Tag Archives: Belgian GP

Sebastian Vettel dominates Belgian Grand Prix

Sebastian Vettel has won the Belgian Grand Prix, showing that Mercedes’ apparent comeback may not be as smooth sailing as previously anticipated.

The Red Bull driver passed pole sitter Lewis Hamilton on the first lap, and was completely untouchable for the rest of the afternoon. Hamilton clearly struggled with the pace of his car, and gradually slipped away, finishing in 3rd place.

Fernando Alonso made an emphatic start as usual, jumping up from 9th to 5th on the first lap. After disposing of Mark Webber and Nico Rosberg, he later dived down the inside of Hamilton at La Source, but was unable to put any pressure on Sebastian.

Behind the top 3, Hamilton’s and Vettel’s teammates did duel for the entire race. Mark Webber hounded Nico Rosberg since the first set of pit stops, but a lack of straight line speed and outright pace kept the Aussie in 5th place. Rosberg began to catch Lewis in the closing stages, but never got close enough to make a move.

Jenson Button did his usual strategy of using prime tyres to briefly jump up the order, before being forced to revert to a 2-stopper, and took  6th. Felipe Massa passed Romain Grosjean in the later stages of the race, while Adrian Sutil and Daniel Riccardo took the final points-scoring positions.

Sutil previously survived an incident with Pastor Maldonado, which resulted in Paul di Resta being taken out of the way. During a 4-way battle into the Bus Stop chicane, Maldonado broke his front wing off Sutil’s car, then clattered into Di Resta while trying to pit. A stop/go penalty combined with his repair stop ensured the Williams driver finished well out of the points. After a brilliant qualifying session, Di Resta fell down the order at the start, was soon passed by his teammate, and afterwards never even looked like challenging for a good finish.

Kimi Raikkonen was never on the pace of the Red Bulls and Mercedes today, and a brake failure ended his 27-race streak of consecutive points finishes.

Vettel’s victory gives him a commanding 46 point lead over Fernando Alonso, who in turn is 12 points ahead of Hamilton. Raikkonen’s retirement puts him in an extremely difficult situation, so the title fight appears to be narrowing to a 3-horse race.

Lewis Hamilton takes last-gasp pole position in Spa

Lewis Hamilton has taken a surprise pole position for the Belgian Grand Prix.

While it appeared until the dying minutes that Paul di Resta would take the top spot, the changing conditions meant that the Mercedes driver could unseat the Force India, preventing their first pole position since Belgium 2009. Here is what happened:

Q1

With rain falling 20 minutes before the start of Q1, intermediates were equipped on all 22 cars.

The times tumbled throughout the session, with 10 seconds being shaved off the fastest time in the final few minutes. As the track became drier, the Marussia drivers and Giedo van der Garde opted to take on slick tyres, which paid off immensely. Jules Bianchi and Max Chilton were 11th and 16th, while Giedo van der Garde took an unlikely 3rd place after being the last driver to set a time on the improving track.

However, this left a few bemused drivers at the back of the grid. Both Toro Rosso drivers, along with Pastor Maldonado, Valtteri Bottas, Esteban Gutierrez and Charles Pic were all knocked out in the first session. Pic also took on the dry tyres, but was held up at the weighbridge, and was unable to set a fast time.

Drivers knocked out in Q1:

17) Pastor Maldonado – 2:03.072

18) Jean-Eric Vergne – 2:03.300

19) Daniel Riccardo – 2:03.317

20) Valtteri Bottas – 2:03.432

21) Esteban Gutierrez – 2:04.324

22) Charles Pic – 2:07.384

Q2

As expected, the three backmarkers filled the grid spots from 14th to 16th, but all 3 were pleased with their personal best qualification finishes.

With the track dry in Q2, the best Giedo van der Garde could manage was 14th, with Bianchi and Chilton behind.

Drivers knocked out of Q2:

11) Nico Hulkenberg – 1:49.088

12) Adrian Sutil – 1:49.103

13) Sergio Perez – 1:49.304

14) Giedo Van der Garde – 1:52.036

15) Jules Bianchi – 1:52.563

16) Max Chilton – 1:52.762

Q3

As 9 drivers sat at the end of the pit lane before Q3, rain began to fall once again. They all scrambled to set a fast time before the track dampened, but were forced to pit for intermediates, as the rain fell harder.

