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Raikkonen favourite to taste victory in Belgium

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Andrew Benson | 13:30 UK time, Thursday, 30 August 2012

At Spa-Francorchamps

In this remarkable season of unpredictability and uncertainty, of seven winners in 11 races, of the most open title battle in years, Formula 1 is still waiting for one big result.

A victory for the revived Lotus team has looked inevitable since the start of the year. And as the world championship re-starts in Belgium this weekend following a month-long summer break, the expectation is that this could be their race.

The car, from the team formerly known as Renault that won two world championships with Fernando Alonso in 2005-6, has been fast all season. Its best result has been four second places. But the momentum seems to be with them.

Kimi Raikkonen's Lotus pushed Lewis Hamilton's winning McLaren all the way in Hungary five weeks ago. The Finn has a stunning record at the stunning Spa-Francorchamps track that hosts this race and Lotus have been working on a technical trick that could give them a key advantage on the demanding track that swoops and twists around the contours of the Ardennes mountains.

Kimi Raikkonen

Kimi Raikkonen has won the Belgian Grand Prix four times. Photo: Getty

The 32-year-old Finn seems to have a special affinity with the circuit regarded as arguably the biggest test for a racing driver anywhere in the world. He has taken four victories here - and either won or retired from every single race he has competed at Spa since 2004.

Raikkonen's all-action style, based on fast corner entry in a car with good front-end bite, seems perfectly suited to Spa's cascade of long, fast corners.

Two of his wins - for McLaren in 2004 and Ferrari in 2009 - came in years when his machinery was otherwise uncompetitive. The other two were dominant victories from the front in 2005 and 2007.

But Raikkonen's position as arguably the favourite for victory this weekend is not founded just on his renowned Spa specialism. He is widely expected to have the car to do the job.

Lotus have come agonisingly close to victory twice already this year - in Bahrain in April and at the last race, in Hungary at the end of July.

Both times it was Raikkonen who challenged only to just fall short, behind Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel in Bahrain and Hamilton in Hungary. But the Finn, who returned to F1 this season after two unproductive years in world rallying, has actually been Lotus's weaker driver for most of the year.

His team-mate, the Franco-Swiss Romain Grosjean, who is in his first full season, has generally had a marginal advantage - to the point that around the European Grand Prix in Valencia at the end of June there were murmurings of dissatisfaction with the Finn, who won the world championship for Ferrari in 2007.

Raikkonen ultimately finished second to Alonso in Valencia, but had been off the pace of Grosjean all weekend - indeed the younger man was pushing the Ferrari hard when his alternator failed late in the race.

When, following the race, Raikkonen expressed his frustration at it taking so long for Lotus to win, one team member privately expressed the view that he would be better focused on beating Grosjean before moaning about not winning yet.

Since then, though, Raikkonen has upped his game and in the race in Hungary he was fantastic, the middle stint there that lifted him from fifth place to potential victor one of the most impressive pieces of driving all season.

Had Raikkonen not made a mess of qualifying, and taken the front row slot he should have earned rather than the fifth place he did, he might well have won. The same can be said of Bahrain, where a decision to save tyres for the race left him down in 11th place on the grid and with too much to do.

Grosjean, too, must be considered a potential Spa winner. Despite making too many errors, he has been all confidence and commitment this year.

He has looked a different driver on his return to F1 in 2012 from the haunted figure who was demoralised by Alonso during his first half-season at Renault in 2009, after which he was dropped.

The high expectations for Lotus at Spa are partly based on the car's inherent qualifies - a factor in its general competitiveness this year has been strong performance in fast corners, and Spa is full of them.

As well as that, though, is that innovation mentioned earlier. In Hungary, and in Germany the week before, Lotus trialled a clever system aimed at boosting the team's straight-line speed without compromising its performance in other areas.

Like the DRS overtaking aid featured on all the cars, the Lotus system affects the rear wing to reduce drag.

It works by channelling air from scoops behind the driver's head to the rear wing, which this extra air then 'stalls', reducing the downforce the wing creates and therefore its drag, boosting straight-line speed.

What is not clear is when exactly the Lotus system comes into play.

