Skip to content

“Italian GP: Rosberg heads Practice Two”

Nico Rosberg topped the second free practice session of the Italian Grand Prix at Monza today.

The German set a quickest tour of 1:26.225s – some six-hundredths up on Mercedes teammate and championship rival Lewis Hamilton; however the latter lost a significant portion of the session when sidelined by an electronic failure.

Rosberg initially set the quick form on the harder Pirelli tyre – ahead of the persistent Fernando Alonso (Ferrari) and continued to show his pace later on the mediums.

Kimi Raikkonen and Alonso made the best of a solid day for Ferrari, with the pair accepting 3rd and 4th, while Valtteri Bottas (Williams) and Jenson Button (McLaren) and Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull) all set times just over half-a-second slower than Rosberg,

There were a few minor offs during the session, continuing the example set during the opening session, although little significant damage was suffered.

About these ads

“Italian GP: Hamilton heads FP1 at Monza”

Lewis Hamilton headed the opening free practice session at an overcast Monza this morning.

The Briton responded to made the best of the morning with a quickest tour at 1:26.187s – some eight-tenths faster than his Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg.

McLaren’s Jenson Button split the two silver machines. He registered a quickest tour some two-tenths up on Rosberg, but still well adrift of the top-spot.

Such is Hamilton’s pace, the field will be hoping the former world champion set his time on low fuel; however it was not all clear sailing for the Mercedes man. The Briton had a brief lock-up into Ascari, as did teammate Rosberg, but was able to continue without any issues.

Despite this, Hamilton managed a healthy twenty-five laps, with Button and Rosberg completing twenty-seven and twenty-six without issue.

It was brief session for Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo who suffered a mechanical failure near the halfway point of the session, ensuring the Australian completed only twelve laps.
Kevin Magnussen touched the thirty-lap marker, but did lose a small chunk of time when his headrest came loose mid-run.

The Toro Rosso’s were the busiest of the day with Daniil Kvyat and Jean-Éric Vergne clocking up sixty-three laps between them.

Force India discovered the trouble with running two drivers in one car for FP1. Daniel Juncadella ran the first thirty minutes, before handing over to Sergio Perez for the final hour. It was a fruitless endeavor that only served to lose the Silverstone team plenty of time, as Perez’ engineers lost nearly a half-hour switching the seats, pedals and settings from Juncadella to Perez.

On the other hand, the money probably tasted good.

“Breathing Room”

© Leigh O'Gorman.

© Leigh O’Gorman.

One does not have to look too far into history to understand that British Formula 3 has seen better days.

That only seven drivers turned out for the sixth round of the 2014 season is indicative of the struggles the famed championship has faced in recent years.

British F3 is not alone by any stretch of the imagination. Other national series’, such as German and Australian F3, are also struggling to keep driver numbers up, while the Euroformula Open (previously the European F3 Open) is experiencing a severe dip in numbers this year.

As Peter Briggs, chairman of the Formula Three Association, commented on Sunday, “The teams are here, the cars are here, there are plenty of spares and extras – all that’s missing are the drivers.” A former F3 team boss, Briggs has been involved in motorsport for almost forty years and is determined to keep British F3 afloat.

While a merger with the German championship may not be permissible, Briggs has been in discussion with his German counterparts as they explore the possibility of sharing rounds.

Recent developments have dealt a blow to that plan; however it is not dead yet. “Ideally,” says Briggs, “there would still be British and German championships, but we would share races. I would like a situation where we shared grids for four UK and four German events, but that could be a five-to-three split if needs be.”

It’s a daunting task for both categories as they attempt to soak up drivers from the European market. “Drivers don’t come to the UK anymore from entry-level, they go to Europe and Formula Renault, where they can race of international tracks,” Briggs notes, before adding finally, “We have to capture that.”

The series has a huge job ahead if it is stay afloat and Briggs is determined to help steer the ship in the right direction.

It is not the most enviable of tasks.

