Pirelli have brought the hard and medium compounds this weekend, although we've also seen the green intermediates as well.
Sebastian Vettel experienced something of a tyre failure/puncture on the rear right during practice, which has raised eyebrows over whether the compound problems we've seen before are actually fixed or not.
Interview with Paul di Resta: "Definitely in the right direction, P5 is a good position for us, hopefully we can stay there if it's a dry race. We've had a few difficult races but so far this year has been great and everyone in the team is looking forward to hopefully a good race."
A glimpse of the rain moving in and around Spa, the little dot in the centre.
Tweet from @F1onNBCSports: The added risk with rain is that many drivers have already used the majority of their intermediate tires. Makes for an interesting race!
|(data from Williams F1)|
|Fuel lap time penalty||0.4s/10kg|
|Pit lane loss||17.1s|
|Pit lane length||386m|
Jenson Button won this race last year, helped along by the crazy antics of Romain Grosjean taking out several other contenders for the victory. This year, Grosjean is further up the grid than he was last time - 9th back then, 7th this time. Will he be able to get through the first corner cleanly?
Tweet from @MercedesAMGF1: 40 minutes to the race - no rain at the moment but a heavy grey sky... #F1 #Spa #BelgiumGP
Di Resta wasn't the only story in qualifying, we also some impressive stuff from the Caterham and Marussia teams.
In the first session, a switch to the slick tyres meant they found pace at the right time, allowing three of the four backmarker drivers to get out of Q1 - both Marussia boys, plus Giedo van der Garde. The Dutchman was actually third fastest in that first session.
They were at the back of the second session, lining up on the grid as follows.
|14||G van der Garde||Caterham|
Stefano Domenicali isn't writing off Ferrari's title chances just yet: "Considering the championship, the only thing, we need to stay connected to the leaders as much as we can. We have a special track in Monza, last year we were competitive… we were not able to win the race. Then from Singapore we start the last part of the season, where if you are able to bring new parts to the car, if you are close to the leaders, as I said, it's very long."
There's half an hour to go, the pit lane has just opened so the engines are firing up and cars are starting to wind their way round to the grid.
|(forecast data from Brembo)|
|Maximum pedal load||124kg|
A Caterham stops at the pit exit for a practice start, backing up the cars behind him. That's not the first time we'll see a Caterham train today, I think!
The Williams and Toro Rosso drivers were the main casualties of Q1, dropping out where the regular backmarkers were moving forward. Pastor Maldonado, who scored Williams' first point of the season at the last race, starts 17th.
@WilliamsF1Team: Pastor on the grid now ahead of the #BelgianGP
Interview with Max Chilton: "What an amazing achievement it is for a young team to be up here. We got it right in Q1, and we did the job in Q2. It's great to be a little way further up. It's going to be hard for us to start the race, we're not in our natural race. We'll try our hardest, use KERS at the right time, but it's Spa, you know, you never know what's going to happen."
Interview with Giedo van der Garde: "I hope to get some rain out of it, it would be nice, it would be good for us. If [the cars behind] are much quicker, they are able to pass me easy, but if not, I will fight them."
It looks like Greenpeace are in action today. Some protestors have micro-lighted in and landed on top of the grandstands. Now they're getting ready to abseil down, for what purpose we don't know. They're likely to land in the crowd where some officials are waiting for them.
Tweet from @pirellisport: The fastest strategy looks to be a 2-stop, starting on the medium, then change to medium on lap 13 and to hard on lap 25. A 1-stop is possible too, starting on the medium and then change to the hard on lap 19, then run till the end of the 44-lap race. All of this is of course assuming it stays dry and there is no safety car.... both of which are highly unlikely in Spa...
Ten minutes to race start then.
Interview with Jenson Button: "I think we've got to watch out for the weather, it doesn't say it's going to rain for a little while but there's every chance it will. We don't want rain, we were quicker in Q2 in the dry."
It's definitely a banner that the Greenpeace people have.
Tweet from @radarguruf1: #F1 radar update 13:53 CET: Rain remains in the forecast. The nearest showers are around 40 miles from the circuit and closing in slowly.
The grid is starting to clear, with mechanics pausing by their tyres ready to whip the blankets off at a moment's notice.
The tyre blankets come off, the engines rumble, the rain lights are flashing. The green lights come on and Hamilton leads the pack away for the formation lap.
All the cars barring Bianchi, Chilton, Ricciardo and Gutiérrez are starting on the medium compounds. Those four have the orange sidewalls of the harder compound.
It's a long formation lap, 7 kilometres to be covered with those weaving moves to warm up the rubber, and the stop start nature of the warm up lap.