The last remaining driver – Paul di Resta – had quietly emerged from the pits, 30 seconds after everyone else, equipped on the inters. The rest of the paddock could only watch in shock as Di Resta grabbed pole position – or so he thought.

Force India believed that the rain would keep falling, and so pitted Paul, confident that pole was theirs. As the other drivers hastily rejoined the track on wets, they were unable to match Di Resta’s time in the wetter conditions. Nico Rosberg got the closest, but he was still half a second off the mark.

To Force India’s surprise though, the rain clouds slowly cleared, paving the way for a crazed finish to Q3. Rosberg then thought he had provisional pole secured, but within a matter of seconds found himself in 4th place. Mark Webber, Sebastian Vettel and then Lewis Hamilton all set blinding lap times, with the Mercedes driver eventually on top.

A bemused Di Resta finished 5th, ahead of the two Lotuses and two Ferraris. Hamilton and Vettel share the front row once again, and we are set for a stunner of a race tomorrow.

 

Belgian Grand Prix: Tyre failures overshadow Friday practice

Sebastian Vettel set the fastest time in practice for the Belgian Grand Prix, but once again controversy has reared its head, as two tyre failures have threatened to ruin the entire race weekend.

One happened to Vettel at the end of an 11-lap stint, while the other was discovered on Fernando Alonso’s car after FP2 had concluded. While Pirelli have claimed that the failures were due to debris, drivers have grown worried that there will be a repeat of the Silverstone tyre explosions.

First practice

Rain across Thursday night and Friday morning in the Ardennes forest meant that the track was damp at the start of FP1. As the session continued, the middle sector began to dry out, while everywhere from the Bus Stop chicane to Rivage was still wet.

While McLaren’s Jenson Button set some impressive times in the varying conditions, once the slick tyres were available, the usual drivers topped the timesheets. Sergio Perez, Nico Rosberg, Daniel Riccardo, Lewis Hamilton and later Fernando Alonso all took P1 at different points in the session.

Light rain fell again with 15 minutes to go, leaving Lotus as the only team who failed to set proper lap times when the track was at its driest.

Times from FP1:

 1.  Fernando Alonso      Ferrari               1:55.198          11 Laps
 2.  Paul di Resta        Force India-Mercedes  1:55.224  +0.026  10
 3.  Adrian Sutil         Force India-Mercedes  1:55.373  +0.175  11
 4.  Sergio Perez         McLaren-Mercedes      1:55.518  +0.320  14
 5.  Nico Rosberg         Mercedes              1:55.614  +0.416  10
 6.  Sebastian Vettel     Red Bull-Renault      1:55.636  +0.438  14
 7.  Esteban Gutierrez    Sauber-Ferrari        1:55.954  +0.756  18
 8.  Nico Hulkenberg      Sauber-Ferrari        1:56.110  +0.912  11
 9.  Daniel Ricciardo     Toro Rosso-Ferrari    1:56.770  +1.572  14
10.  Valtteri Bottas      Williams-Renault      1:56.858  +1.660  18
11.  Felipe Massa         Ferrari               1:56.863  +1.665  10
12.  Pastor Maldonado     Williams-Renault      1:57.081  +1.883  14
13.  Jean-Eric Vergne     Toro Rosso-Ferrari    1:57.084  +1.886  17
14.  Jenson Button        McLaren-Mercedes      1:57.281  +2.083  14
15.  Lewis Hamilton       Mercedes              1:57.358  +2.160  10
16.  Heikki Kovalainen    Caterham-Renault      1:57.821  +2.623  16
17.  Giedo van der Garde  Caterham-Renault      1:57.887  +2.689  16
18.  Max Chilton          Marussia-Cosworth     1:58.600  +3.402  14
19.  Mark Webber          Red Bull-Renault      1:58.929  +3.731  12
20.  Jules Bianchi        Marussia-Cosworth     1:59.209  +4.011  12
21.  Kimi Raikkonen       Lotus-Renault         1:59.441  +4.243  11
22.  Romain Grosjean      Lotus-Renault         2:03.176  +7.978  15

Second practice

A dry track greeted drivers for FP2, allowing everyone to make full use of the medium and hard compounds.

