gear on lap three. That was the end of my race; I had to retire”

Looking to Monza, Ericsson acknowledges that the high speed nature of the fabled Italian track will cause the team to search for the perfect balance in respect of downforce, which would enable them to maximise the straight line speed needed at Monza.

Ericsson is looking to regain lost ground and a track like Monza, at which he had happy hunting in the past, may suit him perfectly.

Felipe Nasr – Finished P17

“A disappointing race. I had a good start and was able to make up some positions running temporarily in P11. Because of a lot of debris on track, I got a rear left tyre puncture, which was very unfortunate. I had to pit early, which compromised the whole race. The floor,as well as the diffusor, was also damaged by the debris. That surely had an influence on the lap times. Now we need to shift our focus onto the upcoming race weekend in Monza.”

The Brazilian driver has fond memories of Monza, given that he lived near-by when he first moved to Italy. He knows the track well, and given his resurgent form, he may cause a few headaches for those around him. Nasr has been an unfortunate victim of other driver incidents and is looking to have a clean start to make the most of the aero package.

Monza presents the need for the lowest possible downforce package, given the top speeds that are expected to be reached. Sauber have already identified the brake and traction areas are the priorities for the Italian race. Come Sunday, only points will do for the team that needs it right now.

Rhea Morar @RheaMorar

McLaren Belgian GP review

McLaren came away from a difficult weekend in Belgium with plenty of reasons to be positive. After a real struggle for Fernando on Friday and Saturday he shown what the car could do from the back of the field. The race started of in such a mess, incidents up and down the field. Sadly Jenson got hit in the rear which caused to much damage for him to carry on. Then the red flag moment. I just want to say how much of a relief it was to see K-Mag step out of that crash. After the red flag stoppage Fernando found himself in 4th place. He was always going to struggle to keep Lewis Hamilton behind him and the very fast Force Indias, but what he did in the final segment of the race was very impressive. For what must have seemed like an age, Fernando has both Williams and Kimi behind in, running very close to the back of him. But in true Fernando style he wasn’t going down without a fight and boy did he deliver. He managed to hold those three off and claim a brilliant 7th place. Spa was marked as a track McLaren would struggle at and to come away with points is a huge boost for the whole team.

FERNANDO ALONSO, MP4-31-04

Started: 22nd
Finished: 7th
Fastest Lap: 1m54.484 on lap 54 (+2.901s, 15th)
Pitstops: One: lap 24 (2.36s) [Prime-BackUp]

“It was an exciting race to drive and I had a good feeling throughout.

“We had good pace this weekend; we did better than expected on this track; we were in the top 10 with Jenson yesterday in qualifying; and we’ve scored points today.

“Believe me: a few months ago that would have been unthinkable on a circuit like this. That’s progress – real progress.

“And, after all the bad luck we’ve had so far this weekend, we finally got some good luck today. We started last, but we managed to keep away from all the incidents, gain some positions thanks to the Safety Car and then a couple more because of the red flag.

“We then put on fresh tyres and found ourselves in fourth place – and, better still, we had the pace to manage the situation afterwards.

“Okay, we couldn’t hold back Lewis [Hamilton], Checo [Perez] or Seb [Vettel], because they were just too fast, but we had enough pace to keep Valtteri [Bottas] behind all the way to the flag.

“Finally, it’s great news that we overtook Toro Rosso in the Constructors’ World Championship – I think we can be regularly in the points from now on.

“So, to sum up, this weekend we saw evidence of very good progress from the team; we’re moving in the right direction, that’s for sure.”

JENSON BUTTON, MP4-31-03

Started: 9th
Finished: DNF – retired on lap 1
Fastest Lap: –
Pitstops: None

“We looked really good for points today, so it’s disappointing that we didn’t score any, but it happens. I’ve been around long enough to know these things happen.

“I had a really good start – I got ahead of a Williams, pulled in front of a Red Bull and drew alongside a Force India. But then I lost a lot of places at La Source and ran wide. I rejoined the track, but Pascal [Wehrlein] made contact with me at Turn Five, damaging the rear of my car. There was a lot of damage and we were unable to complete the race.