“Wells British F3 début increases field to seven”

Hong Kong based British racer Dan Wells is to make his début in the beleaguered British Formula 3 Series at Brands Hatch this weekend with Double R Racing.

The 23-year-old has spent much of the last three seasons in the Far East, competing in the likes of Formula Masters China and its predecessor the Formula Pilota China Series; however budget issues cut his 2013 season short.

The Briton finished as runner-up in the Formula Pilota China Series in 2012, and currently lies 3rd in Formula Masters. Wells has set his sights on a season in Japanese F3 for the 2015 season, although his Brands outing will also qualify the Salisbury man for an F3 outing at Macau. Of the upcoming contest, he commented, “I’m looking forward to my first F3 race and it’s great for it to be on the Brands Hatch Grand Prix Circuit too.”

While he has never raced with Double R previously, it will not be the first time Wells has had a contact with the Surrey-based team. “I went to the 2009 British F3 races at the circuit as a guest of Double R before I had started my racing career, so it’s a happy coincidence that I will make my F3 debut with the team now. I anticipate a productive weekend and would like to thank Double R and DWI for this opportunity.”

Of the addition, Double R team principal Anthony ‘Boyo’ Hieatt said, “We’re delighted to be able to give Dan his Formula 3 debut at Brands, he’s a driver we’ve known since he started out in racing and has had a lot of success in Asia since he moved there three years ago. It’s going to be a big step up into the F3 car for the first time in a racing environment, but we’re confident he’ll do a very good job.”

Wells will join F4 regular Camren Kaminsky, while Max Marshall returns for a second round as he prepares for a future Formula Ford GB round at the Kent circuit.

Away from Double R Racing, it was also revealed that FIA European F3 regular Santino Ferrucci will championship challengers Matt Rao and Martin Cao at Fortec. The addition of Ferrucci, Wells and Marshall brings the entry list up to seven for the series’ penultimate round.

“Thoughts on Rosberg, Hamilton and Spa-Francorchamps”

Unnecessary. That is one of the only words that can describe the incident between Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton early during Sunday’s Belgian Grand Prix.

But it was not unexpected.

Such is the growing intensity of this championship battle between the former junior category rivals, it was always likely that something of this nature would eventually feed onto the circuit.

After all, these are two young men at the height of the competitive powers and energies and there is a world championship at stake. Those who hold back only serve to get left behind.

Unlike the unsubtle ribbing the pair exchanged at the Grand Prix in Bahrain in April, the heat has been turned up and pointed barbs and accusations now host the language of choice.

Rosberg’s on track actions – and his unwillingness to back out of an uncertain passing move – cast additional light upon his “mistake” during qualifying at Monaco, as well as his missing of the final chicane while under pressure from Hamilton in Canada.
On the other hand, Hamilton’s unwillingness to allow Rosberg through in Hungary while on fresh signposted stages of this burgeoning aggression. Neither Rosberg nor Hamilton are under any illusions the title fight is on.

Where a clearly quicker Rosberg clipped the left rear of Hamilton on the 2nd lap at Spa-Francorchamps, the German was determined to not back down.
In Bahrain, Rosberg was beaten on track by his teammate – he was keen to not let that happen again; however in doing so, he merely punctured Hamilton’s tyre, while also damaging his front wing, conceivable costing Mercedes a race win.
There are those who believe the collision was an entirely deliberate one and that Rosberg was attempting to forcefully remove his main challenger from competition, but that is nonsense – Rosberg had too much to lose to be so clinical.

One, however, must be take some care as to how this is being played out though. Hamilton, conveniently, informing the British press of comments by Rosberg from the post-race debrief was a nicely played tactic.
Although his shock at Rosberg’s revelation that he had ‘prove a point’ was genuine, there was no doubt the Briton knew exactly what he was doing when he let such details slip.
Rosberg and the team have distanced themselves from those comments, but Lewis is not an idiot, he knows the score and he is playing his game. If Hamilton’s tale about Rosberg’s comments in the debrief are true, then the German may already be losing the psychological battle.