Until a tyre failure for Vettel put some worried faces in the paddock, that is. With 20 minutes to go, the Red Bull developed a puncture around the Turn 13/14 area, resulting in the German limping slowly back to the pits.

This is the same area where Fernando Alonso’s car later developed a problem. Giedo van der Garde crashed at the same corner, but this was caused by the Dutchman losing control of his Caterham, rather than another worrying blowout. Pirelli have stated that they will inspect the track overnight, but they do not attribute the failures to a tyre design flaw.

Despite their issues, Red Bull still secured a 1-2 finish for FP2, with Vettel 0.05 seconds ahead of Mark Webber. While Mercedes appear to be their main rivals this weekend, they opted to complete only long-run simulations in second practice.

Times from FP2:

 1.  Sebastian Vettel     Red Bull-Renault      1:49.331          22 Laps
 2.  Mark Webber          Red Bull-Renault      1:49.390  +0.059  34
 3.  Romain Grosjean      Lotus-Renault         1:50.149  +0.818  34
 4.  Felipe Massa         Ferrari               1:50.164  +0.833  27
 5.  Jean-Eric Vergne     Toro Rosso-Ferrari    1:50.253  +0.922  28
 6.  Kimi Raikkonen       Lotus-Renault         1:50.318  +0.987  33
 7.  Fernando Alonso      Ferrari               1:50.510  +1.179  21
 8.  Sergio Perez         McLaren-Mercedes      1:50.536  +1.205  27
 9.  Nico Rosberg         Mercedes              1:50.601  +1.270  33
10.  Paul di Resta        Force India-Mercedes  1:50.611  +1.280  27
11.  Adrian Sutil         Force India-Mercedes  1:50.629  +1.298  30
12.  Lewis Hamilton       Mercedes              1:50.751  +1.420  27
13.  Nico Hulkenberg      Sauber-Ferrari        1:50.972  +1.641  33
14.  Pastor Maldonado     Williams-Renault      1:50.991  +1.660  28
15.  Jenson Button        McLaren-Mercedes      1:51.195  +1.864  28
16.  Daniel Ricciardo     Toro Rosso-Ferrari    1:51.447  +2.116  26
17.  Valtteri Bottas      Williams-Renault      1:51.568  +2.237  28
18.  Esteban Gutierrez    Sauber-Ferrari        1:51.644  +2.313  26
19.  Giedo van der Garde  Caterham-Renault      1:53.157  +3.826  21
20.  Charles Pic          Caterham-Renault      1:53.251  +3.920  29
21.  Jules Bianchi        Marussia-Cosworth     1:53.482  +4.151  28
22.  Max Chilton          Marussia-Cosworth     1:54.418  +5.087  12

Opnion – Grosjean ban sets a proper precedent

Much has been said of Romain Grosjean’s dangerous move on Lewis Hamilton, and the swift and unforgiving penalty issued afterwards.

Some have argued that the penalty is inconsistent with penalties issued to other incidents, and they would be correct. Pastor Maldonado causing a deliberate crash in Monaco springs to mind, where he was only handed a grid penalty.

Others claim that this crash must be used as the basis for all other penalties in the future. Fernando Alonso’s lucky escape has reminded us of how dangerous such incidents can be.

Personally I agree with both arguments, however I think that the problem is far more wide-reaching than many have realised. The fact that Grosjean and Maldonado, two of the newest GP2 rookies, continue to cause crashes is a huge cause for concern.

The drivers of GP2 and other feeder series all share the same sentiment – that they must push the rules to the maximum, and push the other drivers to the limit, in order to make progress, in both the race and their career. This kind of reasoning often results in huge, unnecessary accidents, as demonstrated this year in Monaco:

In that video, Dimitry Suranovich decided to keep on driving, despite having no rear wing on his car. He braked earlier into the chicane, and Conor Daly powered into the back of the GP3 machine, causing a huge crash and a near fatality, as the marshals post was almost wiped out.

