Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Spa-Francorchamps, 2013

More rain to keep drivers guessing at Spa

2013 Belgian Grand Prix pre-race analysisPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Spa-Francorchamps, 2013A couple of showers made for an exciting qualifying hour for the Belgian Grand Prix. And Spa looks set to serve up more of the same in tomorrow’s race.

Light rain is forecast in the morning which is expected to get heavier in the middle of the day – just in time to coincide with the race.

The start

Rain before the start of the race may mean it has to be started behind the Safety Car. However Spa’s new drainage channels on the start/finish straight, which cut across the first 11 places on the grid, may help reduce spray and increase the chances of a standing start.

How they might affect the quality of starts the drivers get is not clear. They did not seem to have much of a bearing on the starts in the GP2 and GP3 races held after qualifying.

Spa is one of the trickiest starts of the year, with a fairly short run leading into the tight La Source hairpin. It’s a magnet for accidents and last year saw an especially dramatic one caused by Romain Grosjean when he lurched across from the left-hand-side of the grid to the right. Grosjean starts on the same row this year but on the opposite side, and hopefully has learned his lesson after last year’s antics earned him a one-race ban.

Spa’s long straights means getting out of La Source is no guarantee of staying ahead. Pole sitter Lewis Hamilton will be alert to the threat of the Red Bulls which are very quick in the first sector and could pounce on him on the blast to Les Combes.

On the third row of the grid are two drivers who arguably punched above their weight in qualifying – Paul di Resta and Jenson Button. It will be key for the Lotus and Ferrari drivers behind them to clear these two early in the race

Strategy

Fernando Alonso, Ferrari, Spa-Francorchamps, 2013Because the top ten drivers qualified on wet weather tyres everyone will have a free choice of what tyre they can start the race on. In dry conditions, Pirelli expect teams to make one or two pit stops.

But it seems likely rain will dominate the tyre choice and make for an unpredictable race.

Rain would suit some teams more than others. As Kimi Raikkonen noted, Lotus haven’t been particularly strong in the rain: “When it was dry in the second qualifying session we were fastest, so if it?s dry tomorrow we should be okay for the race.”

Ferrari seem to have made a step forward and were quick in today’s dry running. Although they only qualified on the fifth row, Fernando Alonso believes they have potential: “I feel reasonably confident for the race,” he said.

“Of course, we must make up a lot of places, but at least we have the knowledge that we have closed the gap to the favourites and that we can be competitive in the dry.”

Here’s all the data from qualifying for the Belgian Grand Prix:

Qualifying times in full

Driver Car Q1 Q2 (vs Q1) Q3 (vs Q2)
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 2’00.368 1’49.067 (-11.301) 2’01.012 (+11.945)
2 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 2’01.863 1’48.646 (-13.217) 2’01.200 (+12.554)
3 Mark Webber Red Bull 2’01.597 1’48.641 (-12.956) 2’01.325 (+12.684)
4 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 2’01.099 1’48.552 (-12.547) 2’02.251 (+13.699)
5 Paul di Resta Force India 2’02.338 1’48.925 (-13.413) 2’02.332 (+13.407)
6 Jenson Button McLaren 2’01.301 1’48.641 (-12.660) 2’03.075 (+14.434)
7 Romain Grosjean Lotus 2’02.476 1’48.649 (-13.827) 2’03.081 (+14.432)
8 Kimi Raikkonen Lotus 2’01.151 1’48.296 (-12.855) 2’03.390 (+15.094)
9 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 2’00.190 1’48.309 (-11.881) 2’03.482 (+15.173)
10 Felipe Massa Ferrari 2’01.462 1’49.020 (-12.442) 2’04.059 (+15.039)
11 Nico Hulkenberg Sauber 2’01.712 1’49.088 (-12.624)
12 Adrian Sutil Force India 2’02.749 1’49.103 (-13.646)
13 Sergio Perez McLaren 2’02.425 1’49.304 (-13.121)
14 Giedo van der Garde Caterham 2’00.564 1’52.036 (-8.528)
15 Jules Bianchi Marussia 2’02.110 1’52.563 (-9.547)
16 Max Chilton Marussia 2’02.948 1’52.762 (-10.186)
17 Pastor Maldonado Williams 2’03.072
18 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso 2’03.300
19 Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso 2’03.317
20 Valtteri Bottas Williams 2’03.432
21 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber 2’04.324
22 Charles Pic Caterham 2’07.384

