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2018 Belgian Grand Prix.

Discussion in 'Sports' started by Swami, Aug 23, 2018.

  1. Swami

    Swami Soap Chat Warrior

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    F1 returns from its summer break to the majestic Spa-Francorchamps, one of the greatest if the not the best circuit anywhere in the world.

    Unpredictable weather and a tough driving challenge always ensures an eventful race.

    Swami
     
  2. Swami

    Swami Soap Chat Warrior

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    Belgian GP: Kimi Raikkonen heads Lewis Hamilton
    [​IMG]
    By Andrew Benson

    Chief F1 writer at Spa-Francorchamps

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    [​IMG]
    Belgian Grand Prix final practice and qualifying is on 5 live sports extra and BBC Sport website
    Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen pipped Lewis Hamilton's Mercedes in second practice at the Belgian Grand Prix.

    Raikkonen set a lap of 1min 43.355 seconds, beating Hamilton by 0.168secs on their qualifying simulation runs.

    The second Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas was third, 0.448secs away, while Hamilton's title rival Sebastian Vettel had a scrappy session and was fifth.


    Vettel made errors on his fastest laps and was beaten by Red Bull's Max Verstappen.

    However, Mercedes and Ferrari appear to be very closely matched - not just from the qualifying pace but also from the drivers' performance when they ran on race fuel loads later in the session.


    Belgian GP - second practice results
    But it is hard to make any judgements after Friday's running, not least because both Mercedes and Ferrari have upgraded engines for this weekend and will not be running them anywhere near their maximum until qualifying on Saturday.

    "The car felt not yet where I wanted it to be, we need to do some work," said Vettel. "Kimi was a bit happier on one lap. We still have a bit of time so we'll see."

    [​IMG]
    Spa-Francorchamps is set in 300 acres of forest in the beautiful Ardennes region of Belgium
    Fernando Alonso looks set for a dispiriting first weekend with McLaren after announcing he will retire from Formula 1 at the end of the year.

    The Spaniard managed only 16th fastest time, with team-mate Stoffel Verstappen closest of all.

    The McLaren's high drag levels are being exposed on this track where the importance of straight-line speed and engine power is among the highest of the season.

    There was a huge gap between the top three teams and the rest.

    Swami
     
  3. Swami

    Swami Soap Chat Warrior

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    Lewis Hamilton on pole position in Belgian GP as Force India surprise
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    By Andrew Benson

    Chief F1 writer at Spa-Francorchamps

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    Sunday's race is live on 5 live and the BBC sport website
    Lewis Hamilton beat title rival Sebastian Vettel to a sensational pole position in a thrillingly chaotic Belgian Grand Prix qualifying in the rain.

    A rain shower as the cars began to prepare the first flying laps in the top 10 shoot-out caused havoc but Hamilton came out on top by 0.726 seconds with his final lap.

    The Force Indias of Esteban Ocon and Sergio Perez locked out the second row after timing the conditions right - just days after the team were rescued from going out of business.


    Red Bull and Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen lost out in the pits at the key moment.

    [​IMG]
    Ocon will start in third: and achievement by a man without a drive next year, for a team that nearly didn't exist a few weeks ago
    Hamilton shines when the sun doesn't
    Ferrari had looked narrow favourites for pole in the dry but the late rain threw form up in the air and, as so often, Hamilton fared best in the treacherous conditions.

    The world champion created anxiety at his Mercedes team with an error, running wide at Fagnes with less than three minutes to go when on a fast lap.

    But he put it all together on his crucial final lap to take pole by a very impressive margin.

    Vettel heads into the race 24 points adrift of Hamilton and for the sake of his title hopes needs to beat him and take advantage of a weekend when the Ferrari looks the faster car, something he has failed to do in the last two races in Germany and Hungary.

    Who will win in Belgium?
    Choose your top three drivers from the list below

    Fairytale for Force India
    In the early moments, the Force Indias stayed out on slicks, hoping to get in a quick lap before conditions worsened too much.

    But it is was too wet - and Perez did well to save a huge moment as he lost the car over the brow at Raidillon, part of the famous Eau Rouge section.

    The decision to stay out seemed set to cost the team, which went into administration over the last race weekend in Hungary in July but was saved by a consortium of businessmen led by Lawrence Stroll, the father of Williams driver Lance.

    But, as the rain eased, both men drove well to take the team's best qualifying position for years.

    [​IMG]
    Spa's imposing 195mph Eau Rouge corner is one of the toughest tests of a driver's skill in the sport
    Some big losers
    Red Bull's Max Verstappen was the early pace-setter in the rain, turning the car around quickly while Mercedes and Ferrari took longer to prepare.

    But after setting fastest time briefly, Verstappen pitted because he did not have enough fuel to finish the session and dropped down to seventh as others improved at the end.

    Raikkonen will also be disappointed. He has been the form man all weekend and pipped Verstappen, only to pit. His demeanour - shaking his head as he stood by the car - betrayed his frustration


    Predict who will top the podium at Spa
    "Then the rain came, I can't even express how difficult it was. I went wide in Turn One, the track looks dry even though it's wet. It was so hard. I went off twice but I am so glad it came together on that last lap."

    Vettel said: "I don't think we timed it quite right. I think we had the pace for pole but we will never find out. The gap was quite big so Lewis deserves pole but I think we have good pace for the race so I am confident. We have strong pace so anything can happen.

