Kimi Raikkonen to win four in a row at Spa? (2008 Belgian Grand Prix preview)

Posted on | Author Keith Collantine

Kimi Raikkonen is eyeing a fourth consecutive F1 win at Spa-Francorchamps
Kimi Raikkonen is eyeing a fourth consecutive F1 win at Spa-Francorchamps

Kimi Raikkonen hasn’t lost a Grand Prix at Spa-Francorchamps since 2002. If he wins this year, he’ll match the achievements of Ayrton Senna and Jim Clark in winning four times in a row at Spa in F1.

But he also hasn’t won a race since the Spanish Grand Prix in April.

One of those streaks has to come to an end in this weekend’s Belgian Grand Prix. Which one will it be?

Some drivers seem to have an affinity for particular tracks. Felipe Massa has won at Istanbul for the last three years in a row. Lewis Hamilton has raced at Monaco five times (in F1 and other categories) and scored four wins and a second place. Timo Glock scored F1 points on his debut at Montreal in 2004, almost won the Champ Car race there in 2005, and was fourth for Toyota at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve this year.

If Kimi Raikkonen has a form track, it has to be Spa-Francorchamps.

His win at the track in 2004 may have lacked the style of his celebrated 17th-to-first stormer at Suzuka in 2005, but in some ways it was even more impressive.

Michael Schumacher destroyed the opposition in with his F2004 that year. Going into the Belgian Grand Prix he had won 12 of the last 13 rounds, while McLaren had struggled with their uncompetitive MP4/19.

But with a much more potent B-version of the car at his disposal at Spa, Raikkonen scored a surprise win from tenth on the grid, Schumacher having started second. It was not the way Schumacher expected to wrap up his seventh title.

Raikkonen won again in 2005 in mixed conditions, partly thanks to team mate Juan Pablo Montoya making way, and dominated last year’s race for Ferrari as well (the Belgian Grand Prix wasn’t on the calendar in 2006).

Can he do the same this year? It largely depends on where he qualifies. He trails Felipe Massa by four to eight in qualifying this year and has admitted to having problems getting the most out of his tyres on a single lap.

The other threat to his Spa winning streak is Bridgestone’s choice of tyres for this round. Ferrari have made it clear they are unhappy with Bridgestone’s decision to use the hard and medium compounds at this year’s race, having brought medium and soft in 2007.

The last variable is the weather. Ferrari have performed better in hotter weather this year, but Spa often sees mixed weather and a lot of rain. Conditions like this have played into McLaren’s hands this year.

Do you think Kimi Raikkonen will win a fourth consecutive Belgian Grand Prix.

68 comments on “Kimi Raikkonen to win four in a row at Spa? (2008 Belgian Grand Prix preview)”

  1. got a feeling it’ll either be hamilton or massa… hopefully more massa than hamilton :D

  2. I’d rather it be Hamilton then Massa, but i think Kimi could take it because Spa is an overtaking circuit.
    If he doesn’t take it then he will probablly help Massa in the last part of the season

  3. best case scenario: Hamilton wins, McLaren 1-2
    most likely case: Kimi wins, Hamilton second.
    Which will actually be also quite good because Hamilton will extend his lead and will leave Massa and Kimi scrambling for #2 ;-)

  4. Spa will probably tell us more about Kimi’s morale than any other race this year.

    He loves this place: it’s his kind of circuit, fast, challenging, daring you to take it to the limit.

    He’s better than Massa is, and we all know it. If Massa beats him here anyway, that would probably mean Kimi really has lost interest.

  5. MarathonMan801
    1st September 2008, 8:54

    With any luck, September will continue as August and the race will be run in conditions ranging from damp to soggy.
    In which case Hamilton will win, Kubica second, Heiki third, Raikonnen fourth and Massa in eighth place.
    Making it up as I go along? Of course I am.

  6. Terry Fabulous
    1st September 2008, 8:58

    No. Kimi has won a world title and clearly isn’t that fussed about winning a second. He has the talent but not the drive (sic).

    Having said that he may win by 30 seconds and sit in the press conference looking disinterested blathering on about his tyres being in.

  7. Kimi leading a ferrari 1-2.

    Kubika 3rd.. Hamilton 4th..

  8. me thinks your right terry fabulous, his hero is James Hunt who also became disinterested after winning his title.

  9. Who is Kubika? Never heard of…

    Anyway, i agree that this race will be “to be or not to be” for Kimi. If he won’t win he may forget about 2008 season.