Tweet from @steveslaterf1: Perfect conditions at Spa. Commentators nightmare though with two Lotuses on row 4 and to Ferraris on row 5. Commentator mix up inevitable!
They're back on the grid now, Hamilton pulling to a half in that pole position slot, the rest of the field filling in behind.
It looks like the Lotus of Kimi Räikkönen is smoking heavily on the grid, brakes heating up!
Hamilton makes a good start, Vettel slips in behind him, Webber had a terrible start.
Vettel streams past Hamilton for the lead already!
Alonso has moved up to fifth, Webber behind. Button is up to fourth with the Ferrari challenging him. Meanwhile, Vettel is storming away into the distance.
Bianchi and Chilton have dropped back drastically at the start, whilst Van der Garde is holding his own for now, still in 14th.
Alonso is lining up Button, he tries a move after sweeping up past Eau Rouge. He doesn't have the pace to make it work, but when DRS is on, Button's unlikely to be able to hold him up for long.
Where Vettel and Alonso had great starts, their teammates did not. Webber dropped back three places, Massa dropped back two. He's currently 12th.
Rob Smedley has reportedly told Massa his front wing is fine, so there may have been contact on the first lap that caused the drop in position.
Vettel is already more than three seconds up on Hamilton, so DRS isn't an option there. The two Mercedes drivers are next with Button ahead of Alonso... for now.
More frantic radio from Massa, with what sounds like a KERS issue for the Ferrari driver.
There he goes, Alonso moves past Jenson to take fourth place. Rosberg is next on his agenda.
Mark Webber has also found his way past Button, the Brit now down to 6th place.
|7||-2||P Di Resta|
Giedo van der Garde's storming position is gone already, he's back down to 19th now. Normal service has been resumed.
Alonso has already dispatched Rosberg, he's up to third now.
Vergne has been given an "aggressive engine mix" in order to jump Pastor Maldonado.
Gutiérrez is urged to push through some of the corners harder, his tyres can take it. He's made up four places off the start, currently in 17th.
There are plumes of brake dust pouring from Grosjean's car. The Lotus pair have some brake troubles, seemingly!
Grosjean ran wide off track, overtaken by Pérez who didn't give him much room. The Lotus lost two places there.
Räikkönen is chasing down Hülkenberg, battle of the umlauts there. They were centimetres apart but separate again to head up Eau Rouge towards the DRS zones.
Kimi makes short work of the Sauber to move up to 8th place.
Meanwhile, Charles Pic has come into the pit lane.
Incident involving Pérez and Grosjean under investigation - forcing another driver off the track.
Charles Pic is still in the pits.. long stop or perhaps race over. Meanwhile, Hulk and Massa come in for their first stops of the afternoon.
Massa managed to jump Hülkenberg in that stop, a super job by Ferrari. He was narrowly on the white line on the way out, but didn't cross it.
Paul di Resta comes in for a stop, medium tyres come off and the hard tyres go on. As the Force India exits, Vergne rolls in for his stop.
Pic is officially out of the race, no word from the team as yet to why, except there was an issue and they were looking into it.
Drive through penalty for Pérez - forcing another driver off the track.
Lewis Hamilton comes in to the pit lane from third place. Another set of mediums go on the Mercedes, and he rejoins in ninth.
Vettel still leads, he's got seven seconds over second place Alonso, who in turn has made up seven places so far. Lucky sevens.
Rosberg comes into the pit lane, early stops for both Mercedes drivers. No sign of Pérez taking his drive through yet.
Kimi has been instructed to manage the wear on the front left tyre, so they're obviously not planning to stop any time soon.
Grosjean has passed Hamilton, who had just moved past him for seventh, but Romain has got the place back again.
Fernando Alonso and Mark Webber file into the pit lane, Ferrari turn the car around quickly, but Red Bull are even quicker. Positions remain the same, though.
Sergio Pérez finally comes in for his drive through, he's back out again.
Webber put on the harder tyres, Alonso stayed on the medium tyres. Vettel comes in for his first stop, a brilliant stop by Red Bull and it's mediums for him again.
Vettel has emerged behind Button, who has been promoted to the lead of the race. Alonso passes Hamilton, who could get him back in the DRS zone.
It's a drag race but Alonso retains the position, despite almost not being able to slow it down and wobbling into the next corner.
Vettel floats past Button as though the McLaren wasn't even there. Back in the lead for the German.
Rosberg has passed Grosjean now, Romain struggling for pace in this stint. Massa has passed Gutiérrez moving up into ninth place for now. Esteban hasn't stopped yet though.
Tweet from @clubforce: Paul in P13, Adrian in P15 with a few more cars to stop ahead. Plenty to fight about in this race! #FeelTheForce
Sterling work in the pit lane from @WilliamsF1Team.
Räikkönen has Pérez in his sights, the McLaren still has yet to take his first strategical stop of the day. Kimi makes the move easily enough, up to tenth for now.
Alonso makes it past Button as the McLaren driver dives into the pitlane for his first stop of the race.
Three wide as Pérez gets sandwiched by two Force Indias going through Eau Rouge. No carnage, amazingly, and no position changes either.
Tweet from @radarguruf1: #F1 radar update 14:35 CET: Rain still edging west, but touch and go now if it reaches #Spa before the end.
Grosjean and Gutiérrez are the only two drivers not to have stopped yet - both going long into the race and could be on for a one-stop here.
Sergio Pérez comes in for his first proper pit stop, and emerges way down in 17th.
Button passes Massa, closing up behind the Ferrari through Blanchimont, outbraking him and mostly praying that Felipe didn't crash into him. It worked, and that's 7th for Button now.
|Sector 1||A Sutil||322kph|
|Sector 2||J Button||192kph|
|Sector 3||P Di Resta||215kph|
|Speed trap||M Webber||303kph|
Button is told that he's gaining on sixth place Grosjean by two and a half seconds a lap.
|F Massa||vs.||K Räikkönen|
Halfway through the race.
Gutiérrez has stopped now, dropping down to 17th place. Grosjean finally comes in for his first stop.
It's 13th place for Grosjean as he emerges after a relatively slow stop by Lotus - over three seconds.
Tweet from @f1elvis: Long stint on options for GRO, 2 stops probably would've been marginally quicker, but he has to gamble by taking just one. Nothing to lose.
Rosberg has a Red Bull in the shape of Mark Webber firmly in his rear view mirrors, the Australian keen to get past for fourth place.
Pérez has been told to push and overtake some of the slower cars in front, then they'll see where they are in terms of strategy. Essentially, making it up as they go along!
Kimi was hustling Massa for seventh place but suddenly dropped back, he'll have to make up that gap all over again now.
If the race finished now...
Rosberg pits for the second time.
Kimi tries to pass Massa at the last corner, he goes on the inside but has no chance of slowing the car down. He runs totally wide, off track, comes back on and dives into the pit lane.
The mechanics weren't ready, but they don't need to be, they push him back in the garage - race over for Kimi. That's his first retirement since he came back into F1 last year.
The brakes are smoking in the garage, looks like he stamped on the brakes at that last corner and got nothing. They were smoking on the grid so it was a worry right from the start.
Lewis Hamilton comes in for his second stop, Mercedes putting in a rather speedy 2.5 second stop for the Brit.
Kimi radio on a replay of the incident confirm brake failure.
There's a heck of a battle going on for 11th, Maldonado, Gutiérrez and Sutil with Di Resta and Hülkenberg closing in behind. A good ol' train there.
That train of cars closed up round the final few corners, Maldonado tried to go in the pit lane and smashed into the back of a Force India, then hitting the other one as well.
Yellow flags as the debris is cleared.
Pastor Maldonado made his way straight into the pits. Di Resta is out of the car, race over for him, the Force India stricken at the side of the track.
Track is clear and DRS is enabled once more.
Poor Di Resta makes the slow walk back to the pit lane.
Amongst the drama, we've had more pit stops. Alonso and Webber have both come in for their second stops of the afternoon.
Vettel comes in to the pit stop for another slick pit stop - both Sebastian's stops have been 2.7 seconds so far. He returns to the track in first.
Tweet from @clubforce: An unlucky ending for Paul's weekend after so nearly clinching pole position yesterday and being firmly in contention for points today.
Let's recap. Vettel and Alonso have both stopped twice and are P1 and 2 respectively. Button is up to third having only stopped once so far.
The two Mercedes drivers are next, followed by Webber. Then Grosjean with his one-stopping strategy is 7th.
Mark Webber sets the fastest lap of the race so far with a 1:51.397.
Button's radio tells him they want to do Plan A and he replies "I'm up for that." Potentially a one-stopper for Jenson too then.
Commentators suggest that if Button pits now he would come out in seventh place. Staying out, he has the opportunity to stay ahead. Currently third, but with Hamilton and Rosberg within three seconds of him.
Drive through penalty for Max Chilton - ignoring blue flags.
Chilton takes his drive through penalty, coming in from last and returning to the track in last place. He immediately gets some blue flags. Let's hope he spotted them this time.
Button comes into the pit stop, so not a one-stopper at all. Plan A completely different. He's got the harder compound on, and he returns to the track in the expected 6th place.