“After such a short race, there’s not much more to say!”

@AlanSabatino

Mercedes steals double podium amidst Spa mayhem

GP BELGIO F1/2016 – SPA FRANCORCHAMPS (BELGIO) – 28/8/2016
© FOTO STUDIO COLOMBO PER PIRELLI MEDIA (© COPYRIGHT FREE)

Mercedes steals double podium amidst Spa mayhem

Mercedes will leave the Belgian Grand Prix feeling no small amount of relief, as Nico Rosberg cruised serenely to his first victory around the Spa circuit and Lewis Hamilton benefited from the chaos ahead to overcome a 60-place grid penalty and finish third.

Even without Hamilton starting from the back, the team had been bracing themselves for a difficult race – the unusually high track temperatures had been compromising Mercedes’ tyre strategy all weekend, and on Saturday in particular Red Bull and Ferrari appeared much closer than expected.

But in the end, the Belgian Grand Prix proved to be an utterly imperious display from Rosberg. Making a clean start from pole, any immediate threat from behind vanished when Verstappen and the two Ferraris barrelled into each other at La Source, and by the end of lap one Rosberg had already opened a gap of four seconds over Hülkenberg and Ricciardo.

Ricciardo eventually managed to pass the Force India for second but by then had already lost too much time to challenge for the lead, and Rosberg took the chequered flag with fourteen seconds in hand over the Red Bull.

“It wasn’t an easy weekend for us,” Rosberg reflected. “We had to work a lot on the setup – but in the race it was perfect. Our car was really great today, so thank you to the team for all their hard work in getting it spot on.”

Hamilton’s race was also made much easier by the bedlam at La Source. Arriving late on the scene because of his grid penalty, the Briton managed to weave his way through the carnage and emerge in twelfth place.

But Hamilton’s biggest break came when the race was red-flagged on lap ten after Magnussen’s horrifying crash at Raidillon.

Although many drivers dove into the pits during the preceding safety car, Mercedes kept Hamilton on track in anticipation of a full neutralisation and therefore gained a free pit stop over most of the field.

With that, Hamilton restarted the race in a legitimate fifth place, which he upgraded to third by lap 18 after straightforward moves on Alonso and Hülkenberg.

“If you’d offered me third coming into this race with all the penalties I definitely would have taken it,” Hamilton said. “The most difficult part of the race was the mental approach…in terms of whether I risked it all at the start or hung back and tried to pick my way through. Then all this commotion happened and I’m grateful I could capitalise on that.”

Like Rosberg, Hamilton also paid tribute to the wider Mercedes team this weekend, praising the “exceptional job” done by his mechanics in changing so many parts on his car, and hailing the pit wall’s tyre strategy as “the right call”.

Hamilton now leads Rosberg by just nine points in the championship heading into next weekend’s Italian Grand Prix – an event he has won three times in the past four years.

James Matthews @James16Matthews

It’s Back to Work time! Haas F1 Team Belgian GP Preview

Hockenheim, Germany.
Sunday 31 July 2016.
World Copyright: Glenn Dunbar/LAT Photographic
ref: Digital Image _V2I7307

It’s back to work time after the three week summer break for the Haas F1 Team and the rest of the Formula 1 teams.

It couldn’t come soon enough for fans

The season resumes this weekend at the greatest natural terrain road course on this planet, Spa-Francorchamps.

Haas F1 Team have accomplished much in their maiden season in Formula 1, with Romain Grosjean scoring points in 4 races, and Esteban Gutiérrez knocking on the points door with for P11 finishes.

Grosjeans’s points total of 28 have him in the 12th position in the driver’s championship and the team in eighth position in constructors championship, 14 points behind McLaren Honda in seventh and 22 points up on Renault in ninth.

No one would argue that the team have exceeded the expectations of a rookie team, build from the ground up.

But the season is just over half complete and with 9 races remaining, Haas F1 Team still have much to accomplish.

Gutiérrez scoring his first points in the Haas Ferrari powered VF-16 is top on the list and a double points weekend would be a almost an unthinkable occurrence at the start of the year.

