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#1071 2022 Belgian Grand Prix

2022-03-11 00:00

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#2022, Fulvio Conti, Nicoletta Zuppardo, Gabriele Calari, Fabio Giardini, Nicole Masi,

#1071 2022 Belgian Grand Prix

Over the weekend 26-28 August, 2022, Formula 1 returns to the Cathedral of Speed after the summer break with drivers and fans hoping to enjoy the stay

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Over the weekend 26-28 August, 2022, Formula 1 returns to the Cathedral of Speed after the summer break with drivers and fans hoping to enjoy the stay in one of the best tracks in the world. Iconic turns, like the famous Eau Rouge-Raidillon-complex, insane speeds and beautiful landscapes make Spa-Francorchamps one of the absolute musts of the increasingly crowded F1 calendar. The Belgian Grand Prix represents the fourteenth round of the season four weeks after the Hungarian Grand Prix, the thirteenth race of the Formula 1 World Championship. It is the eighth overall race of the championship in the old continent, the fifth consecutive take place in Europe, as well as the only test in August, the third of the second part of the season, and the first race after the mandatory three-week summer break. The contract for the Belgian Grand Prix in the Formula 1 world championship calendar, also on the Spa-Francorchamps circuit, is valid until the end of the current season. Sponsor of the Grand Prix is, as has been the case since the 2020 edition, the Swiss company that produces Rolex watches. The Grand Prix is ​​the first of a triptych of races, the only one in this championship, together with the subsequent Dutch and Italian Grands Prix, scheduled for early September, all to be held within a week of the another, an occurrence which already occurred in the previous season when the return of the Dutch Grand Prix to the Formula 1 world championship calendar was placed by the Federation between the Belgian and Italian Grands Prix. The contest of three Grands Prix for three consecutive weeks took place, for the first time ever in the history of the category, in the 2018 championship, on one occasion, and subsequently three times each in the last two previous seasons.

 

To prevent the Belgian Grand Prix from being removed from the calendar for subsequent seasons, the organizers of the event express their willingness to renew the agreement with Formula 1 in the future as well, reiterating their intention with huge non-sporting investments for the maintenance of the Belgian appointment. Meanwhile, 360.000 spectators are expected over the course of the race weekend, which represents the all-time record for the Grand Prix. The maximum capacity for spectators in the grandstands is allowed after the limit was set at 75.000 spectators in the previous edition due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The FIA ​​confirms the calendar date in the following season of the Australian Grand Prix. It will be held on 2 April 2023 and will be the third Grand Prix of the season, after the Grands Prix of Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, as happened during this championship. The race will also be the appointment, for the first time, of the accompanying categories to Formula 1, Formula 2 and Formula 3. The Australian Grand Prix is ​​also designated as the opening race of the 2024 and 2025 World Championships. motoring at the same time announces that the French Grand Prix, starting from the next championship, will not be held. The Grand Prix returned to the world championship calendar in the 2018 season on the Paul Ricard circuit, already home to the race for several editions in the past. The 2020 edition of the race, together with numerous other Grands Prix, did not take place due to the problems dictated by the Covid-19 pandemic. Speaking of the forthcoming Belgian Grand Prix, some drivers, including McLaren's Lando Norris of Britain, AlphaTauri's Pierre Gasly of France and Red Bull Racing's Mexican Sergio Pérez are voicing their disapproval that the Belgian circuit could be omitted from future calendars. in the hope that this is not the last edition. The Austrian team's world champion, Dutchman Max Verstappen, describes the track as his favourite, saying it would be a shame if the circuit were removed in subsequent seasons.

 

"It would be a big shame to lose Spa. It's my favourite track in the world and also with the recent changes they did to the run off and stuff. I think it's just an amazing track in a Formula 1 car, any car to be honest, with all the high speed corners and the flow it has in general".

 

And Carlos Sainz adds:

 

"I think there's a compromise to be found, because in the end, I think we all love going to France, to Spa but at the same time the sport is growing so much. I guess there's a lot of new places that are paying quite a lot of money to be part of Formula 1. And it's difficult, as a business point of view, to say no to that.I think the best compromise would be to do rotation and I understand France or Spa maybe cannot afford to be in the calendar every year but I hope that at least every two or three years we can visit Spa in a Formula 1 car.I just wish that even if Vegas, South Africa, whatever is coming, that we can still go to back to France or back to Spa every now and then to keep enjoying those kinds of circuits".

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The 2009 World Champion with Brawn GP, ​​the Briton Jenson Button, is also appealing to save the historic Belgian circuit.

 

"If Spa isn't part of the calendar, I'll be very angry. The Monaco issue is very complicated, because there are many things behind it. But if they cancel Spa, it's for other reasons, not because it's not a good circuit. It's one of the best circuits world, the races are amazing and the drivers and teams love to go there. We have to be careful. We know that Formula 1 is entertainment and that a certain TV show [Drive to Survive] made it very famous in America, which is great for this sport. But we need to make sure we keep the racing exciting and we go to circuits that give us a great chance of seeing the drivers happy. I like to have a mix of street circuits and old school circuits but we can't always just go to the You have to keep in mind both the layout of the track and the country you're racing in, because that's how you build a fan base. It's also important that the race is fun to watch on TV, with lots of battles".

 

At the same time, the organizers are imposing ten rules on spectators attending the race to avoid a similar situation that occurred in the Austrian Grand Prix held in early July where Dutch fans were accused of homophobic discrimination and racial insults towards some drivers. On the day of the race, Sunday 28 August 2022, the contract for the dispute of the Grand Prix in the world championship calendar is also renewed for the following season. Stefano Domenicali declares:

 

"We've always said that the race is part of our tradition and has a very important place in our calendar, and this is an announcement we wanted to share right now".

 

Present in the calendar of the Formula 1 World Championship since the inaugural edition of 1950 and valid as a race for the category since the same year, the Belgian Grand Prix, together with those of Monaco, Switzerland, France, Great Britain and Italy, including a edition of the Indianapolis 500 valid for the world championship, was one of the tests that characterized the calendar of the inaugural edition of the Formula 1 world championship. The Belgian Grand Prix sees the dispute in its seventy-eighth edition, the sixty-seventh valid for the world championship. The Spa-Francorchamps circuit, the current venue for the race and on various configurations, the most recent of which has been in use by the category since the 2007 season, when the Grand Prix returned to being part of the Formula 1 World Championship calendar, a track used for the first time in the inaugural edition of 1950, it is the track that has hosted the largest number of editions of the race and it is the longest on the calendar. The Belgian track is behind only the Monza circuit, home of the Italian Grand Prix, the Monte-Carlo circuit, home of the Monaco Grand Prix, and the Silverstone circuit, home of the British Grand Prix, for the most of editions hosted in the history of the World Cup. The Grand Prix was also held in two other locations: the Nivelles circuit hosted the race twice, in 1972 and 1974, while the Zolder circuit hosted the race for ten editions between 1973 and 1984. The Belgian Grand Prix was not run in the 1957 season, due to lack of funds for the race to be held, in 1959, 1969, when the organizers did not want to pay for safety improvements to the circuit, and the teams the British, French and Italians withdrew from the event, in 1971 as the track did not comply with the mandatory safety specifications imposed by the Federation that year, in 2003 due to the country's tobacco advertising laws, and in 2006, when local authorities were unable to complete major repair work to the track in time for the race to be held in September, before returning to the season calendar on a permanent basis from the championship s following. Starting from this Grand Prix, the technical directive against the porpoising of cars in the full straight put forward by the FIA ​​in previous Grands Prix comes into force. On the eve of the Canadian Grand Prix, the world motoring body launches an investigation to study how dangerous the porpoising of cars in the full straight is for drivers, not only for safety on the track, but also for the repercussions on the body.

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The jolts were particularly pronounced on the long straight of the Baku circuit during the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, arousing more than one concern for the drivers, in particular for the British driver of Mercedes, Lewis Hamilton, protagonist of severe back pain caused by porpoising, whose presence was initially questioned for the Canadian race, but later denied by the driver himself. From the beginning, the FIA ​​wanted to have a complete picture, consulting specialist doctors and collecting data from other series, for example from the rally, and a technical directive was subsequently issued which explains that in the interest of safety it is necessary to intervene to request the teams to make the necessary changes to reduce or eliminate this porpoising phenomenon. In detail, the world motoring body decides to intervene on some points, such as a more careful control of the vehicle bottom and the definition of a metric, based on the vertical acceleration of the car, which provides a quantitative limit for the acceptable level of vertical swings, and a meeting with the teams is also announced. In the Canadian Grand Prix, the FIA ​​had limited itself to collecting the data in the third free practice session on Saturday, without applying penalties given the limited time left at the teams' disposal. After the data collected, on the eve of the British Grand Prix, the FIA ​​has informed the teams that the directive is active starting from the French Grand Prix. The FIA ​​also established some new parameters regarding the wear of the bottom and the stiffness of the central pad that the teams must respect. Nonetheless, prior to the Austrian Grand Prix, it was established that the operation of the technical directive was moved from the French Grand Prix to this race, at the end of August after the three-week summer break. Some teams, however, have threatened legal action against the FIA ​​regarding the issue of interventions on the porpoising of the cars and on the flat bottom, with the technical directives introduced for safety reasons. The vote, not required by the regulation given that the actions are motivated by a security urgency, would normally have required a majority of eight teams to pass. Nevertheless, the World Motoring Council has redefined the flex parameters of the flat bottom of the cars starting from this race. In detail, the changes concern point 3.15.8 of the technical regulation, where an addition specifies the request for a homogeneous stiffness around the measurement holes, equal to at least 90% of the highest value measured in this area. In this regard, the top management of the FIA ​​declare that it would have been irresponsible not to protect Formula 1 drivers from the consequences of porpoising by not changing the rules for next year. Nikolas Tombazis, technical manager of the FIA, declares in this regard:

 

“We see that in general with the increase in performance there is also a tendency for porpoising to increase. At the same time, teams are learning more about this phenomenon and are able to better control it. responsibly. We have examples of other sports that have ignored the long-term effects of certain conditions to which athletes are subjected and we felt we needed to take a long-term view. These regulations will continue until 2025 inclusive, before moving to the new regulations for effective from 2026, and we felt it was better to act in advance than to find ourselves here discussing the same thing again in a year's time. So it was the combination of all these factors. We also reached a compromise. The President is been heavily involved in all these discussions and I think we finally found the right solution, but there is no doubt that some teams will say that it is the intervened too much and others who will say that too little has been done. It's normal".

 

Speaking about his team's attitude towards this change, Red Bull Racing team principal Christian Horner said:

 

"Well, my wife often tells me that size doesn't matter, so I won't get too fussed about 10 mm. We have to live with it and it is what it is. It's awkward to introduce new stuff at this time of year, it's incredibly late, but that's the same." for everyone".

 

Furthermore, starting from 2023, it is established that the cars will be raised by 15 millimeters to defeat the phenomenon of car porpoising in full straight. The height of the diffuser throat is also increased. Monday 1st August 2022 Aston Martin Aramco Cognizant Formula One™ Team is delighted to confirm that Fernando Alonso will join the team in 2023 on a multi-year contract. The whole company is very excited to bring Fernando's incredible experience and brilliant pace and racecraft to the team. The recruitment of a special talent such as Fernando is a clear statement of intent from an organization that has committed to developing a winning Formula One team. Fernando Alonso says:

 

"This Aston Martin team is clearly applying the energy and commitment to win, and it is therefore one of the most exciting teams in Formula One today. I have known Lawrence and Lance for many years and it is very obvious that they have the ambition and passion to succeed in Formula One. I have watched as the team has systematically attracted great people with winning pedigrees, and I have become aware of the huge commitment to new facilities and resources at Silverstone. No one in Formula One today is demonstrating a greater vision and absolute commitment to winning, and that makes it a really exciting opportunity for me.I still have the hunger and ambition to fight to be at the front, and I want to be part of an organization that is committed to learn, develop and succeed We all appreciate that there is much to be done to get to the front, and that we must apply all our energies in working together to find performance.The passion and desire to perform that I have witnessed convinc and me to maintain my enjoyment and commitment to the sport. I intend to win again in this sport and therefore I have to take the opportunities that feel right to me".

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Lawrence Stroll, Executive Chairman, adds:

 

"I have known and admired Fernando for many years and it has always been clear that he is a committed winner like me. I have set out to bring together the best people and develop the right resources and organization to succeed in this highly competitive sport, and those plans are now taking shape at Silverstone.It seemed natural therefore to invite Fernando to be part of the development of a winning team, and we very quickly established in our recent conversations that we have the same ambitions and values, and it was logical and easy to confirm our desire to work together".

 

And Mike Krack, Aston Martin Team Principal, concludes:

 

"I have witnessed the excitement in the engineering team and throughout the whole organization at the opportunity to work with Fernando. We know that nearly everyone can learn from someone of Fernando's caliber and experience. We are confident that he will inspire everyone to lift their game , and that will only enhance the already infectious energy that exists within the team.We are on a journey to create a winning organisation, and it is clear that Fernando will accelerate our progress and bring us to a performance in which we can take pride. We are delighted to have Fernando and Lance as our driver line-up next year - the combination of experience and youth will be incredibly strong and both drivers look forward to competing and working together.The team has a new leadership focused on the development of AMR23 , and we are all thrilled that they and our future projects will benefit from the knowledge and experience that Fernando will bring".

 

Replacing Alonso, initially on Tuesday 2 August 2022 BWT Alpine F1 Team confirms 21-year-old reserve driver Oscar Piastri as Esteban Ocon's teammate starting from 2023. In line with the commitments made by the Team to the young Australian, Oscar will be promoted to race driver and step in Fernando Alonso's seat from next year onwards. Oscar has been a valued member of the Alpine family for the past four years. The Melbournenian joined the Alpine Academy following his title win in the Formula Renault Eurocup Championship in 2019. With support and guidance from the Academy, Oscar went on to win the 2020 FIA Formula 3 Championship before making it an unprecedented three drivers' titles in a row by winning the FIA ​​Formula 2 Championship in 2021. In doing so he became only the third driver to secure back-to-back Drivers' Championships across Formula 2 and Formula 3; following only Charles Leclerc and George Russell. As part of his formative F1 journey, Oscar was first promoted to BWT Alpine F1 Team Reserve Driver at the start of the 2022 season and has since been undergoing, under the Team's guidance and its full financial support, an intensive and comprehensive training program of private tests in the race-winning A521, the 2021 Alpine F1 car, race support and simulator sessions to prepare him for the next big step into F1. Alpine now looks forward to seeing the next stage in his F1 career alongside Esteban Ocon.Otmar Szafnauer, Team Principal, BWT Alpine F1 Team says:

 

"Oscar is a bright and rare talent. We are proud to have nurtured and supported him through the difficult pathways of the junior formulae. Through our collaboration over the past four years, we have seen him develop and mature into a driver who is more than capable of taking the step up to Formula 1. As our reserve driver he has been exposed to the team at the track, factory and testing where he has shown the maturity, promise and speed to ensure his promotion to our second seat alongside Esteban, we believe the duo will give us the continuity we need to achieve our long-term goal of challenging for wins and championships".

 

But later, the driver denies having signed an agreement with the French team and claims not to race for the team in the following season through a Tweet:

 

"I understand that, without my agreement, Alpine F1 have put out a press release late this afternoon that I am driving for them next year. This is wrong and I have not signed a contract with Alpine for 2023. I will not be driving for Alpine next year".

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Szafnauer, however, claims to have correctly exercised a clause in the Australian driver's contract.

 

"We have contractual obligations with him, and he has them with us. For our part, they have been respected, and we have an option to exercise for 2023 and 2024. This year, for example, he had to be our reserve driver, do test on last year's car - and it has already covered 3.500 km out of the 5.000 km planned - and prepare it for next year. Also it has done the simulator and will participate in the two PL1s. We believe that our press release was legally correct, we have nothing else to be added".

 

The commission for the recognition of the contracts of the Federation meets the interested parties the day after the Belgian race to announce in the following days what will be the valid agreement between the driver and one of the two teams between Alpine and McLaren, the other manufacturer joined to the future of the Australian driver. Meanwhile, on Wednesday 3 August 2022, the Thai Williams driver, Alexander Albon, was also confirmed for the following season, signing a multi-year contract.

 

"It's really exciting to stay with Williams for 2023 and I can't wait to see what we can do as a team in the rest of this season and next year. The team is pushing hard to progress and I'm really motivated to continue this journey and to further develop our knowledge together".

 

Jost Capito, Williams Racing team principal, adds:

 

"Alex is an amazing driver and a valued member of Williams, so we are thrilled to be able to confirm that we will be working with him on a long-term basis. Alex brings with him a great mix of skills and in-depth knowledge that will help the team achieve greater success in the future. He is a fierce driver, he will provide us with a stable basis to continue improving in this new era of Formula 1".

 

On Wednesday 24 August 2022, the British team McLaren announces the separation from the driver Daniel Ricciardo for the next season. The Australian, who has been with the Woking team since 2021, had a contract to drive for the British team also in 2023, but it was terminated early by mutual agreement of the parties. Daniel Ricciardo, says:

 

"It's been a privilege to be a part of the McLaren Racing family for the last two seasons but following several months of discussions with Zak & Andreas we have decided to terminate my contract with the team early and agree to mutually part ways at the end of this season. I'll be announcing my own future plans in due course but regardless of what this next chapter brings, I have no regrets and am proud of the effort and work I gave McLaren, especially the win in Monza, last season. I 've enjoyed working with everyone at McLaren both trackside and back in Woking and will be giving my all on and off track as we enjoy the remainder of the season together.I've never been more motivated to compete and be a part of a sport that I love so much and look forward to what comes next".