  10. I for one, hope it doesnt rain because mclaren have something similar to traction control for wet races which is why they are so good in them atm. As for the race, Ferrari 1-2, I hope Massa wins because I want him to take the title this year but I would still be pleased if it was Kimi. Kubica third, Hamilton fourth whining about how his neck is still bad.

  11. Going to bet my money on Raikkonen win.
    See you on Monday morning.

  12. Its Hammer time
    1st September 2008, 11:51

    I predict rain, trills and spills. Hamilton , Raikkonen, Massa & Kubica will be scuppered by safety car after Coultard & Button scuffle at la source. My podium is Heidfeld, Alonso, Vettel.

  13. Spa is always soggy (can’t remember what it was last year, though).

    If Kimi does not win at Spa, then I think he’ll support Massa the way Massa supported him at Brazil last year.

  14. I hope Raikkonen does win at Spa because it’s his sort of circuit and it would keep him in the championship. (Just about)

  15. Alastair, it was as dull as it was dry. And it was very dry. Perhaps that’s why you don’t remember it.

    Sush, this is horrible news! Can’t they keep their hands off the circuit layout? They keep changing it nowadays!

    Also, will this mean Spa will be dropped from the 2009 calendar to make these changes?

  16. Kimi might win, but then he might not. I’ll keep my mouth shut until I look at the results on F1 Fanatic on Monday morning.

    On another note – Sush, post 14 –
    If the shortening-of-Spa rumour is true, then I will brand the designers heretics! It is sacrilege to cut off the fast approach to Blanchimont! SACRILEGE, I tell you!

  17. i concur number16 +17
    DON’T TOUCH THE CIRCUITS, HERETICS.

    and by branding do you mean with a red hot poker?

    I mean what the hell are they thinking? next thing you’ll know they’ll make rubbish atempts at shortening the Nordschielfe!?

    oh wait.

  18. If they cut off Blanchimont I’m ready for a sit-in of protesting.
    Destroying Hockenheim, keeping off Silverstone and Imola, “chicaning” Barcelona…isn’t that enough?

  19. Why do they always feel the need to ruin every good circuit, next they will make ‘changes’ to Eau Rouge, claiming it is too dangerous or some crap like that. I’m all for the protesting David!

  20. The shorter the track the more laps they run, the more car passages the audience see, the higher number of tickets they sell. Not the tell about circuit maintenance cost. All because of money.
    At Nordshleife they saw cars just 12 times passing through…

  21. They can’t change it. Bernie is losing it, getting rid of Silverstone and now cutting up Spa. The audience usually has a monitor to view the rest of the lap anyways!

    Kimi will win.

  22. The weather forecast is predicting a rainy race weekend in Spa this year:

    http://www.f1fanatic.co.uk/forum/topic.php?id=111

  23. This is the last chance for Kimi. If he doesn’t win here, he will not win this year’s championship.

    I don’t remember him ever being under so much pressure.
    2003-he had a bad car
    2005-he had an unreliable car
    2007-he was far too back to be even seriously considered at this point last year.
    2008-more pressure than any other year before.

    But, he will do it, I think..

  24. what makes them think that changing one of the last classic tracks is going to make it more interesting for fans? my head is spinning. and since it does rain a bit at spa isn’t it sort of stupid to lay track that close to trees? i mean, that is one of the complaints about hockenheim- the trees down the back straight kept the water on the track making wet conditions worse.

    no doubt they’re planning on putting a nasty little chicane in there where they connect because we all know how exciting f1 fans think chicanes are.

    anyway-go kimi. i’d like to see him take spa.

  25. apparently spa isn’t changing after all:

    http://uk.eurosport.yahoo.com/01092008/13/spa-official-denies-layout-change.html

    who thinks that ferrari will put kimi on the lighter fuel load this weekend? i kinda think it would be his best chance to win.

    if he has yet another race stuck behind alonso (or anyone else who can defend well in a slower car) his head will just drop and he can’t show the race pace that’s obviously still there. somewhere.

    if massa is on the lighter fuel load again, then my hunch is that kimi has been dropped into the support role.