Alas, after forty-four laps, Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo emerged as the victor of the Ardennes and while some will point to Ricciardo as a potential title contender, it unlikely that it will come his way when considering just how strong the Mercedes package is.
A Ricciardo victory in the title battle would be nice, but Daniel can wait – his time will come, eventually.

For now, this title fight is a Mercedes driver versus Mercedes driver and that seriously complicates matters for the German marque, who would – behind closed doors – have been hoping for a clear an easy victory in the Constructor’s Championship, while their pairing collected 1-2 finishes.
But that is not how competitive animals operate. There is precious little chance of either driver dutifully accepting team orders and risk dropping out of the title fight as a result and it is here a catastrophic explosion in the driver tensions may occur.

In the end, Rosberg may have taken the advantage in points scored, the chance of victory was lost and his relationship with the Mercedes management may have taken considerable damage. Those bonds, once strained, can be difficult, if not impossible to repair.

The first of the two Mercedes drivers who believes they have nothing left to lose will either take this title with fists flying or just collapse altogether.

“F1: Ricciardo wins, as Mercedes fumble”

Red Bull Racing’s Daniel Ricciardo won his third Grand Prix of the season at Spa-Francorchamps today.

The Australian took the 44-lap Belgian event ahead of world championship leader Nico Rosberg and Williams’ rising star Valtteri Bottas.

Starting 5th, Ricciardo was 4th by lap two and made that 3rd when he passed Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso on lap four. One tour later that became 2nd when Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull) fell to the Australian’s prowess and when Rosberg pitted after eight tours, the lead was Ricciardo’s.

Thereafter the Red Bull racer only lost the lead for one lap and even then only because he had moved to change tyres, but for much of the event, Ricciardo drove a canny, calm race.
Following a stop ten laps from the end, Rosberg drew back toward Ricciardo as he took advantage of his much fresher tyres, but the Australian was too far ahead for Rosberg to affect a realistic challenge.

That Incident
But the race was in no way that straight forward. Indeed, it could be argued that – like the Canadian Grand Prix – Ricciardo had this one handed to him by an overly forceful Rosberg.

From pole, the Mercedes man bogged down, allowing teammate and rival Lewis Hamilton to take the lead, with Vettel following through. Whereas Vettel was quickly dispatched, Hamilton proved a far more trying opposition for Rosberg.
At just over half-a-second shy of the lead at the beginning of the second lap, Rosberg clung to the rear of Hamilton through Eau Rouge, Radillon and along the Kemmel Straight.

Holding the lead into Les Combes, Hamilton took his line, only for Rosberg to slice Hamilton’s left rear tyre on his front wing endplate, puncturing the Pirelli tyre instantly and dropping him to the rear of the field.
Unable to escape the clutches of Ricciardo, Rosberg continued with a slightly damaged front wing until lap eight, eventually stopping for fresh medium tyres and a new nose.
Meanwhile the 2008 World Champion also damaged the floor on the way back to the pits and emerged from the stop in 19th…

As far as Hamilton was concerned, the blame lay with his opposite man. “I gave him plenty of space, took the corner like I usually do and suddenly felt a big hit from behind.”
Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff had some choice words. “To see that kind of contact, so early in the race, is an unacceptable level of risk to be taking out on track. It cannot – and will not – happen again.”

Ricciardo Out Front
For all the claims regarding the Rosberg / Hamilton clash, Ricciardo still needed to drive the car and drive it hard. Using a two-stop strategy, Ricciardo pitted on lap eleven, taking on a new set of softs – and it is here that the 25-year-old made his mark in the race.

Emerging some 2.5s ahead of Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen, Ricciardo recorded set eleven laps in the 1’54” range, while Raikkonen – having already stopped on lap eight – pushed hard, ripping the best from his rubber early on.
While Ricciardo’s pace was quick, one could argue that the steady nature of his run in the gentle nature of the RB10 helped extend the life of his second set of soft Pirelli’s for sixteen laps.
As the stint aged, the leader drew a 7.7s gap over the Finn, before Ferrari called him in for his third set on lap 21, momentarily promoting Vettel to 2nd, before his pitstop allowed Bottas to take the mantle of chasing the leader on lap 22.

