Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Spa-Francorchamps, 2014

Eau Rouge is a corner once more

2014 Belgian Grand Prix Friday practice analysisPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Spa-Francorchamps, 2014At one of the fastest and most dramatic circuits on the Formula One calendar, the new generation of F1 cars are for once close to the levels of performance seen last year.

Lewis Hamilton topped the second practice session with a best time of 1’49.189 – two-tenths of a second quicker than the top time seen on Friday last year.

The high power output of the new turbocharged engines and the diminished effect of reduced downforce levels at the track goes some way to explaining why the current cars look quicker here. But the most significant reason is likely to be that Pirelli have brought a softer range of tyres – the soft and medium, rather than the medium and hard seen last year.

Remember that in Bahrain, the only other track this year where the ‘option’ tyre was a softer compound than that which was used in 2013, the current cars were also much closer to last year’s pace.

Although the lap times may be similar, the way they are achieving it has changed. In particular the approach to one of the circuit’s most famous corners has changed. The plunge and crest through Eau Rouge and Raidillon is no longer the ‘easy flat in all conditions’ affair it had become during the V8 era.

“With our low-downforce set-up, it’s, er, interesting,” said Jenson Button, who was quickest of all through the first sector which includes the famous corner.

“You’ve got oversteer at more than 300kph, and I admit I let out a few screams inside my crash helmet through there on a couple of laps, especially on high fuel.”

McLaren had the fourth-quickest car on Friday, but were a second and a half off the flying Mercedes, most of which they are losing in the middle part of the lap. “In the first sector we’re quickest, in the third sector we’re a tenth or so off the pace, but in the middle sector we’re almost a second down,” said Button.

“So we’ll have to work on getting the balance a bit better, and hopefully we can improve in the areas we’re already strong in, too.”

“On the [soft] tyre, I’m very happy; on the [medium], Kevin is happier than I am, so we’ve got to work out the reasons for that this evening.,” he added.

Ferrari have often begun Fridays in 2014 close to Mercedes then dropped back as the weekend progresses. Despite ending Friday as ‘best of the rest’, Fernando Alonso still doubts it will be a successful race for them.

“At this track and at Monza, engine performance counts for a lot,” he said. “We know there is no magic solution but we will nevertheless try to optimise everything. The car behaved as we expected from our simulations and that is definitely something positive.”

Longest stint comparison – second practice

This chart shows all the drivers’ lap times (in seconds) during their longest unbroken stint:

http://www.f1fanatic.co.uk/charts/2014drivercolours.csv

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13
Sebastian Vettel
Daniel Ricciardo 114.511 114.774 115.247 115.302 115.686 119.293 115.334
Lewis Hamilton 114.85 116.011 114.555 116.169 114.428 114.795 115.449 114.528 115.62 115.761
Nico Rosberg 114.592 114.728 114.262 115.206 114.474 115.152 117.7 115.731 124.693 115.942 116.242
Fernando Alonso 116.377 115.022 115.945 116.123 115.399
Kimi Raikkonen 112.234 112.77 113.702
Romain Grosjean 120.831 116.59 117.244 116.243 116.119 116.294 117.497
Pastor Maldonado
Jenson Button 115.99 116.391 116.952 116.119 116.458 116.146 116.166 116.033
Kevin Magnussen 116.234 115.877 116.657 116.368 116.945 116.467 118.056 117.757 117.941
Nico Hulkenberg 117.376 116.885 117.13 117.313 116.825 116.961 117.37 118.325 117.717 117.007 116.913 116.665
Sergio Perez 115.778 115.364 116.853 116.782 117.716 116.388 116.192 116.34 116.922
Adrian Sutil 118.463 117.225 117.341 117.115 116.856 116.753 117.333 117.136 117.784 118.465
Esteban Gutierrez 114.979 119.384 114.131 121.743 113.955
Jean-Eric Vergne 115.932 115.391 115.618 115.885 116.556 116.185 119.038 116.38 115.894 115.702 116.193 116.094 116.632
Daniil Kvyat 116.486 117.62 116.704 117.152 116.687 116.55 117.099 117.222
Felipe Massa 114.326 115.289 117.101 114.889 115.281 115.166 116.469 117.191 123.494 116.831
Valtteri Bottas 117.12 116.607 116.227 116.014 116.041 115.994 115.839 116.513 116.709 116.75
Jules Bianchi 112.776 128.566 112.811
Max Chilton 114.04 119.792
Marcus Ericsson 117.956 118.293 118.539 119.277 118.555 118.06 118.507
Andre Lotterer 120.195 119.153 118.69 118.719 118.857 118.748 119.38 119.649