  26. I’m really rooting for Kimi this time as he usually shines at this venue, plus he really needs another win….Badly!! Either way, I’m very much hoping for a Ferrari 1-2 (regardless of who is number 1 and who is number 2), or in the very least a Ferrari 1-3. I fear that if Ferrari don’t stamp their feet at Spa, then the championships (both WDC and WCC)will inexorably be beyond their grasp. They NEED to win at THEIR tracks in the very least and then do the best that they can in the others. Especially considering there’s still another unknown circuit to go. If they can’t win at THEIR tracks, then it will not bode well for them at all…

  27. Bad weather for Ferrari and Kimi needing to race his wheels off to stay in the championship…

    Looks like it’s going to be a good race!

    I don’t know why Kimi keeps opting for a long first stint. I guess it’s because he doesn’t want to qualify behind Massa on a similar fuel load. This way he can always say he was heavier.

    This reliance on race speed is crippling him because he keeps getting caught behind slower cars and not being able to use the extra laps. He has to step up and challenge Massa and Lewis on Saturday, or he must support Massa, who is obviously better on Saturday. With the cars and tracks as they are, overtaking is nigh impossible. Quali is everything and if he can’t match Massa in Quali, then he needs to give the little guy a hand in getting the WDC.

  28. I am really interested to see how Massa performs in the wet after Silverstone, I find it hard to beleive he is really that bad and have to think somehow the setup worked heavily against him. He’s been on a major charge recently so he will certainly be firing on all cylinders. We’ll see if he’s got the stuff for a wet race.

    This is make or break for Raikkonen, if he has a bad race I see the chances of him retiring this year greatly increasing.

    I can see Hamilton playing it conservative again, and who can blame him. He has learned from last year to score rather than race hard for the win. When I see people predicting he will fly off the track each race I wonder if they are watching the same season as me.

    All the pieces are in place for plenty of action this weekend. Let’s hope it lives up to the promise!

  29. Firstly greetings everyone, Im a new blogger to this site though i blog on The Uk’s Guardian Unlimited quite alot. Anyway im looking forward to this weekends race hugely, partly because im going and of course mostly because its the worlds best circuit- Montreal runs it close for me and Suzuka but jeez, theyre not 3 hours drive from Dover. Its the only time i wish for a dry hot race — so campings more fun. yes im from the Schumacher school of selfishness. Also Bernie the richest dwarf in the west should think carefully. F1 needs Spa as much as Spa needs f1. We are a commited audience, Asia is just having a look to see what the fuss is about, it may lose interest.

    Also, is not the problem with Kimi that he is quick but no racer – the oft sighted “race craft” is missing. Hamilton has more memorable moves in 1 season than KImi in 9. Massa is learning the craft of the overtake and Alonso is a stock car street hussler but Kimi is a pits over taker and maybe he knows it.

  30. excuse me? Kimi has had many racing moments. Massa has never passed for the lead other than off the line from 2nd.

    In anycase, hopefully at the latest test Ferrari has made the car suit Kimi’s style better. For some reason they made it more towards massa, I guess since he was always spinning off the track…but in the process of changing the car to help Massa stay on the course, they have screwed up Kimi’s setup.

  31. I really can’t agreed with that!
    Reading what il Capo, Ferrari’s vice president PIERO FERRARI has said in 2008 pre season, it reveals another thing:

    “…”He will have a car that better suits his driving style, because I think that was the problem at one time last year: his style did not suit the F2007 and viceversa…”

    (http://www.autosport.com/news/report.php/id/64529)

  32. I think that in Spa Kimi has chance to prove that He is still there. He has problems still with QF, but his race pace has always been good if he has not stucked behind slower car on a track where passing is impossible. In Spa passing is possible so if he can get to place 3-4 in QF, he still got the chance.

    But I still can´t realize why he just cant have/take lighter car…why why why…

    If he again lose points against Massa, supporter role calls him loud…and that´s new situation for him. I wonder would Kimi do like Barrichello did with Schumacher past years? Give win to team mate barely always when got chance to win…can he swallow his pride?? Hamilton would not, thats for sure…

  33. @ Dorian: I think you might be right about the WDC, but it’s unlikely Ferrari will lose the WCC, because Kovalainen’s not scoring enough points at the moment…

  34. Daniel: Haiki not scoring enough points at the moment? He has outscored Kimi and Massa as the total of the past 5 races.
    Since Magny-Course

    Hamilton : 32 points
    Kovalainen: 28 points
    Massa : 26 points
    Kimi : 22 points

    Haiki might have been weak at the beginning of the season but he has since been scoring descent points. It might be at the expense of Ferrari’s short comings bu its still points that count substantially.