 

Andreas Seidl, Team Principal, McLaren F1 Team, adds:

 

"I would like to thank Daniel for his dedication and contribution over the last two seasons so far. Despite the shared challenges, he has always turned up with a fighting spirit and positivity and helped the entire team to always keep pushing forward. We will never forget that memorable race win in Monza which was a great boost for the whole team. We still have an important battle in the Constructors' Championship ahead of us for the remainder of the season and we look forward to battle this out with Daniel and Lando".

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And Zak Brown, CEO, McLaren Racing, concludes:

 

"Daniel has been a great addition to McLaren, and it's been a pleasure working with him. I'd like to thank him for all of his efforts over the last two seasons both trackside and back at base. It's no secret that we hoped we could achieve more together but seeing him stand on the top step of the podium as a McLaren driver was a highlight. We wish him well for the future and let's go enjoy the rest of the season together".

 

On the occasion of the Belgian Grand Prix, the French AlphaTauri driver, Pierre Gasly, contests the 100th Grand Prix in the category, after making his debut with the Italian manufacturer, under the name of Toro Rosso, in the 2017 Malaysian Grand Prix. French driver for Alpine, Esteban Ocon, instead disputes the 103rd Grand Prix, having made his debut in this race, in the 2016 edition, with the former British team Manor. On Tuesday 2 August 2022, the Austrian team Red Bull Racing extends its partnership with Honda until the 2025 season. The Milton Keynes team continues to collaborate with the Japanese company for the next three seasons, which is formally no longer the power unit supplier, given that the powertrains are branded Red Bull Powertrains, abbreviation RBPT. Koji Watanabe, head of Honda's corporate communications supervisory unit and president of Honda Racing Corporation, explains this new agreement better:

 

"We have agreed to continue supporting Red Bull Powertrains in Formula 1 through HRC, following a request from Red Bull to extend our current arrangement, which HRC can fulfill within its current resources. Once again, we aim to utilize our involvement in the highest level of motorsport for the development of technologies and our workforce".

 

Adds Helmut Marko:

 

"We thank Honda for its positive response to the proposal to continue the partnership, we are excited to continue our partnership in F1 until the end of 2025 with PU supplied by Honda. We have had a successful relationship so far, winning the Drivers' Championship in 2021 and we are currently leading the Drivers' and Constructors' championships, with the aim of securing both titles in 2022".

 

Furthermore, from 2023 the HRC logo on the bonnet will be replaced by Honda, both on the Austrian cars and on those of the Italian AlphaTauri team, also powered by RBPT engines. Meanwhile, on Tuesday 2 August 2022, the British Mercedes driver, Lewis Hamilton, becomes co-owner of the Denver Broncos, an American football team of the National Football League based in Denver, Colorado, by purchasing the shares of the group owned by the team, while on Thursday 4 August 2022 the German team publishes its second report Annual Report on Environmental Sustainability. According to the data provided, the manufacturer has managed to exceed the objective of reducing its CO2 emissions by 50% by 2022, starting from a base set in 2018, and has positioned as a new target to reach zero emissions by 2030. objective already implemented by the same category. Mercedes also reiterates its intention to become the most sustainable professional sports team in the world. In addition, the German manufacturer announces that in Belgium it will compete with a special livery to celebrate the 55th anniversary of the AMG brand, giving away the Mercedes-Benz 300 SEL 6.8 AMG, nicknamed the Red Pig, i.e. the first racing car built by the Affalterbach-based company. finished second overall at the 24 Hours of Spa in 1971. At the same time, Thursday 4 August 2022 the Las Vegas Grand Prix, whose return to the Formula 1 world championship calendar is expected next season, resolves the legal battle with the company P2M Motorsports for the promotion rights of the third US Grand Prix, after that of Miami and the one of the same name, terminating it with an agreement between the parties.

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The race will take place on Saturday 18 November 2023, for the first time since the 1985 South African Grand Prix. Staying on the subject of Liberty Media, on Friday 5 August 2022 the managers of the American company show great satisfaction with the financial results for the second quarter. Thanks to the lifted restrictions of the Covid-19 pandemic, revenues grew by 49% compared to the same period in 2021. On Monday 22 August 2022, the FIA ​​appoints Luke Skipper as its new communication director, replacing Olivier Fisch, while on Thursday 25 August 2022 Hantec Markets, an online trading company, becomes one of the sponsors of the US stable Haas. The logo appears on the single-seaters of the cars making their debut in this race and will be present in the next season. During the summer break, the World Motoring Council approves the Formula 1 power units that will make their debut in the 2026 season, communicating the four guidelines that the new power units will have to comply with, namely maintaining the show, environmental and financial sustainability and the power of attraction for manufacturers who want to enter the top category. Consequently, on the occasion of the Belgian Grand Prix, on Friday 26 August 2022, the German car manufacturer Audi belonging to the Volkswagen Group announces its entry into Formula 1 starting from the 2026 season, as a power unit supplier. The Ingolstadt-based house, with 13 successes in the 24 Hours of Le Mans and in other categories such as rallies, touring cars and Formula E, will decide which manufacturer to supply with the engines by the end of this season. For the first time in more than ten years, an engine of the highest class is built in Germany. Audi President Markus Duesmann says:

 

"Motorsport is an integral part of Audi's DNA. Formula 1 is both a global stage for our brand and a highly stimulating development laboratory. The combination of high performance and competition is always a driver of innovation and technology transfer in our sector "With the new rules, the time is right for us to get involved. After all, both Formula 1 and Audi have clear sustainability goals".

 

Adds the technical director of Audi, Oliver Hoffmann:

 

"In light of the great technological leaps that the series is making towards sustainability in 2026, we can speak of a new Formula 1. Formula 1 is transforming, and Audi has decided to introduce a new emissions management system. Formula 1 is transforming and Audi wants to actively support this path. A close link between our Formula 1 project and the technical development department of Audi will allow for synergies to be created".

 

At the same time, Alfa Romeo announces that the partnership with the Sauber brand will end at the end of the next championship. The Formula 2 driver for the British team Carlin Motorsport, and reserve for Red Bull Racing and AlphaTauri, the New Zealander Liam Lawson , will take part in the first free practice session on Friday, making his debut in a Formula 1 race weekend, replacing French race driver Pierre Gasly, using the number 40. The reserve driver of the French stable Alpine and 2021 Formula 2 champion , the Australian Oscar Piastri, however, will not take part in the session, after the team's sporting director, Alan Permane, had previously indicated this appointment or the Italian Grand Prix scheduled for the following 11 September 2022 where to make his debut in a weekend competition of the category. Starting from this championship, according to the sporting regulations, all the ten teams entered in the championship are obliged to line up, during the free practice sessions, at least two young drivers. The teams have a pre-established number of sessions in which to field young rookies. In this regard, the British team Williams announces that the Formula 2 driver for the British team Carlin Motorsport, and reserve for the Grove team, the American Logan Sargeant, will make his debut in a Formula 1 race weekend at his home Grand Prix , that of the United States of America, scheduled for the following 23 October, in place of the Canadian driver Nicholas Latifi, during the first free practice session on Friday.

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US team Haas announces the use of Formula E driver for US team Dragon Penske Autosport, and reserve for the team as well as reserve for Ferrari and Alfa Romeo, Italian Antonio Giovinazzi, in the first free practice session of the Italian Grand Prix, scheduled for 11 September 2022, and also in the United States of America in October, in place of the German driver Mick Schumacher in the Italian race and the Danish one Kevin Magnussen in the US race Starting from this championship, according to the sporting regulations, all ten teams entered in the championship are required to line up at least two young drivers during the free practice sessions. The teams have a pre-established number of sessions in which to field young rookies. For this Grand Prix, the FIA ​​appoints the German Niels Wittich as race director. Former Formula 1 driver Enrique Bernoldi is appointed assistant commissioner. The Brazilian has performed this function on several occasions in the past, most recently at the Austrian Grand Prix. It is the German car manufacturer Mercedes that supplies the safety car and the medical car. In anticipation of the Belgian Grand Prix, Pirelli, the sole tire supplier, is offering the choice of C2, C3 and C4 compound tyres, the type of tire that characterizes the central range of the type of tires made available by the Italian company, the same choice used for the last time in the previous Hungarian Grand Prix, held at the end of July, before the mandatory three-week summer break. Starting from the 2020 edition of the Grand Prix, the Italian company has always nominated the same type. At the same time, Pirelli appoints the tires for the subsequent Dutch and Italian Grands Prix, scheduled for early September, which, together with the Belgian Grand Prix, are all held one week apart , as happened in the previous season. Regarding the nature of the circuit and the choice of tires with a look at the weather factor, Pirelli manager Mario Isola takes stock of the situation:

 

"This year, Spa has undergone some of the biggest changes we have seen since we started going there in the modern era of Formula 1. But we know something of what to expect thanks to the 24-hour race last month - our biggest event of the year in terms of people and tires - as well as some asphalt samples that we have taken.In addition to some new asphalt on five corners, there are some new gravel traps on four corners, which are much closer to the side of the track Drivers will need to pay more attention to track limits, and there's also an increased chance of sharp gravel being dragged onto the surface.The epic nature of Spa remains unchanged though, with all the traditional challenges that make the circuit so exciting still in place".

 

The FIA ​​confirms the two traditional zones of the Drag Reduction System in use since the 2013 edition of the race when the world motoring body decided to increase the sections on the Spa-Francorchamps circuit to two in which to use the mobile device, after the the only previous area used from 2011, the season in which the device was introduced in the category, until the following season, in order to facilitate overtaking. Drivers can activate the movable rear wing on the long straight between turns 4 and 5, with the point for determining the gap between drivers located before the second turn, and on the main pit straight, the new additional section introduced later , with a detection point set before turn 18. Since the Grand Prix dispute during the previous season, the Spa-Francorchamps circuit has subsequently undergone a major redevelopment of the safety structures, planned from the 2020 season. The stretch of track which characterizes the Eau Rouge/Radillion complex, in the first sector, it now sees the escape routes expanded, with gravel introduced instead of asphalt. The changes have been made in response to several major crashes in recent years at this section of the track, including the fatal crash of French Formula 2 driver Anthoine Hubert during the 2019 season race. Gravel is now present elsewhere too critical of the track, such as at Turn 1 (La Source), Turns 7, 8 and 9 (Les Combes), Turns 15 and 16 (Stavelot) and Turns 17 and 18 (Blanchimont). The redevelopment project also included an expansion of the grandstands to be able to accommodate more spectators within the circuit. This involved the destruction of the famous and characteristic chalet which dominated the Eau Rouge paddock. New grandstands and VIP areas have been built in this area. Furthermore, in front of the old pits, the covered grandstand was demolished to make room for a new one. Overall, the circuit has increased the seats available in the stands by 13.000, with a restructuring investment of 80,000,000 euros. The works, which began in November 2021, ended in March 2022. Last May, the 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps, and last July, the 24 Hours of Spa, were the first categories to race on the renovated circuit. The circuit maintained the length of 7.004 km. Turn 9 now consists of two versions that can be used for both cars and motorbikes.

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The protective barriers and fences have been realigned, with the replacement of some curbs. Light panel number 3, located on the outside on the left in the downhill stretch before turn 2, is moved slightly further after the changes made to the layout, while light panel number 10, located on the left before turn 9, is slightly moved back. The track has been resurfaced in some points, in order to improve safety standards also to welcome the return of motorcycle racing. Part of the new road surface was laid 100 meters before and 100 meters after the Eau Rouge/Radillion complex, with the external run-off area extended to 25 metres, as well as new asphalt laid between Turn 8 and the exit of the turn 9. At the Eau Rouge curve, a new curb was introduced with a width of 1.60 meters and with the first curve of the climb to the left even less accentuated than in the past. A new leftward variant could be reintroduced in the future based on the feedback from the drivers after this edition. At turn 5 and turn 6 new crash barriers and new fences have been installed. At turn 7 the exit curb was reduced in width. Between Turn 10 and Turn 11, gravel was introduced into the external run-off area, with the barriers realigned. Gravel has also been added between turns 12 and 13, 14 and 15 and at turns 17 and 18. The gravel, positioned between the middle of the corner and its exit, now prevents drivers from exceeding the track limits. Speaking of the technical aspect, the FIA ​​announces that at the end of the race of the previous Hungarian Grand Prix, Lewis Hamilton's Mercedes was drawn among the top ten cars for technical checks. The inspections covered the steering wheel with its internal electronics, connected wiring and software systems. All inspected components were found to comply with the technical regulations. Before the start of the first free practice session on Friday, the car of George Russell, Lewis Hamilton, Daniel Ricciardo, Lance Stroll, Sebastian Vettel, Alexander Albon and Nicholas Latifi is installed the third unit related to the internal combustion engine. The third unit relating to the turbocharger and the MGU-H was installed on the car of Russell, Ricciardo, Stroll, Vettel, Albon and Latifi. The third unit relating to the MGU-K is installed on the car of Hamilton, Ricciardo, Stroll, Albon and Latifi. The second unit relating to the energy recovery system and the electronic control unit was installed on Ricciardo's car.

 

The third unit relating to the exhaust system was installed on the car of Ricciardo, Stroll, Vettel, Albon and Latifi. All the drivers are not penalized on the starting grid as the new components are among those that can be used within the maximum number established by the technical regulations. The fourth unit relating to the internal combustion engine, the turbocharger, the MGU is installed on Max Verstappen's car -H and the MGU-K, the second unit relating to the energy recovery system and the electronic control unit, and the sixth unit relating to the exhaust system. The Dutch Red Bull Racing driver is forced to start from the back of the grid as the first four new components installed exceed those usable in the maximum number established by the technical regulations. The fourth unit relating to the internal combustion engine, the turbocharger and the MGU-H is installed on Lando Norris' car, the second unit relating to the energy recovery system and the electronic control unit, and the fifth unit relating to the exhaust system. The British McLaren driver is forced to start from the back of the grid as the first three new components installed exceed those usable in the maximum number established by the technical regulations. The fourth unit relating to the internal combustion engine, the turbocharger, the MGU-H and the MGU-K, the third unit relating to the energy recovery system and the electronic control unit are installed on Esteban Ocon's car , and the fourth unit relating to the exhaust system. The French Alpine rider is forced to start from the back of the grid as the first six new components installed exceed those usable in the maximum number established by the technical regulations. The fifth unit relating to the internal combustion engine and the sixth unit relating to the turbocharger and the MGU-H are installed on Valtteri Bottas' car. The Finnish Alfa Romeo driver was penalized 15 positions on the starting grid as the new components installed exceeded those usable in the maximum number established by the technical regulations. The fifth unit relating to the MGU-K and the third unit relating to the energy recovery system are installed on Charles Leclerc's car. The Monegasque Ferrari driver was penalized 15 positions on the starting grid as the new components installed exceeded those usable in the maximum number established by the technical regulations. The third unit relating to the electronic control unit was installed on Mick Schumacher's car.

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The German Haas driver is penalized by ten positions on the starting grid as the new component installed exceeds those usable in the maximum number established by the technical regulation. The fourth gearbox and fourth transmission are installed on the car of Carlos Sainz Jr., Ricciardo and Vettel. The fourth transmission is installed on the car of Bottas and Zhou Guanyu. All the drivers are not penalized on the starting grid as the new components are among those that can be used in the maximum number established by the technical regulations. The fifth gearbox is installed on the car of Leclerc, Bottas and Schumacher. The fifth transmission is installed on the car of Verstappen, Leclerc and Schumacher. All drivers are penalized on the starting grid as the new components installed exceed those usable in the maximum number established by the technical regulations. Leclerc and Schumacher are penalized by ten positions, Bottas and Verstappen by five. Before the start of the third free practice session on Saturday, it is established that to help mitigate any speed differences, the drivers, in their launch laps or in slow ones must stay out of the trajectory where possible between turns 16 and 18. At turn 6 the three bumps in the escape route are removed. The temporary curb is removed at turn 9. Following the accident that occurred to the Chinese Alfa Romeo driver, Zhou Guanyu, in the early stages of the British Grand Prix, where the roll bar, once impacted with the asphalt , surrendered, the Federation announces new changes. A modification will make the tops of the roll bars rounded, decreasing the possibility of them getting stuck in the asphalt during a crash; a modification will then concern the minimum height for the application point of the approval test; the creation of a new homologation test in which the applied load will push the roll bar forward; the definition of new tests to be performed through a calculation. Finally, with a view to 2024, the intention is to arrive at a significant revision of the roll cage tests to ensure that the cars of the future can withstand significantly more severe loads. Furthermore, next season, the minimum weight of the cars will drop from 798 to 796 kg, thus returning to the value initially estimated for the current championship and subsequently raised at the request of the teams. The minimum weight of the power unit is increased from 150 kg to 151 kg, to cope with the greater strength required of the bolts fastening the engine to the frame. The temperature of the petrol continues to be no lower than 10 °C below ambient temperature, up to a minimum of 10 °C, contrary to the 20 °C threshold currently in use.

 

The updated regulations foresee the introduction of a relief valve for the vapors inside the fuel tank, with a maximum internal pressure set at 1 bar. The bottom of the cars must be stiffer, with a crackdown on flexibility tests. Up to a distance of 950 mm forward from the rear wheels, under the application of a vertical load of 250 N downwards, the bottom cannot flex more than 5 mm, against the currently permitted 8 mm. During the application of 250 N of vertical upward load however the maximum deflection is 5 mm, in contrast to the currently accepted 12 mm. As for the plank, the resin axis that runs lengthwise under the single-seater, the holes for measuring thickness and wear at the end of the race go down from six to four. Other corrections concern the roll bar: the regulation imposes a minimum radius of curvature of 20 mm and, at heights greater than 950 mm with respect to the reference plane on the bottom, a structural section of 6.000 mm² in vertical projection. Previously, the legislation required a cross section of 10.000 mm² at a height of only 910 millimeters. A second load test is introduced which includes the application of a forward horizontal load of 49 kN, equivalent to nearly 5 tonnes. Starting in 2026, the new powertrain cycle will also feature a limited number of elements in the name of cost decrease. In 2026 the power units will be formed by the internal combustion engine, the turbocharger and the MGU-K, without the presence of the MGU-H. Each driver will be able to use four internal combustion engines, four turbochargers and three MGU-Ks, with as many batteries, throughout the entire championship. Each extra element will lead to penalties on the starting grid. Furthermore, the exhaust systems will be halved, from eight to four, with no possibility of being able to exchange them from one engine to another. From 2027, on the other hand, there will be three internal combustion engines and turbochargers available, with two MGU-Ks and two batteries available. they will be able to lavish on the research and production of engines. According to the official document published by the Federation, from 2023 to 2025 engine manufacturers will be able to spend up to 95 million dollars a year on engines, from 2026 onwards the spending ceiling will rise to 130 million dollars, five less compared to the 135 available for the design and development of single-seaters. The 135 million for cars will be effective from 2023 after the gradual decrease established starting from 2021, i.e. 145 in 2021, 140 in 2022 and 135 from 2023 onwards.

