Oh, how treacherous a mistress of a track you are. Your glorious curves and sweeping bends, they do entice us so. Down you go from La Source and through the most infamous of corners. The long relentless climb past Blanchimont towards the bus stop chicane, it ensnares us, draws us in. You sit unrivalled in your throne of green in the Ardennes. Echoes of races past and glories now forgotten still linger in the moist air.
And when it is revisited by your uncrowned king, oh what a sight to behold it becomes. None can match his commitment and attack into Pouhon. Passing the fiercest of competitors in unthinkable places. Charging through thick smoke down the Kemmel straight with ice in his veins. A match made in racing heaven. Spa-Francorchamps and the Iceman. But it is a dangerous liason indeed. The thrills are the highest of high. But on the opposite side of the scale, so are the disappointments. And yet we love it. Even if the emotions take us high and low, in twists and bends much like your grand design, we would not have it any other way. Until next year it’s au revoir. You track of tracks.
And with that we are back from the summer holidays with a bang. My wife and I had a kid in the meantime. (In case you missed my previous post). Happy, content and ready for some F1 action. I propose that the Spa circuit sends some extra chills down the spine of a Kimi fan. Because he is mighty around here. It is likely the track on the calendar where talent and commitment matters more than elsewhere.
We get some news that Lotus are getting very ambitious with an extra long wheelbase for the car and that they will run the passive DRS system this weekend. But then we get the news that no, they will not be doing any of that after all. Due to lack of dry running.. I don’t know about you, but I am getting some serious deja vu reading that. Perhaps in Monza. If you are an optimist: http://www.autosport.com/news/report.php/id/109380
The most talked about man in the paddock is Kimi and his whereabouts for next year. Red Bull, Lotus, even Ferrari? He was set up for the press con but failed to show due to “illness”. I didn’t buy it at the time. Very convenient way to miss out on a lot of inevitable questions. However, he did sound a little bit under the weather judging by his voice in the post-race interviews so I will give him the benefit of the doubt here 😉
Based on that, hopes were not high in anticipation for the quali sessions. The drying Q1 session saw both Marussias going into Q2. A first for the team. In Q2, we get a glimpse of what might have been. If not for the whimsical nature of the Spa itself. The track dries and even though the Lotus has been trailing in all practice sessions, Kimi clocks the fastest time. Oh boy, oh boy.
On to Q3 and its pretty much over before it began. Rain pours down and everyone has to go back to get inters. There are a couple of things that really grinds my gears here. Have you noticed how Kimi many times are one of the first cars, if not the first to go out in a lot of quali sessions? But now – when he really really needed to be in front of the line, he was not. Why did he need it? Because the first cars that went out, the Mercedes and the Red Bulls, they got an extra lap at the very end which improved their final time massively. Kimi? He missed it by seconds. Result, 8th on the grid. Yes, it is Spa and overtaking is very possible. True. But Kimi had his car set up for the twisty sector two and not the straights. He needed to be at the front to have any chance.
Hamilton on pole, Vettel on 2nd. Lights out and it’s OMG – where is Grosjean?!! Goodness me, he made it thru turn 1. Wow. The cars go up the Kemmel straight and Vettel has an insane tow behind Hamilton and passes him for the lead with relative ease. And that was pretty much it. Vettel was nowhere to be seen until the finish line.
As for our protagonist, he tucks in behind Grosjean but passes him into Les Combes on lap 2. After that he has Hulkenberg in his sights. But there is a problem. First noticed on lap 7. A whole lot of brake dust is plummeting out from Raikkonens left front. A one time thing? No, it keeps happening every corner. I pretty much know that the car is living on a limited period of grace if they don’t do something. Surely, they should pit him immediately to check for problems? The pit stops are not far away anyhow.
But no, they keep him going for 7 more laps before they pit him. By then the damage is done. The irony is that of all things, it was a visor tear-off that had found its way into the brakeduct. Making the left front brake overheat, causing excessive wear. Had they taken him in right away, they could have removed the visor before critical damage was done and he would have completed the race.
But instead they left him out on track and told him to try and manage the temperatures in the brakes. Meaning he had to turn his pace down to do so. It could not have been a worse decision. I know Kimis luck was bound to run out at some point. But this.. This could easily have been avoided. Pure folly by the Lotus team.
