Talent will out on Belgian GP
Spa-Francorchamps – The Scuderia Ferrari drivers both completed 35 laps today which, to put some perspective on it, is 9 laps short of Sunday’s race distance. They say the driver can make a difference on this 7 kilometre Belgian rollercoaster and the talented Mr. Alonso would seem to have proved that, given that on a track where top speed counts for a lot, he still hauled his F14 T to third place on both of today’s time sheets, even though the Ferrari car is known to lack some high speed pace.
Kimi Raikkonen is no slouch round here either, as he’s won the Belgian Grand Prix four times, but we will now have to wait until tomorrow to see what the Finn can do, as he was slowed by an electrical problem this afternoon.
We know there is no magic solution but we will nevertheless try to optimise everything.
Inevitably the two cars that were quicker than Fernando’s were silver, with Lewis Hamilton fastest at the end of the day, followed by Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg. This trio were the only drivers to break the 1minute 50 seconds barrier. Rounding off the top six were the Williams of Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas, fourth and sixth, split by the McLaren of Jenson Button.
Rain is a distinct possibility for tomorrow, which could make qualifying very interesting as a wet track will diminish the importance of the horsepower factor. There were two new names on the timing sheets today: after some confusion, Alex Rossi drove only FP1 for Marussia, before handing back the car to Max Chilton and, at Caterham, three times Le Mans 24 Hours winner Andre Lotterer has replaced Kamui Kobayashi this weekend.
Fernando Alonso: “Compared to the other race weekends, the story is a bit different here, because Spa is a high speed circuit and, after a month off, getting back to racing at a fantastic track like this is a real pleasure. It was nice to be able to run in the dry today.
The weather is always changeable here and in fact, the possibility of rain is forecast for tomorrow, therefore, as usual, we will ensure we are ready for whatever comes our way. At this track and at Monza, engine performance counts for a lot.
We know there is no magic solution but we will nevertheless try to optimise everything. The car behaved as we expected from our simulations and that is definitely something positive.”
Kimi Raikkonen: “A difficult day, complicated by a series of setbacks which cost us valuable track time. In the morning, I had a brake problem, but once it was sorted, we were able to get through our planned programme for the first session.
The new components we brought for this race seem to be working, but only after we have cross-referenced all the data will we be able to work out what is the best package to use for the rest of the weekend.
In the afternoon, an electrical problem complicated our work, preventing us from carrying out the race simulation. Tomorrow, we can expect a busy free practice session, in which we will do our best to prepare the car for qualifying and the race.”
Pat Fry: “The Spa circuit is a very enjoyable one for the drivers and at the same time it presents a great challenge for we engineers, especially this year because of the parameters linked to the new Power Unit. In order to gather as much data as possible, we chose to run different programmes with our drivers. Unfortunately, in the second session, Kimi’s work was affected by an electrical problem, which although it didn’t prevent him running, did mean he couldn’t make the most of all the systems.
In the first and third sectors, top speed counts the most, while in the middle one, driveability and aerodynamic downforce come into play more and that makes finding the right set-up especially demanding, even more so when looking to the race, because while extra downforce can be an advantage in the second sector, it slows the cars on the straights, making it harder to attack and defend in the race.
We are working hard on the efficiency of the car in general and on the thermal energy side of the Power Unit, but I think that at tracks like this one and Monza, which highlights these characteristics on our rivals’ cars, we will have to try and defend with all means available and attack where and when possible.”