Any thoughts of Bottas catching the lead were pipe dreams though. From (a brief sojourn in) the lead, the Williams man was brought in for new runner on lap 12, only to emerge behind Rosberg, who in turn was losing pace behind a sluggish Vettel.
Until Vettel and Rosberg made their second stops, Bottas dropped 7.8s over the course of the next nine laps – effectively neutering his challenge to Ricciardo. As the field ahead cleared itself, Ricciardo’s lead was now over fourteen seconds. This race was a done deal…

Rosberg Charges Back
Except it wasn’t. Well, not quite.

Forced onto a three-stop strategy following his lap two mishap, Rosberg sidestepped for new tyres on laps 19 (mediums) and 34 (softs). Add to that a wet qualifying session, which – like the rest of the field – ensured the championship leader had a full compliment of new tyres for the race.

So Rosberg pushed. On the mediums, the German effectively matched Ricciardo’s pace over his longer run; however when Mercedes bolted a set of softs onto Rosberg’s car eleven laps from the end, the 29-year-old charged.
When the Finn returned to the track after his final Pirelli switch, he immediately launched into a barrage of laps in the 1’51” range and even set three tours in the 1’50s.

There was further fortune and force. Emerging just ahead of Bottas, Rosberg escaped the Finn, while also powering past Raikkonen. Tellingly Rosberg was over four seconds per lap quicker than the Ferrari man, as Raikkonen’s two-stop race theory (with a 23 lap stint on mediums) hung by a thread.

From 22.57s, the gap to Ricciardo began to shrink at an incredible rate, but this is where the leader made his consistency really count. Despite the threat, the Red Bull man maintained a pace in the low-1’53s, refusing to be drawn into a dogfight that would only destroy his tyres in the closing laps.

A Calculated Win
As the immediate effectiveness of Rosberg’s rubber deteriorated toward the end of the race, Ricciardo was rewarded with victory – and deservedly so following a superbly executed race, yet there were still some lingering worries. “I think we had some really good pace today and surprised ourselves. […] It was difficult staying out at the end of the race,” said Ricciardo.

Considering the length of Ricciardo’s final stint, there were naturally some concerns as to whether the Pirelli’s would last, but Australian was keen to reassure his engineer Simon Rennie.
“I said I think I can keep more or less this pace, and we were able to, then on the last lap I found a couple more tenths. Today was more calculated and it was nice to win under different circumstances.”

Rosberg was 3.3s shy of the top step come the flag and for all of his valiant efforts late on, the race was lost in that second lap contact. “We had the pace to win today but the incident cost us a top result, so I’m really disappointed because for the team.”
There was further controversy following the race when Hamilton told that Rosberg admitted to not lifting off on the approach to Les Combes, initiating the incident. “We just had a meeting about it and […] he said he did it on purpose, he said he could have avoided it. He said ‘I did it to prove a point’…”

Hamilton continued on until the 38th lap, but with his floor heavily damaged following the clash, Mercedes told the Briton to retire his car; however this too has raised eyebrows as the order came following several requests by Hamilton to retire his car to ‘save the engine’. The no-score for Hamilton means Rosberg’s championship lead increases to 29 points.

Another Bottas Podium
Bottas may have led for a lap, but it was never an honest lead once strategies played out and as they did Bottas settled into a top four position, which became 3rd as Raikkonen’s tyres cried foul late on.

Indeed Raikkonen’s tyres were so destroyed in the later tours that he dropped 9.4s to Bottas in the final five laps alone and while the Finn has not yet reached the podium this season, 4th place was easily Raikkonen’s best finish of the season.