    "I didn't feel I got everything out and it was a bit of a scrappy session. But we saw others not putting enough fuel into until the end so it could have been a lot worse."

    Swami
     
  4. Swami

    Swami Soap Chat Warrior

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    Sebastian Vettel wins in Belgium after dramatic crash
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    By Andrew Benson

    [​IMG]
    Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel beat title rival Lewis Hamilton in the Belgian Grand Prix to cut his lead to 17 points.

    Vettel passed Hamilton on the first lap just in time before a safety car was deployed following a multi-car crash at the first corner, and dominated thereafter.

    Fernando Alonso, Nico Hulkenberg and Charles Leclerc were uninjured after the German rammed Alonso's McLaren and launched it over Leclerc's Sauber.


    Hulkenberg received a 10-place grid penalty at the next race for the incident.

    Alonso related it to the first-lap crash at this race in 2012, in which Lotus driver Romain Grosjean was given a race ban for causing a similar incident, which also took out the Spaniard.

    [​IMG]
    Alonso was catapulted over Sauber's Charles Leclerc, just missing the Frenchman's head
    "Again a very big-time missing braking point," Alonso said. "That time Romain had a race ban.

    "It is tough to understand how you can miss (the braking) so much. It is not a couple of metres. You arrive at a speed that it is impossible to negotiate the corner. So, sad for that but happy that we are all fine."

    The big difference between the 2012 and 2018 crashes was that Grosjean was a repeat offender in terms of first-lap crashes that year, while Hulkenberg is one of the sport's most consistent performers.

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    'Don't mind me': Alonso flies through the air. He was involved in a similarly dramatic crash at the same corner in 2012
    The crash also may have been the first time a grand prix driver was saved from injury by the new halo head-protection device, introduced this year. Television replays showed Alonso's car bounced off the halo on Leclerc's car and Alonso said: "I flew over his car and the halo was a good thing to have today. I think for him it helped, looking at the replay. We don't need to prove it is a good thing to have."

    That was not the only incident at the first corner. Daniel Ricciardo's Red Bull hit Kimi Raikkonen's Ferrari, forcing both into eventual retirement despite initially rejoining.

    And Hamilton's team-mate Valtteri Bottas, starting from the back because of engine penalties, damaged his front wing and needed to pit for a new one.

    Hulkenberg said: "I misjudged my braking point a little bit and there was no real time to recover it.

    "We are due to see the stewards at 17:30 (CET). Of course I can understand that he is upset and frustrated. So am I, and he has every right to be, but it is racing and these things unfortunately do happen."

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    No wonder he is retiring: Water sprays from the car as the Spaniard lands back on the ground
    The battle at the front
    It seemed inevitable that a safety car would be deployed with so many damaged cars and debris on the track but race director Charlie Whiting delayed his call to deploy it for a crucial amount of time.

    Hamilton and Vettel were well clear of the chaos behind and the German tracked the Mercedes off the start, settled into its slipstream up the long Kemmel straight and swapped into the lead.

    Vettel briefly had to fight off an attack from Force India's Esteban Ocon, who started third and tried a look down the inside into the Les Combes chicane.

    Vettel, Hamilton, Ocon and the second Force India of Sergio Perez were briefly all side by side down the back straight but the Frenchman had to back out of his attempt and that allowed Perez to slip ahead of him into third.

    [​IMG]
    Four cars going into the same corner battling for the lead: who says F1's boring?
    Vettel's controlled response
    Once into the lead, it was clear Vettel had a small but decisive pace advantage over Hamilton and he edged clear, building a 3.9-second lead by lap 14, before the Mercedes began to close in slightly as the pit stops approached.

    Hamilton got his deficit down to 3.2secs on lap 20 and pitted on the next lap, but Vettel followed him in the next time around and was able to rejoin in front.

    Hamilton was not far behind but not close enough and his hopes were also marginally affected by catching Max Verstappen's Red Bull, which was running second, just as he wanted to be attacking Vettel.

    Hamilton passed Verstappen with ease up the Kemmel straight and was in any case too far back to have made an attempt on Vettel's lead.

    He ended the critical lap 1.5secs behind, after which the race settled into a familiar pattern, with Vettel building a comfortable lead of about five seconds or so and holding it there, and Verstappen equally safe in third nearly 30 seconds behind.


    Media playback is not supported on this device

    Mick Schumacher - My dad is my idol
    Bottas battles back
    After the initial drama at the start, the race was unexciting, the only significant action provided by Bottas' fight back through the field.

    The Finn got up to fourth before his stop on lap 32, which dropped him to sixth.

    He soon passed Ocon, and then Perez on lap 40 to take fourth.

    Fifth and sixth was a dream start for the sort-of new Force India team, which was reduced from administration over the summer break and is now owned by a consortium of businessmen led by Canadian billionaire Lawrence Stroll, father of Williams driver Lance.

    Classified as a new team, with the old Force India disqualified from the championship, they started with no points but have already leapt ahead of Williams into ninth, just a point behind Sauber.

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    There was huge support for Dutch driver Verstappen all around Spa
    Driver of the day
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    Sergio Perez gets it for a super drive in the Force India, opportunistically passing team-mate Esteban Ocon on the first lap and out-pacing him throughout, as well as doing a good job to hold off Bottas for as long as he did.
    What's next?
    The Italian Grand Prix at high-speed Monza next weekend, where judging from Hamilton's downbeat demeanour after the race on Sunday he believes Ferrari's straight-line speed will make them very difficult to beat again.

    Swami
     

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