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At Aston Martin, the Canadian driver Lance Stroll shows appreciation for this type of track and hopes to be able to give a good show to his fans:

 

"Spa is such an awesome circuit, and a track where you really experience the massive speed and potential of a Formula One car. You can follow and pass around here, and our car has raced particularly well on Sunday recently, so I hope we are able to put on a proper show for the fans, particularly after last year’s washout".

 

On the same wavelength is his teammate, Sebastian Vettel:

 

"It is great to get back to the track after the summer break, and to get going again at Spa is fantastic. This circuit is incredibly fast and has a great flow; and every race here seems to throw up something exciting or unpredictable, which is also great for the fans. I think we have a car that performs well in races, and our team works well operationally, so hopefully we can string together another solid weekend".

 

In AlphaTauri, Pierre Gasly comments on how relaxed he was during the summer break, and outlines the expectations that may be for him and the team on the Spa circuit:

 

"I enjoyed the break, visiting Greece for the very first time for a week with friends and after that, it was more of a family time in France with my parents, all my brothers, nephews and nieces and then a couple of days in Spain. Nothing incredible, but it helped to unwind and be with my family, while also doing some training. Above all, I got plenty of rest prior to the final part of the season. After that it was back to work, starting with a trip to the simulator. Everyone has been hard at work since Monday and my phone is definitely much busier than it had been over the past three weeks. Spa is one of my favourite tracks, I love it. We will be back on the starting block with three races in three weeks and after the break I am of course excited at the thought of getting back in the car and going racing again. The last few races before the break had been rather complicated for us, with no points scored and things did not go our way. It was not what we wanted as a team. Since France, we’ve had some updates on the car, which we now understand a bit better. But it’s still complicated and the midfield teams are all very close. We’re not throwing in the towel, we are continuing to work hard and give our maximum to try and bring out more performance from the car as quickly as possible, so that we can chase points every weekend. Last year at Spa was a washout and this year, we will have our first look at the changes they have made to the track, particularly at Eau Rouge-Raidillon. Following what happened there with Anthoine, they have carried out an in-depth study and this is what they have come up with, along with further changes to some of the run-off areas and gravel traps".

 

Yuki Tsunoda concludes:

 

"I had a really nice time in the break, even though I spent a lot of it training. In the first week, I went to a training facility in Austria, also talking to a sports psychologist and working with a physio. In the middle week, I went away and just enjoyed myself and in the last week, I was back in Faenza training again, as well as doing some wakeboarding and other fun activities. So, I spent maybe 70% of the time training, but I know what works for me and I prefer not to reset completely in a break. I had a nice relaxing time, without my phone and without thinking about racing. It was good. It will be interesting to experience the changes at Spa as I have only had a first taste of it on the simulator, although I don’t think the corner layouts have changed much. It’s mainly the run-off area at the top of Raidillon and some other run-offs are now gravel. Of course, I like the track a lot, especially the medium and high-speed corners. It’s definitely one of the best tracks on the calendar, it’s in my top five. My approach to a race weekend won’t change from the way I did it in the first half of the season, but in terms of expectations, I will have made an effort to reset my mind, going back to zero. I feel stronger and refreshed with a strong motivation for this second half of the season".

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At Williams, Dave Robson, Head of Vehicle Performance, argues:

 

"Racing at Spa is one of the highlights of the season and we are very happy to be back. The lap is long and offers almost every possible challenge for an F1 car and driver. The significant elevation changes and the variable weather add to the mix. Everyone knows the circuit well, but it will be interesting to see how this new generation of Formula One car deals with the high-speed corners at Eau Rouge, Pouhon and Blanchimont. Tyre compounds are from the middle of the Pirelli range and are the same as we used a few weeks ago in Budapest. However, the behaviour of the tyres will be quite different at this circuit, and we will need to spend Friday understanding how to maximise their performance here. Overtaking is possible in Spa and finding a suitable trade between downforce and drag will be critical to the race on Sunday. The FW44 should work reasonably well in Spa, and we are looking forward to getting back to racing at this mighty circuit".

 

Alex Albon continues:

 

"It’s great to be back racing after a needed break. Spa is one of my personal favourite tracks of the year, it’s great for racing and fun over one lap. It can also always throw surprises with the weather, as we saw last year".

 

Nicholas Latifi is particularly excited to be back racing after the summer break and concludes:

 

"I’m super excited to get back to it and go racing. The summer break was very nice with time to switch off, relax and recharge. I feel refreshed heading into the second half of the season. It’s always great to head to Spa after the summer break as it’s one of the most enjoyable tracks on the calendar. The circuit has a fast-flowing nature with an old school feel, so it’ll be nice to drive this modern generation of car around there. Hopefully we can maximise any opportunities for a strong result, and it also seems like the weather might play a part as it typically can in Spa".

 

In Alfa Romeo Racing, Frédéric Vasseur, Team Principal, declares that the summer break was necessary for his team and is confident for the three close races:

 

"The summer break was a much-needed pause after a busy first part of the season, and now we’re back on track in Belgium refreshed and motivated, ready to take on the triple-header and the remainder of the season. Nine races in thirteen weeks will be a challenge for everyone in the team, but we are keen to finish the job we started. Our July was tough, but our spirits are high and our approach remains the same: we are determined to turn the tide and place ourselves back where we belong, putting up a good challenge in the midfield and scoring important championship points. We will give it our very best and I’m confident we can do it this weekend already".

 

Valtteri Bottas, motivated and ready to return to the track, is ambitious for the weekend:

 

"I got to spend some quality time off, catching up with friends and family during the summer break and doing lots of sports, but now it’s time to go back to racing: I am looking forward to it, and I feel ready and motivated for the second half of the season. I quite enjoy racing in Spa: it’s a legendary track that produced impressive races in the past, and I have also been on the podium three times there. Races in Belgium are often unpredictable, and I think everything will hinge on doing our job right and take any opportunity the conditions or circumstances will offer. We will have the chance to put ourselves in the mix and bring home some points, which would be a great way to kick off the triple-header on a good note".

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Zhou Guanyu concludes:

 

"It’s been nice to relax and unwind for a couple of weeks over the summer break: there was a lot to take in during the first part of my debut season and I enjoyed the chance to process it while recharging my batteries. Now, though, I am ready to get back into the cockpit. I have raced in Spa quite a few times in the past, and also got on the podium here in F2. As always, I can’t come to Belgium without thinking of Anthoine Hubert: I’ll be racing for him as well this weekend. Looking ahead, I’m entering the second half of my rookie season with confidence, looking forward to the challenges ahead: we haven’t added any points to our tally in the last races before the break, but I’m positive we have good chances to get back to it in Belgium".

 

At Haas, the Team Principal, Guenther Steiner, feels regenerated from the summer break and hopes to be able to come back strong with his team:

 

"My highlight was not doing anything for a week - I went to the seaside with my family and enjoyed that. I also went to the wedding of our Team Manager, which was a big party in Scotland. I feel I’m recharged now, and we’ve got some more races to go before the end of the season and hopefully we can come back strong".

 

On the development of the car, Steiner declares:

 

"We could see that the on-car numbers were corelating to the wind tunnel numbers, which is always a good sign, and now we have to get the best out of it in lap time. Before the shutdown, the team looked at the data closely and will do more now they’re back from the break but at the moment it looks good and hopefully we can better our lap time".

 

Then, he says there will be updates on both cars for the Belgian Grand Prix:

 

"Yes, both cars will have the upgrade package. We had one kit ready before the shutdown so we said we’ll put it on one car to collect some data so when we’re back, we have that data and now we can already work on the set-up, getting out in Spa straightaway".

 

A balance is drawn on the expectations for the rest of the season by Haas’ Team Principal:

 

"We haven’t readjusted, we are just back to where we wanted to be at the beginning of the season, now being in seventh. Hopefully we can keep this position in the championship, that’s battle number one. Battle number two is trying to get to sixth, but let’s see. We will always do our best and try to improve or at least not fall back".

 

And finally, he spends a few words on Ferrari's reserve driver, Antonio Giovinazzi, who will have the opportunity to take to the track with Haas in two free practices in Italy and the USA:

 

"Antonio is the reserve driver of Ferrari and they asked us if he could be in the car just to refresh him. When he gets in the car, he will have finished his Formula E season so there are no distractions for him anymore and I think he will attend all the races for Ferrari as reserve driver. Knowing our relationship with Ferrari, we’re more than happy to do this. They’re a big help in what we are doing, and I think it’s a good opportunity for Antonio to put him back in the spotlight, going out in FP1. He’s been out of Formula 1 for a year now, running in Formula E, so let’s see what he can do in FP1 so at least he can get accustomed again to the latest specification Formula 1 car".

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The Danish driver Kevin Magnussen talks about how he spent the summer break and looks forward to the resumption of the Championship:

 

"I went sailing with my family and some friends in Denmark and enjoyed not travelling for a few weeks and now I’ve got fully charged batteries ready to push for the second half of the season. I’m very excited for the second part - more work with the car and the upgrade - hoping to get more out of it and make more progress which hopefully will get us some more points”.

 

On the Spa circuit, Magnussen declares:

 

"Spa is an awesome track, it’s a legendary track. It’s super-fast so not only is the history of the place very special but driving around it is a very special feeling. It’s a great race and one that’s always looked forward to in the year. Actually, it was the first Formula 1 race I went to as a child with my dad and my first memory of Formula 1 is from that weekend".

 

He talks about some changes that the track layout has undergone:

 

"I think it’s good to have gravel instead of tarmac run-off as I feel it’s safer in some ways and it makes it easier in terms of track limits. It makes it simpler and also a little more challenging as pushing the limits will have a bigger risk, which is a good thing I think".

 

And on the new technical directive, Magnussen declares:

 

"I don’t feel that porpoising is an issue anymore. It was certainly an issue at the beginning of the season but very quickly we made changes to the car to address this issue. We had to sacrifice a bit of performance to get the porpoising sorted but then gradually we’ve been able to build back that performance without the porpoising returning. I do think it’s something that teams can solve if they really want to, but it does come at a cost performance-wise but we’ve done that and many other teams have done it, so the teams who haven’t done it yet will have to".

 

Team Haas' other driver Mick Schumacher is happy to be back in the car after relaxing during the summer break:

 

"I’m happy to be back. It’s been a good three weeks now out of the car and it felt weird at first and obviously pretty soon into the holidays I was itching to get back, so happy it’s finally here and we’re driving soon. I stayed on an island for the most part with friends and family and got to enjoy some time on a boat, enjoyed some time in the water and had some great dinners combined with some work - I’d say I haven’t gained too much weight which I’m happy about. What can we expect for the second part of the season, hopefully more points. We have some tracks ahead which should be good for us, and we have some tracks that will probably be difficult. Nevertheless, it’s Formula 1 and there’s a high chance of a crazy event where hopefully we’re not in the crazy part of it and we have the chance to score some big points, so I’m really looking forward to it. It’s a full grind back into it and we’ll give it our best at every event and hopefully reap the rewards. I’m fully recharged and ready to rumble".

 

On the Spa circuit, Mick declares:

 

"Spa itself is just so historical but also on top of it, it’s a very special place for us as a family and for me as well because I’ve had some really good races there, like back in 2018, but on the other hand also one of our worst races. Spa has a lot of up and downs but it will always be the most historical and special race for all of us".

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The track layout has undergone some changes, especially in terms of safety:

 

"In terms of safety I think we always welcome any changes for the greater good. I’m looking forward to seeing how they are and what they bring. I don’t imagine it changing too much while driving because it’s quite a quick track and the approaches are usually quite similar so I think there’s not going to be a huge change in the approach".

 

On the new technical directive, as regards the porpoising phenomenon, he argues:

 

"I think we’ve all been quite surprised by the issue that we found at the beginning of the year and our car has improved a lot since then. The worst occurrence of the porpoising we’ve found so far was in Baku, and I think that was the same for every other team as well but since then actually it’s been quite good. We’ve been on tracks that are smooth and there is no longer physical pain involved with the porpoising but obviously there’s a limit to it and we’re at the limit which I think every team is. I think we’re among the teams that have the least bouncing, there are teams that are suffering from it a lot more than us".

 

At Mercedes, the Team Principal, Toto Wolff gives an overview of the situation on what was the first part of the season and hopes that in the second part of the season there will be improvements that can bring the team closer to Red Bull and Ferrari:

 

"We headed into the break off the back of a strong run of races and our biggest race weekend points score so far this year, in Hungary. While we're still not quite in the fight for victories, we're getting closer, so we need to keep the momentum going and the pressure on. The Shutdown is an important time for the team to take some time off, recharge and spend time with their families, whose support throughout the year is invaluable. There are few opportunities to do so during the season and the development race is relentless, so the break has been well deserved for everyone in the team. We're set for an intense second half of the season, with nine more opportunities to find improvements, make progress and hopefully challenge Red Bull and Ferrari for wins. Spa-Francorchamps needs no introduction. A classic track with an old-school feel, the scene of many iconic moments in F1 history and an incredible challenge for both the car and drivers. We're excited to be back there, hopefully we can put on an awesome show this year for all the fans in Belgium, and we'll also be celebrating 55 years of Mercedes-AMG too, with some fun activities".

 

At Ferrari, Luigi Fraboni, Head of Power Unit operation and electronics, explains the role he plays in the team with all the responsibilities that follow:

 

"I’m the Head of Power Unit Operations and Electronics. The group I run looks after assembly of the internal combustion engine, the turbo, batteries, electric motors and electronic components. I also oversee the test areas where the various components of the power unit are checked for their performance and reliability over long runs. This is where the various units that will be used on track are run in. Then there’s the track group, working with the customer teams, that prepare and run the power units for the race. My love of racing and of Ferrari stems from when I was a little kid and I was lucky enough to visit the old Scuderia Ferrari headquarters during the 1979 season. It was an incredible experience and I remember it as though it was yesterday. When I was reading engineering at university, I was able to do my thesis within the engine department of the Gestione Sportiva at Ferrari and, after working briefly for another company, I got a call from Maranello and I didn’t have to think about it for a moment. I accepted enthusiastically".

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On the Spa circuit, he declares:

 

"It’s a classic for Formula 1 and definitely one of the most popular with the drivers and the fans. It is unique in having very long straights combined with both medium and low speed corners. It’s always very difficult to find the right balance and the best aerodynamic downforce level to run. It will be very important to do all the necessary tests during the Friday sessions so as to find the right compromise between having maximum speed down the straights, which penalises you in the corners or vice versa. Another important consideration is the chance of rain, which is often a factor and hard to predict. It has an influence on the set-up choices made by the teams and can also make for unpredictability in qualifying and the race. The most fascinating corner is definitely Eau Rouge-Raidillon, the high speed uphill esses with a blind exit and it will be interesting to see how this new generation of cars performs through it".

 

Then, he continues:

 

"Spa-Francorchamps is very tough on the power unit in terms of reliability. It’s the longest track on the calendar and usually, the distances covered over the course of the weekend are among the highest. There are very long straights that stress all the components and therefore require a specific assessment on the test bench. In terms of performance, along with Monza, this is the track where engine power has the greatest effect on lap time and energy management also has a major impact on the final result, especially in qualifying. The various climbs and drops, particularly Eau Rouge-Raidillon can have a critical effect on the various power unit cooling and lubrication systems and so some specific calibrations are likely to be evaluated during the Friday sessions".

 

Alpine’s Team Principal Otmar Szafnauer points out how the team recharged their energy during the summer break, so they are now ready and motivated to face the second part of the season:

 

"We are all feeling re-energised after the enforced Formula 1 summer shutdown. It’s always a good time to take stock on the season so far, reflect on the positives and assess some of the areas for improvement. Now, we are all feeling ready and motivated for the second part of the season where there is so much to play for in terms of the championship. Clearly the team has been quite prominent in the world media in the days after Hungary and just before the summer break, however, it is absolutely no distraction for us once we hit the race track again. While we’re losing a fantastic asset in Fernando for next year, his decision has zero bearing on what we want to achieve together in 2022. We’ll be pushing hard as a team - with both Fernando and Esteban in the car for the remainder of the year - in order to put ourselves in the best possible position to meet the aforementioned targets for this championship season. I know both drivers are highly motivated so we’re all looking forward to channeling that energy on track".

 

Esteban Ocon continues:

 

"Spa is a place that I know most drivers really enjoy driving at, including myself. It’s even more special for me as it is where I made my Formula 1 debut in 2016. It was a moment I’ll never forget, a moment where a dream came true. In terms of performance, there’s been some good results in the past like when I qualified third in 2018 and when we finished fourth and fifth in the race in 2020. It’s also the track where we also lost Anthoine a few years back. We are always racing with him in our thoughts and I still personally think about him every day".

 

Fernando Alonso concludes:

 

"We all miss racing in August but the time off to recharge the batteries is needed. After 20 years of racing at the pinnacle of motorsports, I have learnt that taking some time to recover is very important, especially during such a hectic year. Now that we have more than 20 races in a season, it’s even more important to make sure you maximise your recovery time. But it’s important to keep some exercise routine, as once we get back to racing it’s relentless until December. I do enjoy racing at Spa. It’s one of the most historic races on the calendar. We usually have interesting races there as the circuit lends itself to lots of overtaking opportunities".

