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Weekend logbook - Belgium 2014 - F1 swings into gear at the superb Spa-Francorchamps

Published by Christine

Eau Rouge beckons F1 drivers back from the summer break
Credit: Mercedes AMG Petronas

The waiting is finally over and Formula One is back in action, as the twelfth round of the season takes place in Belgium. The Spa-Francorchamps track is a popular one for fans visiting (even though they get wet), and drivers to race around (even though they often get wet as well). For those of us watching at home, it's also a great weekend of action to indulge in - particularly coming after the four week drought of the summer break.

Thus, here is the logbook, ready and waiting to guide you through all the action building up to the weekend, as well as results, quotes and more as each session unfolds.

As it happened: Belgium 2014 extended weekend coverage

  • 19:29

    Well hello there! It's time to brush the dust off the Factbyte Factbox and kick things off for the Belgian Grand Prix weekend. The summer break is over, the fun starts here!

  • 19:29

    Hopefully you have survived the summer drought of F1 news intact because it's all kicking off this week. We've had Toro Rosso's confirmation that Vergne will be out of a seat next year, and Caterham's announcement today that Kobayashi is stepping aside this weekend.

  • 19:29

    In his place, endurance racer André Lotterer, who had this to say: "I will need to get settled and used to the car quickly, as the team has worked on a number of updates and we will need to have as much time as possible out on track to optimise the car's performance. I really enjoy racing at the legendary circuit of Spa-Francorchamps, it's one of my favourite tracks and it's very close to where I grew up, so this makes the weekend even more special and one to remember."

  • 19:30

    Here's a handy sixty second round up of that Caterham news, with additional quotes from the team and Kobayashi himself.

  • 19:31

    Many of the drivers are gradually making their way towards the track. Romain Grosjean arrived in Spa and immediately took part in a promotional event for Renault. Kevin Magnussen stopped off in Brussels for a Hugo Boss event before heading towards the fabled Belgian circuit.

  • 19:33

    Nico Rosberg was feeling particularly chipper about things earlier in the week, tweeting: "Ready to rock and roll again now! Are you all looking fwd to spa? I think the track will suit our car. Every track has suited our car :)"

    Pride comes before a fall and all that.

  • 21:29

    Everything you need to know about the upcoming weekend is now available in the Race information thread, with schedules, maps, tyre info and track data.

  • 14:08
    Alonso drives an eco-car in Spa
    Credit: Twitter/InsideFerrari

    Fernando Alonso and Kimi Räikkönen took to the track in a different kind of car this week, as part of the Shell Motorsport Eco-marathon. The challenge is for students to design and create ultra-efficient cars, with several events across the globe and throughout the year to celebrate their creations.

    Alonso vs Kimi race eco cars
    Credit: Twitter/InsideFerrari

    This may be the first time we've seen Alonso and Kimi battling it out on the same stretch of track this year!

  • 14:21

    You'll have seen the ice bucket challenges doing the rounds, no doubt, but it's been slow to infiltrate the F1 world. Felipe Massa was the first driver I've seen to get involved, and he went on to challenge both Alonso and Ricciardo. Ice is not what you need when you're in rainy Belgium though!

  • 14:26
  • 14:29

    Sauber have had a really bad season so far in 2014, with zero points on the board from eleven races. Former technical director James Key (now at Toro Rosso) believes the team have what it takes to turn things around but he's not sure where they need to start.

    "I left about three months before the initial project was started to understand how the regulations would work, so what happened after that I honestly don't know. They do seem to have had some struggles and have also had reliability issues as well, which probably hasn't helped. I think it shows how difficult it is, to be honest."

  • 14:30

    André Lotterer has been stepping out in his new green overalls, but it looks like the team haven't managed to find him any boots that fit. He's been wearing his Audi footwear instead. This is reminiscent of red wing mirrors, I don't approve!

  • 15:44

    Surprise! Marussia F1 just dropped the news that Alexander Rossi will replace Max Chilton for all sessions this weekend.