Incredibly, Daly was awarded a 10 place grid penalty, while Suranovich walked away scot free. Aside from the sheer stupidity of the decision itself, the problem is this: if GP2 drivers are allowed to drive dangerously in their feeder series, then they will probably continue that in F1.

I’m not the only one who feels this way – Ferrari principal Stefano Domenicali urged the FIA to improve driving standards in lower formulae series:

"In my view, the most important thing is looking at the behaviour of drivers. It has 
to start in the championships before Formula 1.

You see it too often in the other series that drivers are very aggressive and try to 
do something almost over what it is possible to do, so it is important to be very 
strict since they start racing and then they will arrive in F1 in a better condition 
for that."

So far, Grosjean has been involved in 7 first-lap accidents out of 12 races. Pastor Maldonado has received 9 penalties, and deserves a few more, in my opinion. However, neither of them has been handed anything more than a 10 place grid penalty – until yesterday.

I fully support the decision to ban Grosjean from Monza, as it is the only way the stewards and FIA can lay down the law. If a rugby player interferes in a scrum or ruck, for example, he is sin-binned and forced to sit out a portion of the match.  The same should apply to F1 – if a driver clearly breaks the rules in a dangerous manner, they should be made to watch from the sidelines.

I’m almost certain that Romain will learn more from this ban than any other grid penalty or paltry fine. The same should apply to Maldonado as well, seeing as he has never learned from his previous penalties.

Perhaps this first-lap crash was a hidden blessing for the sport. As well as all of the drivers escaping without injury, it has forced many to look again at today’s driving standards, and to see how F1 can be made safer in the future. If the stewards can crack down on irresponsible driving from now on, then Formula 1 can set the standard for safer motorsport in the future.

Maldonado penalised twice, Grosjean banned for Spa incidents

Grosjean was deemed to have caused the accident

Grosjean was deemed to have caused the accident

Romain Grosjean has been handed a 1-race ban from the Belgian Grand Prix stewards, after he caused a miniature pile-up at the start of today’s race.

At the start, Romain swerved to the right-hand side of the track, inadvertently clashing with Lewis Hamilton. The two cars then speared into Fernando Alonso, who had to be assisted out of the car, presumably from shock.

Sergio Perez, Alonso, Hamilton and Grosjean were all eliminated, while Kamui Kobayashi and Pastor Maldonado’s races were ruined. This is the seventh time in 12 races that he has been involved in first lap incidents.

As well as the 1-race ban, Grosjean has also been served a €50,000 fine.

Meanwhile, Pastor Maldonado has been handed two 5-place grid penalties for the next race in Monza. The first penalty was for an ill-judged jump start, while the second was for causing a crash with Timo Glock’s Marussia, although Pastor’s car was the one eliminated.

It was his third penalty in that race weekend alone.

Button crushes opposition with dominant Spa victory

Jenson Button has taken a dominative victory at the Belgian Grand Prix, leading every single lap. The McLaren driver utilised a 1-stop strategy and excellent pace to win by 15 seconds from Sebastian Vettel, who made several well-judged passes during the race. A huge crash at the first corner shook up the grid, allowing Nico Hulkenberg to take a brilliant fourth.

Kimi Raikkonen disappointed with 3rd place, while three of the frontrunners failed to finish the first lap. This is what happened…

At the start, it appeared as if Pastor Maldonado had massively jumped the start, leaping up to second place from 6th. A huge pile-up occurred at La Source, as Romain Grosjean clashed with Lewis Hamilton. The McLaren and Lotus cars careered into the first corner, taking out both Saubers, and smashing into Fernando Alonso’s Ferrari.

With debris everywhere, the safety car was an absolute must, as the marshals cleared up the carnage. Kamui Kobayashi pitted for a new front wing, while Sergio Perez, Alonso, Hamilton and Grosjean were all eliminated.

The safety car pitted at the end of Lap 4, allowing Button to defend his lead against Raikkonen. Further back, Felipe Massa and Sebastian Vettel made progress, slicing past Heikki Kovalainen for 10th and 11th places.

Amazingly, the Force Indias were on fine form, Nico Hulkenberg putting a surprise pass on Kimi Raikkonen for 2nd. Michael Schumacher passed the other Force India for 4th position, having gained 9 positions in the opening laps.