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At McLaren, the British driver Lando Norris claims to have enjoyed the summer holidays and is now energized and motivated to get back on track and ready to do his best in the second half of the season:

 

"I’ve enjoyed the last few weeks off from the busy F1 calendar. I’ve played some golf and made sure I’ve taken the time to really relax so I’m ready to go for part two of the season. We’ve got some work to do in the fight for fourth in the championship but I’m ready to get stuck back into the battle. Spa is always a great challenge for the teams and the drivers. I’m in the factory this week so I’ll be fully prepped to get behind the wheel and I’m looking forward to getting back in the car to see what we can do. With my mum being from Belgium, Spa feels like another home race for me so it will be great to see the fans and hopefully score some points in front of them. Fingers crossed the weather will hold out a bit better this year".

 

The other McLaren driver, Daniel Ricciardo, continues:

 

"I’m looking forward to heading back to Belgium. The track at Spa is an exciting one and you always get a thrill going through the fast corners, particularly through Eau Rouge into Raidillon. Mixed with the long straights and iconic features, we can really push the cars. There’s also always a good atmosphere so it's a nice track to return to after a few weeks off. I’m feeling recharged after the summer break. I’ve spent some time in the US resting and resetting with friends and I feel ready to hop back in the car and give everything for the remaining nine races. After the news today, my full focus is now on the rest of the season and to make sure I leave on a high. Let’s get back racing".

 

And finally, the Team Principal Andreas Seidl outlines a clear picture of the situation, with the team that feel rested and ready to face the second part of the season in the best way possible:

 

"The team are feeling rested and ready to tackle the second half of the season head on. Spa is an exciting challenge as there are a multitude of ways to play it from a strategy and engineering perspective. It also holds some nice overtaking opportunities for the drivers to take advantage of and the track isn’t like many others on the calendar. I know the team are excited to get back out there and kick start the triple header. Whilst the intense three weeks in a row has its challenges, it also provides a good opportunity to quickly gain momentum and take the fight to the Alpines, hopefully scoring some points with both cars. After today’s news about Daniel, we now switch our full focus to this race weekend. We still have an important fight in the Constructors' Championship ahead of us and we look forward to battling this out with Daniel and Lando".

 

In Ferrari, the Spanish driver, Carlos Sainz, can't wait to get out on the track to better prepare the setup of the car and gives an overview of the first part of the season:

 

"There are corners here that are part of the legend of motorsport and I can’t wait to get out on this amazing track in the F1-75, which is the best car I’ve ever driven. In the first part of the season, it took me a few races to get fully tuned in to the car, but now I’ve got a good feeling with it and I’m confident that, in the coming nine races I’ll be able to aim to do even more. We have prepared for this race down to the last detail and I expect we will be competitive here as well, as has always been the case this season. In terms of set-up, we will have to find a good compromise between pure speed which you need in the first and third sectors and aerodynamic downforce which helps in the second. We will also have to deal with the weather which is always unpredictable here".

 

His teammate, Charles Leclerc, continues:

 

"I’ve got great memories from here, because you never forget the place where you got your first win. But there’s also a very strange feeling, shaken by the tragedy of what happened to Anthoine (Hubert). We will tackle it one race at a time, because we have a lot of catching up to do, but I know we have the potential to do well in every race. There are nine to go and we have everything in place to do well".

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The two Ferraris of Carlos Sainz Jr. and Charles Leclerc dominate the time charts of Friday's first session. The Spaniard is 0.069 seconds ahead of the Monegasque, who, in turn, does better than Max Verstappen. The top three are also the only drivers to finish a lap under 1'47"0. Away by 0.8 seconds from Sainz Jr.'s time is George Russell, fourth. Behind the Briton are Lance Stroll and Alexander Albon, although the Williams has a strong hop. FP1 is red-flagged for the need to recover Kevin Magnussen's Haas, which was stopped by an electrical problem on the descent after the Source, while Valtteri Bottas fails to complete any timed laps, due to a technical problem with the power unit. The work done by Esteban Ocon is also limited, in his case due to transmission trouble. The session, which began with cloudy skies, actually ends early, due to the arrival of rain. Before the start of Friday's second free practice session, the third unit related to the energy recovery system and electronic control unit is installed on Lando Norris' car. On Charles Leclerc's car, the fourth unit related to the electronic control unit is installed. Norris is forced to start from the back of the grid, while Leclerc is penalized five positions on the starting grid because the newly installed components exceed those that can be used in the maximum number set by the technical regulations. For both drivers, the penalty has no practical effect as they are already forced to start from the back of the grid. Verstappen makes up for it in the second session when, with a single lap in qualifying simulation, on soft tires, he seizes the best performance. The Dutchman later concentrates on the race simulation, although, as in the first session, the arrival of rain, in the final part, again limits the work of the drivers, who are also the authors of some driving errors, when the rain makes the track slippery, for the single-seaters with dry tires. Leclerc is confirmed in second position, but Scuderia Ferrari also prefers to focus its attention on finding the set-up for the race. Lando Norris climbs to third, ahead of Stroll, who confirms his competitiveness, so much so that he is ahead of Sainz Jr.

 

Both Sergio Pérez, Verstappen's teammate, who, however, cannot run any laps on soft tires, as well as the Mercedes cars, also with work finalized for the race, turn out to be more detached. Ocon, Bottas and Magnussen, penalized in the first practice session by technical problems, run regularly in the second, although they have not completely overcome reliability concerns. During the first two free practice sessions on Friday, Alexander Albon uses a transmission assembly outside the allocation provided according to the technical regulations. The Thai Williams driver is not penalized on the starting grid as this operation is among those that can be performed within the maximum number allowed by the technical regulations. At the end of Friday's second free practice session, Max Verstappen is summoned by the stewards for failing to comply with the procedures established by the race management during a practice start at the pit lane exit. Verstappen receives a warning. On the night of Friday-Saturday, Haas uses the second of two curfews granted during the season to conduct operations on its cars. The team receives no penalties. Before the start of the third free practice session on Saturday, the third gearbox and transmission is installed on Alexander Albon's car. The Thai Williams driver is not penalized on the grid because the new components are among those that can be used in the maximum number set by the technical regulations. The fifth gearbox and fifth transmission is installed on the car of Zhou Guanyu. The Chinese Alfa Romeo driver is penalized ten positions on the starting grid. The sixth unit related to the exhaust system is installed on the car of Carlos Sainz Jr. The Spanish Ferrari driver is not penalized on the starting grid as the new component is among those that can be used in the maximum number set by the technical regulations. Leclerc is forced to start from the back of the grid as he has accumulated more than 15 penalty positions.

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The fifth unit related to the internal combustion engine, turbocharger and MGU-H, and the ninth unit related to the exhaust system are installed on his car. Ferrari's Monegasque driver is forced to start from the back of the grid because the newly installed components exceed those that can be used in the maximum number set by the technical regulations. The penalty has no practical effect as he is already forced to start from the back of the grid. The fourth unit related to the internal combustion engine, turbocharger and MGU-H, the third unit related to the electronic control unit and the fifth unit related to the exhaust system are installed on Zhou's car. Alfa Romeo's Chinese driver is forced to start from the back of the lineup because the first four new components installed exceed those that can be used in the maximum number set by the technical regulations. The fourth unit related to the internal combustion engine, turbocharger, MGU-H and MGU-K, and the sixth unit related to the exhaust system is installed on Mick Schumacher's car. The German Haas driver is forced to start from the back of the grid because the first four new components installed exceed the maximum number of usable components set by the technical regulations. The penalty has no practical effect as he is already forced to start from the back of the grid. The third unit related to the energy recovery system and electronic control unit is installed on Max Verstappen's car. The Dutch Red Bull Racing driver is forced to start from the back of the grid as the newly installed components exceed those that can be used in the maximum number set by the technical regulations. The penalty has no practical effect as he is already forced to start from the back of the grid. On Friday, the attention is on the F2 driver Liam Lawson, ready to step in a F1 car and replace Pierre Gasly for FP1. Choosing the number 40, the American driver is given the chance to drive one of the fastest cars on the planet around one of the best circuits in the World Championship:

 

"I’ve enjoyed getting to drive the car around such an iconic track, it’s been a crazy experience. The car was great to drive, the limit is so much further than I was ready for, it took a bit of time to get used to that, but I think I built up the pace steadily on the Hards and was ready to push on the Softs at the end, so it’s a bit of a shame I didn’t get the opportunity to really go for it. I want to say a big thank you to Scuderia AlphaTauri and Red Bull for giving me this opportunity. It’s been really cool spending the weekend with the team, it’s a crazy step up from F2. There’s so many more people than I’m used to, but having this opportunity is really great for us young drivers so we can understand what it’s like in an F1 team and learn as much as we can. I’ve loved every second of today and am extremely appreciative for this opportunity".

 

After a good P8 in FP1, Yuki Tsunoda drops to 13th in FP2, but the Japanese driver does not seem too worried about the results. For him, it is all about gaining confidence and enjoying getting back in the car after the summer break. Particularly critical is for him the so-called ‘Bus-stop chicane’ (turn 18-19), where the Japanese shows his drifting skills fighting opposite lock in the first free practice session and has a huge lock up in the second:

 

"It’s been an ok day, the conditions weren’t great, but still I think we’ve managed to gather a lot of good data. We’ve had some traditional Spa weather here today, with rain in only one section of the track, so it’s been quite tricky, but I like this circuit and I’ve really enjoyed the day. After the summer break it was great to just be back out in the car, having fun driving and getting back into the rhythm. In FP2 we made a good step forward, but it wasn’t enough. We know there’s some areas we can work on tomorrow to make a bigger improvement for Quali and the race".

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Pierre Gasly has to catch up after missing FP1 in favour of Liam Lawson. The Frenchman places right behind his teammate after a brief run in the gravel trap at ‘Bruxelles’ (turn 10):

 

"It felt good to be back driving after the summer break. Liam was obviously in the car for the first session, so I tried to give him a few tips before he headed out and help him where I could. It’s a great experience for a young driver, being able to get out in an F1 car for a proper session and I think he really enjoyed it. As for my session, it’s not been that easy, having missed FP1, but I think we’ve still managed to gather some good data. We’ve got quite a lot to work on, I’d like to make some changes to the balance ahead of tomorrow, so we’ll review everything tonight and look at the best solutions, but I’m pleased with how the day has gone overall. There’s quite a few drivers starting from the back for the race, so for sure we need to try and make the most out of these opportunities and aim to be as far up the grid as possible".

 

Jonathan Eddolls describes Alpha Tauri’s Friday:

 

"It was great to welcome Liam back to the team, with him taking over the FP1 testing duties in Pierre's AT03. The conditions were not straightforward for his session - cold temperatures, hard tyres, damp track, a Red Flag and rain at the end of the session - but he kept his head down and completed all of the work we asked of him. He did a good job. Yuki's focus was based around some aero testing and also to evaluate the new rear wing we have brought for this event. Moving to FP2 our aim was to improve the balance, which was understeer limited. We made good steps, but there is still more work to do for tomorrow. The light drizzle at the end of the session limited the long run data we could all gather, so we will head into Sunday with less tyre information than usual, but it’s the same for everyone and could help present some opportunities, particularly in light of the fact that many drivers are taking PU penalties".

 

Remaining loyal to its tradition of unpredictable weather, the circuit of Spa surprises the drivers with two heavy showers at the end of both sessions that prevent everyone from improving their lap times and lead to some mistakes, as many drivers run wide at turn 7 (Les Combes), for example. The fastest time of FP1 is set once again by a Ferrari, which is more unusually the one driven by Carlos Sainz, who completes a lap in 1’46’’538s, just 0.069s ahead of his teammate and a bit more than two tenths ahead of Max Verstappen. However, the Spaniard cannot go further than P5 in FP2, as he encounters some traffic and runs wide at the exit of Fagnes-S, putting all tyres in the gravel at high speed in a risky but equally harmless way:

 

"Overall it was a good Friday. In FP1 I felt comfortable with the balance of the car. For FP2 we tried some changes which didn’t really work as expected and we lost the feeling a bit. However, I’m confident we know where to find the lap time for tomorrow and the long run pace was also ok, so I believe we are in a good place for the rest of the weekend".

 

Sainz will have to defend Ferrari’s colours on Saturday as his teammate Charles Leclerc sees another difficult weekend take shape ahead of him. In fact, the Monegasque will have to recover after starting from the back of the grid as he will be inevitably penalised for changing some elements of his power unit. Despite showing good speed, he finishes FP2 in second position over eight tenths behind a seemingly unbeatable Verstappen:

 

"It feels good to be back in the car after the break. We completed a solid number of laps while running in variable conditions, with rain coming and going in different parts of the track. It’s still difficult to determine the pecking order for this weekend, as all teams ran completely different programmes. Our main focus will be on race pace tomorrow, as qualifying will not be as relevant due to our penalty".

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And it is in fact the current World Champion who sets the fastest time of the second practice session in 1’45’’507s. However, like Leclerc, the Dutchman will have to serve a grid penalty for technical reasons (new hybrid powertrain) and will share the comeback with his title rival. Also, Verstappen ends up twice under the careful eye of the stewards as he avoids Latifi’s Williams in the pit lane during an apparent unsafe release by the British team and puts two wheels beyond the inner white line during a start practice. Apart from these small troubles, the current world champion shows an impressive pace and many already wonder if he will be able to win from the back on Sunday. His words after FP2:

 

"From the first laps we did today I could feel that the car was working well, so that’s positive. Not much really changed throughout the sessions, we just looked at how we could set up the car in the best possible way and I think as soon as we went out, the car was looking pretty good. Of course, there are always things that we want to fine tune, like the balance, but we can work on that. When it started to rain, I of course didn’t push as much, hopefully today was the worst of it so we should have some cleaner sessions".

 

Sergio Perez’s Friday is much more like of a rollercoaster, as the Mexican cannot extract the full potential of his Red Bull RB18. Two 10th places, both times almost two seconds behind the best performance are a bit worrying, considering that Pérez will be Sainz’s main real competitor for pole, but he seems to believe in an improvement:

 

"We didn’t have the rhythm out there today and part of that was down to the conditions, but we also had a little issue with the rear wing, so we stopped for some time but that was resolved. Our time on track wasn’t ideal today due to the weather, especially on the final lap of FP2 on the soft tyre when things were a bit on the damper side. As soon as you get a damp corner you fully lose the balance on the track and it is very hard to learn anything. We will see what we are able to pick up in the data but I think we are looking good and can be competitive, so we just have to make sure we get everything right for qualifying and the race. Driving on this track is always very enjoyable so I am looking forward to the rest of the weekend".

 

Esteban Ocon is one of the other drivers who will start their race from the back because of the change of some components of the engine. The Frenchman of Alpine does not come from an easy Friday (16th in both sessions):

 

"It’s great to be in the car again after the summer break and it’s always a nice feeling to drive this classic track. As far as our Friday was concerned, it was not a straightforward day. We had a driveshaft issue early in Free Practice 1, so we missed most of the session and Free Practice 2 was disrupted with the weather so we couldn’t really execute a smooth programme. All in all, we definitely have work to do but we have gathered enough data today to work well ahead of tomorrow. There’s more to come from us".

 

His teammate Fernando Alonso, who will leave the French team at the end of the season, gives more positive feedback:

 

"Firstly, it’s good to be back! Driving Formula 1 cars in Spa-Francorchamps always gives you adrenaline, so it was a fun Friday. The circuit changes are not too different to before, just with the safer run-off areas. We didn’t have stable weather conditions to test the tyres, so we still have a couple of things to assess tomorrow in Free Practice 3. The car feels quite good to drive here, so hopefully we should be in for another competitive weekend".

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Pat Fry, Chief Technical Officer, narrates a hectic day for his team and for the others:

 

"Both of today’s sessions have been affected by the weather, which made it difficult for everyone across the field to get through their programmes. As far as we can tell in these conditions, our upgrades are performing as expected and our times look promising. In the morning Esteban had an issue, which we investigated and fully understand, and it should not affect us for the rest of the weekend. We are also taking a complete Power Unit change on Esteban’s car, as a number of other teams are: the length of the track and its configuration minimises the impact. With little rain predicted for the rest of the weekend we can look forward to a cleaner Saturday and Sunday".

A double-face Aston Martin is the one that comes out of Friday in Spa. Even though both drivers are involved in traffic jams, the car can be called anything but slow as a Lance Stroll in excellent form claims 5th and 4th position:

 

"It felt good out there today and the lap-times looked good as well. We tried all the tyre compounds, and the performance felt decent across all three. We do not know what the weather will bring tomorrow, so it is really tricky to figure out where we will be when qualifying comes around, but I am hopeful we will be in the mix for some good points this weekend".

 

Sebastian Vettel is the other side of the coin. The four-time world champion places 15th in both practice sessions and impedes Carlos Sainz at the exit of Paul-Frère-curve, with the Spaniard manifesting his disappointment with hand gestures for a ruined flying lap. Tough day in the office for the German:

 

"It is always great to drive at Spa - even in today's changeable conditions. I struggled a little bit in the second session - I did not really feel very confident with the car - but I am pretty sure tomorrow will be better. The sessions were mostly dry, but it was more about trying to find a feel with the car today. We will have a proper look at the data tonight and I am sure we will take a step forward for tomorrow".

