Back to school for F1 at Spa after mid-season break
Formula One roars back into action this weekend after its summer break. Spa Francorchamps is the venue for the Belgian Grand Prix. Tucked away in the rolling and wooded countryside of the Ardennes, Spa is one of the most beautiful and demanding of Grand Prix circuits. Steeped in history, this is one of the favourite and fastest races for the Formula One teams with the race taking place on a track that in parts is used on a daily basis by road traffic. The original circuit was laid-out entirely on Belgian "A" Roads but the modern, shorter, version uses a combination of both racetrack and daily-used roads.
The Championship’s last round in Budapest delivered a fantastic spectacle with Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo snatching victory at the end of a dramatic race. Lewis Hamilton salvaged some much need championship points by coming from last to third with title rival and team mate Nico Rosberg in fourth. Rosberg leads Hamilton by 11 points going in to Sunday's race.
All to play for at the front of the grid with Hamilton and Rosberg locked in combat; Red Bull improving with Williams looking very good and Ferrari and McLaren all looking for improvement to take them to the front.
Plenty to play for down the grid as well with announcements on driver changes such as Alex Rossi in at Marussia (albeit briefly as he started the weekend only for the paddock to learn that regular driver Max Chilton would be back in by Friday afternoon) for the weekend; Le Mans winner Andre Lotterer replacing Kamui Kobayashi at Caterham and Toro Rosso announcing that Jos Verstappen's son Max will become the youngest F1 driver with the news that he will be driving for the team in 2015.
Spa's geographical location means that it is one circuit where the sport can see all four seasons in one day and this will ensure an exciting weekend of racing and viewing. Always a big crowd at Spa with the circuit located at the crossroads of Europe. On the basis of previous Belgian Grands Prix, they will be in for a good weekend’s entertainment.
Qualifying: Rosberg ahead of Hamilton in a wet Spa Qualifying
Rain and hail made it an interesting, yet one-, contest at Spa this afternoon with the two Mercedes drivers in a league of their own in atrocious conditions. The conditions are not that unusual for Spa; the name of the town from which the circuit derives its name is proof alone of the weather conditions and the amount of rain that the region enjoys.
Rosberg made the best of the conditions as Hamilton endured a scrappy session that resulted in brake problems. Rosberg was just over two hundredths of a second faster at the finish. Sebastian Vettel did a great job given the fact that he only completed a handful of laps throughout Friday due to an engine problem. He will start third ahead of Fernando Alonso’s Ferrari and the Red Bull of his team-mate Daniel Ricciardo.
Valtteri Bottas brought his Williams home in sixth with Kevin Magnussen in the first of the McLarens was seventh. Jenson Button will start in tenth with Kimi Raikkonen and Felipe Massa between him and his Danish team-mate.
Conditions at Spa are always tricky added to which the demands of the longest track on the F1 circuit at over 7 kms and the rapidly changing weather conditions will make this a fascinating race. As the season enters the second half and the long journey to the final round in Abu Dhabi in November, the scene could not be better set for an enthralling title battle between Rosberg and Hamilton.
Ricciardo wins as Rosberg is subjected to boos from the crowd as he ends Hamilton’s race on lap two in Spa
Daniel Ricciardo scored his third career victory and his third of the season to win the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa Francorchamps this afternoon. In doing so he completed the 50th win for the Red Bull team in a race that was marred by an accident on the second lap between Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg. Hamilton made the better start from second on the grid and lead the race only for Rosberg to try and outbreak the Englishman and then muscle his way past Lewis half way through the second lap. Rosberg caught the rear end of Hamilton’s car, breaking his wing and puncturing the leader’s tyre.
The incident will be talked about for some time and will only add to the acrimony that exists between the two drivers. Team boss Niki Lauda immediately apportioned blame to Rosberg saying that it was “unacceptable” behaviour by a professional driver at the start of a race.
The outcome was a second place finish for Rosberg, who chased Ricciardo down in the closing laps, and another failure to finish for Hamilton who now sees the eleven-point gap prior to the race increased to 29. Hamilton has it all to do and many in the business voice the fact that one more failure from Lewis and the championship is all but over.
Ricciardo will celebrate another impressive performance while Valtteri Bottas ensured yet another podium finish for Williams with third. Kimi Raikkonen out-performed his Spanish team mate Fernando Alonso to finish fourth for Ferrari ahead of Sebastian Vettel, Kevin Magnussen, Jenson Button and Fernando Alonso.
Ramifications then for Mercedes as they try and “manage” two of the best in the business and a thought provoking series of boos from the crowd for Rosberg as he mounted the podium.
The next and thirteenth round of the championship is the Italian Grand Prix at the famous Monza circuit to the north of Milan on September 7th. Yallabahrain will bring you the race preview as well as results along with images from the lens men at Sutton-Images.