Sector times and ultimate lap times – second practice

Pos No. Driver Car S1 S2 S3 Ultimate Gap Deficit to best
1 44 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 31.171 (2) 48.728 (1) 29.290 (1) 1’49.189 0.000
2 6 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 31.206 (3) 49.173 (4) 29.414 (2) 1’49.793 0.604 0.000
3 14 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 31.489 (7) 48.845 (2) 29.489 (4) 1’49.823 0.634 0.107
4 19 Felipe Massa Williams-Mercedes 31.220 (4) 49.526 (6) 29.581 (7) 1’50.327 1.138 0.000
5 22 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 31.161 (1) 49.828 (10) 29.670 (8) 1’50.659 1.470 0.000
6 77 Valtteri Bottas Williams-Mercedes 31.599 (10) 49.582 (7) 29.496 (5) 1’50.677 1.488 0.000
7 26 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso-Renault 31.879 (13) 49.162 (3) 29.684 (9) 1’50.725 1.536 0.000
8 3 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull-Renault 31.561 (9) 49.936 (12) 29.432 (3) 1’50.929 1.740 0.048
9 20 Kevin Magnussen McLaren-Mercedes 31.499 (8) 49.753 (9) 29.722 (11) 1’50.974 1.785 0.100
10 27 Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes 31.287 (5) 50.149 (14) 29.577 (6) 1’51.013 1.824 0.064
11 25 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso-Renault 31.858 (12) 49.586 (8) 29.939 (13) 1’51.383 2.194 0.000
12 99 Adrian Sutil Sauber-Ferrari 31.721 (11) 50.011 (13) 29.692 (10) 1’51.424 2.235 0.026
13 11 Sergio Perez Force India-Mercedes 31.433 (6) 50.267 (15) 29.771 (12) 1’51.471 2.282 0.102
14 7 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 32.131 (18) 49.500 (5) 29.942 (14) 1’51.573 2.384 0.661
15 8 Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 31.898 (14) 49.899 (11) 30.207 (18) 1’52.004 2.815 0.192
16 17 Jules Bianchi Marussia-Ferrari 31.952 (16) 50.456 (16) 30.020 (15) 1’52.428 3.239 0.348
17 21 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber-Ferrari 31.949 (15) 51.599 (18) 30.137 (17) 1’53.685 4.496 0.270
18 45 Andre Lotterer Caterham-Renault 32.249 (21) 51.670 (20) 30.108 (16) 1’54.027 4.838 0.066
19 4 Max Chilton Marussia-Ferrari 32.230 (20) 51.429 (17) 30.381 (20) 1’54.040 4.851 0.000
20 9 Marcus Ericsson Caterham-Renault 32.083 (17) 51.646 (19) 30.321 (19) 1’54.050 4.861 0.000
21 13 Pastor Maldonado Lotus-Renault 32.211 (19) 55.251 (21) 30.980 (21) 1’58.442 9.253

Speed trap – second practice

# Driver Car Engine Max speed (kph) Gap
1 3 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull Renault 309.7
2 22 Jenson Button McLaren Mercedes 309 0.7
3 44 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes Mercedes 308.6 1.1
4 19 Felipe Massa Williams Mercedes 308.5 1.2
5 77 Valtteri Bottas Williams Mercedes 306.9 2.8
6 6 Nico Rosberg Mercedes Mercedes 306.6 3.1
7 8 Romain Grosjean Lotus Renault 306.4 3.3
8 20 Kevin Magnussen McLaren Mercedes 305.5 4.2
9 27 Nico Hulkenberg Force India Mercedes 305.3 4.4
10 14 Fernando Alonso Ferrari Ferrari 302.7 7
11 11 Sergio Perez Force India Mercedes 302.6 7.1
12 26 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso Renault 301 8.7
13 25 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso Renault 300.7 9
14 17 Jules Bianchi Marussia Ferrari 299.8 9.9
15 13 Pastor Maldonado Lotus Renault 298.8 10.9
16 21 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber Ferrari 298.5 11.2
17 4 Max Chilton Marussia Ferrari 297.5 12.2
18 7 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari Ferrari 297.1 12.6
19 99 Adrian Sutil Sauber Ferrari 294.4 15.3
20 9 Marcus Ericsson Caterham Renault 293.9 15.8
21 45 Andre Lotterer Caterham Renault 289.2 20.5

Complete practice times

Pos Driver Car FP1 FP2 Total laps
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1’51.674 1’49.189 50
2 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1’51.577 1’49.793 53
3 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1’51.805 1’49.930 35
4 Felipe Massa Williams-Mercedes 1’53.968 1’50.327 44
5 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1’52.404 1’50.659 52
6 Valtteri Bottas Williams-Mercedes 1’53.172 1’50.677 46
7 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso-Renault 1’53.594 1’50.725 46
8 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull-Renault 1’52.972 1’50.977 35
9 Kevin Magnussen McLaren-Mercedes 1’52.922 1’51.074 54
10 Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes 1’52.937 1’51.077 48
11 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso-Renault 1’54.189 1’51.383 46
12 Adrian Sutil Sauber-Ferrari 1’53.703 1’51.450 43
13 Sergio Perez Force India-Mercedes 1’52.903 1’51.573 52
14 Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1’53.597 1’52.196 45
15 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1’52.818 1’52.234 35
16 Jules Bianchi Marussia-Ferrari 1’55.782 1’52.776 42
17 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1’53.369 11
18 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber-Ferrari 1’53.955 7
19 Max Chilton Marussia-Ferrari 1’54.040 18
20 Marcus Ericsson Caterham-Renault 1’57.977 1’54.050 54
21 Andre Lotterer Caterham-Renault 1’57.886 1’54.093 48
22 Giedo van der Garde Sauber-Ferrari 1’54.335 16
23 Pastor Maldonado Lotus-Renault 1’55.336 23
24 Alexander Rossi Marussia-Ferrari 1’57.232 20

2014 Belgian Grand Prix

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Image © Daimler/Hoch Zwei