Sector times

Driver Sector 1 Sector 2 Sector 3
Lewis Hamilton 32.034 (11) 47.387 (10) 29.646 (7)
Sebastian Vettel 31.779 (3) 47.257 (7) 29.431 (4)
Mark Webber 31.820 (6) 47.174 (6) 29.647 (8)
Nico Rosberg 32.019 (10) 46.946 (3) 29.587 (5)
Paul di Resta 31.788 (4) 47.823 (12) 29.314 (1)
Jenson Button 31.815 (5) 47.169 (5) 29.657 (9)
Romain Grosjean 32.104 (12) 46.903 (2) 29.642 (6)
Kimi Raikkonen 31.914 (7) 46.661 (1) 29.721 (12)
Fernando Alonso 31.773 (2) 47.138 (4) 29.398 (3)
Felipe Massa 32.017 (9) 47.286 (8) 29.717 (11)
Nico Hulkenberg 32.002 (8) 47.377 (9) 29.664 (10)
Adrian Sutil 31.743 (1) 48.023 (13) 29.337 (2)
Sergio Perez 32.114 (13) 47.443 (11) 29.747 (13)
Giedo van der Garde 32.465 (14) 49.438 (14) 30.133 (14)
Jules Bianchi 32.757 (16) 49.461 (15) 30.345 (15)
Max Chilton 32.656 (15) 49.720 (16) 30.359 (16)
Pastor Maldonado 34.296 (19) 55.901 (20) 32.875 (19)
Jean-Eric Vergne 34.501 (21) 55.811 (18) 32.775 (18)
Daniel Ricciardo 34.411 (20) 55.522 (17) 32.653 (17)
Valtteri Bottas 34.273 (18) 55.878 (19) 33.195 (21)
Esteban Gutierrez 34.010 (17) 56.841 (21) 32.976 (20)
Charles Pic 34.629 (22) 58.309 (22) 34.446 (22)

Speed trap

Pos Driver Car Speed (kph/mph) Gap
1 Mark Webber Red Bull 302.7 (188.1)
2 Paul di Resta Force India 302.7 (188.1) -0.0
3 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 299.5 (186.1) -3.2
4 Adrian Sutil Force India 297.1 (184.6) -5.6
5 Nico Hulkenberg Sauber 294.9 (183.2) -7.8
6 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 294.6 (183.1) -8.1
7 Jenson Button McLaren 294.5 (183.0) -8.2
8 Kimi Raikkonen Lotus 294.5 (183.0) -8.2
9 Giedo van der Garde Caterham 293.0 (182.1) -9.7
10 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 293.0 (182.1) -9.7
11 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber 291.7 (181.3) -11.0
12 Felipe Massa Ferrari 291.5 (181.1) -11.2
13 Sergio Perez McLaren 291.1 (180.9) -11.6
14 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 291.1 (180.9) -11.6
15 Romain Grosjean Lotus 290.9 (180.8) -11.8
16 Max Chilton Marussia 289.4 (179.8) -13.3
17 Jules Bianchi Marussia 288.3 (179.1) -14.4
18 Pastor Maldonado Williams 286.8 (178.2) -15.9
19 Valtteri Bottas Williams 285.7 (177.5) -17.0
20 Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso 278.0 (172.7) -24.7
21 Charles Pic Caterham 273.4 (169.9) -29.3
22 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso 270.7 (168.2) -32.0

Over to you

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Images ?? Daimler/Hoch Zwei, Ferrari/Ercole Colombo