 

Mercedes is sporting a slightly modified livery. To celebrate 50 years of AMG, Hamilton and Russell’s cars have new numbers (or should we say old?) with a ‘vintage’ font in big white circles on the sidepods that remind those of the historic German tuner. After showcasing a double livery with lots of red (the colour of the first AMG-tuned Mercedes) on a display car before the racing weekend, Mercedes opted for a more conservative approach to avoid putting too much weight on the car because of the paint. Lewis Hamilton is gaining confidence with his W13, as, despite some mistakes and a dangerous snap of oversteer at the Raidillon, the seven-time world champion has significantly improved from P9 to P6, reducing his gap from the best performance by half a second:

 

"We just weren't very quick today and I'm not sure why - it could be tyre temps, wing levels, a multitude of things. It doesn't feel disastrous out there, we're just a long way off. We've experienced that a few times this season on a Friday and then things improve on the Saturday, I hope that's the case this weekend. We've just got to work hard tonight, analyse the data to try and figure out how we get this car in a better place. The car doesn't feel the same as Budapest in terms of qualifying pace but it's not far off how it felt on the Friday so that gives me hope".

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George Russell brings home an excellent P4 in FP1 while drops to P8 in FP2, but it seems that these conditions are not very indicative, especially for Mercedes. According to the young Brit, the crucial day will be Saturday and it will have to be faced with optimism:

 

"Tyre temperature is something we've struggled with this season and I struggled quite a lot on every compound today. In these conditions, it's definitely something we need to work on. But we know that once you get temperatures in the right window, you can find a huge amount of performance, so there's a little optimism there. We're pretty used to having bad Fridays so let's see if we can turn it around. I don't think there's any guarantee we can find the performance that we had in the last race but we'll be working flat out tonight to try and get on top of it. Totally different day tomorrow, conditions will be very different, hopefully warmer and drier so let's see what it brings. There's not much to compare here to Budapest - a low downforce track, cold and wet conditions, not many comparable settings you can carry over - but that's the unique thing about F1, every single time you go out you have different conditions and limitations to work around".

 

Andrew Shovlin agrees with his drivers’ opinions:

 

"Quite a messy day with a bit of a rain and a red flag but we were able to get a read on the main issues to work on overnight. Our single lap performance clearly needs a bit of focus, neither driver had a good feel for the Soft tyre and probably we're not getting it into the right window. There wasn't much useful learning on a long run given the conditions. We had the Hard tyre in the second session which was particularly difficult in the cool and damp but the Medium was working reasonably well in FP1. Clearly there is an opportunity with the number of cars that are taking penalties, but we do need to find a bit of pace overnight if we are to capitalise on that".

Kevin Magnussen stops his car right after the pit-lane exit and causes a brief red-flag interruption in FP1. The Danish driver concludes both sessions in 17th place:

 

"We had an issue and had to stop but we changed it for FP2 and had no further issues. I got a bit of running in FP1 so didn’t lose out too much and then it started raining so it’s fine. FP2 was ok in low-fuel but I didn’t really get any running on high-fuel because it started raining just enough to make it irrelevant, so we still have some question marks on highfuel. The car felt ok on quali runs and we just need to as always find a bit more pace and work on things tonight".

 

Not an easy year for Mick Schumacher, who will have to make his way through the field again on Sunday as he is one of the drivers that will take a grid penalty for technical reasons. Furthermore, the German driver runs wide at turn 9 ending up in the gravel trap as the track is made slippery by the rain:

 

"It was mixed conditions out there so with the upgrade it was hard to feel a big difference and we’re on a very different track compared to Budapest, but it felt good. We obviously focused on different things compared to Kevin but we still learned a lot on track, and I enjoyed driving every minute out there so looking forward to tomorrow".

 

Few words for Guenther Steiner, as his team faces a difficult weekend:

 

"It was not an easy day today knowing that Mick is starting from the back of the field, so we ran a completely different program for him. Kevin had an issue with his energy storage unit in FP1 and the team did a good job to get him ready for FP2. It was a little bit of a mixed session, it wasn’t perfect, but normally in FP1 and FP2 we’re running a little bit behind but we’ll make sure tomorrow we get back to where we want to be".

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Valtteri Bottas will also take a grid penalty and also has to make the best out of his Friday as he only gets to drive in FP2 placing 18th (+2.912s from Verstappen):

 

"I was satisfied with the balance of the car, even though we obviously missed out on a session and we had to play catch-up in the rest of the day. The main limitation today was the grip levels, especially when I switched to the hard tyres, which are a big step from the soft: it’s nothing to worry about, though, I fully expect to figure it out tomorrow with a few more laps. We had a hydraulic leak in the first session and rain compromised the running towards the end of FP2, so hopefully we can get a bit more track time in the final practice session. We need a clean day to finish what we couldn’t do today".


The Finn’s teammate Zhou Guanyu completes a clean day placing 12th in both sessions:

 

"It felt good to get back in the cockpit after the summer break; the car felt quite ok on this low-downforce track. Everything was working well today and I felt pretty good in the car: as always, though, there are a few bits that need to be fixed ahead of tomorrow, but I feel confident so far at the end of day one. We tried different setups between FP1 and FP2, as the day was about figuring out the best and biggest changes on the car, to have it at its best for quali tomorrow and for the race on Sunday. Everything seemed to go quite smoothly today, so hopefully this weekend we can take a step up from the past few races and get back to our previous form".

 

A very fast track like Spa seems to suit particularly well the FW43, which gives its best in low-downforce trim. Credit may also be given to the new parts brought by Williams here in Belgium, as Dave Robson, Head of Vehicle Performance, points out:

 

"It was a fairly typical Spa day with a near constant mizzle and the occasional heavy shower. Whilst this disrupted our plans a little, we were able to adapt much of the programme and complete most of our key tests. The new parts that we brought for the front and rear wings were tested and showed no concerns and they are now available to the race engineers to deploy as required during the rest of the weekend. Alex and Nicky both coped well with the changing conditions today and were able to learn a lot about the car and the changes to the circuit. We expect the track to be a little different tomorrow as the weather returns to drier and warmer conditions, but much of what we discovered today should still be relevant".

 

Alex Albon briefly comments a positive day, which has seen him place 6th in FP1 and just outside top ten in FP2:

 

"The new track changes and tarmac is helping us by giving a little bit more grip. I think we’re in a good place. Balance wise we’re more or less there. Still a bit of work to do for tomorrow but for a Friday it’s been pretty good". 

 

Nicholas Latifi confirms the good performance of his car with a promising P11 in FP1 but then drops back a bit in the following session with a 19th place:

 

"Overall, nice to be back behind the wheel after the summer break. We got off to a good start in FP1, but FP2 was a bit different with some mixed track conditions so maybe not the most productive running for everyone all round. We’ll see if we can make some minor changes and keep building in FP3". 

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Lando Norris arrives in Spa in fine form. The British drivers begins his racing weekend with a 13th place but ends FP2 in a brilliant 3rd position, even though 1.082s seconds away from Verstappen’s best lap. However, Norris will not be able to fully benefit of this speed in qualifying as he is yet another driver taking a grid penalty:

 

"A reasonable first day back and it was good to get back out there. There are a few different parts on the car this weekend, so I think just understanding those and understanding the lower downforce configuration was good. Obviously having the power unit grid penalties this weekend, we were trying to focus more on the race, rather than qualifying. Today was more about optimisation, which hopefully will pay off more come Sunday but overall, a fairly good day".

 

Daniel Ricciardo is a bit more consistent on the track that gave him the second win of his career and claims a 7th and 9th place in FP1 and FP2 respectively:

 

"It was ok today. We were expecting a wet day and it wasn’t that wet, so we got mostly dry running, so I think it was solid. There are a few points on track which we can improve on, but I think it’s clear where they are. It’s now just trying to optimise the set-up and figure it out as we can go in one of two directions, so we can decide which direction’s best tonight. It’s nice to be back on track, it was dark and kind of miserable weather, but yesterday it was beautiful, so hopefully it’s sunny and that it’ll be even cooler for qualifying and the race".

 

Andrea Stella aligns with the other team managers and various drivers by criticising an unsurprising but always annoying Belgian weather. However, he can be satisfied of his drivers’ performance:

 

"Both practice sessions today at Spa-Francorchamps were affected by the weather, which is not a surprise here. We were well-prepared for it but nonetheless, it did impact our programme, which was aimed at understanding the tyres, choosing our best aerodynamic configuration and mechanical set-up. We have gathered useful information this afternoon and will pull it together this evening to prepare us, as much as possible, for qualifying tomorrow and Sunday’s Belgian Grand Prix. Obviously Lando has taken a power unit penalty at this event and will be starting from the back of the grid - but he has shown good pace today, and we are optimistic he can make up positions".

 

Resurfacing, new gravel traps to improve safety for various categories and a major overhaul in terms of infrastructure have changed the circuit of Spa, despite no variations in terms of layout since 2021. All this added to the critical weather conditions that have disrupted the teams’ programs in both free practice session is a lot to digest for Pirelli tyres. Hence, as Chief Engineer Simone Berra says, more answers will be found as the weekend goes on:

 

"It was hard to draw many conclusions today, with plenty of track evolution and the weather making the surface ‘green’ and slippery. The new asphalt is quite smooth and doesn’t offer as much grip as when we measured it directly after the Spa 24 Hours a few weeks ago. However, this is likely to change over the course of the weekend as more rubber gets laid down. The cool conditions today favoured the use of the soft tyre, which showed no graining despite the low temperatures. We’re not expecting warm weather for the grand prix, which might also mean that the softer compounds play an important role in the race, depending on the degradation rates".

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On Saturday, it is FP3 time. The track is dry and the temperature is 20 degrees. At 1:00 p.m. FP3 starts and Hamilton and Perez are the first drivers to go out immediately after the green light has come out. The first one to set a time is Albon, with 1'50"050 on soft tyres. Meanwhile George Russell complains about an electrical problem in the last corner. The Ferraris go out on the track: Sainz sets a 1'46"461 time which puts him in second place, while his teammate Leclerc follows him in third place. With 8 minutes to go Leclerc loses control of the car and nearly hits the barrier. He and the car are okay but the red flag is out. The FP3 restart for only 4 minutes. Sergio Perez is the fastest driver of the session, with 1'45"047, followed by Max Verstappen. The Ferrari drivers are third (Sainz) and seventh (Leclerc). Norris is fourth, followed by Alonso and Russell. In the top ten we also find Sebastian Vettel, Esteban Ocon and Pierre Gasly. It is then time of qualifying. The qualifying session starts 25 minutes late, due to the need to fix the barriers, which were damaged following an accident in the Porsche Supercup side race. Mick Schumacher sets the benchmark time, which is easily beaten by the Mercedes duo. Next it is Sergio Pérez who takes the lead with 1'45"377. Leclerc is second, while it is Carlos Sainz Jr. who is able to beat the Mexican: 1'45"050. The Spaniard's time is beaten, shortly after, by Max Verstappen, who drops well under 1 minute 45 seconds. Alpine's two drivers, Esteban Ocon and Fernando Alonso, take the fifth and sixth times, ahead of Gasly and Daniel Ricciardo. The Mercedes drivers re-enter the track, but without setting times that could give them the certainty of qualifying for Q2. Russell is tenth and ahead of Hamilton. They, too, are forced to rejoin the track when there are three minutes left in the first phase. Only Ferrari and Red Bull Racing opt to have drivers stay in the pits. Nicholas Latifi rejoins thirteenth, while Lance Stroll is tenth. Soon after, Schumacher snatches the 13th time, while Zhou Guanyu climbs to seventh.

 

The other Alfa Romeo driver, Bottas, does not finish the lap. Vettel rises to 15th, while Norris climbs to fifth, ahead of Ricciardo and the two Alpine cars. The Australian sees his time erased, for exceeding the track limits at Turn 9. Hamilton also improves, fifth, beaten later by Russell and Albon. Eliminated are Vettel, beaten by only two thousandths by Schumacher, Latifi, Kevin Magnussen, Yuki Tsunoda, complicit in a mistake at the last braking, and Bottas. At the beginning of the second phase, complicit with the various penalties, the list of ten drivers who will complete the first five rows of the grid is already known. With 1'46"622 Lewis Hamilton sets the first Q2 time, improved to 1'46"284 by Russell. Verstappen is still very quick, and closes his first lap in 1'44"723, while Sainz Jr. stops at seven tenths, although helped, with the slipstream, by Leclerc, on the Kemmel straight. Pérez comes within a tenth of Verstappen, although the Mexican used a set of new tires, unlike the Dutchman, who still employs a set of already used tires. Norris is fourth, ahead of Alonso. On his return lap, Sainz Jr. concedes the slipstream to Leclerc, who, however, makes a small mistake, again in the corner in which he had come out in the morning. The Scuderia Ferrari driver complains, over the radio, about the porpoising of his car. Meanwhile, Ocon rises to fourth place. In the final part of the session, all the drivers, with the exception of the Red Bull Racing duo, re-enter the track. Alonso climbs to fifth, just behind Ocon, while Pierre Gasly takes the eighth time. Zhou is ninth, Stroll takes 11th, while Daniel Ricciardo takes eighth from Gasly. Leclerc nabs the best Q2 time (1'44"551), with Hamilton coming back fifth, ahead of Russell. Alexander Albon snatches the tenth time, thus eliminating Ricciardo. Gasly, Zhou, Stroll and Schumacher, in addition to the McLaren driver, do not enter the final stage. In Q3 Albon is the first out of the pits. The Williams driver closes with 1'46"369, easily beaten by Pérez (1'44"462).

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Verstappen is still able to do better than his teammate, in 1'43"665. Between the two intersperses Sainz Jr., again facilitated by Leclerc's slipstream. The Monegasque is sent to the track with a set of new tires, unlike planned. The slipstream strategy between teammates is not, however, followed by Red Bull Racing. Ocon takes third position, ahead of Norris and Russell. Leclerc, who is asked by the team to look for time even with a wrong set of tires, climbs to fourth, beating Ocon. Albon is sixth. The Thai is beaten by Fernando Alonso and Ocon. Hamilton, for his part, is unable to beat the performance of the Alpine drivers. With the last attempt neither Sainz Jr. nor Pérez improves. Due to the replacement of several power unit components and transmission replacement, Max Verstappen, who was also the fastest in the 2021 edition of the Grand Prix during Q3, was relegated to the grid. The Dutch Red Bull Racing driver previously lost his pole position due to a penalty during the 2019 Mexican Grand Prix, where he was relegated for ignoring yellow flags in the final stage, handing the first pitch to Leclerc. Sainz Jr., the second-fastest driver, thus clinches the pole start, the second of his career, after that achieved in the British Grand Prix. For Ferrari, which had not reached the decisive qualifying stage in the previous two editions of the race, it is the 11th start in first position in the Belgian Grand Prix, a record now shared with McLaren. The Maranello-based stable returns to start in front in the Belgian race for the first time since the 2019 edition with Leclerc. The driver author of the pole position has won six of the last seven races held at this track. Pérez, second, starts on the front row for the fourth time in his career, beating the Mexican record held by Pedro Rodríguez since the 1971 championship, and setting start number 150 on the front row in the category for Red Bull Racing. Alonso, third, starts in the first three positions for the second time this season, following his second-place finish in the Canadian Grand Prix. For the Spaniard, it is the first start in the top three places at the Belgian circuit in 15 years, after qualifying third with McLaren in the 2007 edition.

 

Hamilton, fourth, evens the odds with teammate Russell in qualifying, now both at seven. For the Briton, still not starting in the top three positions this season, it is the third start of the year in the top four. Russell, fifth, has finished every race in the championship in the top five places except in the British Grand Prix, retired because of a collision at the start. Albon, sixth, and in Q3 for the first time this season, represents the highest qualifying position for Williams since Russell finished third in the 2021 Russian Grand Prix. Ricciardo, eliminated in Q2, starts seventh thanks to penalties from other drivers, the highest position since his sixth-place finish during the Sprint in the Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix. Vettel, eliminated in Q1 but 10th thanks to penalties incurred by other drivers, is eliminated at this stage by 0.002 seconds, the fifth time in the last six races, while for Magnussen, also eliminated in the first stage but 12th thanks to penalties incurred by other drivers, it was the fifth Q1 elimination of the season. Verstappen, starting 14th due to the penalty, claimed four podiums after starting from 10th position down in his career, an occurrence that occurred after starting 16th, 18th, 20th and 15th, respectively. For Leclerc, on the grid fifteenth because of the penalty, it is one position ahead of the lowest position prerogative for victory at the Spa-Francorchamps circuit, sixteenth, from where Michael Schumacher won in the 1995 edition before the Monegasque was born. For the Ferrari driver, the lowest starting position after finishing on the podium was seventh place in the 2020 Austrian Grand Prix. Bottas, who was eliminated in Q1 for the first time since the 2015 Monaco Grand Prix with Mercedes, ends a streak of 148 Grands Prix in which he entered Q2. During qualifying, two times are cancelled by the stewards to drivers for not respecting the track limits: that of Daniel Ricciardo at Turn 9 and Yuki Tsunoda at Turn 18. With qualifying over, as usual, the drivers release their impressions to the press, and beginning is poleman Max Verstappen, who says:
 

"It was an amazing qualifying; the car has been on it all weekend and it’s been very enjoyable to drive. We fine-tuned a few things overnight and it seemed to work out. I’m very happy with my lap and it’s great to be here, it’s a great track with amazing fans around, I hope they had a good day. Starting from the back tomorrow meant that I had to be careful with the tyres I was using throughout the session today. With a car like this it will be a shame not to be on the podium tomorrow, that’s what we are targeting".

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His teammate Sergio Perez is not as happy as him:

 

"It was a good but not fantastic qualifying. My first lap in Q3 wasn’t great and then that session was slightly disturbed due to other issues, like a little damage to my floor, but being P2 for the race tomorrow, is still decent. We improved very well from yesterday considering we lost a lot of track time in FP2 and I think there is still room to improve in the race. We can fight for the win from the front row tomorrow, we expect to go for it, it’s about getting a good start, a clean lap one and going from there. Being on pole doesn’t benefit you too much here, being close to Carlos in Eau Rogue can get me the lead so I will try to do that. It’s important we race our own race tomorrow".