Vettel soon out-braked Massa for 10th place, while teammate Mark Webber put pressure on Bruno Senna for 8th. However, the Red Bull’s short gearing system meant that he was unable to utilise DRS. Sebastian became impatient on the radio, and decided to make a move on the sister Red Bull.

Daniel Ricciardo furthered the glee of the Toro Rosso crew, passing Paul di Resta for 5th. After falling away drastically from his teammate, the Scot opted to pit on Lap 11, taking on the harder compound tyre. Suffering from the same issue, Webber did the same. He followed Kimi Raikkonen into the pits, who was easily passed by Michael Schumacher.

As Hulkenberg pitted from 2nd, Vettel made further progress, cleverly out-braking Bruno Senna at the Bus Stop chicane. As the order settled down, it became clear that Raikkonen had undercutted Hulkenberg. Soon after, the Lotus put a move on Nico Rosberg, at the same time as Vettel getting past Ricciardo up ahead.

There was more activity, as Ricciardo and Webber got past Nico Rosberg, before the Red Bull made a move on Daniel for 7th.

Vettel was on fire, and quickly was pressurising Michael Schumacher for 2nd. The two went side-by-side through the Bus Stop, but Schumacher caught Vettel unawares as the Mercedes entered the pits. Button pitted on Lap 20, taking on the hard tyres, indicating a 1-stop strategy.

As the order became more clear, Button pulled further and further away at the front, while Raikkonen, Vettel and Hulkenberg all scrabbled to keep up with the McLaren. Felipe Massa’s decent race pace began to deteriorate, being easily passed for 9th by Bruno Senna.

On Lap 28, the 2-stopping drivers began to pit. Hulkenberg, Webber, Massa and Raikkonen all took on fresh tyres, allowing Vettel into clear air in second place.

Having not pitted for a second time, Schumacher began to hold up Raikkonen. The ensuing battle allowed both Hulkenberg and Webber to catch up to the action. By Lap 32, Raikkonen was confident enough to out-brake the Mercedes into La Source. Swiftly after, Hulkenberg was all over the 6-time Spa winner. However, Michael surprised Kimi by being able to deploy DRS to retake his 3rd position.

Raikkonen was having none of it though, putting a brave move on Schumacher through Eau Rouge, in a similar fashion to Mark Webber’s famous pass last year. Hulkenberg tried to take advantage of the slowing Mercedes, going around the outside of La Source, but DRS meant that the Force India stayed in 5th. With 8 laps to go, the team opted to change strategy, putting Schumacher on new medium tyres.

Nico Rosberg suffered from the same issue, and pitted for the third time, dropping out of a points position. Jean-Eric Vergne eased past Bruno Senna for 8th place, and teammate Daniel Ricciardo soon put pressure on the Williams driver. Following the move of Mercedes, Senna decided to take on fresh tyres with 5 laps to go.

At the back, Heikki Kovalainen spun at Pouhon, allowing Pedro de la Rosa in the HRT to move out of last place.

There was nothing left to stop Button, who cruised to the chequered flag to take his second win of the season. Vettel finished 2nd, and Raikkonen struggled to 3rd, complaining to his team of a slow engine mode near the end.

Maldonado penalised for impeding Hulkenberg in Q1

Pastor Maldonado will drop to 6th on the grid for the Belgian Grand Prix.

The Williams driver was docked 3 places for impeding Nico Hulkenberg in Q1 of qualifying today. While Hulkenberg made it through to Q2, the stewards found that he had unnecessarily held up the Force India.

The stewards report appears to be pretty clear on the matter:

“The driver of car 18 [Maldonado] was warned by his team not to hold up car 12 
[Hulkenberg] which was behind him, yet he clearly did impede car 12.

However as car 12 continued into Q2 a more severe penalty was not considered 
appropriate.”

With this, Kimi Raikkonen moves up to 3rd on the grid, followed by Sergio Perez and Fernando Alonso.

Raikkonen was initially under investigation for cutting the Eau Rouge corners during both of his two laps of Q3. Although all 4 of his wheels were outside of the white line, the stewards noted that  “there was no advantage gained because the exit speed was shown to be slower than on other laps where the car did not leave the track.”

