Notebook – Belgian Quailfying

Features Notebook

Lewis Hamilton has beaten Sebastian Vettel in the closing moments of qualifying to take pole position for the Belgian Grand Prix by seven-tenths of a second in changeable conditions. Despite the tiniest margins earlier in the session, when the rain came in the closing moments it was Hamilton which held the edge over Vettel.

Pole Lap – L. Hamilton 01:58.179

Lewis Hamilton goes to the inside on the exit of the Bus Stop, kick of oversteer but lines it up to go down the centre of the straight. He breaks slightly before the 150m board slight lock up as he turns into La Source, runs close to the outside. He then crosses for the inside, before heading back to the inside to enter Eua Rouge/Raidillon. Carrying Eaued as he climbs the hill, going to the inside carrying all the speed onto the Kemmel Straight.

Breaking 100m before the hairpin, at the end of the sector he is two tenths up on his best. Turns in slowing the car right down, carefully avoiding the kerbs in the damp he weaves his car to the third part running to the outside. He dips down  the hill, breaking 100m before the Brussels hairpin, going through the centre before returning to the outside midway through Corner With No Name gets bit of oversteer. Breaks into Pouhon going to the inside mid-way through  he picks up speed running to thirteen and backs off a bit at Campus. Then sight pickup as he approaches Stavelot, going to outside and then through Courbe Pau Frere. He is down 1.4 at the timing mark.

Gets a good exit before putting the power down on exit, speed carried through Blachimont. This is effectively now about running as fast as you can to the Bus Stop, breaking 150m before the chicane. He slows right down and gets through well. Stays in the centre of the track setting a 01:58.179 three tenths up on Sebastian Vettel.

Vettel says Ferrari lost it cool

Sebastian Vettel has admitted that Ferrari lost it cool, which left him three tenths off the pace in qualifying. The mixed weather meant that drivers were forced to make the decision between going for two laps or go straight back out for a lap on low fuel in the hope that the conditions would worsen later on.

Ferrari opted to refuel, which was the right decision as the track did dry. However the four time champion appeared to lose his cool head leaving him unable to respond. After the session he said “It was just not as calm as it could’ve been. Yeah, after that, well I mean looking back it’s always very easy in these sessions [with the benefit of hindsight], but the lap that mattered was the last one – before that was nearly irrelevant other than keeping your tyres warm.”

“I couldn’t close also due to traffic, so I knew that if I close on them then the next lap will be compromised then the next lap could be drier, so what do you do? As I said it didn’t feel like I got everything out for various reasons, therefore it was a very scrappy session.”

The German also revealed he was down on charge, as he was unable to recover enough energy to give him a boost. In Q2, Vettel set the fastest lap which was also a new track record. He admitted that Ferrari should have handled the situation better.

Hamilton praises Ocon

Lewis Hamilton has called on Force India’s Esteban Ocon to be given a “great car” after calling his qualifying “exceptional”. The Frenchman will start tomorrows race third.

The ‘new’ team were rescued from collapse before the summer break and despite the rescue have bounced back stronger to lock out the second row. Ocon’s third place marks the best qualifying of his career and adds to what has been a strong career so far.

World champion Hamilton said: “I’ve always been a supporter of Esteban. I think how he conducts himself and how he performs on track is exceptional. Unfortunately we’re in a weird place in Formula 1 where some teams, rather than taking a new up and coming kid, they’ll take whoever has got the money. I think the structure is probably wrong.”

Vettel added “Unfortunately nowadays a new guy comes in and he’s the superhero, and then another guy comes in and he’s the new superhero. And then the first guy is forgotten even though he’s doing a very good job.”

Responding to those comments, Ocon said “It’s awesome to hear that. I’m very happy to hear that. Of course, I want to be racing next year and I’m doing everything for it, I’m working very hard every day for it and to hear great things from those two champions is fantastic.”

New low for McLaren

Fernando Alonso and his McLaren teammate Stoffel Vandoorne were both knocked out in Q1, but the Spaniard says that’s is “the place we belong.”

Despite being knocked out and the team increasingly slipping backwards, he insists that “It was a very good day at the office.” The Spaniard continued: “It’s not frustrating, this is the place we belong to be. This is what we expect here.”

McLaren have we know underperformed this season, they knew that this weekend would be a tough race because they struggle at this kind of circuit. In a bid to counter these challenge they tweaked the cars but that failed to add performance.

Vandoorne added “It’s a home grand prix and it’s a real shame to not have better machinery. We tried to play every card and we didn’t progress anything more. It’s been a difficult weekend. We haven’t had any performance at all.”

Renault considers pit lane start

Renault are looking to make changes to Carlos Sainz car after the Spaniard struggled with the handling of the car during qualifying, meaning that he will start from the pit lane.

Sainz was knocked out in Q1, however he will start fourteenth because of penalties which see teammate Nico Hulkenberg and Valtteri Bottas start from the back of the grid. Speaking about the problems, he said “We don’t know yet. We clearly see that the car has nothing to do with the car that I’ve been driving until pretty much the end of P3, when we thought we were more or less the 10th fastest or 11th fastest car on track.”

“We were optimistic heading into qualifying. As soon as I did the first six or seven corners I felt the car was nowhere near to the balance I had all weekend, a lot of oversteer, no stability, a lot of snaps per lap, very scrappy, difficult to put any decent kind of lap together.”

This must be a bit puzzling for the team, as they introduced a new floor on Friday which did show some performance. Sainz says that he didn’t have the same balance he had following the floor change in FP2.

Race Prixview

Tomorrows race you need to expect it to be a race between Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel. We have the same front row as last year, and we had both drivers performing well. The biggest question has to be have Ferrari learnt enough from 2017 and can they stay ahead of Hamilton.

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Jack

Jack is responsible for the day-to-day running of Formula One Vault. He brings you all the brilliant content. Has an obsession with all things Formula One and anything with an engine.

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