 

Red Bull’s Team Principal Christian Horner comments:

 

"It was an unbelievable Qualifying from Max today, the lap time was so good he didn’t need to do the second run. He has been absolutely on fire this weekend. It’s a hard fight from P15 and there are always risks associated with that but we are in for a fantastic race tomorrow with Max and Charles fighting their way through the field. Checo also had a brilliant qualifying, he is perfectly poised to take on Carlos at the front. History has shown us with Sebastian a few years ago, Daniel Riccardio and even Max that at the start, with that run up the hill, the tow is very powerful with the DRS closed. We discussed ahead of time and agreed that tactically P2 may be a better place to start. Yes P1 is traditionally the best place to start but here its all to play for. There is going to be a lot to keep on top of tomorrow".

 

Carlos Sainz speaks about Ferrari’s competitors in the race:

 

"We had a good qualifying and I’m happy to be starting on pole here in Spa. It was today’s goal and we achieved it with perfect team work together with Charles. Now we need to focus on ourselves and make sure to keep our competitors behind us tomorrow. Defending from them won’t be easy, especially at the start, as their performance has been very strong this weekend. I’m ready for a race in which we will fight with everything we have to bring home another win. In terms of race pace, I think we should be competitive".

 

As well as Sergio Perez, Charles Leclerc is not so satisfied with his performance:

 

"It wasn’t the most exciting qualifying on my side, given the penalty we will take tomorrow. There was a bit of potential to improve the driving or the car’s set-up - however, our target was not to find that last tenth today. Our competitors have been very fast since the start of the weekend, and looking at the gap we had to them today shows us that it will not be an easy race. I don’t have a clear objective for tomorrow; what I want is to maximize the result. Our race pace was quite good yesterday so hopefully, with a strong first stint and a lot of overtakes, we can come back quickly and fight at the front".

 

Laurent Mekies, Ferrari’s Racing Director, comments:

 

"It was a very intense and complex qualifying. We had very strong opponents this afternoon, especially Verstappen. But at the end of the day neither Max nor Charles were able to fight for a place on the front row because they both have a PU penalty so we could do our proper qualifying work only with Carlos. It was very tight and it took quite a bit of teamwork - with Charles and Carlos towing each other - to be able to extract the last thousands of a second to get Carlos on P1 for tomorrow. They did a super job together and the team supported them well with a perfect execution. With Charles the priority was to beat the other cars that also had PU penalties today, and ultimately we decided at the last moment to run him on a new set of soft tyres in Q3 to secure the highest position possible. It still leaves him with a very healthy new tyre allocation for tomorrow to battle strongly through the field. It will be an intense race for Carlos, who will have to use all his skills to defend first position. I’m sure that we will have the chance to bring home lots of points".

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Alpine can be satisfied with the performance of his drivers. Esteban Ocon says:

 

"It’s been a good day for the team and I’m very happy with today’s result. Everything seemed to click this afternoon and the team did a fantastic job with the car and made all the right calls today, so a very well done to them. Fifth place is my equal-best qualifying result of the season, so it’s a bit of a pity to have the grid penalty for tomorrow’s race but we’ve got the package to still get a decent result tomorrow. Fernando will start in third, and I will give it my all to make my way up the grid and bring home some deserved points for the team. I can’t wait to go racing and give the Belgian fans a good Grand Prix, they deserve it".

 

Fernando Alonso speaks about what he expects during the race:

 

"I am happy with our performance today and it’s a positive result for the team with both cars qualifying inside the top six positions. We gave each other the tow during the session, and it worked really well. It will be exciting tomorrow and, like in Canada, it’s another opportunity to attack inside the top three at the start. Tomorrow, I want a clean race to capitalise on this position. We’ll be wary of those behind us, as there are some fast cars starting towards the back of the grid. We’ll be aiming to be in the top five or six positions by the chequered flag".

Alan Permane, Alpine’s Sporting Director, says:

 

"We’re very happy with today’s performance in Qualifying with Esteban fifth, Fernando sixth and, importantly, ahead of our rivals. What pleases me most is the teamwork by everyone today, including both drivers who did a great job in executing our plan. Esteban does have a power unit penalty for tomorrow, which means he starts close to the back of the grid, but, with others doing the same, Fernando will start in third place and has an excellent chance for a good result. There are faster cars behind us - Max [Verstappen] and Charles [Leclerc] - but we’ll remain focused on our race and remain vigilant to beat those with who we are really competing on track. We’ll be doing everything we can to maximise our points haul in tomorrow’s race. That’s our objective and I believe scoring with both cars is possible".

 

Lewis Hamilton is disappointed by the performance during qualifying:

 

"Everyone's working hard for improvements and we came here very optimistic that we're going to close the gap, so to be 1.8 seconds behind is a real kick in the teeth but it is what it is. This is a car that we continue to struggle with, and I definitely won't miss it at the end of the year. The other two teams ahead of us are in another league and we can't keep relying on them to fall off. We have to regroup and make sure next year's car is where we need it to be, and we'll do the best we can with what we have for the rest of the season. We were a little too draggy and the aero balance through the corners wasn't stable so it's very hard to work around that but we'll try our best for tomorrow. Knowing how hard everyone is working, I'm gutted for the team because we're giving it our all but it's the fundamentals of this car - sometimes it's good, sometimes it's really bad".

 

His teammate George Russell agrees:

 

"It's difficult to comprehend how we were on pole in the last race but 1.8 seconds off today, and we aren't just losing time to Max, we were six tenths behind the Alpines. When the temperatures are cold, we struggle and as we also saw in Imola this year, we find it difficult to get the tyres working. I'm confident we'll have a lot more pace tomorrow compared to the Alpines, McLarens and the Williams too, but we will still be 0.5s/1.0s behind Red Bull and Ferrari. We need to look overnight to try and understand our pace but it's good to get qualifying out of the way, it has been a weak point for us, and I'm sure we'll be faster tomorrow. Mercedes qualifying P7 and P8 is not where we want to be, and we know that's not where the car is, so we've got work to do tomorrow to get a good result".

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Toto Wolff comments:

 

"That was a very disappointing qualifying result, no matter that penalties for other cars tomorrow will push us up the grid. Four weeks ago in Hungary, we were on pole, albeit with some slightly unusual circumstances that played in our favour; today, we were 1.8 seconds off pole position. Nobody in the team thinks that kind of deficit is acceptable, and even now after 14 races, we don't understand how to consistently get performance out of this car. We seem to have high drag on the straights and haven't given either driver a balance this weekend to give them confidence. Hopefully tomorrow we will have better race pace than we showed today, but we know that no matter our finishing positions, we have a lot of work ahead of us".

 

Andrew Shovlin adds:

 

"We were hoping to close the gap to the front here which is clearly not what we have achieved but this year has thrown plenty of setbacks at us, we just need to learn what we can from it and try to move forward. The car has been really difficult to get into a good working window here; we're having to make a lot of compromises in how we're running it in terms of balance and stiffnesses. That's part of the problem but we've also failed to do a decent lap on new tyres all weekend which is probably a separate issue that we need to investigate and understand. We will move up the grid a little for tomorrow as three of the cars ahead have penalties, but it will be all about race pace - if we don't have that, then we're in for a tough race. As always, we'll be fighting hard to get every point that we can and maximise every opportunity in the race tomorrow".

 

Williams driver Alexander Albon has done a really good job by putting his car in 9th place:

 

"It felt really good out there. We’ve been quietly confident all weekend; we were looking for Q2, so Q3 is a bit unexpected but we’re very happy – this is a great result for us. The car was feeling strong, we’re still learning our package and we made some changes from FP3 which helped the car for qualifying. We know our car likes low downforce and, when track conditions are in a place that suits us, we can extract a good lap time out of the car. We were P9 on pure pace. Everyone seemed to have clear runs today and we were only a couple of tenths behind Mercedes, so it shows that in certain situations we can really maximise what we have. With the penalties we are starting sixth and so we have to try to hold on and maybe even overtake at the start. We’ve got a car that, on paper, should be hard to overtake as we are quick on the straights, but it's also not a track like Monaco where it’s easy to keep people behind, so it’ll be elbows out tomorrow".

 

Nicholas Latifi, on the other side, was out in Q1:

 

"I felt like we were making progress through FP3 and things were feeling much better. Despite the result, I feel the car had the potential to reach Q2, so it's disappointing from my side and for the team. Unfortunately, the last lap was the worst lap of the weekend for me. I got caught out by the unpredictability of the car and tyres. There were a lot of big mistakes on the lap, so it ended up being scrappy. It's frustrating to not put it on the board in the session that mattered. We'll be starting a bit higher up the grid with a number of cars taking penalties so it could create some opportunities".

 

Dave Robson, Williams’ Head of Vehicle Performance, says:

 

"We had a decent day today and made some good progress with the car. We made some aggressive changes overnight and these were a little bit too far in FP3, which led us to lose some of the pace we showed yesterday. However, some good engineering ahead of qualifying allowed us to find a good balance in qualifying. The tyres were tricky today in the cool conditions and we had to adapt our approach a little ahead of the delayed qualifying session, but this worked reasonably well, and we were able to get both cars into a decent window. Nicky lost some time at T1 of his final lap in Q1 but otherwise completed a good lap and was unfortunate not to progress to Q2. Alex did a very good job to progress to Q3 and once there we opted to lead the pack and use the free air. He left nothing on the table and it was right to go for a full attack lap. Both cars will inherit some grid positions once the penalties are applied and whilst this will help the race start, it does mean that we will need to play a fairly defensive strategy tomorrow".

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Lando Norris is quite happy about his performance:

 

"I think I’m reasonably happy with today and we got the maximum we could actually achieve. Of course, we weren’t going for outright position, and maybe we could have got P7 if we had used a set of new tyres, which would have been a little bit nicer, but we had to make sure we were in the best place strategy-wise for tomorrow. We’re still not where we want to be on pure pace, so hopefully tomorrow we can change a couple of things and try to move forwards and get into the points. It’s going to be a long race, but you never know. Overall, we’re in a good place so we’ll try our best".

 

Daniel Ricciardo is not so happy:

 

"It’s a little bit disappointing to be so close to Q3 and there were a couple of little things which cost us, but it is what it is. I think we did relatively well. This morning, we had to change specification of wing, so that was not as planned, but I still think we did quite well with that considered. For tomorrow, I’m not really sure how it will play out. Obviously, we will gain some positions due to penalties so we will start seventh, so that’s good. I think Albon is certainly a target, even if he’s been quick all weekend, and then there are some quicker guys coming back through, but I think that we should try to hold on as long as we can. I think if we put in a good first stint and try to distance ourselves, that buys us a bit of time later in the race. Overall, relatively pleased with the performance of the car. Just another one where we missed that little bit. So, we’ll keep at it and look forward to going racing tomorrow. It’s been a busy week, so, I’m just looking forward to watching the lights go out and getting on with the 44 laps".

 

Andreas Seidl, Mclaren’s Team Principal, talks about his drivers performances and the penalties for the race:

 

"After qualifying today and once all the grid penalties are applied, we’ll be starting the race in P7 with Daniel and P18 for Lando. Unfortunately, we didn’t manage to get into Q3 with Daniel. On Lando’s side we decided not to use the set of new soft tyres in Q3, knowing about the penalty and to save them for the race tomorrow. Given the circumstances we have made certain choices for today’s qualifying which will hopefully benefit us in tomorrow’s Belgian Grand Prix. Our full focus is now on that. The aim is to fight for points with both cars. The mixed-up grid will hopefully give us a very exciting race which we can look forward to".

 

AlphaTauri driver Pierre Gasly says he is happy about the performance of the car:

 

"It was a good Quali today, I’m really happy about my lap and how the car performed. The balance was great, and I felt like we maximised the package. We’re still not showing our full potential, so we’ve got some work to do as a team to make it into the top 10, but today I think we managed to get the best out of the car. We start P8 tomorrow, thanks to the penalties of some drivers, so we’ll have to make the most of that opportunity come the race. There’s going to be some fast cars behind us trying to move forward, so it’s going to be a hard race, but we’ll try our best to hold our position and to stay in the points".

 

On the other hand, his teammate Yuki Tsunoda is extremely disappointed:

 

"It’s been a really disappointing day. I’ve felt quite happy in the car so far this weekend and I think we were competitive enough to comfortably get through to Q2 and even be in with a chance of Q3. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen today - I had a big snap and then, further in the lap, I went off. There are opportunities to pass here in Spa so hopefully we can try and make our way forward".

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Jody Egginton talks about the performance during FP2 and FP3:

 

"Following Friday running, we had a good picture of the areas we needed to focus on today. The analysis and subsequent set up changes made overnight pretty much delivered according to expectation, meaning both cars took a step forward in terms of balance for FP3. We included a longer run with both drivers in FP3 in order to try and gather some of the data we were missing following yesterday’s rain shower towards the end of FP2. Qualifying was, as expected, very tight in the midfield, but a strong first run in Q1 by Pierre provided a good basis to build on, which he subsequently did, with the car being well balanced and making Q2 without any fuss. Pierre's first stint in Q2 on a used tyre was very strong and he built on this for his second outing on new tyres putting in a very clean lap, but unfortunately, we were missing the last 0.15s to make Q3, in what was a very tight session. On the other side of the garage, Yuki struggled a little more in Qualifying and a couple of front tyre lock ups during his second run meant he was not able to put his best lap together and was unfortunately eliminated in Q1. This is frustrating for Yuki and the team, as he has had a solid weekend so far and for sure more was possible. As normal, focus now shifts to preparations for the race, and with the probability of making a pass here being much higher than the season average, there is plenty still to play for in terms of trying to get into the points with Pierre and also getting Yuki moving forward tomorrow".

 

Guanyu Zhou is satisfied with his performance during qualifying:

 

"I think we can be happy with where we are, also taking into consideration how we did this morning: I even think something more was possible, as I did a few small mistakes in the last flying lap and had a massive lock-up in turn one. It was tricky out there, we struggled a bit with the cooler weather conditions and with the balance, but we gave everything we had. Valtteri gave me his slipstream, it was not planned but it was nice of him as it helped me getting into Q2. Overall, I am quite satisfied with how we did today, although obviously I am starting from the back tomorrow due to penalties. Everything could happen on this track, so hopefully we can put up a good performance and gain some positions to get back into the points".

 

Valtteri Bottas talks about the performance of his teammate:

 

"We knew I’d be starting in P14, no matter what, so I was able to take one for the team and go out to give my teammate the tow. He was still fighting for a grid place, so it made sense to help him and it seemed to work. As we knew qualifying would have no meaning for us, we put all our focus on the race; I hope our preparations will pay off: so far I can say that the car felt ok in race trim. Of course, we didn’t really see its full potential today, given the circumstances, but I’m confident we can come back from 14th and score some points".

 

Alfa Romeo Team Principal Frederic Vasseur comments:

 

"Today’s qualifying was a bit unusual, with so many penalties affecting tomorrow’s grid, but we did a good job as a team and we set ourselves up in a good position for tomorrow. We knew from this morning that Valtteri would start 14th no matter where he qualified, so we focused on teamwork and maximising our result: Valtteri gave a strong tow to Zhou, who made it to Q2 easily and was then able to set the 13th best time. He, too, has a penalty, so he will start 19th. Still, the car looks good and we’ll be ready to fight our way through the field with both cars. Our aim remains a top-ten finish: tomorrow’s race should be quite exciting and there shouldn’t be a shortage of opportunities to take - we’ll need to be ready to make the most of them".

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Aston Martin drivers are not so happy. Lance Stroll is positive about what he can do during the race:

 

"It was tricky out there today. There was a general lack of grip, but we need to look at why we lost time as qualifying progressed. We had hoped to be better than 14th. However, we normally race better than we qualify, and we will gain a few extra positions due to the grid penalties given to some of the cars in front of us, so I am confident that we are in a solid position to score some points tomorrow".

 

Sebastian Vettel says:

 

"I know I could have gone faster today; I did not drive a perfect final lap. I struggled a little to string it together this afternoon - I just did not have quite as much trust in the car as I did in FP3. And that led to the car sliding around - it was not too bad but it has a large impact, especially around a longer lap such as this. We will gain some starting positions tomorrow due to the grid penalties applied to other drivers - we will not keep everyone behind us, but it gives us more of a chance. It is a new day tomorrow and we have the chance to score points".

 

Mike Krack adds:

 

"Sebastian missed out on getting through to Q2 by just 0.002 of a second, having lost time in Turn One. Lance lost time in Turn One in Q1 as well, but he got through to Q2 nonetheless, in which session he was then 14th-quickest. Obviously we would have preferred to have posted qualifying laps quicker than we did, but the larger than normal number of penalties incurred by drivers ahead of us leave us in P9 and P10 on tomorrow's grid. Our aim tomorrow will therefore be to try to hold on to points-scoring positions for both drivers".

 

Haas driver Mick Schumacher talks about what he expects from the race:

 

"It went better than we hoped. We thought that we would be out in Q1 so it’s a positive surprise. We know that tomorrow is going to be a tough race and we’re going to be starting further back than we wanted, but on this track it should be quite easy to overtake so we’ll try our best and give it a shot. We’ve not had as much running as we wanted, especially today, so we’ll put together what we know and hopefully it will be alright for tomorrow. My hopes are still high that we can move forward, Spa is always full of action, so I’m sure we’re going to get loads of it tomorrow".

 

Kevin Magnussen, out in Q1, also looks for opportunities in the race:

 

"It was a bad lap and I made a couple of mistakes. It seemed like everyone found a lot of lap time unfortunately, so that second lap was where it needed to be. I don’t know if we had the pace to be that far up anyway, but a lot of people have penalties tomorrow, so we’ll gain a few positions back and then hopefully our pace is better in the race. It’s Spa, so there are always opportunities it seems and I’m looking forward to it as always".

 

Guenther Steiner says:

 

"Following on from Friday I think we gained some momentum in FP3. Yesterday I didn’t think we would get there but the performance of the car was there, and we were on a good run. Kevin, on his second outing in Q1, locked up in Turn 8 and wasn’t too fast in Turn 12 or Turn 13 so he went out. Mick made it out of Q1 which was very good considering he didn’t get a quali sim lap in FP3. In his Q2 run, he locked up at Turn 1 and that was it, so on one side I can say I’m surprised that we got this far but I’m obviously disappointed with having the performance and then not delivering. Kevin will start P12 tomorrow so there’s still a chance for points because we seem to have made a good step forward with the car from Friday. With all the changes, Mick will unfortunately start last and it’s difficult to catch-up from there but we should never say never - it’s a long day tomorrow".

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The important news of the weekend is that Spa-Francorchamps will remain on the Formula 1 World Championship calendar for 2023. It is a good day on Sunday, August 28, 2022 and this means that conditions are very different to the cool climes of Friday and Saturday. Carlos Sainz is the poleman, while Sergio Perez is immediately behind him, even though Max Verstappen set the fastest time: in fact are eight the drivers hit with engine and gearbox-related grid penalties for this Grand Prix. Those are Max Verstappen, Charles Leclerc, Esteban Ocon, Lando Norris, Zhou Guanyu, Mick Schumacher. Yuki Tsunoda will start from the pit lane start due to further power unit changes. Sainz, Bottas, Verstappen and Leclerc start on softs, Tsunoda is the only who has hard tyres, and the rest is on mediums. When the lights go out, Sainz goes first while Fernando Alonso jumps to second ahead of the two Mercedes car and Perez moves down to fifth, passed by the Silver Arrows. Hamilton edges ahead of Alonso going into Les Combes and the British driver is forced to retire after an airborne ride over his rival's Alpine car. This guy only knows how to drive and start in first, says a furious Alonso on the team radio. Verstappen runs a good first lap, moving up to P8 on his soft compounds, while Leclerc is up to 10th by the end of lap 1. The start of lap 2 sees another collision, triggering a Safety Car, as Valtteri Bottas spins out in avoidance of an out-of-control Nicholas Latifi, who seems to be avoiding Ocon. Behind the Safety Car, Sainz is the leader, ahead of Perez, then come Russell, Alonso and Vettel. Leclerc reports smoke from his front-right tyre and soon has to pit, on lap 4, going on medium tyres, and lining up 17th ahead of Latifi. Ferrari’s pit wall soon confirm that a tear-off caused Leclerc’s front-right brake to overheat, and that he will try to put into place a one-stop strategy from there on. The race restarts on Lap 5, just after Sainz locks up into the final chicane, causing Perez to back off and lock up into La Source and Russell to slow down. Because of this, Alonso tries to make a move on Russell down the Kemmel Straight; meanwhile, Verstappen is seventh, after passing Alex Albon, and overtakes Daniel Ricciardo too, at the final chicane, to gain the sixth position.

 

Ricciardo then loses P7 to Albon down the Kemmel Straight. Apart from Verstappen, the biggest gainers by the end of lap 5 are Ocon, Norris, and Zhou, who has made up five places since the start. The reigning World Champion is surely the fastest on track: he overtakes Vettel on lap 6 at the final chicane, then Alonso with DRS on the following lap. Sainz, who has a two-second lead over Perez, is told to switch to Plan B. After passing Russell with DRS before Les Combes, Verstappen is now near to the podium places and has just 2.5s between him and the leader. Charles Leclerc is fourteenth by the start of lap 9, having made it past the two AlphaTauris and trying to do the same with the Alfa Romeo of Zhou and the Haas of Kevin Magnussen. Albon and Gasly pit for hards on lap 11, and at the end of the same lap Sainz stops for mediums emerging sixth but making his way past Ricciardo for fifth soon after. At the start of Lap 12, Verstappen says to his team that he is losing a silly amount of time behind teammate Perez, and passes him down the straight to take the lead into Les Combes. Ricciardo and Ocon stop for hard tyres, while Russell takes mediums and Norris hards a little after, on lap 14. Sainz is now third, having easily passed Vettel and Russell. Perez reacts to Russell pitting for mediums on lap 15 and emerges just behind Sainz and perilously close to Leclerc: they make slight contact down the Kemmel. With a 13.8-second lead over Sainz, Verstappen pits and emerges second, just 4.6 seconds behind the new leader. Russell passes Leclerc with DRS, dropping the Ferrari driver down to P5. Verstappen is on Sainz’ tail and manages to take the lead again down the straight, after aborting a move around the outside of La Source on lap 19. By the end of that lap, his lead is more than 2.5 seconds from the Ferrari. While Verstappen takes the lead off Sainz, Ferrari opens up negotiations with Leclerc, asking him if he would like to stop again to ensure a P5 finish. Perez passes Sainz before Les Combes on lap 21, leaving the Spaniard in the third podium position. The Red Bulls are now on their way to a one-two finish, while both Ferraris stop: Sainz takes the hards and Leclerc the mediums. The former emerges fourth in chase of Russell’s podium place, and the latter seventh.

 

Leclerc soon passes Ocon for P6, prying P5 off Vettel on lap 31. Perez reacts to the Ferraris on lap 28 and stops for hard tyres emerging third, but Russell pits for hards on lap 30, so the Mexican takes P2. That releases Sainz back into the final podium spot. Verstappen, after extending his first soft-tyred stint, comes in for another set of mediums and emerges still in the lead. Sainz asks the team if a three-stop strategy was on the cards, before being told that this would drop him behind Russell. With a margin of victory of 17.841s, Verstappen wins the Belgian Grand Prix, followed by his team mate Perez. It is a great double for the Red Bull, while Sainz ends in P3 and Russell just over two seconds in P4. Leclerc makes a penultimate-lap pit stop trying to do the fastest lap but emerges just ahead of Alonso, who passes him. The Monegasque driver manages to hit back and take P5 but it turns out that he had sped in the pit lane, and this drops him to P6 by the flag, behind Alonso. Alonso finishes fifth, ahead of team mate Ocon in P7. The Frenchman has made two good moves: first, he did a double pass on Ricciardo and Latifi through Blanchimont on lap 17, and went then three-wide with Gasly and Ricciardo on the Kemmel Straight on lap 36. Vettel took P8 off Gasly but couldn’t overhaul Ocon, the pair having made similar medium-hard-medium strategies. Gasly and Albon followed the same strategies, and they finished ninth and 10th respectively thanks to longer third stints. Stroll does not manage to end in the top ten, choosing mediums for his first two stints before finishing the race on hards. Despite the strong start, Norris finishes just over a second behind the Aston Martin driver in P12. Tsunoda and Zhou both end the race on soft tyres and, after battling at the end, they finish respectively in P13 and P14.  Ricciardo was running in the top ten until the second stint, but then he fell to fifteenth by the chequered flag. Kevin Magnussen finishes in P16 after a slow pit stop on lap 11, and Mick Schumacher seventeenth, while Nicholas Latifi is the last on the grid having pitted three times. Max Verstappen wins the twenty-ninth career Grand Prix, the ninth victory of the season and the third in a row, just one win away from the ten achieved during the previous season, with the twentieth fastest lap achieved. The World Champion repeated his success in the previous edition and for the first time since the 2007 season, the Belgian Grand Prix was won by the same driver for two consecutive editions.

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After winning the previous Hungarian Grand Prix by starting tenth, the leader of the driver standings repeats himself by starting from a worse position, fourteenth. Verstappen wins the podium for the fifth time in his career after starting from tenth position down, an occurrence that occurred on the four previous occasions after starting sixteenth, eighteenth, twentieth and tenth, respectively. For the second consecutive Grand Prix in the championship, the Red Bull Racing Dutchman won by starting from 10th position down, becoming only the second driver to win two consecutive races by starting outside the top nine positions, and the 15th driver in world championship history to win a race by starting from 14th position or worse. Verstappen had never led a green flag lap at the Spa-Francorchamps circuit until this race, where he started 14th and led the race before the end of lap 12. It had only happened once in the history of the category that two consecutive races had been won by a driver starting from tenth position down, between the last Grand Prix of the 1959 season, the United States of America, and the first of the 1960 championship, the Argentine Grand Prix, both won by New Zealander Bruce McLaren. For Red Bull Racing it is the tenth victory in the championship, the eighty-fifth in total, the fourth one-two win of the year, equaling those of the 2009, 2010 and 2013 seasons, the twenty-first in its history, and the fifth overall success in the Belgian race, confirming its victory for the second consecutive edition of the race with engines under a different name, Red Bull Powertrains, abbreviated RBPT, after the previous year's victory powered by Honda engines. The Milton Keynes-based manufacturer, a winner from the lowest grid position in its history and a first-time winner starting outside the top 10, had won only one race since its debut in the category in the 2005 season outside the top six before the previous Hungarian Grand Prix, in the 2017 Azerbaijan Grand Prix with Ricciardo starting tenth, repeating the success two races in a row starting from a worse position. Pérez, second, had never finished in the top four positions at the Belgian circuit. It was the seventh time this season for the Mexican to finish in the top two positions, having finished in the top two steps five times in his career prior to this championship. For Sainz Jr. in third, it was the seventh podium finish of the year, two more than teammate Leclerc. The Spaniard had completed only two laps in the last three Belgian Grands Prix, and before this race had never finished above 10th position.

 

The Ferrari driver surpasses Mercedes driver Russell in the driver standings, placing fourth. The Briton, fourth, finishes two places back from the second place he took in the previous edition with Williams. The Briton has finished in the top five in every race this season except the British Grand Prix, retired on the first lap due to an accident. Alonso's fifth position equaled Alpine's best result of the season, the prerogative of the Spaniard twice and teammate Ocon once. Despite contact during the course of the first lap with Hamilton, it was Alonso's ninth consecutive points finish of the year, his best result at the Belgian track since his second place with Ferrari during the 2013 edition. Leclerc, sixth, has scored only one podium finish in the last nine races, namely the victory he achieved in the Austrian Grand Prix. Ocon finishes seventh on his sixth anniversary since his Formula 1 debut during the 2016 Grand Prix with former British stable Manor. For Aston Martin, Vettel's eighth position is the best result since the German's own sixth place finish in the Azerbaijan Grand Prix. In his 100th Grand Prix in the category, Gasly, ninth, ends a streak of five races in which he did not score points, while Albon, tenth, gets points for the third time this season. Hamilton, retiring for the first time this season and for the first time since the 2021 Italian Grand Prix, abandoned the race on the first lap for only the fifth time in his 302 races in the category. For the Briton, it was the third first-lap retirement on the Belgian circuit after the 2009 and 2012 editions. Winner Verstappen leads the drivers' standings with the highest margin ever over the second, his teammate Pérez, 93 points away, who overtakes Leclerc in the standings, now in third place overall. For Red Bull Racing, the previous best result by starting outside the first five rows on the grid was the prerogative of Verstappen himself, who achieved two second places in the 2018 U.S. Grand Prix, starting 18th, and the 2021 Russian Grand Prix, starting 20th, respectively. The Grand Prix is won by world champion Verstappen who started 14th, the second lowest position from which it has been won, after Michael Schumacher in the 1995 edition, who started 16th. During the race, five times are cancelled by the stewards to drivers for not respecting the track limits, and in particular to Nicholas Latifi, Pierre Gasly, Alexander Albon, Mick Schumacher and Sebastian Vettel, all at Turn 4. The winner, Max Verstappen, had a really good pace during the race, he scythed his way through the field and fought with the leaders after few laps. He had better tyre wear than his competitors, extended both stints, and drove to a very comfortable victory:

 

"This whole weekend has been incredible. It’s never easy though, it was quite a hectic first lap staying out of trouble, so many things were happening in front of me and everyone was trying to maintain their spot. After the safety car and when it had all calmed down, we made our way forward by picking the right places to overtake and we could look after our tyres. Now we need to keep on working hard and focus on each race ahead of us. We know that we have to finish every race, we don’t need to win every race but we want to as a Team. Let’s see what we can do in Zandvoort".

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Perez managed to recover from a bad start so the Red Bull finished with their fourth one-two of the season:

 

"It is a great weekend for the Team and I am very pleased with that because we have been working so hard. Max was on another planet today and so quick, I want to understand my race pace and where I lost out to him, I am aware of the gap and I want to come back stronger. I had a really bad start but luckily I was able to rectify it. I went into a lot of wheel spin as soon as I released the clutch and couldn’t get any traction, especially when I went into second gear, it meant I lost a lot of positions. I think my first stint wasn’t very strong and that really made a difference and determined a lot of my race. I need to be at a better level for Zandvoort and Monza. There is plenty to look at and hopefully I go into next weekend even stronger, I think things will be a lot closer there so I am looking forward to it massively. We are going to push really hard".

 

Christian Horner, Red Bull’s Team Principal and CEO, describes this as the biggest ever achievement to date:

 

"We have never won a race from as far back as P14 and to take a 1 - 2 with Checo, along with fastest lap, is an outstanding achievement. It’s a fantastic win for Max and he has been in a class of his own on the track this weekend but it really is a team victory; for everyone here and all the team back in Milton Keynes. There is a lot of hard work that goes in behind the scenes that contributes to a performance like today and would also like to thank HRC for their contribution to this victory".

 

Carlos Sainz was the leader during the opening stages of the race, but did not manage to keep either Red Bull behind as he struggled with higher than expected tyre degradation:

 

"The car felt quite good today and we did our best, but our pace just wasn’t quick enough this weekend to hold on for the win. We ran a solid race from start to finish, with good pit stops and strategy calls, but it wasn’t enough to keep the Red Bulls behind, as they simply had more pace. Time to analyse and prepare the next week's race at Zandvoort".

 

After the great start, Charles Leclerc saw smoke rising from the tire and was called into the pits early to fix the problem. That left him fighting his way through the field from the very back, and he managed to recover to fifth. Then, a late pit stop for changing tyres in order to try to score the fastest lap bonus point riuned his result, as he did not get the bonus point and a post-race time penalty for speeding in the pit lane dropped him to sixth:

 

"We started well, then on lap 3 we unfortunately had a tear-off in the brake duct that meant I had to pit when I was in P9. That set us back quite a bit. From that moment on, I knew that it was going to be a difficult race. The feeling in the car was quite ok, but compared to our competitors we were lacking pace. They made a huge step leading up to this weekend and we have to work on closing the gap".

 

Mattia Binotto, Ferrari’s Team Principal, says the team need to work a lot to improve the performance of the car:

 

"Today’s race did not live up to our expectations. Red Bull has done a great job and the performance difference between them and us this weekend, in terms of pace and also tyre degradation was clear to see. Carlos drove a good race. Charles was unlucky in the very early stages and from then on he had even more of a job on his hands. As a team, we just have to roll up our sleeves and continue to improve the performance of our car. The next race at Zandvoort features a track with completely different characteristics and we are ready to give it our best shot as always, aiming for the win".

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Hamilton made a great start near to Alonso and the two were fighting for second place, but when the Briton tried to do a move into Les Combes, they tangled. Hamilton’s Mercedes went up into the air and he was forced to retire:

 

"Looking back at the footage, Fernando was in my blind spot and I thought I left more room than I did, so it was my fault and I paid the price. I'm just sorry for the team, we had a chance of P3 and P4 today. The car felt good on the laps to the grid, we'd got it into a good place and I'd made a good start. After three weeks away, I was looking forward to racing today so it's frustrating, but it is what it is. Right now, my job is to focus on the next race, I need to recuperate and get back on the treadmill".

 

Russell was third after his teammate’s retirement, but then Verstappen passed him. He tried then to take the position off Sainz hard but due to the tyre temperature, he ended fourth:

 

"I have mixed feelings right now because had you told me last night we will be two seconds off the podium on merit and pure pace, I'd have said that's a good recovery. When I was closing in on Carlos at the end, a second a lap, I thought here we go - we're in for a really good shot here. But then I just had two really scrappy laps and got the tyres out of the window. When the tyres are in that sweet spot, the car is transformed but as soon as I lost them, I knew the podium was game-over. Overall, considering where we were, P4 and two seconds off the podium - not too bad. Today our race pace was probably better than the Ferraris; Carlos started on pole, was leading the first stint and we closed him in both times. So at worst, I think we were equal with Ferrari today, but as we know, it's swings and roundabouts. What is clear is, Max is cruising away at the moment".

 

Toto Wolff is not satisfied about the race:

 

"I don't think we can be satisfied with this weekend - if you see Verstappen, he has leaped above us all. We really need to find out how we can improve our car because the gap is just too big. We're giving the drivers a very difficult car to drive and it hasn't got the pace on a single lap so we need to work ourselves out of this situation. Over the next four days, we'll be putting our heads together, setting our sights on the next race and also next season. It's important we stay level-headed, keep our spirits up and don't flip too much between elation and depression - this weekend is a low but in Hungary three weeks ago, we were thinking we will absolutely win a race, so we'll never give up".

 

Andrew Shovlin, Mercedes’ Trackside Engineering Director, first analyses what happened during the race:

 

"Well done to Max and Red Bull, he was in a different league today and would have won from anywhere on any strategy. It's a bit of a shock how far ahead he has been this weekend; we've clearly got more work to do than we thought, fingers crossed he isn't this fast around every track! George drove good stints through the race and had better pace than Carlos, he'd just taken a bit too much out of the tyres in the final stint to make a pass. Lewis was unfortunate to be out of the race so early after a strong start. He'd not seen where Fernando was positioned turning into turn 5 and caused himself an early retirement; we've not yet got the car back but hopefully there's not too much damage. The weekend overall has been tough".

 

Then he talks about the technical aspects on which the team need to focus on:

 

"We'd hoped to move forward here with our updates and whilst it seems that Ferrari are closer to us on race pace, Red Bull are clearly not. We have struggled with the various compromises the car has here, much more so than the races leading into the summer break and that's definitely made our lives more difficult. In many ways that has given some useful learning, the car isn't yet performing well enough over a range of tracks so it's clear we need to widen the working window. We were also poor on the single lap which is another area we have to focus on; with a bit more track temperature today, the warm-up was much better but it's been a recurrent issue over a range of conditions and circuits, and something we have to improve. We've got a couple of days to regroup and plan for Zandvoort, it's got some similar challenges with very fast corners so hopefully we can make a bit of progress having analysed the data from this weekend".