Button takes shock pole position in Spa

Jenson Button caused a huge upset in qualifying for the Belgian Grand Prix, taking pole position for the first time in over 3 years. The McLaren dominated Q2 and Q3 to sail to pole, and will be joined on the front row by Kamui Kobayashi.

Sauber were the biggest winners of the day, with Sergio Perez 5th. Fernando Alonso, Mark Webber and Lewis Hamilton all disappointed in Q3, while Sebastian Vettel didn’t even make it into the top 10. Here is what happened:

Q1

After heading the field in second practice, Charles Pic was first out of the pits. He briefly led the standings, before Nico Rosberg set a 1:51.125.

Most drivers started off on the harder compound, and it showed, as even Lewis Hamilton struggled to get into the 1:49s. Tyre temperature was clearly an issue, as Felipe Massa slid into the gravel, and Narain Karthikeyan had a moment at Pouhon.

A 1:49.401 put Fernando Alonso on top, while teammate Felipe Massa’s lap was ruined by a slow HRT car. Lewis Hamilton, running a high-downforce setup, could only manage a 1:49.6.

Jenson Button, running a low-downforce configuration, then took top spot with a 1:49.250.

With 5 minutes to go, Kimi Raikkonen was out of the pits, and immediately set the fastest middle sector en route to 3rd. The Red Bulls were next, with Vettel and Webber 6th and 7th respectively.

On the medium tyre, Pastor Maldonado inherited top spot, while Rosberg could only manage 14th. Romain Grosjean decided to take on the softer compound, but had a scare at Pouhon when his Lotus oversteered at nearly 150mph.

Rosberg decided to slow down to get clear space for his final lap, and ended up missing the chequered flag, being knocked out of Q1. This sealed the bottom 7, and ensured that Grosjean’s mistake hadn’t harmed the Lotus.

Drivers knocked out in Q1:

18) Nico Rosberg – 1:50.181

19) Heikki Kovalainen – 1:51.719

20) Vitaly Petrov – 1:51.967

21) Timo Glock – 1:52.336

22) Pedro de la Rosa – 1:53.030

23) Charles Pic – 1:53.493

24) Narain Karthikeyan – 1:54.989

Q2

Sergio Perez was first up, setting a 1:48.880. Mark Webber pipped that time by 0.2 seconds, while Alonso went another 5 hundreths faster.

Hamilton and Raikkonen both set fastest laps, then Button slashed three quarters a second off their times, with a 1:47.654.

Bruno Senna was next to have a huge slide at Pouhon, just about holding the car in the right direction. With 3 minutes to go, most cars left the pits for their final runs.

Felipe Massa moved into the top 10, but was 1.5 seconds off Button’s lap. Pastor Maldonado took 9th, Hulkenberg 10th, while Sergio Perez leaped into 2nd place. There was a huge shock, as Sebastian Vettel only took 11th place, 0.012 seconds off 10th position. Michael Schumacher and Felipe Massa both disappointed, neither making it through to Q3.

Drivers knocked out in Q2:

11) Sebastian Vettel – 1:48.792

12) Nico Hulkenberg – 1:48.855

13) Michael Schumacher – 1:49.081

14) Felipe Massa – 1:49.147

15) Jean-Eric Vergne – 1:49.354

16) Daniel Ricciardo – 1:49.543

17) Bruno Senna – 1:50.088

Q3

The McLarens and Lotuses were out first, followed by Paul di Resta and Pastor Maldonado. Raikkonen was up first, setting a 1:48.205. I t appeared as if Hamilton would go faster, but made a huge mistake and ruined his lap.

Jenson Button went 0.6 seconds faster than the Lotus, while Maldonado immediately abandoned his lap. The track went oddly silent, as the drivers waited until the final few minutes to set their fastest laps.

The track temperature rose as the cars left the pits again, helping the performance of the cars.

Kimi Raikkonen’s final lap wasn’t enough to topple Button, not improving on his previous lap. Alonso, Webber and Hamilton all had extremely poor final laps, going 6th, 7th and 8th respectively.