    I got a question about Quali at Spa. Since the track is so long, will it be easier for the guys with tyre problems to get some heat in them before the flying lap? If so we should see Kimi on top of his game and possibly even Heidfeld closer to Kubica.

  35. bernification
    2nd September 2008, 2:41

    I think this weekend is going to be between Hamilton and Massa.
    The possiblity of lower temperatures, Bridgestones tyre choice and Kimi struggling to get his tyres up to temperature quick enough weigh against him heavily, but hell, I would love to see him live up to his WDC (which previously he deserved, but last year fell into, due to Mclaren bad calls and Hammys inexperience).
    If there is anywhere that a driver can make the difference it is here, and maybe that will be enough motivation for Kimi to stay off the Vodka long enough!

    I would love to see some of the overtaking moves put out by his fellow countryman- by anyone!

    Please Santa, for Christmas, can you give me overtaking in F1?

  36. Becken. That was pre-season and then they’ve changed it to Massa’s style because he couldn’t keep the car on the road and Schumacher wants his protege to win.

  37. bernification
    2nd September 2008, 2:45

    PS. But not like in NASCAR- I don’t know, or care, who is leading!

    And some cool shades like the ones I lost in Germany- I’ve been very good this year!

  38. Post 23 Becken – Spa on the rain :) a great race in prospect..
    Well Hamilton did that great race on Sylverstone and Kubica also did an amazing race at Monaco,both on rain, and on both those races ferraris weren’t that good.
    Anyway i wish Kimi wins, he has been one of my favourite drivers since the mercedes days

  39. Polak – Very interesting theory about the tyres! It could even make up for the difference between the Ferrari’s and McLaren’s qualifying pace (on harder tyres) in general.

  40. In Qualifing in Spa Kimi will probablly have the temperature in his tyres becuase it a 7km lap and his always saying he cant get the temperature in one lap, this is basiclly a lap and half on any other track.

  41. Polak – very good observation.

    In fact, if you see some of the earlier qualifying sessions, Drivers do 4 laps on the same set of tyres instead of the customary 3-laps. Usually, the second time is quicker than 1st due to the excess heat.

    At Spa, we will mostly see the regular 3-lap stints and yes, Kimi and Heidfeld should do better now :)

  42. With Kimi loving to drive this track , and as said above , the longer lap should help him in quali. , he has a very good chance and I think he will win . The only two things that could spoil it for him is the weather (McLaren have the advantage of TC or a device that works even better) , and if Massa is close second behind , Ferrari may decide to give it to Massa. That said , if Massa can beat Kimi at Spa from the start on , I think that will cement Massa’s position as No. 1 at least for this year , so in a way , this is a make or break race for Kimi , which should give him maximum motivation.

  43. Must have missed something. Why do people think McLaren now have traction control? Obviously this is impossible, but I am interested to hear how people think they have managed to hoodwink the FIA to gain unfair advantage.

    Kimi needs to win. Would love to see it, although it would mean Ferrari still wouldn’t know who to back – which of course, can only help Hamilton’s WDC chances. Hamilton will be fast as usual, but at this stage, will be looking for points above all else.

  44. theres alot of kimi fans and i understand that; his inverted charisma and almost loner style is in stark contrast to the gushing schumacher or the eager to please hamilton. and i dont doubt hes quick but theres not that many classic overtakes to remember, hes a clear track bully to borrow a cricketing phrase or put it another way he s a rabbit killer. i think we need to constantly reappraise drivers and look for their achiles heel, they all have one. i think kimi’s is overtaking but im willing to be called wrong if theres back up rather than just “hes great, how dare you”

  45. salty- they have a mechanical lever in the cabin that the driver can use to limit power to one or t’other of the driven wheels therby reducing the chances of spin on the unloaded wheel. at least thats my understanding

  46. And this extra bit of control of the traction is nothing to do with traction control?

    Ferrari should ask the FIA if they can have it, too ;)

  47. Ah – you guys are refering to the engine mapping paddles on the McLaren. ALL the cars have engine mapping controls in the cockpit. All McLaren did was move the switches for this onto paddles next to the gear shift – smart move once the drivers get used to it. This is most definately not traction control. Engine mapping changes are allowed by regs and are used by all teams.

  48. most teams already do, its how the driver is interacting with that which could provide the clue to why heikke is so far off hamiltons pace and kimi off massa’s. pure speculation of course.