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As for Alpine, Alonso was running second when he tangled with Hamilton, and fortunately the car was not damaged. Then, he took advantage of Leclerc’s late pit stop to slug it out with him on the final lap for fifth:

 

"I am happy with the result today with fifth place. Our performance shows that we are consistently ahead in the midfield. It’s clear that when we execute our races well, these are the results we can expect to score. We were also handed a little gift with the penalty to Charles [Leclerc] at the end, but we’ll take it. The incident with Lewis [Hamilton] was also unfortunate, but it’s a racing incident and the car seemed fine despite the contact. We can look back and be very pleased with our weekend here with more points scored in both championships as we look ahead to Zandvoort next".

 

Ocon managed to move up from the back of the field to make it double points for the team. Now they have extended their advantage over McLaren in the Championship:

 

"What a way to wrap up what’s been a fantastic weekend for the team. The car was fast, and I personally had a lot of fun out there racing today, especially with those double overtakes. Well done to the team for their work this weekend, we can all be proud of ourselves. I was feeling confident all race and the car felt great and who knows what could’ve happened if we had started further up the road! We leave Spa satisfied, knowing it was a job well done, as well as a good haul of points for the team to extend our fourth position in the Constructors’ Championship. Bring on Zandvoort".

 

Alpine’s TP, Otmar Szafnauer, is happy fort he results obtained and says that the team will continue to improve for the next stops:

 

"We can be exceptionally pleased with our performance in today’s race. Taking a sweet sixteen points after starting from third and sixteenth on the grid is a very good effort and certainly deserved. It was a busy race for the drivers who did well to come away unscathed after an entertaining opening few laps. Fernando was unfortunate to collide with Lewis [Hamilton] on the opening lap and it was lucky he did not sustain too much damage. Esteban too had to be sensible to take advantage of some opportunities in front, which allowed him to push towards the points-scoring positions. It was great to see both of our drivers enjoying some brilliant wheel to wheel racing at times and it was equally pleasing to see some fantastic overtakes throughout. It’s been another brilliant event for the fans who will enjoy returning to Belgium next year, which is very good news for Formula 1. We’ll reflect on today’s race, assess where we can continue to improve, and head to Zandvoort ready to do it all over again".

 

Good race for Vettel, who came home eighth:

 

"Eighth is a solid result. I was a little bit unlucky with the timing for the second stop. I came out just behind Pierre [Gasly] and lost a lap behind him, which allowed Esteban [Ocon] on new tyres to close down the advantage I had built up during the middle stint. Once again, we were more competitive in the race than in qualifying: we started strongly and I managed to find a decent rhythm. I was able to put pressure on both Alpines, and I think seventh might have been possible, but they were a bit too fast for us today. But we will bank these points".

 

Stroll was also in the points for much of the afternoon but fell down the order in the pit stops. Despite the DRS, he could not pass Albon to gain the final point:

 

"It was a tricky day out there today, and we were so close to picking up a point. Things did not quite work out for us as we had hoped. Losing some positions early on made it tough, but we had some fun battles out there within the midfield. Later in the race we got stuck in a DRS train behind [Alex] Albon’s Williams, and ultimately we came up just short. Our race pace was positive, however, and we are extracting good performance from the car when it matters most".

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Aston Martin’s race pace continues to look much stronger than their one-lap speed, as Team Principal Mike Krack confirms:

 

"After qualifying yesterday we said that our aim would be to score points with both cars in today’s race, and we very nearly achieved just that: Sebastian finished a fine eighth, and Lance ended up 11th, less than a second behind the 10th-placed finisher [Albon]. We started both cars on Mediums, then split the strategies [Vettel: Medium-Hard-Medium; Stroll: Medium-Medium-Hard]. Both drivers optimised the chances that those two strategies gave them, Lance in particular executing some impressive overtaking manouevres en route, and as I say we were only a whisker away from scoring points with both cars. From here we go straight to Zandvoort [Netherlands], where we will be hoping to add further to our World Championship points total".

 

Tsunoda started from the pit lane start due to a late change of PU components and was the only driver on hard compounds. Then, due to slow pit stops, he got stuck in a DRS train behind Albon:

 

"Starting from the pitlane was always going to be tough, but I think the pace was strong today and we had a good strategy, being able to make our way forward during the race. Unfortunately, we lost quite a lot of time in the pitstops and then I got stuck in a DRS train, but I’m pretty happy with how I drove today and how the car felt. Hopefully we can maintain the performance we’ve found this weekend in the Netherlands, alongside a clean race weekend, and aim once again for the points".

 

With moments to go before the start, Gasly went back the pit lane with an electronics issue. Despite this, the Frenchman did a strong drive back to the points, with some entertaining fights with Ocon and Vettel:

 

"It’s been an amazing race, it’s my 100th race today, so it’s a special one. I’m really surprised with how we’ve finished, after having to start from the pitlane to come back home in the top 10 is pretty incredible, so we should be happy with that today. We were obviously lined up in P8 on the grid, but had an issue and had to return to the garage, luckily we got the car started, and were able to begin the race from the pitlane. The car isn’t quite where we want it to be yet, we’ve still got some areas we need to work on, but I’m pleased we managed to be back scoring points again today".

 

Technical Director Jody Egginton admits thare are still plenty of topics to focus on ahead of the next races:

 

"Today’s race has been quite eventful. Pierre’s car had an issue on the grid, meaning it had to be returned to the garage and start from the pitlane alongside Yuki, who was already committed to a pitlane start. Once the race was underway, both drivers got down to the task of trying to move forward. Yuki put in some very solid stints to move towards the points, but ultimately was bottled up in the train of cars behind Albon and was not able to quite get into the points, which is disappointing as Yuki ran a good race here in Spa. With Pierre the gamble to run a shorter middle stint, and extending the last, was risky as it required a further step of tyre management, but it worked. This allowed him to escape the train behind and come home in a very solid ninth place. To be back to scoring points is very welcome, but we are still making it harder than it needs to be, so there is still plenty of topics to focus on ahead of next week’s race".

 

Team Principal Franz Tost first talks about Gasly’s race, which started with a problem in the electrical system:

 

"Firstly, congratulations to Oracle Red Bull Racing for a fantastic 1-2 here in Spa, it was an unbelievable drive from Max. From our side, we managed to score some points today, which is positive, as we’ve not been able to do this at the last few races. Pierre drove a great race. Whilst on the starting grid, in his P8 spot, the electrical system stopped working so we had to bring his car back to the garage, where we were then able to start the PU to be able to begin the race from the pitlane. We must go away and investigate why it worked again once we returned to the garage. Of course, it was then a difficult race for Pierre, but he drove very well. He struggled with a lack of grip at the beginning of the race but during his later stint on the Mediums, he did a great job, and managed to make up multiple positions".

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He then analyses Yuki’s performance:

 

"Yuki also started from the pitlane today with a different strategy, with him starting on the hard tyres, he was able to do an extended stint on these, not coming in until lap 18 for the new tyre. I must say, Yuki also drove a really strong race and showed a good performance. He got stuck for some time behind Zhou but was able to overtake him on the last lap and finished in thirteenth. We hope now in the Netherlands to have a race weekend without any technical problems or PU changes so we can return to the performance that we had at the start of the season".

 

Alex Albon started sixth and manage to hold the position for the opening stages of the race. Then he lose out to Ricciardo, but managed to move up after two pit stops, because his Williams demonstrated impressive straight-line speed. At the end, he went home tenth:

 

"This was one of the tougher races I’ve done in my career and also one of my personal bests. We did the best job we could today and it’s a good feeling. On the lap to the grid, it was clear that tyre degradation was going to be really high and hotter track temperatures than we have had the rest of the weekend made tyre wear worse. On the final stint I was thinking about three-stopping, but we held on, kept Lance [Stroll] behind and then it was about not making any mistakes. I think, as a whole, we executed the weekend from FP1 onwards well, maximised the positive of our car being quick on the straights, and made no mistakes. We experimented, made the best of the tyres in qualifying and maximised the results potential in the race, so I’m very happy. As a team, we had a complete weekend and that’s what it shows; when you don’t have the fastest car but you do everything right, you can still come away with a point or two".

 

Latifi first triggered an early Safety Car after spinning, then pitted for a new front wing and came home at the back of the pack:

 

"I went a little off the line in turn six, there must have been a lot of marbles from the junior categories and I understeered right off. It felt like driving in the wet on slick tyres. I dipped the wheel in the gravel, and it spun the rear around which caught me by surprise quite a bit. I thought I would go straight into the gravel and come back on slowly, but Instead I spun across the track as a result and made contact with Valtteri [Bottas]. My race was compromised from there as that set of tyres we needed to make the two-stop strategy work were damaged. One to forget but we'll try and bounce back In Zandvoort".

 

Dave Robson, Head of Vehicle Performance, describes the two drivers’ performance:

 

"Tyre degradation today was higher than we had anticipated, which meant at least two stops were required. Nicholas’s race was largely determined by the collision with Valtteri [Bottas] early in the race, which required him to pit for a new front wing. His start set of tyres were also damaged and so we chose to complete two further stops using a Soft tyre for the final stint. Alex had a difficult start and lost places initially before recovering on the opening lap. We chose to pit him relatively early at each stop to give him the best chance of holding track position and using his straight-line speed advantage to defend. We asked a lot of him in the final stint and he was under a lot of pressure from the cars behind for whole of that stint. He drove very well and played his hand without fault to deliver another hard-earned point".

 

Bad day for McLaren in Belgium. Ricciardo started well and ran in the points for the early part of the race, but his pit stop dropped him into a DRS train and he could not had the pace to recover:

 

"I think it was visible to see our struggles today. Not to be pessimistic but I knew coming into the race that we would probably find it hard through the first and third sector with the rear wing that we were forced to use from yesterday. Obviously, I hoped that I’d have enough speed in the second sector to try and make something happen - but we just couldn’t overtake with the speed we had. I know I wasn’t the only one who struggled overtaking today, it looked like some cars were just so much quicker than others on the straight and that was it. In clear air, we certainly had a bit more speed but we just lost so much time being stuck behind cars and couldn’t really make anything happen. I think there was a lot of opportunities with the mixed grid but I appreciate Lando’s race didn’t seem that much better so maybe we just didn’t have the package. We’ve got a week to come back for Zandvoort. We’ll see how we go there, and hopefully it's a good weekend".

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Same for Norris, who finished outside the points area:

 

"It was a difficult race but pretty much as I expected really. It wasn’t easy to overtake, and I just got stuck in the DRS trains. Not a lot to do but I think we did a good job. The little changes we made to the car for this weekend made a bit of a difference so there’s still some positives to take from it all. We tried but we just weren’t quick enough this time around. We’ll keep working hard, keep pushing, take a look at everything in the next few days and try and take the fight back to the Alpines in Zandvoort".

 

Andreas Seidl, McLaren’s Team Principal, expresses the need to analyse the data and try to fix the problems:

 

"It’s been a tough Sunday for us here in Spa. Warmer conditions today contributed to a lack of pace which, in the end, resulted in us going backwards during the race. Lando finished P12 and Daniel P15, and it wasn’t possible for them to score a better result. My thanks to the team at the track and back at the factory, together with our colleagues at Mercedes HPP. The result does not reflect the effort this weekend. Special mention also to our pit-crew who once again did excellent work across our four pit-stops. We’ll use the next few days to reset, regroup and analyse our performance to see what we can learn that will help us come back stronger next weekend in Zandvoort. We go again in five days".

 

Bottas had Latifi’s spinning Williams on his way and in order to avoid a collision, ran wide and beached himself in the gravel:

 

"We had pace today and, with such a mixed-up grid, there could have been opportunities to get a good result, so it’s disappointing to finish my race so early. It was a case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time: I saw Latifi spin towards the left, and all I could do was take evasive action to avoid a collision. Unfortunately, I spun on the grass and ended up stuck in the gravel: I tried to go forward and back, but couldn’t move. It’s not the birthday present I wanted, but hopefully I can still have some fun tonight, before we turn our focus on next week".

 

Zhou started down the field with grid penalties and was then involved in an entertaining tussle with Tsunoda but did not manage to move up into the top 10:

 

"Our pace was quite alright today, and despite starting from the back due to the penalty, the race has even been quite exciting, with lots of action going on. Unfortunately, I got stuck behind a Williams train towards the end of the race: they were way fast in sector one, making them hard to pass, and eventually, in the last four or five laps, I had no tyres left, so it was a bit difficult to keep up. In terms of results, we obviously wanted more from today, but we sacrificed this weekend for the engine change; hopefully in the upcoming ones we can start further up on the grid and score some good results".

 

Frédéric Vasseur, Alfa Romeo’s Team Principal, describes this as a complicated weekend, so the goal is to maximize the results already in the following race:

 

"The team did a good job, given the circumstances: unfortunately, that was not enough for a point today. We knew that, taking power unit and gearbox penalties with both cars, we’d have a complicated weekend, but we can take heart from the pace we showed. Both drivers had a good shot at the points: unfortunately, Valtteri’s race was over immediately, and Zhou got stuck in Albon’s DRS train when in sight of the points. These things happen, we’ll build on the pace and work hard to make sure we can maximise our results already in Zandvoort".

 

Magnussen started well, but an early pit stop sent him down the field:

 

"I think we had an idea that this wasn’t going to be such a strong weekend. This type of track isn’t really our track so we tried what we could, but we didn’t really have the pace today. All in all, it hasn’t been the best of weekends, but we’ve got more running, collected more data and that will be useful going forward. I’m looking forward to the next race".

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Schumacher managed to pass Latifi but continued to struggle with the car:

 

"It was tough, especially after the safety car restart to see those cars driving by. It was frustrating not having any top speed compared to the cars around us. On the other hand, it’s great to be here and great to be driving in front of so many people, some German! I think it was circuit specific that we struggled this week but with Zandvoort coming up we should be in a better position where we should be able to fight for points again and also, we should have a better read on the upgrade where it’s more comparable to Budapest. I expect us to go a bit forward and hopefully it will give us some points".

 

Guenther Steiner is disappointed but hopes Zandvoort will suit the car slightly more next weekend:

 

"I’m quite disappointed with the result today but it was almost expected. On a high-speed track where we need low drag, our car is just not good enough this year. We’ll try to make it up next week in Zandvoort where the car should be better suited to the race track like in Austria and Silverstone. We go away from here a little bit beaten up, but we are ready to come back again next weekend".

 

Mario Isola, Pirelli Motorsport Director, describes the race’s strategies put into place by the teams:

 

"Spa is a unique track, so it was great to hear that it will remain on the Formula 1 calendar next year. This year was a huge success run in variable weather conditions throughout the weekend, with 360,000 spectators witnessing an excellent show full of overtaking moves, in which our tyres played a key role. We saw a great race, with the hard being used by the majority of drivers. We will analyse all the data at our disposal but to hear on the radio that it was two-tenths of a second faster than expected was a fantastic achievement for us. Even though we knew that today’s conditions would be warmer than they were on Friday and Saturday, it was interesting to see the variety of strategies used, given the weather, track evolution, and a higher degree of degradation than expected. There were no problems with graining and the degradation was essentially thermal. We had no issues with the latest track modifications here either, thanks to our experience at the recent Spa 24 Hours, which was held during the Hungarian Grand Prix weekend with Pirelli bringing 17,000 tyres. Congratulations to Red Bull for a one-two finish today with truly impressive race pace".

 

After the race, Max Verstappen explains that in the chaos of the first lap he was forced to clear his vision:

 

"I couldn’t see anything, it was very dirty, I had to take off a tear-off visor".

 

This move influenced Charles Leclerc’s race. The Ferrari driver followed like a shadow his peer in the special slalom between his opponents during the first lap - indeed at the Brussels corner he also joined him using the braking to which Verstappen was forced to avoid Lance Stroll, who returned dangerously to the track after the gravel exit at Les Combes - and so Verstappen’s tear-off visor slipped into Charles Leclerc’s right front brake vent. The Monegasque driver saw smoke rising from the tire and an unscheduled pit stop was necessary to see what was happening. The Ferrari mechanics mounted a set of medium tires and, above all, removed the tear-off visor that blocked the air intake. Leclerc collapsed from ninth to 17th position with the race of the Monegasque who immediately started uphill. In the final, the Ferrari wall recalled Leclerc in an attempt to steal the fastest lap from Max Verstappen. A move that turned out to be an own goal because not only did Leclerc not beat the Dutchman’s lap, but he also exceeded the average speed limit in the pit lane and was penalized with a five-second penalty. A penalty that relegated him to sixth position (which by seven tenths did not become a seventh). Mattia Binotto, Ferrari’s Team Principal, at the final press conference underlined that from his point of view the stop was a right choice and that once again Verstappen’s visor betrayed Leclerc: 

 

"Every stop involves risks, but if the team has decided to stop to subtract a point and earn it, it is a courageous choice that must be supported. You have to be brave in F1 to earn something. We were close with Alonso at the level of seconds of margin, but we knew that we would use the DRS to pass him and that this would also help in the fast lap. We exceeded the average limit of 0.1.81 km / h instead of 80.9, and it happened because Verstappen’s tear-off visor not only overheated the brakes, but also knocked out sensors that we use to control the average speed in the pit. lane. With the knockout sensor we had to switch to a fallback solution that excluded speed control in the pit lane. Not for this you don’t have to have the courage to stop. If the team has decided to stop, it’s nice because it was the right choice".

 

Verstappen's second home race of the season will be held next weekend, September 2-4, at Zandvoort. The 2021 World Champion is 93 points ahead of team mate Perez, while third in the ranking is now Charles Leclerc.


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