Behind Raikkonen, an epic last dash battle for 5th was playing out between McLaren pairing Kevin Magnussen and Jenson Button, Alonso and Vettel. Through the final three laps, the quartet swapped places repeatedly as gripless tyres dealt their final hands.
Wheel spinning across the track through the middle sector, Magnussen ran wheel-to-wheel with Button, allowing Alonso and Vettel opportunities to take places, until they too slipped back behind the McLaren’s in an enthralling battle.

It all came to a head on the final tour when Magnussen – having momentarily shaken off Button – squeezed Alonso off the road at Stavelot, allowing Vettel to feed through the gap and take 5th.
Magnussen would recover to take 6th ahead of Button and Alonso, only for Magnussen to be punished with a 20-second post-race penalty for not leaving enough room for Alonso, forcing him off the track. The sanction promoted Button to 6th, while Alonso was classified in 7th – Magnussen, meanwhile, had to make do with 12th overall.

Solid Finishes
Sergio Perez (Sauber) drove a solid race to 8th, finishing just ahead of Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kvyat (9th), after the latter closed upon the Mexican late on. After initially finishing outside the points, Nico Hulkenberg was promoted to 10th following Magnussen’s penalty – small reward for the Force India driver, who remains stuck in midfield peril.

Jean-Éric Vergne needed a big performance, but could no better than 11th, while Felipe Massa took 13th. Adrian Sutil (Sauber) led teammate Esteban Gutierrez to unspectacular 14th and 15th place finishes.
Max Chilton (Marussia, 16th) and Marcus Ericsson (Caterham, 17th) were the only other finishers, as Jules Bianchi (Marussia) was classified 18th, but had retired on lap 40.
Neither Lotus finished and André Lotterer retired on the first lap of his Formula One debut with Caterham. Whether the impressive Lotterer gets another opportunity in the future remains to be seen.

If nothing else, the Mercedes situation is becoming more and more intense as the second half of the season gets under way. Whether this intensifies once Mercedes wrap up the Constructor’s Championship will make the close of the title even more intriguing.
And then in the background was a smiling Australian, who is also getting closer to the silver machines.

2014 Belgian Grand Prix (Rd 12, Spa-Francorchamps)
Pos Driver                Team                    Time/Gap
 1. Daniel Ricciardo      Red Bull-Renault        1h24m36.556s (44 laps)
 2. Nico Rosberg          Mercedes                     +3.383s
 3. Valtteri Bottas       Williams-Mercedes           +28.032s
 4. Kimi Raikkonen        Ferrari                     +36.815s
 5. Sebastian Vettel      Red Bull-Renault            +52.196s
 6. Jenson Button         McLaren-Mercedes            +54.580s
 7. Fernando Alonso       Ferrari                   +1m01.162s
 8. Sergio Perez          Force India-Mercedes      +1m04.293s
 9. Daniil Kvyat          Toro Rosso-Renault        +1m05.347s
10. Nico Hulkenberg       Force India-Mercedes      +1m05.697s
11. Jean-Eric Vergne      Toro Rosso-Renault        +1m11.920s
12. Kevin Magnussen       McLaren-Mercedes          +1m14.262s*
13. Felipe Massa          Williams-Mercedes         +1m15.975s
14. Adrian Sutil          Sauber-Ferrari            +1m22.447s
15. Esteban Gutierrez     Sauber-Ferrari            +1m30.825s
16. Max Chilton           Marussia-Ferrari              -1 lap
17. Marcus Ericsson       Caterham-Renault              -1 lap
18. Jules Bianchi         Marussia-Ferrari             -5 laps
    Lewis Hamilton        Mercedes                     +6 laps
    Romain Grosjean       Lotus-Renault               +11 laps
    Pastor Maldonado      Lotus-Renault               +43 laps
    Andre Lotterer        Caterham-Renault            +43 laps

Kevin Magnussen (McLaren) received 20-second post-race penalty for pushing Alonso off track on final lap.