On to Belgium. Spa is known for its reputation of being a driver’s track, thanks in large part to the signature Eau Rouge and Raidillon corners, which create a fast and sweeping uphill, left-right-left combination that drivers view with reverence and attack with gusto.

The 19-turn circuit is a favorite of Haas F1 Team drivers Romain Grosjean and Esteban Gutiérrez. Before securing his most recent podium when he finished third in last year’s Belgian Grand Prix, Grosjean clinched the 2011 GP2 Series title at the venerable track. And Gutiérrez, with two Formula One starts at Spa, has enjoyed some fine drives in the wet when he visited the circuit during his junior career in GP2 and GP3.

It’s usually said that “It’s either raining at Spa or it is about to” so a wet track is common, but it’s also common for other portions to be completely dry, as its vast layout means late-summer showers can drench some parts of the track while leaving others untouched. Slicks obviously won’t work in the wet, and intermediate tires and full wet tires obviously won’t work in bone-dry conditions. It’s a conundrum that has often greeted drivers at the Belgian Grand Prix. Preliminary weather forecasts are calling for beautiful warm, sunny weather all weekend. We will see.

Guenther Steiner – Team Principal
How do you prepare for the unpredictability of the weather at Spa, as one part of the course can be clear and dry while another portion can be wet and slippery?
“You can prepare for the race by getting the team’s times down for when you need to change the tires. Otherwise, I think the driver’s experience comes into play here – what to do and when to do it. It all comes down to the driver and what they want to do next.”

How helpful is it to now have clear instruction as to what can be said on the radio and when during a race weekend?
“It’s nice to know that you can’t get fined now for something you didn’t have intentions of doing. Before it wasn’t clear on what was right or wrong to say, so it was difficult to obey the rule. Now we can say what we need to say. If somebody goes back now and listens to the instructions that were given to the drivers, they realize it wasn’t something said to make them go faster but rather solving the problem at hand. It allows us to get a read from the drivers now on the tires and other information that becomes useful to help us perform better. I don’t think it makes racing any less interesting by telling them something. For me, I don’t think there is a gain or loss, but it makes it easier for the team since now the information can be more clear.”

Fuel management played a role at the German Grand Prix, as the Hockenheimring saw drivers at full throttle for two-thirds of every lap. But Spa is 1.5 kilometers (.932 of a mile) longer than the Hockenheimring and drivers are on the throttle just as much. How much does fuel management play into your strategy at Spa?
“Fuel management is about the same, and it’s very important because the car needs the right time to lift off. Now with the radio communication, it is helpful because the engineer can give advice rather than in the past when the driver would ask and the engineer could not answer.”

Spa has high-speed straights and corners combined with a tight and twisting section, especially between turns eight and 15. How do you set up the car to tackle all the different aspects of the track? Do you have to make sacrifices in one section to gain an edge in other sections?
“Like in Hockenheim, we play between levels. It comes between using a low downforce and high topping speed at a low track or using the downforce in the twisty section and losing a little bit of speed in the fast sections.”

Romain Grosjean – Driver #8
How do you prepare for the unpredictability of the weather at Spa, as one part of the course can be clear and dry while another portion can be wet and slippery?
“Basically, you don’t. It’s something that’s out of your control. You don’t really worry about it. When it comes to qualifying or race day, yes, you have to make decisions, but it’s never black or white at Spa.”

Spa has been called a driver’s track. Why?
“It’s just a great track. There are very high-speed corners and there are a lot of turns, different types, some high speed, some low – just a good variety overall. It gives you a good feeling to drive.”

Spa has high-speed straights and corners combined with a tight and twisting section, especially between turns eight and 15. How do you set up your car to tackle all the different aspects of the track? Do you have to make sacrifices in one section to gain an edge in other sections?
“You always see different approaches at Spa. Either you’re fast in sector one and sector three, which are the high-speed sectors, or you’re fast in sector two, which has more of the corners. Both work pretty well, so it’s a matter of how you want to approach the race.”

Can you describe the sensation you feel inside the car when you drive through Eau Rouge and Raidillon? Are you able to take that section flat out?
“The first lap you go through flat out, you feel sick, like you’re on a rollercoaster because it goes up and down. You’re thinking, will I make that for the race? But, once you’ve done it once, it’s all ok and you just enjoy the g-forces.”