And yet he managed the two best overtakes of the entire race with a stricken front brake. One on Paul di Resta at the busstop and a glorious one in turn 9 on dirty Sanchez. I mean.. Perez. Perez had earned himself a drive-tru for forcing Grosjean off the track. But he is not satisfied and does some insane blocking down towards Eau Rouge and also defending way too late on the Kemmel straight. Kimi is having none of his petty small-minded antics and
stuns him by passing him in a very unlikely place in turn 9. Almost MotoGP like.
Kimi is on a roll and dispenses of Gutierrez masterfully in Rivage. Not exactly a run of the mill pass either. Just brilliant. He closes in on Massa but the Ferrari is very fast in a straight line. Finally he gets a good tow towards the bus stop for a pass but then its all over. He overshoots the corner by a mile and comes directly into the pits. Front brake gone on lap 25. Race over.
38 consecutive race finishes and a record 27(!) consecutive finishes in the points comes to an end. He gave it a go, provided some fantastic racing with the hand he was dealt and retires by no fault of his own. A shame but a DNF with great dignity on his part.
The rest of the race is pretty straight forward from my point of view. There is an incident, courtesy of yet another numbscull on the track: Maldonado. It’s a 4 car fight between Maldonado at the front, then Gutierrez, Sutil and di Resta. Gutierrez is side by side with Maldonado towards the chicane, does a great pass there as the Venezuelan goes slightly wide.
Lets pause for a second. The fight has been going on for a couple of laps, so Maldonado have seen there are more cars gaggled up behind him. What completely baffles me is that he decides to try to go for the pits after overshooting the chicane. As if the 3 other cars had suddenly magically disappeared! He tries once: “Oops! A Force India! Ok, slight contact. No biggie.. Lets try again. Surely, no other cars are around now… Gaaah! Another Force India?! Oh well, bad luck for di Resta. Into the pits I go. Do-be-do-be-doo. I got oil millions up the wazoo..”
Up at the front, Vettel sets a trademark fastest lap towards the end. He is 17 seconds ahead of Alonso when he crosses the finish line. And still with some pace in hand according to him. The season is not going to be as exciting as last year. But I gotta hand it to the kid. He is a quick one. Especially when you see where old rubberface finished in the sister car. More than half a minute behind in 5th place. Nothing less than pitiful. And they seemingly got Ricciardo lined up to replace him? Good luck with that. His teammate Vergne is even ahead of him in the points.
Where will Kimi end up for 2014? New engines and all. I hardly ever speak much about any rumors. I prefer to hear solid confirmation from Kimi or his people. But I will make a small exception here. Judging from the chatter and a very confident Finnish F1 site, Kimi has alledegly signed a 2 year contract with Ferrari. With an option for a 3rd year. You probably ask why on earth he would do such a thing. If true that is. I ask myself the very
same question. And one can debate that all day. I will say that he left Ferrari on good terms with everyone there. One question mark is di Montezemelo. And another is Alonso. Will the Spaniard stay if Kimi really goes to the red team? Those answers will come eventually.
Anyway. Perhaps we will know more when Monza comes around. Until then, stay safe my friends. Enjoy life and some strawberries. They are full of vitamins, you know.
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Thank you so much for the review once again. I was closed to think you might not even get this up since this is yet another disappointment.
First and foremost I want to congrats you again for your new born baby. She is so cute ^_^ God blesses you and your family.
Back to the review, I have been waiting this chance to write a thing or two about the race. Didn’t quite get a chance to send my comment on FB group, because there are so many messages flowing in each day and I don’t want to make it out of topic kind of comment. So thanks for writing this.
My summary for this race, Lotus is sucks! Not more than that, I don’t even want to turning my pointing finger to them and said they are the reason on Kimi’s retirement. Because, Lotus is just sucks.
For safety reason, they should at least send Kimi to the pit to get that damn brake check. The so call debris that stuck in there. Although I do see the reason why they didn’t.
1) Mainly because it was too late when they find out, the moment the black smoke started coming it was beyond 900C limit.
2) They were hoping to manage the situation (optimistic as usual) plus bringing Kimi in means virtually no points scoring at all.
But for the god sake! Since they are sucked in speed, why not bring Kimi in and try to secure one or two points? Again, Lotus is sucks.
The moment the brake problem started, I know Kimi’s race is over. It just the matter of time.
