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Featured Belgian GP Debrief: Hamilton Strolls to Victory, Vettel Pushes His Luck

Discussion in 'Formula 1' started by Ben Stevens, Aug 24, 2015.

  1. Ben Stevens

    Ben Stevens

    hamiltonbelgium1.jpg Returning from summer break, Mercedes wasted no time resuming their regularly-scheduled programming

    There’s a saying in sports that it’s best to have a short memory. On Sunday, Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes on Sunday seemed to possess exactly that. In banishing the ghosts of both his most recent race in Hungary and the infamous clash between Hamilton and teammate Nico Rosberg at Spa last year, the Brit seemed to possess the mind of a goldfish, seemingly unburdened as he put together an imperious drive to claim his sixth win of the season.

    Even the FIA’s new regulated manual-start procedure was not enough to faze the Brit, who enjoyed a clean getaway for the first time in several races. Rosberg was not so lucky, having to come back from fifth to reclaim his original second by the chequered flag. The Silver Arrows’ aside, Sunday’s race provided some real variety amongst the final order, with Romain Grosjean capitalising on some blistering pace and a late Sebastian Vettel tyre explosion to claim his first podium since USA 2013.

    So, what to make of the first race back from F1’s summer break? Read on to find out.

    hamiltonbelgium2.jpg Hamilton fastest when it counts to earn top honours at Spa

    Admitting on Thursday that Spa was not one of his favourite tracks, you’d be forgiven on Sunday for thinking Lewis Hamilton a liar.

    Putting together a dominant display in his return to the scene of last year’s most infamous race, Hamilton was at his calm and collected best in adding to his haul of 2015 victories. Starting with his first smooth launch in several races – new clutch bite-point rules and an extra formation lap be damned – it was apparent that Hamilton had brought his A-game back from his holidays.

    In a race where he spent little time among the on-camera action, perhaps what was most impressive about Hamilton’s victory was simply the course of his weekend itself. After trailing Rosberg on the Friday timing sheets, he didn’t put a foot wrong thereafter. It was the composure of his final lap in Q3 that made for a four-tenth margin to Rosberg, and Sunday was just an extension of that. Able to dictate pace as necessary, Hamilton built his lead with a relatively lengthy stint on the soft tyres he qualified on, and later in the race when Rosberg turned up the wick, he was easily able to respond in kind. Looking back, it’s hard to imagine he ever thought the result was ever really in doubt.

    If Belgium is an indication of the Lewis Hamilton we can expect to show up for the rest of the season, the world championship is his to lose. Now 28 points ahead, everything about his weekend suggests a driver who is at the very top of his game, and that will make the task of overcoming him very difficult indeed.

    grosjeanbelgium.JPG Grosjean a bright spot amidst Lotus uncertainty

    Romain Grosjean: Man. Racer… Poet?

    As the future of Lotus becomes in increasingly cloudy with the onset of their financial woes, the Frenchman was able to provide a silver lining when they needed it most.

    Metaphor aside, this had been a long time coming for both team and driver. Entering into a partnership with Mercedes for this season, the Enstone outfit were supposed to be challenging for top-5 finishes on a regular basis. Better late than never.

    Qualifying fourth behind the Silver Arrows and Valtteri Bottas’ Williams, Lotus was able to nail their low-downforce setup for Spa, giving Grosjean a car in which he could actually attack.

    Starting ninth after a gearbox penalty, the Frenchman wasted no time making his presence felt, cruising past Bottas, Ricciardo and Perez on his way up to third. Managing his engine power perfectly, come the final laps Grosjean was all over the back of Sebastian Vettel’s one-stopping Ferrari, and looked on for a podium regardless of the German’s tyre blowout. It seemed that for once, of the Mercedes customers, Lotus indeed had the superior package, and furthermore, they still had the same driver who was able to impress multiple times in 2013.

    Unfortunately, due to the impending seizure of some of the team’s assets, celebrations were probably a bit muted in the Lotus garage. It remains to be seen whether they’ll make it to Monza, let alone the fly-away races. Still it was nice to have one more reminder that while a mercurial talent, Romain Grosjean certainly has the goods to be a race-winner in Formula 1. If for nothing other than his sake, let’s hope Lotus are still around to make it a reality.

    1500261_bel.jpg Vettel livid with Pirelli, but does he have a leg to stand on?

    Risking the performance of his tyres on a one stop strategy, Sebastian Vettel ended up paying the price in the most explosive way possible.

    With a little under two laps remaining, Vettel’s right-rear tyre exploded coming down the Kemmel straight. His 27th lap on the same set of medium tyres, Vettel was able to limp back to the pits and finish ninth. Understandably, the four-time world champion held nothing back in criticising tyre suppliers Pirelli post-race, as had the incident happened a few hundred metres earlier while he was going flat-out in Eau Rouge, things could’ve ended significantly worse.

    Unfortunately for Pirelli, this was not the first such failure of the weekend, with Nico Rosberg suffering a similar fate in the third and final practice session on Saturday, already putting them in the spotlight.