“F1: Rosberg takes dominant pole in Belgium”

Nico Rosberg took his fourth consecutive Formula One pole position at Spa-Francorchamps today.

In wet, but drying conditions, the German racer had some three-tenths in hand over championship rival and Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton.

It was not just a dominant lap for Rosberg – even his second quickest tour, the son of the 1982 champion would have headed the times.

Lewis Hamilton did improve with his final run; however the Briton’s Q3 stint was peppered with errors on a tricky surface.

Sebastian Vettel led the Red Bull charge, albeit over two seconds adrift of the pole time. The reigning champion may have lost some time as he was the first driver to complete the final run, leaving others to improve after he had finished.

Fernando Alonso brought his Ferrari to 4th, just two-tenths ahead of Daniel Ricciardo who made a mistake in Stavelot on his final lap. Williams’ Valtteri Bottas could do no better than 6th.

Kevin Magnussen (McLaren) and Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari) made it an all-Scandinavian fourth row, while Felipe Massa (Williams) and Jenson Button (McLaren) took 9tha nd 10th respectively.

It was an-Toro Rosso sixth row. The Italian squad lost out in the final moments as others found time late on. Both Daniil Kvyat and Jean-Eric Vergne made the move to intermediate tyres by mid-session; however as their Pirelli rubber aged, the young duo dropped behind those who changed later.
Sergio Perez was the first of the Force India’s in 13th, with Sauber’s Adrian Sutil taking 14th. Romain Grosjean leads the Lotus charge in 15th, emerging some 1.4s faster than Marussia man Jules Bianchi.

Pastor Maldonado once again failed to break out of Q1 in his Lotus-Renault, although the real surprise came when Nico Hulkenberg could not progress. The German complained of a lack of confidence in his brakes in the cold conditions around the legendary Belgian circuit.
Max Chilton lined up 19th in the second Marussia. He enjoyed a nine-tenths advantage over Esteban Gutierrez (Sauber) who suffered a mechanical failure early in the session. It was an all-Caterham back row; however Formula One debutante André Lotterer out-qualified teammate Marcus Ericsson by almost one second.

“Ghiotto takes pole on GP3 Series debut”

Luca Ghiotto took a surprise pole position in his debut outing in the GP3 Series this year.

The Italian teenager secured the top spot in his first outing in wet-to-dry conditions at the Francorchamps circuit.

Ghiotto took pole by three-tenths from Carlin’s Emil Bernstorff, while Jimmy Eriksson (Carlin) rounded out the top-three.

Berstorff maintained the top spot for a sizeable portion of the session; however Ghiotto’s late effort demoted the Briton to the outside of the front row.

Richie Stanaway will take 4th, having fallen two-tenths shy of row two stablemate Eriksson. Points leader Alex Lynn was at the front of the pack during the initial runner, but he fell back to 5th as the times came down slightly.

Patrick Kujala completed the third row, while Marvin Kirchhöfer led the ART Grand Prix charge. The German lost time when, like his teammates, the ART squad sent their drivers out on slicks on a track which was not quite ready.

Carmen Jorda did not set a lap – the Colombian spun off earlier in the session and became beached in the gravel before she had an opportunity to register a time.