The weekend was terrible, Lotus is sucks and Kimi’s luck decided to end in Spa. But kimi’s luck has only failed this time, always Lotus sucked consistently with no cure for the top speed. Like one of my fellow F1 fan said in his recent chat, ‘Shit team, shit race engineering’
I salute this quote from my friend!
True is, Lotus think they are RBR, to always chase downfroce and set the car up for one lap pace and that pace also isn’t that great either. Too dependent on warmer temps. They really screwed up their development of the car. Its a bad design and it cant be fixed. Now they are bringing a longer wheelbase chassis, no longer wheelbase the car will be longer. This is good for stability when the top speeds are reached also allowing for new suspension settings. Maybe they are trying to fix this shit top speed issue even without DRS. They need some speed at least, or else they will once again wasting so many times stuck behind another car. They need to stop gearing too high speed in straights, hopefully they are careful and choose the right gears. It is disappointing to see Kimi’s car is hitting the rev limiter too soon. They have short gear on everything *face palm*
The overtaking done by Kimi is proof of his pure talent. No one can do this with a shit car. He is the legendary.
I like Vettel’s overtaking on Lewis. It was done without DRS enable. This is a slap to everyone who stills think he is a driver of overtaking. *thumbsup*
In the end, about the rumors. I do think Mark is joking about the ‘good for Australia’ statement. mean he can’t be serious of screwing RBR top secret no? If he did then I lose my final 1% trust in him LOL xD
Anyway, Ricciardo is a nonsense line up alongside Vettel. OH COME ON, how long STR maintain their drivers? Two years? Recently I heard that some guy Carlos Sainz almost close for F1 seat next season so either one from the STR line up will go. I suspected this has to do with internal politic, and the pressure of being asked what the purpose of young driver Redbull academy if you wont promote your drivers.
So some peer pressure can be the real reason why Ricciardo is given the chance. If that’s the true reason then its the first time Horner failed as an able team principal because he fell for internal peer pressure after all the talk of getting the best two drivers who can consistent finish at the top and take points. Weather vettel and kimi paring will work out is another matter, because Ricciardo is the worst choice if they want to retain an edge on constructors title.
And I am still not over with the Ricciardo VS Kimi statement. Oh come on! please there is no VS here Kimi is a champ Riccardo is a joke. Whats the big comparison here for its all nonsense going on at RBR. I think they beginning to crack now, they are not able to make the right calls anymore if they start falling to peer pressure to take up useless STR drivers.
Like people used to say, there’s always a downfall time when a team becomes very successful. They need to have a fall to learn again from the beginning.
Sorry for my rant, I just need to let it all out.
Have a pleasant day. Thanks for sharing.
Was this your first race review where Kimi was DNF? If was the Iceman is truly a consistent talent (what we all know already :D)!
You are right. This is the first F1 race review on this blog where Kimi had a DNF. Didn’t think of that 😀 I covered his DNF’s in rally though 😉
This part is the key to everything:
“Have you noticed how Kimi many times are one of the first cars, if not the first to go out in a lot of quali sessions? But now – when he really really needed to be in front of the line, he was not. Why did he need it? Because the first cars that went out, the Mercedes and the Red
Bulls, they got an extra lap at the very end which improved their final time massively. Kimi? He missed it by seconds. Result, 8th on the grid. ”
… And I will continue the story: 8th on the grid in stead of pole causes a brake problem due to a tear off entering his brake duct. Race over. So, if he had had another go in q1, he most likely would have been fighting for the win, -his pace would only have been matched by Vettel. Maybe Vettel would have passed him at the end of Kemmel straight, but you never know. In 2009 he fended off the faster Force India for 40 laps and won by a margin of 0,6 sec. In 2008 he kept Hamilton behind him 38 laps, and went out after a classical Hamilton cheating manouver. This was my 4th time at Spa. Even if I was terrible disappointed both saturday and sunday, I was able to enjoy som insane guts and racing quality from Kimi. His classified passings were just impressive, especially concidering his lack of break force. I will go back next year as well if Kimi continues, -hopefully in a competitive car. Thanks again for a SPOT ON review!
Thank you Laffen. I think you are right. A slightly better grid position and no car troubles and he would have given it a serious go. I think Vettel was untouchable, but a podium – no doubt.
I will see if I can go next year as well. Would be fun to meet up outside our borders 😉