How important is it to enter Eau Rouge in clean air to ensure you have the maximum amount of downforce available?
“It’s certainly a corner where you don’t want to have a mistake. Qualifying in clean air is certainly quite good. On the other hand, if you get a big tow, you can have a massive advantage going into turn five. There’s a bit of an argument for both philosophies there.”

Esteban Gutiérrez – Driver #21
How do you prepare for the unpredictability of the weather at Spa, as one part of the course can be clear and dry while another portion can be wet and slippery?
“I think you need to make quick decisions throughout the weekend, especially during the race as it’s a way to gain an advantage. Making a wrong decision can be very detrimental, but that’s what’s special about Spa. It’s a very long track and it can sometimes only rain on one part of the track, on one or two corners, and if you’re on slicks you just need to deal with it. Ultimately, you only want to come in for full wets if it’s raining throughout. You really have to be ready and open minded during the weekend.”

Spa has been called a driver’s track. Why?
“It’s a track that has a lot of corners, as well as being a very long track where you can gain a lot of time if you do everything properly and if you’re consistent throughout the lap. This also depends on how much downforce you have on the car as the circuit has a lot of high-speed and fluid corners, which are important factors.”

Spa has high-speed straights and corners combined with a tight and twisting section, especially between turns eight and 15. How do you set up your car to tackle all the different aspects of the track? Do you have to make sacrifices in one section to gain an edge in other sections?
“It’s a track where you have to compromise a lot because you don’t want to lose too much speed on the straight and you don’t want to lose too much downforce in the corners. It’s important to have an efficient car to find the best compromise between aero and the mechanical set up.”

Can you describe the sensation you feel inside the car when you drive through Eau Rouge and Raidillon? Are you able to take that section flat out?
“Those two corners are usually flat out. It’s an amazing feeling approaching Eau Rouge. It goes up and you can feel the compression at the beginning of the corner and as the car is moving though the corner. As you go uphill, sometimes the car is jumping on the curb at high speed. It’s amazing. It’s difficult to describe it because you have to experience it.”

How important is it to enter Eau Rouge in clean air to ensure you have the maximum amount of downforce available?
“Even in the race sometimes you have to be flat out if you are running behind someone you want to overtake. It’s a corner you don’t require much downforce to make it flat out. Usually, we reduce the downforce at Spa because of the long straights and you want to have the least drag possible in those areas. It’s a compromise of how much downforce you set. Even with a low configuration of downforce, Eau Rouge becomes quite challenging, but usually very nice if you can take it flat out.”

Pirelli is bringing three tire compounds to Belgium:

  • P Zero White medium – less grip, less wear (used for long-race stints)
  • P Zero Yellow soft – more grip, medium wear (used for shorter-race stints and initial portion of qualifying)
  • P Zero Red supersoft – highest amount of grip, highest amount of wear (used for qualifying and select race situations)

Pirelli provides each driver 13 sets of dry tires for the race weekend. Of those 13 sets, drivers and their teams can choose the specifications of 10 of those sets from the three compounds Pirelli selected. The remaining three sets are defined by Pirelli – two mandatory tire specifications for the race (one set of P Zero White mediums and one set of P Zero Yellow softs) and one mandatory specification for Q3 (one set of P Zero Red supersofts).

Haas F1 Team’s drivers have selected the following amounts:

  • Grosjean: two sets of P Zero White mediums, four sets of P Zero Yellow softs and seven sets of P Zero Red supersofts
  • Gutiérrez: one set of P Zero White mediums, five sets of P Zero Yellow softs and seven sets of P Zero Red supersofts

All images courtesy of Haas F1 Media

Eric Barnes @ebarnes442

Sauber Springboard Into Spa

The word Spa, to an F1 fan at least, is almost the equivalent to a candle lit dinner under the moonlight/a drive in a supercar. In short the mere mention of the word triggers unparalleled emotions in most fans, none more so than the F1 teams themselves.