2014 GP3 Series Round of Belgium (Qualifying)
Pos  Driver               Team      Time       Gap
 1.  Luca Ghiotto         Trident   2m22.251s
 2.  Emil Bernstorff      Carlin    2m22.584s  +0.333s
 3.  Jimmy Eriksson       Koiranen  2m22.678s  +0.427s
 4.  Richie Stanaway      Status    2m22.862s  +0.611s
 5.  Alex Lynn            Carlin    2m23.081s  +0.830s
 6.  Patrick Kujala       Manor     2m23.303s  +1.052s
 7.  Marvin Kirchhofer    ART       2m23.413s  +1.162s
 8.  Patric Niederhauser  Arden     2m23.438s  +1.187s
 9.  Matheo Tuscher       Jenzer    2m23.481s  +1.230s
10.  Dino Zamparelli      ART       2m23.565s  +1.314s
11.  Dean Stoneman        Manor     2m23.586s  +1.335s
12.  Jann Mardenborough   Arden     2m23.794s  +1.543s
13.  Nick Yelloly         Status    2m23.920s  +1.669s
14.  Robert Visoiu        Arden     2m23.996s  +1.745s
15.  Kevin Ceccon         Jenzer    2m24.057s  +1.806s
16.  Alex Fontana         ART       2m24.248s  +1.997s
17.  Sebastian Balthasar  Hilmer    2m24.464s  +2.213s
18.  Santiago Urrutia     Koiranen  2m24.687s  +2.436s
19.  Nelson Mason         Hilmer    2m24.846s  +2.595s
20.  Luis Sa Silva        Carlin    2m24.862s  +2.611s
21.  Pal Varhaug          Jenzer    2m25.301s  +3.050s
22.  Alfonso Celis        Status    2m25.553s  +3.302s
23.  Riccardo Agostini    Hilmer    2m25.965s  +3.714s
24.  John Bryant-Meisner  Trident   2m25.969s  +3.718s
25.  Ryan Cullen          Manor     2m26.537s  +4.286s

“F1: Bottas heads Saturday morning running”

Valtteri Bottas topped a drying third free practice session at Spa-Francorchamps this morning.

The Williams man jumped to the top thanks to a late run that propelled him ahead of Daniel Ricciardo (Red Bull) and Nico Rosberg (Mercedes).

It had been a mostly quiet session, with cars rolling onto the circuit in just the final third of the session, as the sun emerged, creating dry patches along the damp Belgian track.

Bottas’ best – a 1:49.465s – was almost three-tenths quicker than the Renault-powered Red Bull man; however considering the changing conditions of the circuit, it is still unknown just how representative this time may be.

Ricciardo’s 2nd place also came right at the death, while Rosberg’s time (1:49.739) came just moments before Bottas claimed his practice prize. Ferrari man Kimi Raikkonen assumed 4th in the order, with the Finn appearing far more comfortable today than he did at this point on Friday.

Lewis Hamilton – who took 5th in his Mercedes works machine – secured the fastest middle section by a long way on his final lap – an example of what the silver car still had in store.

There was little else of interest in the session. Fernando Alonso (Ferrari) quietly ran to 6th, while Daniil Kvyat (Toro Rosso), Jenson Button (McLaren), Felipe Massa (Williams) and Jean-Eric Vergne (Toro Rosso) filled out the top ten.
Reigning world champions Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull) could do better than 13th, as he fights to make up for losing yesterday’s second practice session. The German has reverted to the engine used in Hungary.

2014 Belgian Grand Prix (Rd 12, Free Practice 3)
Pos Driver               Team                Time / Gap
 1. Valtteri Bottas      Williams-Mercedes     1:49.465
 2. Daniel Ricciardo     Red Bull-Renault      1:49.733
 3. Nico Rosberg         Mercedes              1:49.739
 4. Kimi Raikkonen       Ferrari               1:49.817
 5. Lewis Hamilton       Mercedes              1:49.817
 6. Fernando Alonso      Ferrari               1:49.890
 7. Daniil Kvyat         Toro Rosso-Renault    1:49.893
 8. Jenson Button        McLaren-Mercedes      1:50.203
 9. Felipe Massa         Williams-Mercedes     1:50.423
10. Jean-Eric Vergne     Toro Rosso-Renault    1:50.535
11. Sergio Perez         Force India-Mercedes  1:50.592
12. Kevin Magnussen      McLaren-Mercedes      1:50.748
13. Sebastian Vettel     Red Bull-Renault      1:50.814
14. Nico Hulkenberg      Force India-Mercedes  1:50.866
15. Adrian Sutil         Sauber-Ferrari        1:50.962
16. Romain Grosjean      Lotus-Renault         1:51.509
17. Pastor Maldonado     Lotus-Renault         1:51.610
18. Esteban Gutierrez    Sauber-Ferrari        1:51.898
19. Jules Bianchi        Marussia-Ferrari      1:52.457
20. Max Chilton          Marussia-Ferrari      1:52.984
21. Marcus Ericsson      Caterham-Renault      1:54.294
22. André Lotterer       Caterham-Renault      1:55.008

“Vandoorne takes first GP2 pole”

Vandoorne on pole in Spa. © Sam Bloxham/GP2 Series Media Service.