  49. McLaren should be immediately banned for having a device similar to traction control for wet races. It’s called the lewishamilton or something like this…

  50. Just been looking at the 5 day forecast for Spa on weather.co.uk. My guess is what would normally be a Ferrari weekend could well play in to the hands of McLaren this weekend. Highs of 18’c harder tyres. Unless the reds made a lot of progress in Italy last week, I can’t see their tyres getting warm enough to give one lap performance.

  51. my understanding is that they exploit the rule allowing multiple engine maps to be used. The McLaren, and possibly others, has extra paddles on the steering wheel allowing Lewis, and possibly Heiki, to quickly choose a different engine map that would lower the output of the engine. If they carefully set this for key corners during practice it would allow the car to go full throttle without the worry of traction loss. At worse it would give the driver a throttle pedal that is much more manageable during the corner.

    I wish Kimi well in the race as I would like to see him compete for WDC, but on the other hand he is only a few points a head of Kubica and it would be amazing if Kubica placed in top 3 WDC!!

  52. RUI {post 39}

    I´m just can’t wait to see how Ferrari will cope with the unpredictable. Everybody has noticed that they´re need sun and hot weather to perform on his better shape and bring us some of that boring races they use to do…

    I think Mclaren and Lewis seem to be are more flexible when they are in unpredictable conditions so they are favourite to win at Spa…

  53. POLAK,

    “…The McLaren, and possibly others…” In what this word OTHERS mean, you can include FERRARI on this team!

  54. i say its a massa/ham win….

  55. good knowledge polak. if thats true then it should be fairly easy to outlaw. personally id ban engine management full stop. back to gear changes, heal and towing and backmarkers who can stay online. remember coulthard taking 38 laps to pass a minardi or something. itd certainly separate the men from the boys.

  56. No. Massa’s first win is better!!! In wet conditions to shut up the criticism.

  57. If it rains, Lewis is my pick. If not, it’s between Kimi and Massa. And indeed, it’s coming down to make or break time for Kimi- if he dosen’t win this weekend, or at least finish ahead of both Hamilton and Massa, then he’s going to be relegated to supoorting Felipe the rest of the way.

  58. bernification
    3rd September 2008, 0:03

    As previously posted, the system that McLaren use on their steering wheels is used by all teams, just the means of activating it are different.
    Schumacher could be seen using it as far back as 2000/1, as well as having a means of balancing his brake bias on the steering wheel(but if you have 2 pedals, that’s illegal, right).

    As long as the system is ‘open loop’ and has no negative feedback to detect wheelspin and limit it, it is not, and can not be called traction control.

    I reckon that as Hamilton is so used to playstation type consoles, he has had some feedback of his own into making the mapping actuation similar to using games console controllers.

    I still think Bridgestones tyre choice will hurt Ferrari, unless the weather picks up. I fear Kimi might find he’s relagated to back up after the weekend.

  59. Antony : ” and i dont doubt hes quick but theres not that many classic overtakes to remember”

    I do not know what races u have been watching in last years. Its Hamilton and Massa who have been lack of take over, not Kimi. Massa has changed a little bit and i am happy for that. Hamilton is good in start but if he can not take over in start he have had problem during race.

  60. Keith,

    JPM didn’t “make way” for Raikkonen at Spa in 2005. JPM pitted, and Raikkonen set fast laps during the pit cycle to take the lead, including this one:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LXj1TZIPnYU

  61. snoopy . eh? you dont remember hamilton doing kimi at montreal last year? or racing through and taking massa and then piquet 2 races ago. i could go on. if its all the same with you, i’ll take Lauda, rosberg and Moss’s opinion over yours and they all rate him as the best “racer” in F1. case closed.

  62. case has just opened. A highly promising one but to say that its closed is being immature.

  63. seeing kimi’s track record in spa one would definitely want to believe that he would be a certain contender for winning the upcoming race. but seeing his current form i have serious doubts, his form in the monza testing didnt say much.

  64. hamilton didn’t pass Kimi at montreal, he passed Kimi at Monza. Kimi’s neck was half broken and everytime he braked his head went down.

  65. Suzuka 2005; Kimi overtook a fair few men that day, Including Fisi on the last lap for the lead!

    Next year we will really see who is the king of overtaking, I can’t wait!

  66. Spa is a track that is just plain made for Kimi Raikkonen. It’s as if the track designer also encoded Raikkonen’s DNA when he laid out Eau Ridge.

    He’ll make it a Four-Peat this weekend. The track just suits him too well.

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