Is it independent of the DRS, as some believe, and therefore active above a pre-set car velocity and usable at all times, including in the race when DRS use is restricted to a specific zone?

Or is it, as BBC F1 technical analyst Gary Anderson believes, linked to the DRS and simply an extra boost to the car's speed when that system is employed, like the system Mercedes have been using but without the inherent compromises that team have discovered?

Either way, it could be a significant boost to Lotus's chances in Spa. Lotus have yet to use the system outside free practice, and this weekend they will again try it out on Friday before making a decision whether to race it.

For all the talk of Lotus, though, a win for them is a very long way from a foregone conclusion. Red Bull, Ferrari and McLaren will be as strong as ever on a track that should suit all their cars.

In fact, it will be a particularly interesting weekend all round.

Which teams have made best use of the mid-season break to develop their cars?

Have Ferrari made the step forward in performance they seemed in Hungary to need if Alonso - unquestionably the stand-out driver of the season so far - is to hang on to his championship lead?

Can McLaren maintain the upward momentum they showed in Germany and Hungary after a brief slump?

Will Red Bull finally unlock the potential of what has looked, on balance, overall the fastest car?

The climax of one of the sport's greatest seasons, a hyper-intense period of nine races in three months, starts here.

Comments

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  • Comment number 1.

    "The climax of one of the sport's greatest seasons, a hyper-intense period of nine races in three months, starts here."

    Just a shame the BBC's viewing figures are down 27.76%, and even the non-unique and combined viewing figures of the BBC and Sky are down 11.96%.

  • Comment number 2.

    A win or dnf record at Spa for Kimi takes away from his actual achievements the fact of the matter is he has been unbeatable at this circuit and has been better than grosjean all season just wasnt as good in qualy, theres a reason why he is in the championship hunt. kimis spa record is:

    2001 - qualified 12th in a sauber team mate qualified 14th. transmission failure at the start
    2002 - qualified 2nd in a mclaren team mate 6th. engine failure on lap 35.
    2003 - no grand prix
    2004 - qualified 10th team mate 4th. finished 1st team mate 7th.
    2005- qualified 2nd team mate 1st. finished 1st team mate dnf crashed. a race in which martin brundle said he is going too fast.
    2006- no grand prix
    2007 - qualified 1st team mate 2nd. finished 1st team mate 2nd.
    2008 - qualified 4th team mate 2nd. after lap 1 led the race for most of it rain started 2 pour and he spun out. finished dnf team mate 1st
    2009 - qualified 6th team mate 20th. finished 1st team mate 14th. keeping fisi behind him the whole race despite having a slower car on a track that punishes lack of speed, no mistakes.
    2010 - did not compete
    2011 - did not compete
    2012 - ?

    only one driver error in tricky conditions shows how good he is around this circuit and yet he still has to prove 2 every1 how good he really is.

  • Comment number 3.

    Stop your whingeing Czar. Sky's coverage is so much better than BBC last season. Just look at cricket, football and rugby....Sky's coverage has improved the UK sports viewer's experience beyond belief. Their coverage of F1 will go from strength to strength and we'll all end up watching a better spectacle. Quality costs, just deal with it.

  • Comment number 4.

    "The climax of one of the sport's greatest seasons, a hyper-intense period of nine races in three months, starts here."

    These are the sort of comments that switch me of your blogs. Every year is played up to be sensational and better than previous years. Yet I find myself talking to "veterans" of Grand Prix from the 80`s and 90`s who feel that it is all artificial now, and very boring.
    No longer do we see out and out full on Qualifying, which for a purist was Sensational.
    Tyres are too unpredictable and ruin the race in many circumstances.
    Modifications to the rules are to many and to often, thus we don`t actually know which rule had what effect over the course of a race.

    As for Kimi, what a brave and talented driver, and like his compatriot Mika, he seems to have a handle on the press.

  • Comment number 5.

    @2 Well said. I have watched all the races post 2004 and I agree with you that Kimi does have some special affinity with Spa. However I do think his qualifying performances since the introduction of multiple qualifying rounds has been relatively poor. Hopefully that won't cost him in Spa as there should be good overtaking opportunities if your car is competitive.

    I'm not sure Lotus will be any more competitive than they already have been. I'm sure McLaren, Red Bull and Ferrari will also have made improvements.

  • Comment number 6.

    Spa is always one of the races of the season, add in to that the possibility of having 5 different teams all vying for a win leads me to believe that this could be an absolutely amazing race

  • Comment number 7.

    @4 What do you mean by brave? Talented for sure but how is he more brave than the other drivers?

  • Comment number 8.

    No 3.

    That is a matter of opinion, I actually think Sky has spoiled football with all the money and awful pundits.

    I have stopped watching all F1 due to BBC's terrible deal, I still keep abreast of the results and news though.

    These are just my opinions (like yours), as is thinking that Sky is the devil!

  • Comment number 9.

    On another note:

    Bring on the Spa, the faster the better, Webber's over take on Alonso.........amazing!

  • Comment number 10.

    Spa is IMO the best circuit on the calendar as it has everything and we should excpect a fantastic race. If Raikkonen or indeed Grosjean can't win at Spa, then you have to wonder whether they can win a race at all this season. Raikkonen is still in the championship hunt but he needs to rack up a few wins as well as consistently high points scoring finishes. Plus, when are Lotus going to announce their second driver for next year? With Eric Bouiller not only being Lotus team principal but Grosjean's manager, I would be amazed if he isn't retained for 2013.

  • Comment number 11.

    I thought development was banned during the summer break?!

  • Comment number 12.

    Been to Spa many times over the years and Kimi is the fastest modern driver I have seen around it, just a tad quicker than Michael. If lotus give him the car this weekend he has a great chance of winning. But also with Spa there is always the weather factor, so I would say Alonso also has a great chance as he has handled the weather best this year. Also I think Alonso won't mind if Kimi wins here, he will o course want to win himself most. But he will also be thinking in my opinion, if the others keep trading wins and he remains consistent then he will be champion. He doesn't want 1 drive winning three races on the trot. Going to be a great weekend and can't wait to see it unfold.

  • Comment number 13.

    @11 on track testing is banned, and I believe there are some enforced 'factory holidays' but I'm pretty sure that development itself is not banned, that would be unenforceable!

  • Comment number 14.

    If the Lotus DRS system proves to be effective it might give Kimi the boost he needs in qualifying. If that were to be so then I'd put my money on him for the race in Spa. I'd also expect Alonso in the top 5 somewhere too especially if it were to rain this weekend.

    On another note (since I can't comment on his columns), is it just me or does Jaime Alguersuari love himself so much that he talks about himself every 2nd article he writes?

  • Comment number 15.

    this seasons F1 second half as it was going towards the end of the first half ferrari and mcclaren seem on the rise with red bull gathering pace, lotus went a touch sparadic and seemes to be loosing pace but half time over now the game is afoot and lotus i can see charging well if they keep pace with development, they should being whom they are.
    vettle at red bull has shown cracks in his armour recent races and doesnt have the attitude when loosing so if others exploit that it might spoil his season one can hope.
    Kimi the iceman well i dont see him off the podium much these last ten races realy baring technical issues, much the same with jenson button who baring technical issues and tyres i think is another podium regular.

  • Comment number 16.

    If you're going to say "X is the favourite for X" you would want to look at the actual odds available by bookmakers. When you do, you find Lewis Hamilton is the favourite to win the Belgian GP, Vettel second favourite, Raikkonen third favourite.

  • Comment number 17.

    This is something of a watershed.....I think this is the first time Benson has written something that I completely agree with. Kimi will rip Spa up. It's custom made for a driver like him and Lotus have been knocking on the door strongly this season. Will Spa let them in? I think so.

  • Comment number 18.

    P.S Of all the circuits on the calendar (even the ones we no longer see), if you could drop me onto 1 circuit and say "drive around this for the rest of your life", it would be Spa.

  • Comment number 19.

    On the other hand, Riggadon, it is factually incorrect to term someone the favourite when they are not the favourite

  • Comment number 20.

    i would say renualt by the look at the previous races are good in the extreme heat ie Bahrain,Hungary,spa isnt hot.yes kimi is a genius around here but i think Hamilton is the spa favourite

  • Comment number 21.