Vandoorne on pole in Spa. © Sam Bloxham/GP2 Series Media Service.

Stoffel Vandoorne took his first GP2 Series pole position at Spa-Francorchamps today.

On relatively cool afternoon, the Belgian pipped championship leader Jolyon Palmer by just 0.016s in the last moments.

It could be a significant pole in the championship, for Vandoorne’s flyer denied Palmer the four points that the top man receives.

The session marks further progress by the ART Grand Prix, who have at times endured a topsy-turvy season.

Mitch Evans took 3rd with a late run in his RUSSIAN TIME entry, while rookie driver Raffaele Marciello qualified alongside in his Racing Engineering machine.

Johnny Cecotto Jr leads the third row with Carlin’s Julian Leal assuming 6th spot; however Nathanaël Berthon surprised by placing his Venezuela GP Lazarus car in 7th.

Palmer’s championship challenger, Felipe Nasr, qualified a disappointing 11th, leaving him much to do come Saturday afternoon.
Artem Markelov finished 25th, but was penalised for blocking during the session – he will start from the pitlane. Takuya Izawa could not complete a competitive lap, but has been allowed to start from 25th spot.

2014 2014 GP2 Series of Belgium (Rd 8, Qualifying)
Pos Driver               Team                 Time       Gap      Laps
 1. Stoffel Vandoorne    ART                  1m56.839s            10 
 2. Jolyon Palmer        DAMS                 1m56.857s  +0.018s    8 
 3. Mitch Evans          Russian Time         1m57.057s  +0.218s   11 
 4. Raffaele Marciello   Racing Engineering   1m57.237s  +0.398s   13 
 5. Johnny Cecotto Jr    Trident              1m57.244s  +0.405s   12 
 6. Julian Leal          Carlin               1m57.271s  +0.432s   13 
 7. Nathanael Berthon    Lazarus              1m57.272s  +0.433s   12 
 8. Simon Trummer        Rapax                1m57.284s  +0.445s   10 
 9. Marco Sorensen       MP                   1m57.389s  +0.550s   11 
10. Stephane Richelmi    DAMS                 1m57.448s  +0.609s   10 
11. Felipe Nasr          Carlin               1m57.475s  +0.636s   11 
12. Arthur Pic           Campos               1m57.516s  +0.677s   10 
13. Daniel de Jong       MP                   1m57.706s  +0.867s   11 
14. Tom Dillmann         Caterham             1m57.770s  +0.931s   11 
15. Conor Daly           Lazarus              1m57.788s  +0.949s   12 
16. Stefano Coletti      Racing Engineering   1m57.844s  +1.005s   11 
17. Rene Binder          Arden                1m57.851s  +1.012s   12 
18. Daniel Abt           Hilmer               1m57.875s  +1.036s   13 
19. Rio Haryanto         Caterham             1m57.974s  +1.135s   12 
20. Andre Negrao         Arden                1m58.002s  +1.163s   12 
21. Adrian Quaife-Hobbs  Rapax                1m58.005s  +1.166s   12 
22. Kimiya Sato          Campos               1m58.185s  +1.346s   10 
23. Jon Lancaster        Hilmer               1m58.218s  +1.379s   13 
24. Sergio Canamasas     Trident              1m58.295s  +1.456s   12 
25. Artem Markelov       Russian Time         1m58.470s  +1.631s   10 
26. Takuya Izawa         ART                  2m40.364s  +43.525s   2

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,816 other followers

%d bloggers like this: