F1 Power Rankings: Belgian Grand Prix

It’s been five weeks since the most recent race on the 2012 Formula One World Championship calendar. Before we last left you, Lewis Hamilton took the checkered flag at the Hungarian Grand Prix in a race that could hardly be described as a parade with some pit stop strategy-enabled passes. This week, the F1 season gets back underway with a return to the historic Spa-Francorchamps circuit. While Ferrari and Fernando Alonso looks strong, Red Bull are still a threat and McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton is mounting a late season charge for the title.

#1 Fernando Alonso (Last Race #1)
As we head into the final nine races of the season (contested over only 12 weeks), the biggest question on everyone’s mind is can anyone catch Fernando Alonso? He’s run consistently well this season but the most teams have threatened for the top spot. McLaren and Lotus are the latest to challenge Alonso’s Ferrari for the top spot in the field while the Red Bulls aren’t too far behind. With so little time left in the season, Ferrari has to have a fast enough car coming out of the break to keep pace with the other frontrunners. There’s just not enough time to put together a big development package if they’re off the pace.

#2 Kimi Raikkonen (LR #4)
Once again, Kimi sounds concerned about the E20’s qualifying pace: “Spa offers very challenging high-speed corners and you need to get the right set-up for the car. As we’ve seen so many times this year, a good grid position is extremely important and it could be decisive at Spa too. Everybody knows it. It’s crucial to have a strong car aerodynamically to tackle those fast corners. It’s a long lap and to get a fast time you really need to maintain good rhythm. So much can depend on the qualifying result, so we need to find a decent set-up on Friday and Saturday and have a solid qualifying session on Saturday afternoon.”

#3 Sebastian Vettel (LR #3)
Seb is still in the hunt and like that he gets to mount his comeback starting at Spa: “The Spa circuit is defined by the surrounding nature and it’s one of my favourite tracks… Spa offers every type of racing corner; ultrafast, medium-fast and slow chicanes, that alternate with fast straights. The difference in altitude and the unpredictable weather really make the track a big challenge – and it’s one that every racing driver loves to compete on.”

#4 Lewis Hamilton (LR #9)
Despite the uptick in performance since the latest updates to his McLaren, Lewis still has no idea who has the upper hand: “Given the unpredictability of the sport, I think it’s still difficult to predict accurately who’ll win the next grand prix, but I reckon the coming few weeks ought to give us a much clearer idea of the destination of the world title. It’s going to be an extremely tough, tactical and interesting finale to the season. There’s no team with a clear advantage – although we’re all pushing hard to catch Fernando’s points tally in the drivers’ championship – so there’s still everything to play for.”

#5 Mark Webber (LR #2)
@AussieGrit takes a potshot at Hermann Tilke this week: “Spa is the best track to have after a break and it’s extremely rewarding for drivers at that venue. It’s obviously remained pretty much unchanged for some time and it has a lot of character. Eau Rouge is a very special part of the track, the spectators love going to watch the cars there and I would encourage anyone to see it live once in their lives – it’s mind blowing. It’s one of the classic tracks where you feel like an F1 car belongs on the circuit.”

#6 Romain Grosjean (LR #7)
Grosjean talks a little bit about Lotus’ new double DRS device which is designed to improve straight-line speed when the DRS is open: “The interesting device! If it gives me an advantage I’m certainly looking forward to driving with it! I’m sure it will be a good thing, especially if we have it working well. Hopefully it gives us an advantage and the race win that we want.”

#7 Jenson Button (LR #8)
I could run Jenson’s quotes about the upcoming race but I think he’d rather us hear about his summer vacation: “The past few weeks have been a perfect combination of a bit of downtime to relax and some great training, all of which has had me raring to get back in the car. I’ve been out in the Philippines; and Hawaii, training, and having a bit of a holiday and then back in the UK for a bit more of the same and while I’ve had a great break, I’m really looking forward to getting back to work.”

#8 Michael Schumacher (LR #5)
This will be Old Seven Time’s 300th grand prix: “Spa is like my living room. For me, it’s clearly the number one race track in the world. It’s uncanny how I always seem to have special moments there – my debut, my first win, a world championship victory and many great races. The fact that I will also take part in my 300th Grand Prix at Spa was somehow almost inevitable and we will have to celebrate it in the right way.”

#9 Nico Rosberg (LR #6)
Keke’s kid is looking forward to improving in the second half of the season: “It’s been nice to have a break over the last month and for everyone at the team to have some time to relax with their families, but we’re all looking forward to the action starting again in the second half of the season. There’s a lot of hard work ahead to make sure we are competing where we want to be and challenging towards the front of the field.”

#10 Felipe Massa (LR #11)

#11 Bruno Senna (LR #13)
I forgot that Bruno took over for Heidfeld in the Renault at Spa last year. That was a total dick move by Renault: “We’ve had a good streak of races recently and I had a solid result in Hungary so I’m looking forward to keeping the momentum going. Spa is one of my favourite tracks and I raced there last year with the Pirelli tyres so that knowledge will help with our performance this time around. Qualifying will be important and I’m looking to get into Q3 like I did in the last race and from there hopefully score some good points for the team.”

