Clip The Apex
The Formula One season hosts its greatest irony every August; that its race in Belgium is famous and successful partly because it is built into the side of a hill. And while the supposed difficulty of naming 5 famous Belgians is a cliché, naming 5 famous corners at Spa is easy. Pouhon, Stavelot, Blanchimont, Bus Stop and La Source, for example. There's a lot of debate about that other corner's difficulty in 2014's F1 cars, but Eau Rouge is and always will be an inspiring sight.
The battle at the front is, as always likely to involve Mercedes cars. Lewis Hamilton has won the Belgian Grand Prix a number of times more than 0 and less than 3 in the past, but will surely hope to actually be in with a sniff of victory after Saturday's qualifying session. Rosberg's run of poles has been rather unchallenged more recently, but his last few opposed sessions have also resulted in starts from the front. He has an 11 point lead to defend, which makes this rather more fun than certain other teams dominating.
Who is most likely to challenge? Or, even more likely, finish third? Well, on a high-speed circuit such as this, Mercedes customers surely must stand a massive advantage, meaning Williams in particular look likely to take out that second row, unless more poor prime tyre work as they did in Hungary. It is traditionally Force India's best chance to take the good points at Spa and Monza too, so watch out for them.
Red Bull and Ferrari are, as usual, most likely to lead the charges for their respective engines. Ferrari seem to have decided to coincide their perennial bloodletting with their best result of the season, which is an odd choice, while Seb Vettel will be hoping to come good on the promise of the last two weeks and finally start to beat Ricciardo. It is a better circuit for the Bulls than Christian Horner would have you believe.
With the chance of rain never zero and a range of corners guaranteed to entertain, the Belgian Grand Prix is a perennial highlight, long may it reign, and lets hope 2014 will be as good as some of the great moments of Spas gone by.
In recent years, if you were to ask most casual motorsport fans to name current female drivers you would most likely hear the name Danica Patrick and little else. There has of course, been a large increase in the number of high profile female drivers some of whom will be known and some will have slipped under the radar. As well as Patrick and Wolff, such names as Simona de Silvestro, Pippa Mann and Katherine Legge to name a few have raced on either side of the Atlantic. Interestingly, most of these drivers have made more inroads into open wheeled racing in the US which highlights how difficult it must be to break into European racing. Maria de Villota, who passed away in 2013 as a result of injuries sustained in an accident while testing for Marussia, was unusual in that she spent the bulk of her career in European racing.
Now, let’s at this stage try and forget routes into F1. It could be easily argued that Wolff, and the clue is in the surname, has had a fair few breaks given the position of her husband as a shareholder in the Williams team. Much like the former girlfriend of Flavio Briatore being the last lady to appear in F1, back in 1992. But if we criticise these ladies for taking this route into F1 then we must also disapprove of the sons of former drivers who are able to trade on their name. or someone like Max Chilton, who is not only well backed financially but raced in his father’s team in lower formula. Drivers such as Pedro Diniz in the past or Pastor Maldonado in the present, who are able, through various links to bring in a good deal of sponsorship, should also come under the same level of scrutiny. So, let’s leave aside the route into F1 because every driver will have made his or her own way onto the grid and every fan will have an opinion as to how valid that was.
One of the big talking points from the Hungarian GP.
From Hamilton's point of view, it was absolutely the right decision as he finished ahead of Rosberg and reduced the points deficit.
From Rosberg's point of view, it potentially cost him the race win and an extended lead in the WDC.
From the team's point of view, they possibly lost out on some WCC points, but that is largely irrelevant as unless both cars fail to score another point for the rest of the season, Mercedes have that in the bag.
If Rosberg had the speed and ability to pass Hamilton, then he should have done so.
The team can't seriously expect someone to slow so much to allow their team mate who is somewhere between 1-2 seconds behind to be able to breeze past them, can they?
Especially considering both drivers are in a battle for the title.
This race more than any other reinforced my opinion that Rosberg doesn't have the same ability to make crucial overtakes as some of the other drivers.
Several times in the race he was stuck behind cars he really needed to pass but couldn't.
Granted, Hamilton also failed to overtake Alonso towards the end of the race but there's a big difference between Alonso and Vergne.
How is this going to affect the team for the remaining races?
It could be gloves off now and every man for himself.
Bernie and the team principals met early on Saturday morning at Hungary where Bernie proposed a new working group to address the falling popularity of F1. Heading the new working group will be, wait for it, Flavio Briatore.
The working group is to consist of only a few team principles as well as media and Flavio. A streamlined think tank that expects less conflict over ideas due to its compact size. The new think tank will meet over the summer break to consider ideas. Hopefully the inclusion of the media in these meetings will help to avoid any clangers like double points races.
The very low spectator numbers in Germany have I feel been a wake up call. This was a country that went F1 mad when Schumacher appeared on the scene. Yet despite Seb having won 4 championships in recent years, the turnout this year was terrible.
The negative stories about the engine noise from the media and some drivers such as Vettel and Hamilton at the start of the year certainly haven't helped entice viewers either.
But it isn't just engine noise that is the problem, there are many reasons why people are turning off, such as pay tv, artificial racing, axing historic tracks and single team domination to name but a few.
So just in case any Team Principals, media people or Flavio happen by, I thought I would be nice if we could give them some pointers. Not just on keeping the fans F1 currently has, but on winning back the casual fans that have left, and attracting brand new fans to the sport.
So lets have it. What can we do to save F1's falling popularity?
In all my time watching F1 I don't think I've known public opinion change so drastically about a driver than it has about Romain Grosjean. He has gone from promising youngster to nutjob and then from next generation talent to quick midfielder but what’s going to happen next for Romain?
Grosjean's junior career started pretty much with success at every turn and he was taken on as Renault test driver and placed in GP2 in 2009. He won the first race of the season and was leading the championship before he was approached by a large Italian man who said to him;
"Hey we've sacked our second driver and we're all about to get in massive trouble for race fixing but we've decided to step you up to the F1 race seat. You'll be complete number 2 to Fernando Alonso and you'll be coming into one of the most complex F1 cars to drive ever without testing. Its your big chance"
The view on Grosjean's short stint as Renault number 2 is that it was pretty awful and that he was a waste of a good race seat. Its true that stint was littered with first lap accidents and getting in peoples way but it wasn't all bad because if you look at some of his qualifying times he was not all that far off the pace of Alonso which was very impressive to say he'd had no time in the car. Come the end of 2009 his rep had been destroyed and the team was completely changing management so his contract wasn't renewed. To rub salt into the wounds Renault took on his team mate from GP2, Petrov, who he had been beating hands down before he left to go to F1. That could very well have been the last we saw of Grosjean and he did go over to Sportscar racing and won a couple of races in a Ford GT1. He switched back to single seater racing later on by driving in Auto GP, where he won the title, and at the end of 2010 though he made the almost unprecedented move of going back to GP2 (Timo Glock is the only other person to step down a level) and instantly jumped in the car and got podiums. Grosjean landed the DAMS drive and dominated the GP2 Championship in 2011 winning it by 34 points (back in the days of 10 points for a win). Grosjean had come full circle back to GP2 ace and up and coming talent but reputations are hard to change when you're not massively in the public eye.
Page 1 of 2