    Having said that, what this weekend highlights is less their product’s safety, and more so that the Italian company are in somewhat of an impossible position. Pirelli are designing their tyres at the directive of the FIA, ones that are intended to degrade quickly once they reach a “cliff” in terms of mileage, but have to do so without the use of extensive on-track testing. It’s almost certain that Pirelli have yet to see a driver go for as long and as aggressively (he constantly had all four wheels on the kerbs) as Vettel did, and therein lies the problem.

    Having a cliff isn’t necessarily a bad thing – considering the difficulty cars have passing each other nowadays, manipulating tyre life is one of the better ways to even out performance – but incidents such as Vettel’s might be unavoidable if a tyre is pushed too far. The concern is we don’t know, and neither do Pirelli, because they haven’t been given a real chance to experiment as needed. With testing restrictions set to get even tighter next year, don’t be surprised if the solution is even less-aggressive tyres, and then we’re back to other ways of fixing the racing.

    Hopefully, F1’s decision-makers can refrain from any knee-jerk reactions and look objectively at the sport’s relationship with its tyre supplier. Incidents like Vettel’s should not happen, but this is a problem that goes far beyond that individual tyre from Sunday, the hope is they realise that.

    Can anyone stop Hamilton? Is Grosjean worthy of a race-winning car? What action – if any – should be taken in the wake of Vettel’s incident? Let us know in the comments.
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 24, 2015
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  2. Timmieturner12

    Premium Member

    Can anyone stop Hamilton?

    "I don't think so, he's been consistent all season"

    Is grosjean worthy of a race winning car?

    "Yeah, look what he's done with a car like this, he completely deserves it"

    "No action for Vettel's accident, it was his own choice to go that long on such a stint, therefore he should take the full responsibility.
  3. Milos

    Had things gone my way, who knows.. Premium Member

    yes, yes and no.
    Pirelli didn't even suggest going 27 laps on a prime stint. He pushed the tyres beyong the limit.

    I didn't like Grosjean being a fan of Alonso and after the 2012 incident, but yeah he definetly had a lot of speed this race. He's outperformed Maldonado by a mile, so yes, I think he deserves a top car.
    Otherwise, Perez and Ricciardo also had a lot of speed too imo. Grosjean though, driver of the day.
    • Agree Agree x 1
  4. airutonpurosuto8912


    Good for Grosjean, I even wanted him to get a podium in this season.
  5. You do realise that Pirelli told the teams that the tyres would be able to go 40 laps before the race.
    On top of that no way should a tyre disintegrate at any time (that was one of the demands toward the new tyres) let alone while still being in yellow-deg.

    Oh and also shouldn't the waves be that visible through fast corners:
    • Agree Agree x 1
  6. Milos

    Had things gone my way, who knows.. Premium Member

    actually I didn't realise.
    well.. F1 2015 has tyre puctures :giggle:
    okay now you got me :notworthy:
    • Like Like x 1
  7. A puncture is still a very different story from the whole tyre just disintegrating :D
    • Agree Agree x 1
  8. I didn't much like the way Vettel stayed in the middle of the track through Rivage and Liege, it's one thing to critisize Pirelli for safety after you almost caused a pileup due to intentional dissent or incompetence. GET OFF THE RACING LINE FFS YOUR RACE IS OVER, STOP TRYING TO RUIN OTHERS RACE (that's what I said to my TV anyway, but with more choice words, of course).
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  9. If you look again you can see that he really struggled to keep teh car going at all through bruxelles (and that turn (11) w/o a name after that), especially with the cars behind going by on both sides it can get very tricky just to try and not hit anybody really. :)
    • Agree Agree x 2
  10. Maybe if he stopped in the straight he would have not been in the situation of trying not to hit anybody...
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    • Agree Agree x 1
  11. the tyres shouldn't burst after so few laps. as most of the drivers have said, it is unacceptable that they are so fragile.
    serious efforts towards developing a fail-safe mechanism for tyres should be explored in this day and age.
    Last edited: Aug 24, 2015
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  12. I'm surprised vettel wasn't given a penalty for dangerous driving after his tyre went. Understandably he was trying to get back to the pits ASAP but from what I saw he was causing a hazard.

    Compare that for example, to the guy who was lapped early on, he let everyone pass easily and did his best to get out of the way.

    As for the tyres exploding, no, that's not good and needs to be looked at, and quickly too before somebody gets hurt. The rubber should surely lose its grip way before a burst is even likely.
    • Like Like x 1
    • Agree Agree x 1
  13. Joel

    #NR6 Premium Member

    F1: Pirelli, we want you to make tyres that go against the rules of tyres, and we want you to instead of making them better, make them worse. That'll be fun.
    • Winner Winner x 1
  14. I think this might be the photo effect. Tyre seems to go inwards in the white parts of the kerb and outwards in the red parts of the kerb. Plus this was not the punctured tyre.
  15. Would you have read my coment you would notice that this is a normal effect through fast corners (standing waves or w/e they're called in english) it's just not supposed to be that bad.
  16. Dux

    The 1st MK Formula 1 rFactor Sim-Racing Champion Premium Member

    Seeing happen to Rosberg i hoped to see it happen on the other car of Mercedes, Lewis's.
    In next second i thought "what if that backfires and hits my favorite driver?"

    Watching the race i was hell nervous in last laps. Waiting for his tyre to blow because, of what i felt perhaps. And it did. I think i rolled over the table!