Vergne gets past Hülkenberg for 11th place, putting the Sauber between the two Toro Rosso drivers.
Interview with Paul di Resta: "The traffic was the main event, we got stuck in traffic after the first pit stop… when we stopped for that third time again, we found ourselves behind the same traffic. Pastor missed the apex after the first chicane… quite silly, ended up taking the rear of the car. Unfortunate because the speed was quite strong again, in the dry. Maybe a point up for grabs or two. We'll go to Monza and try and end this points drought we're on."
Tweet from @radarguruf1: #F1 radar 15:09 CET: Looking like one or two drops at most in the final laps of the race. Main band of rain won't reach the circuit in time
Webber has got himself within one second of Nico Rosberg, who is sitting in fourth place at the moment.
10 second stop/go penalty for Pastor Maldonado - causing a collision.
Knowing the brake trouble Lotus have had so far today, this is definitely worth keeping an eye on.
|R Grosjean||vs.||F Massa|
There can't be much else happening on track, we're firmly focused on this Massa/Grosjean battle.
Pastor Maldonado comes in for his stop/go penalty. He was 16th, so it's not going to help him at all.
Drive through penalty for Esteban Gutiérrez - leaving the track and gaining an advantage.
Maldonado loses one position to Van der Garde, dropping to 17th.
Felipe Massa pushes round the outside of Grosjean, moving into 7th place.
Gutiérrez comes in for his drive through penalty. Just two laps to go now.
|S Vettel on lap 42|
Very quiet end to the race, it seems. The potential rain never arrived, Vettel has a hugely unassailable lead, and field spread is the name of the game.
Sebastian Vettel wins the Belgian Grand Prix!!
Vettel pulls to a halt in the winning enclosure, Hamilton and Alonso pull in behind. Vettel gives the Red Bull a loving stroke as he heads in to be weighed.
Tweet from @clubforce: Adrian crosses the line in 9th - important points on the board to restart our season
The top three drivers head to the green room, Vettel pumping his fist as he takes a good look at the timing screens. Hamilton gives him a playful shove, saying "too fast" as he does so.
Alonso watches on, looking slightly frustrated at the results.
It's mostly cheering for Vettel as he makes his way onto the podium, a change from the boos we have heard of late. Hats off and time for the national anthems.
Vettel mouths the words to his national anthem atop the podium.
McLaren have finally made that jump ahead of Force India.
The champagne is sprayed, big swigs taken by Alonso and Vettel, before they pose for the obligatory pictures.
Post-race podium quotes - Sebastian Vettel: "It was a fantastic race for us. From start to finish really, very good tactics. It helped the first lap to have the tow of Lewis through Eau Rouge and then I was flying past. Once I passed him, we had incredible pace and could control the race to the end. We were a bit afraid of the rain coming towards the end but I think it just passed the circuit. Great race, thank you to the team. Thanks to Renault, all the guys have been working very hard. Fantastic result, can't be any better."
Post-race podium quotes - Fernando Alonso: "We have to recover some places, we were not okay yesterday and everything went okay from the start. The car has the speed to overtake some cars. It was a little bit boring after we get second place, we were nowhere near Sebastian and no big threat from behind."
Post-race podium quotes - Lewis Hamilton: "We had a tough race, these guys were a bit faster than us but the team did a great job throughout the weekend. The team did a great job, of course. I'm happy with the results we had, I'm glad to see so many great fans here this weekend. They made the weekend."
Missed the end of the quotes because the jeers from the crowd drowned out Vettel's reply. The majority of booing appears to be aimed at the protestors though, rather than the race winner.
Tweet from @Marussia_F1Team: Tough race for Jules & Max to finish 18th & 19th. Was always going to be difficult to maintain grid positions, or thereabouts, in a dry race
|P Di Resta||Accident||28|
|C Pic||Oil leak||9|
So, it wasn't a classic Belgian race, a disappointment particularly as we expected so much from Spa. Vettel stormed to an easy victory which doesn't help the championship battles at all.
However, Formula One is back in action, and it's a jam-packed couple of months as we wend our way towards the end of the season.
Monza is next on the agenda, and Ferrari will be desperate to do well at their home race. Second here at Spa was a good effort from Alonso, they might be able to grab their third win of the year with home advantage.
Elsewhere, Mercedes still look strong, Toro Rosso's Daniel Ricciardo made a great comeback to finish tenth and the rumours surrounding his future may come to an end soon.
There are two weeks now until the Italian Grand Prix, so I will see you back here then. In the meantime, stay tuned to https://sidepodcast.com and http://f1minute.com for all the news and views you'll need.
Stay positive, fact fans.
All content in the series Belgium 2013
Filed under Lap by lap coverage
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