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 -
Wet or dry I still love Spa, my favourite overtake of all time happened there, it also happened at the very first GP I attended.

Yeeeeeees, it's this one again (these days the backmarker would probably jump out of the way of MS and into MH)

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).

The Lotus "F-duct" as they refer to it, is not actually attached to the rear wing DRS unlike Mercedes, so Lotus will have that speed boost every lap of the race if it's on the car.
Mephistopheles - I was talking about first lap incidents, so I was talking about Raikkonen going wide at La Source and getting an advantage, as he does every year, and not about the penultimate lap incident where Raikkonen did nothing to be penalised for.
I thought they had put some astro turf down on that run off area to prevent drivers from doing that these days, like you said we don't need another Seb overtake like at Hockenheim...
Well most of that went over my head but it sounds clever. Thanks :). It doesn't change my view that Lotus won't be running away with it, however.
They'll be hoping they don't run into the same problems Mercedes have with increased tyre wear. They may make a gain in one area then lose it in a big way elsewhere. :)
Damn that 50 free views thing.

It actually got me to sign up today for the annual subscription. I guess 80p per week doesn't seem much and I've always been interested in seeing a fair few of the Autosport Plus articles. As much as im pissed that I had to spend that money, I have to take my hat off to the bosses at Autosport because clearly they'll make more money with this latest move.
This is my first time on here in a few weeks. I'm refreshed after the summer break and looking forward to Spa. Anyone have an idea of who will have the fastest car? No? Me too.

My opinion is that the pecking order will be:-

Red Bull


But it will be very close between the top 3 and then a few tenths back, very close between Mercedes and Ferrari. Lotus are bringing their DDRS amongst other updates. McLaren and RB are rumored to have their own DDRS systems. Mercedes are meant to have a big update for Spa and the long straights should suit their car. Ferrari also have their own updates, but I think will be playing catch up still.
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