#12 Kamui Kobayashi (LR #14)
Kobayashi Maru discusses one of the more unique features of Spa: “Due to the length of this track, it can sometimes be that one part of it is completely dry while, at the same time, another part can be completely wet. But I’m confident we can be very competitive under all kinds of conditions in Spa because the characteristics of this track with its fast corners should suit our car.”

#13 Sergio Perez (LR #10)
Checo says a lot of things but doesn’t actually say anything: “Spa-Francorchamps is quite a daunting track with a great history. It has its own character and circuits like that are difficult to find nowadays. I am very much looking forward to racing there again. I believe it is one of the favourites of any racing driver. It is also challenging, and it is good to start the second part of the season with it.”

#14 Nico Hulkenberg (LR #12)
Nico gives us the most generic pre-race quotage ever: “Spa is a great track. There’s just such a great flow to the circuit with some mighty corners that are incredible. It’s definitely one of the best places to drive a Formula 1 car to feel the performance through the high-speed corners. It is one of my favourite tracks.”

#15 Paul di Resta (LR #15)
Dario’s cousin talks about his goals for the final half of the season: “There’s still a long way to go in the championship and we need to get back to scoring regular points. Last year we ended the season strongly and we need to do the same this year. Williams are not too far ahead of us but Sauber have a big points advantage and it’s going to be a big task to overcome that. But we won’t give up; we’ll keep pushing and see what we can do. We definitely have the potential to get some big results before the end of the year.”

#16 Pastor Maldonado (LR #16)
I cut out the part where Pastor talks about past success. That’s all he’s had since Barcelona: “It will also be interesting to see the performance of the other teams and find out who has made gains since we last raced. I’m looking forward to getting going again after the summer break and hopefully we can build on the good progress we’ve shown so far this season and have a strong run of results in the second half of the year.”

#17 Daniel Ricciardo (LR #17)

#18 Jean-Eric Vergne (LR #18)

#19 Heikki Kovalainen (LR #19)
Heikki talks about the greatest corner in F1, Eau Rouge: “Spa’s also home to Eau Rouge, possibly the most famous corner in F1. It’s still feels good as you head down the hill and start feeling the compression as you head back out onto the straight, but in all honesty it’s not the challenge it used to be. You can go through there flat without any major issues and compared to what it must have been like when the cars had less downforce it’s relatively tame. Despite that, you still have to get the line right and if you do and you’re close enough to the car ahead you have a good chance to overtake on the run down to Les Combes.”

#20 Vitaly Petrov (LR #20)
Petrov talks about how it feels to driver Spa: “Driving an F1 car around there flat out is a very special feeling as it has everything you want; really quick corners like Blanchimont where you can feel the downforce pushing the car into the track; elevation changes, Eau Rouge for example, where you need to have the right setup to make sure you can really push in, through and out of each corner; and massive history. There are so many stories about previous races and what the place was like back in the old days when it was much longer, you can’t help but feel how special it is.”

#21 Timo Glock (LR #21)
Tim O’Glock is looking forward to the unique nature of the Spa circuit: “To come back racing in Spa is a perfect way to pick up the rest of the season. It’s one of my favourite races, with a historic circuit that has a fascinating layout. The track is very fast and long with some very tricky corners, so any small mistake ruins the lap. The weather is often a factor, especially due to its changeability. Rain can come very quickly, but this is part of the thrill of racing here.”

#22 Charles Pic (LR #22)
Chuckie talks about his first six months as a Formula One race driver: ““I ended the first part of the season on a strong note, partly due to the team’s improved performance, and satisfied with my progress so far in my debut season. The break has given me time to reflect on those eleven races, which seemed to pass by so quickly, and my plan is to consolidate everything I have learned from the team and the car and wrap it all together to have what I hope will be an even stronger second part of the year.”

#23 Pedro de la Rosa (LR #23)
If find it interesting how both HRT drivers talk about the Canadian GP being a high-point of the season. I guess outqualifying one Marussia is all they have to hang their hat on: “Spa is one of the drivers’ favourite tracks; it’s spectacular and difficult, not only because of the type of corners but also because of the weather, since one part of the track can be dry whilst another is wet, so you have to be able to adapt quickly. We’re going to use the same medium downforce that worked so well in Canada so we hope to perform well despite the large amount of high speed corners.”

#24 Narain Karthikeyan (LR #24)
Wait, wait, hold on. Narain actually won a race once? The hell? “Spa is a drivers’ track. I won here in my Formula 3 days so I have some nice memories and the atmosphere is always great. Even though a lot of run-off has been added over the years, it still has some of the most challenging corners on the calendar. And then there’s the classic Spa weather which nearly always plays a part in the final result.”

Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s