The Sauber F1 team, fresh from a spirit lifting new ownership transition, head to the track with the hope of scoring their first points in what has been a difficult, if not career building, 2016 season.

RACE PREVIEW

Spa, at 7.004km long per lap, is the longest track on the calendar which brings with it the reciprocal power and aerodynamic demands.

Sauber have identified the these areas along with braking stability as the key performance areas that they hope Marcus Ericsson and Felipe Nasr will exploit come race day.

Both drivers will no doubt be buoyed by the news of a new aero package and their new head of track engineering, Xevi Pujolar, who has previously worked with Max Verstappen. The new package has been a long time coming and I thought to have put both drivers in a far more advantageous position at a track that they both rate very highly.

MARCUS ERICSSON

The Swede is looking to recapture the momentum that saw him fight his way into the drivers of the day rankings at a track which should suit his aggressive wheel to wheel style of racing. Ericsson remembers the top 10 finish last year fondly & will look at boost his team battle chances in Belgium:

“the track at Spa is quite long with some interesting corners and passages – Eau Rouge, Blanchimont, Pouhon and so on. Engine power is the crucial factor.”

FELIPE NASR

Nasr has been a regular at the Olympic games being held in his native Brazil, which has seemingly served to motivate him heading into the second half of the year. He loves Spa and has a through understanding of the nuances of the circuit, which we suspect may give him the edge he needs:

“Spa-Francorchamps is the opener of the second part of the season – and my favourite circuit on the calendar. The track is unique, having a lot of high-speed corners and a great corner combination. As a driver you get a nice flow going – up and down – through these corner combinations. From the technical side, the combination of low downforce and traction is essential to be competitive.”

It might be asking too much too soon to expect a points finish immediately at Spa for the Swiss team. That being said, F1 is a sport that throws up more spanners than a backyard mechanical shop. The realistic expectation is for both drivers to at least get into Q2 and fight closer to the top 10 which should lay down a marker for the back to back trip to Monza.

Rhea Morar @RheaMorar

Belgian Grand Prix Ferrari Preview

GP UNGHERIA F1/2016 – BUDAPEST (UNGHERIA) 24/07/2016
© FOTO STUDIO COLOMBO PER PIRELLI MEDIA (© COPYRIGHT FREE)

Ferrari go into the Belgian Grand Prix at the magnificent Spa-Francorchamps facing a much bigger fight for second place in the Constructors’ Championship than they imagined.

A mixture of bad luck and poor strategy has cost Sebastian Vettel the Drivers’ Championship title tilt that many predicted, as the multiple retirements and unnecessary pitstops see the German four-time World Champion languish down in fifth place.

If ever there was a circuit for Ferrari, Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen to start improving their fortunes then Spa is the place.

From the mid-noughties, the circuit almost became Raikkonen’s playground as he took victory in 2004, 2005, 2007 and 2009 for both McLaren and Ferrari to take four wins in five stagings of the event.

Vettel too has success in the Ardennes Forest, with two wins in 2011 and 2013 as he enjoyed dominance on a broader scale in F1.

Ferrari themselves have won 16 times in Belgium, both at Spa and at Zolder, although their last Belgian victory came courtesy of Raikkonen in 2009.

This season has at best been unkind to the Scarlet squad. Strategic woes set in from the off as Ferrari converted an almost certain win for Vettel into third place as they pitted him from the lead, before engine failure in Bahrain and a collision with Daniil Kvyat in Russia.

A gearbox penalty put him out of position in Monaco, while a tyre failure saw him take a trip to the wall in Austria, while at Canada he was called into the pits early from the lead and the subsequent two-stopper didn’t work. Since then, it’s been an inconsistent season as Red Bull have overhauled the Prancing Horse.

Mercedes have been allowed to romp away with both Championships as a result of their own consistency coupled with the inconsistency of their opposition, while Ferrari have also been hit by Technical Director James Allison’s departure from the team for personal reasons.

So, will Raikkonen continue his love affair with the Spa-Francorchamps circuit to silence those that feel he doesn’t deserve a seat at Ferrari next year? Can Vettel begin to right the wrongs of 2016 thus far? And will Ferrari give them a car to challenge the Red Bulls and Mercedes?