F1 Power Rankings: Belgian Grand Prix

Summer vacation is over and it’s back to work for the drivers and teams of the Formula One World Championship. It’s time for the annual trip to the Spa-Francochamps circuit for the Belgian Grand Prix. Lewis Hamilton may have picked up his first win in a Silver Arrow in Hungary but now that we’re at a track where passing is possible, I don’t like Mercedes’ chances.

#1 Sebastian Vettel (Last Race #1)

#2 Fernando Alonso (LR #2)
Fernando really likes Spa. I mean, really likes it: “It is a very special circuit that always gets your adrenalin pumping, what with the way the track rises and falls and the very quick corners, which all go to make it a really fantastic experience for a driver. One lap of Spa is like twenty at any other track, in terms of the excitement and adrenalin it generates.”

f1-kimi-raikkonen-helmet-2013#3 Kimi Raikkonen (LR #5)
The Iceman really loves this track: “Sometimes there are certain circuits where everything seems to run smoothly, and then there are other circuits where I have no luck at all. For me it is the greatest racing circuit in the world. It is my favourite place. I have liked the place since my first ever visit there in 2000 with Formula Renault.”

#4 Lewis Hamilton (LR #3)

#5 Mark Webber (LR #4)

#6 Felipe Massa (LR #7)
Eau Rouge looks like a fantastic corner but Phil lets us in on the terrible secret of modern Formula One: “In a modern F1 car, with all the technology and the aerodynamics and the downforce, although Eau Rouge looks like a corner, you actually drive it as though it was a straight, taking it flat out every lap”

#7 Nico Rosberg (LR #6)

f1-romain-grosjean-helmet-2013#8 Romain Grosjean (LR #10)
Don’t look now but Romain is making a late push to save his seat: “Certainly in the last few races I have felt very good in the car and have been able to push in qualifying and the race. It’s a good place to be heading into the second half of the season where there are very good opportunities for some great results.”

f1-jenson-button-helmet-2013#9 Jenson Button (LR #11)
Jenson’s only good memory of Belgium is from 13 years ago. Okay, he won last year’s race but he’s more interested in a 13 year old race: “Spa has always been on my shortlist of favourite circuits in Formula 1. I still remember my first grand prix there, back in 2000, when I out-qualified Michael Schumacher in a Ferrari – that felt pretty special.”

f1-sergio-perez-helmet-2013#10 Sergio Perez (LR #15)
Checo loves racing with DRS and KERS which makes me weep for the good old days when we didn’t need that stuff for racing to happen: “I love fast corners, and the feeling of taking to the car to the limit around such a big and long circuit is incredible. The racing at Spa – particularly with KERS Hybrid and DRS – is usually pretty intense, so I’ll be looking forward to another exciting weekend.”

#11 Paul di Resta (LR #8)
It’s all about turning momentum around for Dario’s cousin this weekend: “We need to get the car working for us like before. In Budapest it was difficult to drive, but sometimes you get those tough weekends. Since then we have regrouped and analysed the previous races properly and hopefully this weekend will be a fresh start.”

#12 Adrian Sutil (LR #9)
Ditto for Sutil: “It is important we regain the speed we showed earlier in the year. We are going towards some tracks that should suit our car better and it’s important that we get back to scoring points at every race. I am ready to do my part by taking the opportunities when they appear and helping the team move forward.”

f1-nico-hulkenberg-helmet-2013#13 Nico Hulkenberg (LR #14)
The Hulk talks about the contradictory downforce requirements of the track: “There are a lot of medium and high-speed corners, where you need the down force, especially in sector two. But you also need to loose the drag on the straight, because there are long straights, especially out of turn one through Eau Rouge, which is flat, and then again coming back to the start and finish line. There are a lot of straights, so top speed is also important.”

#14 Daniel Ricciardo (LR #13)
Reports say that Danny Boy is moving on up. Not to the east side but to Red Bull Racing. He’ll be the first proper Red Bull development driver to make the big squad. The last few prospects haven’t worked out well enough for Red Bull Racing management but it seems as though Ricciardo was destined for this from the time he hit FR3.5. Whether this works or not remains to be seen.

#15 Jean-Eric Vergne (LR #12)
So with Ricciardo moving up to RBR, what happens to JEV? Toro Rosso isn’t exactly known for giving its drivers a lot of time and leeway in establishing themselves as future RBR drivers. WIth Ricciardo going to the big squad, does this mean that Red Bull don’t see much of a future in JEV and will jettison him at year end for two new prospect? I get the disappointing feeling that’s the case.

#16 Pastor Maldonado (LR #17)
Pastor can accurately describe all the different directions a track can go: “It’s a very technical and fast circuit and you find a very wide range of corners there: uphill, downhill, very slow, medium, fast, short and long corners. It’s the most complete track of the season and this tests you as a driver and also tests the car’s setup.”

f1-esteban-gutierrez-helmet-2013#17 Esteban Gutierrez (LR #16)
Steve’s goal for qualifying is just a bit unrealistic: “Belgium will be an interesting race with everything we have done to the car during the past GPs. Obviously qualifying in Hungary was not good, because of the time we lost in FP3. But I think we can manage to get into the position we were expecting, which is around P10 in Spa-Francorchamps.”

#18 Valtteri Bottas (LR #18)
Val thinks that one 10th place means that all the teams woes are fixed… I don’t buy it: “We have shown some improvements in race pace over the past few races and we know we are heading in the right direction. We will therefore be looking to have another points scoring result this weekend that will give us good momentum for the second half of the season.”

#19 Jules Bianchi (LR #19)
Jules talks about his summer vacation: “Over the break I have had the chance to reflect on my debut season so far, think about how I can bring all of that experience together to make me stronger and also focus very hard on my physical condition so that I can perform at my best through the run of long-haul races coming up.”

#20 Charles Pic (LR #20)

#21 Giedo van der Garde (LR #22)

f1-max-chilton-helmet-2013#22 Max Chilton (LR #21)
Like his teammate Max the Axe spent his summer break focusing on conditioning. It’s not like there’s much extra speed to be wrung out from that car: “Although we haven’t been racing, the break has still been a busy time as I treated it a little like a ‘training camp’ and spent part of it on a pretty intensive physical programme.”

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