Kamui Kobayashi took a surprise 2nd, with Pastor Maldonado an impressive 3rd. However, the biggest shock of the day was by far the McLaren of Jenson Button, taking another 0.1 seconds off his time, and taking his first pole position since Monaco 2009.

Sergio Perez will line up 5th, making Sauber the biggest winner of the day. Romain Grosjean was a disappointing 9th, and with his gearbox penalty, Webber will drop down to 12th place on the grid.

Webber penalised for another gearbox change

Mark Webber will drop 5 places on the Belgian Grand Prix grid – the second time this has happened in three races.

The Red Bull RB8 requires a new gearbox, and since it has not completed the required 5 races, Webber has been dealt yet another penalty. This occurred two races ago as well, when he was forced to change his gearbox in Germany.

Belgian GP practice: Kobayashi heads soaked Friday running

Kamui Kobayashi set the fastest time on Friday in practice for the Belgian Grand Prix.

It was completely academic though, as persistent heavy rain resulted in both practice sessions becoming a complete washout. The rain got worse and worse as the afternoon progressed, and there was even less activity in FP2.

Practice 1

Kobayashi was the only driver to go out on track in the first 45 minutes, setting a 2:17.705. Steady rain deterred drivers from heading out until the final half hour.

When the track finally did allow for some running, it was barely an improvement. Daniel Ricciardo and Pastor Maldonado both briefly took the top spot, but Kobayashi was soon back on top with a 2:11.389.

The Eau Rouge corner was particularly tricky to navigate, with Michael Schumacher, Pastor Maldonado and Paul di Resta all nearly losing control through the saturated turn.

In a surprise event in modern F1, Felipe Massa suffered an engine failure on his final lap, pulling over at the Bus Stop chicane with smoke pouring out of his Ferrari’s exhausts.

Pos. Driver              Team                  Time       Gap     Laps
 1.  Kamui Kobayashi     Sauber-Ferrari        2:11.389          20
 2.  Pastor Maldonado    Williams-Renault      2:11.941  +0.552  14
 3.  Daniel Ricciardo    Toro Rosso-Ferrari    2:12.004  +0.615  12
 4.  Jean-Eric Vergne    Toro Rosso-Ferrari    2:12.824  +1.435  15
 5.  Mark Webber         Red Bull-Renault      2:13.191  +1.802  13
 6.  Sergio Perez        Sauber-Ferrari        2:13.861  +2.472  16
 7.  Nico Rosberg        Mercedes AMG          2:14.210  +2.821  14
 8.  Valtteri Bottas     Williams-Renault      2:14.660  +3.271  16
 9.  Sebastian Vettel    Red Bull-Renault      2:14.860  +3.471  12
10.  Michael Schumacher  Mercedes AMG          2:15.402  +4.013  13
11.  Paul di Resta       Force India-Mercedes  2:15.812  +4.423  11
12.  Timo Glock          Marussia-Cosworth     2:16.409  +5.020  16
13.  Nico Hulkenberg     Force India-Mercedes  2:16.786  +5.397  10
14.  Vitaly Petrov       Caterham-Renault      2:16.788  +5.399  16
15.  Lewis Hamilton      McLaren-Mercedes      2:16.827  +5.438  5
16.  Jenson Button       McLaren-Mercedes      2:16.861  +5.472  8
17.  Charles Pic         Marussia-Cosworth     2:17.519  +6.130  14
18.  Heikki Kovalainen   Caterham-Renault      2:18.199  +6.810  10
19.  Pedro de la Rosa    HRT-Cosworth          2:19.546  +8.157  12
20.  Dani Clos           HRT-Cosworth          2:19.689  +8.300  12
21.  Romain Grosjean     Lotus-Renault         2:38.701  +27.312 9
22.  Fernando Alonso     Ferrari               2:40.749  +29.360 4
23.  Kimi Raikkonen      Lotus-Renault         2:46.580  +35.191 9
24.  Felipe Massa        Ferrari               N/A        N/A     2

Practice 2

FP2 was even worse, with the rain becoming more heavy and persistent as the session went on.

It took 50 minutes for a car to even leave the pits, with Nico Rosberg leading several other drivers. However, not a single one set a fast lap, opting to pit every time.

This continued until the end of the session, where most drivers went out to do a practice start on the pit straight.

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