Grand Prix 2012 Belgian Grand Prix Practice, Qualifying & Race Discussion

Doesn't time fly! The summer break is approaching the end and after an astonishing Olympics which gripped a nation, the attention now turns across the Channel to see if another Brit can continue his push for glory. Victory in Hungary saw Lewis Hamilton reignite his stuttering season and closed (however small) the gap to Alonso to just over 40 points. The update package introduced in Germany have thrown McLaren back to the front again and just in time as any longer and Hamilton would have been out of the title battle just like his team-mate has been after a nightmare summer for Button. Hamilton has generally gone well at Spa with 1 win, a third place and a fourth. Although depending on your viewpoint it should be 2 wins and a fourth after the 2008 mess.

Although the true king of Spa has returned to the throne in the Lotus and with wins in 2004,2005,2007 and 2009 (close to winning in 2008 as well) not many would bet against the Iceman taking his first victory of the season at his favourite track. The Lotus has been in good form in recent races and a second and third in Hungary proved that where they pushed Hamilton from lights to flag but couldn't quite get past the McLaren driver.

Belgium is famous for it's 4 seasons in a hour in all different parts of the track weather and no doubt if rain is about that plays into the hands of the Championship leader Alonso as the Ferrari is the quickest car in the wet but possibly only the 4th quickest car in the dry, that was evident at Hungary anyway, whether that translates to Spa it is unknown, however Ferrari have traditionally been quick at Spa having won more times there (16) than anyone else so they/Alonso will be in the mix on race day, well let's face it, Massa won't be.

The big unknown here is Red Bull, having had to make several changes to their car to stop make sure it is legal and it has affected performance in recent races and they weren't in the hunt in Hungary. Indeed, Double World Champion Sebastian Vettel is on the longest winless streak since he joined Red Bull in 2009 having not won since Bahrain in April and the young German is currently a few points behind Mark Webber who has had somewhat of a resurgance this year having won at Monaco and Silverstone to become the leading chase driver in the Championship behind Alonso. No doubt Red Bull will be keen to avoid the infighting that nearly cost them the 2010 Championship and to ensure that they don't fall foul of any more FIA regulations as any more problems could see them slip behind Hamilton and possibly even Raikkonen.

Raikkonen is viewed by many as the dark horse for the Championship. He's only a few points behind Hamilton despite having yet to win a race this season which is a testament to his consistency, something which so nearly got him the 2003 title despite only winning one race all year (Malaysia). He's closed down bigger gaps in the past (2007) so he could play a major part in the Championship and if he doesn't ultimately end up in the mix at the end of the season, he'll certainly play a part in terms of taking points off other drivers as he will want to be in contention for podiums and wins as the first win has eluded him so far. He's certainly having a very successful comeback so far and has shown that the 2 years he's had out hasn't affected him whatsoever.

For Galahad 's circuit write up -
What is of interest to me is that Lotus were pretty much equal best with McLaren in Hungary and they have the in race version of DRS for Spa which activates at 150mph+, which should as I understand it should stall their wing twice per racing lap in Spa.

And behind the wheel of this contraption - Kimi Raikkonen.

On paper the winner should be a Lotus, of course in 2012 it rarely goes as it is on paper, and the rain my come into play as well.
I don't think it's as clear cut as that, top speed is important at Spa and that favours the Mercedes and Ferrari engined cars over the Renaults (the double DRS system, if it works and Lotus race it, will only give them an advantage in qualifying and when trying to overtake). Also, rain is always a possibility and Ferrari appear to be very good in the wet this year.

I think:
Dry qualifying: Hamilton, Wet qualifying: Who the hell knows
Dry race: Hamilton or Raikkonen, Wet race: Alonso
Just for once I would really love to spend time on a forum where the spa race is talked about without 2008 being mentioned it has been done to death, it has been proven time and again that the stewards made the correct decision so can we please let it drop....
it has been proven time and again that the stewards made the correct decision
If by correct decision you mean changing the rule after the race and retroactively applying it, then yes, I agree Mephistopheles :)

Before this thread deteriorates, here's an interesting 606 thread on it with contributions from a few posters you may all recognise ;)

Regarding the race, I can't really see past Lotus Raikkonen for this one if it's dry.
If it's wet then the usual lottery rules will apply.
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