    Max has apparently been sidelined until "contractual issues" have been resolved.

  • 19:19

    Lotterer isn't the only super-sub this weekend, Marussia are also getting in on the action. They've drafted in Alexander Rossi to replace Max Chilton whilst "contractual issues" are sorted out. Rossi makes his debut just a month after joining the team and leaving behind Caterham.

  • 19:20

    Wonder if Rossi would have had the Lotterer drive if he'd stuck at Caterham. So that, either way, he'd have been in a race seat this weekend.

  • 19:29
    Ricciardo gets a cold shower
    Credit: Clive Mason/Getty

    "And he's still smiling," comes a disembodied voice in the accompanying video. Daniel Ricciardo takes part in the Ice Bucket challenge and, as you might expect, doesn't do things by halves!

  • 19:40

    TweetTweet from @LewisHamilton: "I'll be giving everything I have on this track! #BelgianGP #TeamLH #LetsDoThis"

  • 19:43

    There's a Pirelli tyre doing the rounds of the Belgian paddock, being signed by drivers so it can then be auctioned off for charity. Hopefully, no one will accidentally mistake it for a soft compound to be used during the race!

  • 19:48

    TweetTweet from @Jamesallenonf1: "Interesting #F1 drivers' press conf, all said @MaxVerstappen3 deserves his chance, then went on to say they wouldn't have been ready at 17!"

  • 19:50

    The full press conference transcript is available to read. Felipe Massa is no doubt very concerned about the young driver situation, considering his previous reactions to those that lack experience.

    There's also some interesting stuff in there about superstition. Romain Grosjean, forgetful like me: "I used to have superstitions when I was younger and once I forgot things that I used as superstitions and I won the race, so I thought that was useless."

  • 13:20
    FP1 Results
    1N Rosberg1:51.577
    2L Hamilton1:51.674
    3F Alonso1:51.805

    The first session was a reasonably quiet one, with Mercedes heading straight back to their positions at the top. Jenson Button did well in fourth, whilst André Lotterer beat Caterham teammate Marcus Ericsson on his debut. Full results here.

  • 13:21

    Alexander Rossi took part in FP1 but that's the end of his race weekend. Although he was supposed to be in for Max Chilton this weekend, the team have changed their minds again. More information available in this F1Minute update.

  • 13:22

    Meanwhile, Sebastian Vettel is having to sit out the second practice session due to engine problems. Team principal Christian Horner says: "We've got to change the engine, there was an electrical issue in the first session that's caused quite a bit of damage. The engine's had to be changed, unfortunately the length that it takes to change these power units now, there's no chance to get the car out in this session."

  • 17:56
    FP2 Results
    1L Hamilton1:49.189
    2N Rosberg1:49.793
    3F Alonso1:49.930

    Pastor Maldonado had a big crash in second practice, but is ultimately unharmed. Sebastian Vettel couldn't participate in the session due to a lengthy power unit change. For those that got plenty of running in, Hamilton took over the top spot whilst Alonso was third for the second session in a row. Full results here.

  • 17:57

    Interestingly, Maldonado's incident wasn't down to car failure or driver error. According to the Venezuelan, it was divine intervention: "Today is maybe a bit different - I just lost the car from the beginning because of the wheelspin, and I touched the grass, so I was a bit unlucky. It's nothing related to the car or from my side, unlucky."

  • 18:45

    A sixty second round-up of the highlights (and/or lowlights) from practice today, including Pastor's crash and Alonso finishing third.

  • 18:46

    The ice bucket fun and games continues, with Fernando Alonso accepting the challenge from Felipe Massa and others. He also goes on to challenge Luca di Montezemolo, which must be a sure-fire way of getting sacked!?

  • 18:55

    Hamilton also got doused in ice water, although it was a slightly less emotive video than others we have seen. Cool as a cucumber, this one.

  • 11:52
    FP3 Results
    1V Bottas1:49.465
    2D Ricciardo1:49.733
    3N Rosberg1:49.739

    Morning practice wasn't dominated by Mercedes, although that's mostly because many of the drivers spent time sheltered in the garages due to the rain. Rain at Spa! So, leave it to Williams to take over the top spot. Full results here.

  • 12:02

    The live thread for qualifying has now gone live. Make your predictions about pole position, any spins, the chances of rain and much more!

  • 12:22

    Huge rainstorm ahead of qualifying.

    Rain in the Spa pitlane
    Credit: Twitter/Rowlinson_F1
  • 12:32

    Follow all the action (or all the delay, rain depending) for qualifying via the Factbyte Factbox.

  • 21:35

    A nice little summary of the qualifying action will round out the day nicely. We're all set for a good race tomorrow after the grid was decided today. Full results are available here.

  • 21:36

    TweetTweet from @danielricciardo: "Really excited for the race tomorrow. We can charge hard. Qualy was fun, tricky conditions. Had a big moment on my lap but kept it on.. just"

  • 21:37
    Claire Williams soaked for the Ice Bucket Challenge
    Credit: Glenn Dunbar/Williams F1

    Another entry in the ice bucket challenge, and this time the drivers are delivering the freezing water!

  • 12:22

    There are no penalties for the grid lineup today, so here's the official starting grid with just half an hour or so to go until the race begins.

  • 21:31

    Daniel Ricciardo wins the Belgian Grand Prix, his third victory of the year!

  • 21:32

    Epic meltdown at Mercedes, as Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton crash on the second lap. Lewis retires, Nico finishes second, post-race meetings ahoy!

  • 21:33

    The full results of the race are available here, including Kevin Magnussen's 20 second post-race penalty that pushed him out of the points.

  • 21:34

    It's also worth checking out the Factbyte Factbox replay of the race, because there were an awful lot of highlights to keep up with.

  • 21:39
    Driver standings after round 12

    View the driver and team standings for brilliant interactive graphs. I'm fascinated to see what progress Daniel Ricciardo is making, particularly as the Mercedes squabbles are allowing him to catch them up.

  • 21:41

    A couple of F1Minutes wrap up the day's action nicely. The race review details Ricciardo's win, and the Mercedes close-up analyses the post-race reaction.

  • 21:49

    QuoteAndré Lotterer didn't get much of an opportunity this weekend, retiring after the first couple of laps. Afterwards he said: "I didn’t even get the chance to sweat unfortunately. I was really looking forward to a good race and I had a good start, but then I went a bit wide at turn 17 and there was a sudden loss of power.

    "I am pleased with my race weekend – I made no mistakes and did a reasonably good job. Of course it would’ve been fantastic to finish the race and do a whole Grand Prix, but it’s still been an amazing weekend. I can go home happy even though it didn’t really end the way I would’ve liked it to."

  • 17:03

    Nico has his say after the fallout with Lewis Hamilton post-Spa.

    The German intends to "keep on fighting in Monza." Indeed!

  • 17:04

    Catch up with a selection of goodies from the weekend in the Pick and mix roundup, including a rather good quote from Jenson Button.

  • 17:39

    TweetTweet from @ValtteriBottas: "Great to be back on the podium again! Thanks for all the support during the weekend! Now looking forward to Monza in 2weeks"

    Four podiums out of five weekends, and he's looking to add another trophy to his collection.

  • 17:41

    Although the Pick and mix post this week talks up Daniel Ricciardo's chances of getting involved in the title fight, the Australian isn't getting carried away. After his third win of the season, he said:

    "We're really motivated right now and it's been a really good day on a track we didn't expect to get maximum points from," Ricciardo said. "It will keep us smiling for a while but at the same time we will still stay grounded. Monza we know will stay tricky again but obviously the package we brought here was pretty racy so we'll try and take something from here to Monza..."

  • 18:09

    That just about wraps things up for the Belgian weekend. Just like Daniel Ricciardo, we are now looking ahead to the Monza weekend.

  • 18:10

    Do stay tuned to Sidepodcast in the intervening fortnight for news and views and all that good stuff. See you in two weeks!

All content in the series Belgium 2014