    I want Alonso to win, but part of me also wants Kimi to win. The bookies are saying Lewis is the favourite but my head always has Vettel as favourite after last year, Newey will come with some new gizmo's for the red bull. Hope I am wrong but I'm saying podium of Vettel, Lewis then Kimi. Alonso customary 5th :)

  • Comment number 22.

    I ignore the bookies as they always seem to make Hamilton the favourite regardless of the circuit.

    Got to be Raikkonen's best chance of winning so far. If Lotus can get their air stall working and put a clean lap in with one of their drivers then they've got an excellent chance. You have to expect the usual suspects of Alonso, Vettel and Hamilton to be up there as well. I think this could be a really good race if Spa decides to bring it's usual weather with it too.

  • Comment number 23.

    @19 - I'm sorry but that argument is too pedantic for me to get involved with. Besides, the favourite is subjective.....yes, if you want to be a pedant and if bookie's prices are your god, then the favourite is who they say the favourite is......for the rest of us who have our own minds, the favourite is who we think is going to win.

    I'm sorry, but my mind is not ruled by the bookies, I have my own opinions thanks.

  • Comment number 24.

    ....and besides, I didnt say Kimi was the favourite, I said I think he will win. Now please take your pedantry elsewhere. ;)

  • Comment number 25.

    For me kimi has to be considered a serious contender for victory this weekend, he absolutely adores spa and loves ringing the neck of any car around this track! However, Hamilton is also right up there, he's always been very fast around spa, he really has to two victories but got bumped by the stewards in 2008 if anyone remembers, big shock there. However I've got a feeling its kimis time, and their car will be supremely quick.

    This may sound naive but i'd put my money on that whoever wins this race will win the world tittle. Its make or break for the teams as its at that point of the season, so it should be really interesting to see who's quick.

  • Comment number 26.

    I thought someone would have pointed this by now: The blog says about Lotus: "...has been fast all season but its best result has been two second places."

    Actually Kimi was second three times and Romain once - so it is four second places. A bit pedantic, but nevertheless shows that the performance of the car+drivers is not that bad as it is made out to be. In fact it can be argued that if the pit-stops were a bit quicker and Kimi had some better quali pace, the results would have been dramatically different.

  • Comment number 27.

    @26 it's normal now, they are making more mistakes on this website every day. Got the cricket results wrong and the tennis. Nothing is proof read. To be honest I skip most of the blog and just jump into the debates

  • Comment number 28.

    very verbose article to point out Kimi is all or nothing!

    I'm really liking the highlights show, getting tons of gardening done (in between the rain)!

  • Comment number 29.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 30.

    Am I being too simplistic or naive by saying- I wonder what Robert Kubica would be doing in this current Renault-Lotus if he hadn't had his accident?

  • Comment number 31.

    @Big_Goog : How can Sky improve coverage ? All the racing action is from Bernie and for people like me who switch on 5 minutes before the race and off again after the presentation the only difference will be the quality of the commentator. Personally I'd go for the channel that just gave me the engine noise and none of the waffle but nobody offers me that. I don't want or need hours of pre- or post- race analysis by 'experts'.

  • Comment number 32.

    "this remarkable season of unpredictability and uncertainty"? To a great extent that's only because of the joke tyres that the FIA have demanded of Pirelli. When race engineers are extolling drivers to "look after your tyres" as they leave the pit lane its clear that something is very, very wrong. Unpredictability and uncertainty may be a good thing in some cases, but not when its at the expense of drivers being able to drive and race as hard as they can. I can only assume that Pirelli are getting huge sums of money from F1 - from a marketing standpoint this must be a disaster for them: would you buy tyres from a company whose highest-spec racing products lose performance having been driven for 40-50 miles?

    To be honest, if F1 retain the current tyre specs for future years they might as well change their colour schemes. Just make the whole tyre pink with purple spots or yellow with lime green stripes - it would make it clear that the natural place for these is in the circus, fitted to the clowns' cars, and not in a premier motor racing series.

  • Comment number 33.

    @30 I suppose you could say if Robert hadn't of had his accident would be even still be in that car? Or would he be in the Ferrari or Red Bull? What ifs are a waste of time really

  • Comment number 34.

    I really do wish the so called TV experts would get the message that the Grandprix coverage is done by FOM with both the BBC & Sky taking what ever pictures FOM Provide.
    The only coverage that the BBC @ SKY control are the presenters using their own flyaway truck and technical crew which is normally as far as vision is concerned would be three cameramen.

  • Comment number 35.

    @ 1. Czar-Orac.

    Viewing figures down? Not surprised. Whilst 7 different winners in 11 races might seem like a lively season in this case it simply the random luck of being forced to have these dreadful tyres attached to the cars. Lively racing is good but I been turned off from watching random cars win becasue of fudged tyre performance.

  • Comment number 36.

    I mean what is the point of spending millions developing the best car you possibly can only to have the whole package ruined by tyres with all the quality of a £25 kwik fit special.

  • Comment number 37.

    Have to agree about the tyres. And the fading interest. Can't see how Pirelli hope to benefit financially from this. How daft is it when you have to change your tyres more often than you fill the tank?

  • Comment number 38.

    kimi and lotus are definately looking good but i don't think you can call an outright favorite on any race this season. i would love to see a lotus finish first at spa though.
    on an aside - robert kubica's successful test.... if he gets another one of those under his belt, i could see ferrari taking an interest in him for massa's seat next year. now that would be interesting!!!!!!

  • Comment number 39.

    So, going by other blogs from Andrew Benson this season, this means that Kimi and Lotus will definitely not win the race?

    I have to say I have not really enjoyed this season - such a great grid spoiled by tires that punish any driver who pushes to the limit - it is sad to see - let these guys race already!

  • Comment number 40.

    I couldn't agree more about the tyres - who wants to see the best drivers in the fastest cars at the most exciting circuits 'conserving tyre life'? Let them race at 100% and then we will see who is the fastest / best / most exciting etc.

    However, I imagine F1 will just come up with a new ridiculous rule to do with fake rain or no overtaking in corners or something else totally stupid and pointless.

    Until the day of unadulterated racing... looking forward to seeing if Kimi can produce the goods at Spa, but I image Vettel will take some beating and Hamilton might be the man to do it.

  • Comment number 41.

    @36,37,40 and all the others talking about this years tyres ruining F1 I totally agree. There is nothing exciting about having different winners due to predominantly bad/good luck rather than raw driving skill.

    How the pundits can say watching the best drivers in the world driving at 90% effort is exciting is beyond me.

    The media are being very hush hush about the fact that there will be no Spa GP next year. Given that this is such a fan favorite and also a classic iconic track, are the media scared of saying anything to offend Bernie or the FIA?

  • Comment number 42.

    Spa, brilliant, can't wait. Makes enduring the Tilke Tracks almost bearable.

  • Comment number 43.

    @41 Couldn't have put it better myself. The media are certainly not mentioning that drivers are playing it safe even when they themselves are saying that they were conserving the tyres and there are so many radio messages telling drivers to look after the tyres.

    Even Kimi has had to rein in his attacking driving style particularly after what happened in China. I think Pirelli are bringing in harder compound tyres for this race so hopefully we'll see genuine overtakes.

  • Comment number 44.

    @7
    I have been watching F1 for many years and indeed many drivers have shown courage. But I have to say today, the tracks have been emasculated to the point that much of the courage to take a corner (Eau Rouge for example) has been removed. Therefore the bravest drivers lose advantage.

    I believe it was 2002 and a BAR had an engine failure, huge clouds of smoke hung over the track at Eau Rouge. Kimi was on a flyer, and we saw, no lift, total commitment that was neccessary though many would have found that impossible, as somewhere in the smoke was a Broken BAR. I pondered whether it was lunacy, as he should have backed out. But as is the way with SPA, courage showed at this circuit and his name always appears at the top of the timesheet.

    So yes, I use the "Courage" word, and will state that SPA was quite unique in exposing the committed/courageous drivers. It was were that individual trait was allowed to be exposed and reward drivers with a tenth here or there.

    As I stated, now it is amasculated to the point that a driver can overtake going through Eau Rouge....

    But I restate, at no point did I state other drivers had no courage, I think true circuits expose them.....

  • Comment number 45.

    @3. Big_Goog

    It's exactly the same coverage apart from the commentators. But it's just not proving popular, Sky achieve only an average of 694k per race, and the BBC only 3.06 million per race, over 27% down on last year.

  • Comment number 46.

    @19 Depends on your definition of favourite. Bookmakers skew the odds towards who they think people will put their money on, which is not necessarily the same as the person with the most chance of winning the race.

  • Comment number 47.

    Get your facts right! how many 2nd places have Lotus had? And stop using over abusive words when the facts state otherwise. Which sport are you watching?!

  • Comment number 48.

    @41 Spa has signed a 3 year extension that is why nothing is being said about it not being on the calendar next year :) I hope this link works

    http://web.orange.co.uk/article/sports/spa_extends_deal_until_2015

    On the tyres they are shocking, but not Pirellis fault as they are just doing what they are told. Hopefully next year they will be allowed to provide a slightly more durable tyre. Also it's interesting that MSC was saying way back at the start of the year that these tyres were rubbish and not durable enough, and as the season has gone on more and more fans are agreeing with that position.

  • Comment number 49.

    @48 Wow If your link is correct then that's great news!!!. I'm surprised theres been no mention of this on the BBC website I would have thought the extension would be news worthy given all the outcry when we first heard the story.

    Agree Pirelli are just following their brief. I think through no fault of their own their brand name must be damaged by all the publicity around the fast wearing tyres which is a shame for them.

    I'd be a lot happier with the tyres if they didn't fall so drastically off the cliff. At least they should start to give feed back to the driver a few laps before they fail so he has a chance to recover and not have his race ruined unexpectedly.

  • Comment number 50.

    @48
    You often hear Brundle saying that he doesnt like how the sport has become 'all about the tyres' it's a tough one really, and basically this has come about from a from recent races in Canada where there has been really high tyre wear.
    Personally I think they should mix up which tyres are used at each race weekend, why not have a 'draw' to see which compounds are used, that way it's more random and would surely spice up the racing a bit more?

  • Comment number 51.

    @49 it is correct it's on Sky too here
    http://www1.skysports.com/formula-1/news/12433/8014484/Spa-extends-deal-until-2015

    BBC are reporting less and less facts, but Benson was on holiday so might've missed it or it's on here somewhere.

    On the tyres again I don't mind them not being as durable as they once were where they never had to be changed, I don't mind them having to be changed twice or 3 times in a race, but like you the unexpected drop off the cliff is annoying. But the teams are getting much better with them now, by telling the drivers not to push, and a great driver not pushing at silverstone and accepting 2nd place when he should've been going all out to defend from Webber. Just frustrating

  • Comment number 52.

    @50 Are you being serious in your post? introduce even more random factors?

    I tell you what why don't we go one step further, not race at all and just have the drivers draw lots for the podium places!!!!

  • Comment number 53.

    @51 I have to say what happened to Alonso at Silverstone sums up for me what is wrong with the tyres this year. I'm no Alonso fan but I'm sure most would agree that he deserved that win and to be fair Webber lucked into it imo.

  • Comment number 54.

    52.

    It's a perfectly sensible idea, as the difference between the tyre compounds at certain circuits isn't that great. Would it not be worth seeing how teams woulds cope if they had to run the super soft tyres and hard compound over a race weekend.

    Or are you one of these fans that wants to see boring a procession for 65 laps?

  • Comment number 55.

    Just a point on the coverage by Sky and BBC: I watch both and admit to flip-flopping between channels on practice and race days. I enjoy both shows although I find certain aspects of Sky’s coverage annoying but that is a personal thing. I like the banter between JH, DH and AMcN and wish there was more of their anecdotes than endlessly discussing tyre strategy for instance and am I the only one to find David Croft really tedious after five minutes?
    But my biggest beef is how the F1 Show has managed to make an exciting and vibrant sport sound so utterly dull

  • Comment number 56.

    @55 don't watch the F1 show then. Of course it's going to be all technical it's fronted by Ted Kravitz. It's for the fans that enjoy the technical side of the sport, so simple if you don't like it don't watch :)

    @54 I think what F1fan is saying is its annoying when the best drivers aren't able to drive to their capabilities and I'm with him on that. The way to make a race not a procession and not have it be a random element is get rid of all the aerodynamical grip and make it about mechanical grip. Hopefully 2014 with the new engines will help, but I hate completely manufactured randomness. Like the tyres, however if it rains that isn't manufactured. Do you get me?

  • Comment number 57.

    The top twenty drivers blog is quite interesting, but since I missed the first 10 I am at a loss as to who they are as it doesn't show you the entire list.

  • Comment number 58.

    @54 Look, I hear you and definitely don't want to go back to the procession days. I just don't think the solution is to make everything random and less dependent on driver skill.

    I don't have the answers but the FIA have got to come up with something better than this or F1 will loose its credibility.

  • Comment number 59.

    @57 it does, if you click on the Lauda one and scroll past the article written about him before the place where you can post you comment is the full list and as they are highlighted blue you can click on them and read all about them too

  • Comment number 60.

    I didn't say I found the F1 Show technical, quite the reverse with Georgie running things how can you get to the meat of anything? They willbe talking about handbags next. I watch it in the hope that someone at Sky might try and make it interesting for F1 fans.

  • Comment number 61.

    @60 ah yes a woman fronting an f1 show will of course lead to the inevitable hand bag talk.
    I think more people need to give sky a chance. Not forgetting this is their 1st season, they aren't going to make any major changes mid season. Once the year is over I'm sure they wil review everything and then the f1 show may get the revamp you want.

  • Comment number 62.

    @58 & 56. But if it's random for all, then surely thats a level playing field? At the end of the day, the last few (dry) races have been - Qualify on the softer tyre - complete the first stint on them - into the pits - harder tyre goes on - try to make it to the end of the race. With the team that wins claiming that they've 'got on top of the tyres'. Perfect example of this was China, Nico Rosberg said after the race that he didnt even get to use the set of softer tyres that he'd saved in qualifying because they went soft, hard, hard. All im suggesting is a bigger gulf between the compounds, or a bit of a mix up with the compounds used. Or, just use all 4 compounds for the race and say that each driver has to use each compound. At least that way, you'd have a bit of strategy involved - When to use the quicker tyres, how long do you stay on the harder compounds etc. Tyres have become one of the most important factors in a sort of half baked way, its happend more by fluke than design because the teams still arent used to them.

  • Comment number 63.

    On the TV debate.
    Sky has it hands down for me, the BBC's coverage looks at times like it's being held together by gaffer tape. The only part were both struggle is in the comm box. Both Brundle and DC were brilliant together last year, pairing them with Edwards and Croft (who did a good job covering free practice with AD last year) is the weak link for both. Hopefully DC jumps ship!

  • Comment number 64.

    Big Goog - how lucky you are - I cannot afford Sky so I miss out on my favourite international sports of cricket and a large chunk of F1. You should think about those of us on very limited incomes who cannot afford the luxury of Sky Sports - instead you should champion that ALL major international sports events should be "free to air". I was most disappointed when BBC gave up cricket and now chunks of F1, perhaps if sport was not "big business" then the BBC would be financially able to air all these events.

  • Comment number 65.

    @62 yes I understand your point, I'm just saying is disappointing that you can't push the cars and tyres to the limit and preserving the tyres in my opinion is rubbish. But I understand finding a balance between having boring racing because the limit of the car is being pushed and so no one can overtake or having tyres that go off so quick the drivers can't push at all. So that balance needs to be found and it isn't easy.

    On the coverage for me it's Sky all the way too. Martin Brundle is as brilliant as always, not sure on David croft though. Loving Johnny Herbert all the way and for the technical side no better than Trd Kravitz. I can only see sky's coverage getting better next year after reviewing this season.

  • Comment number 66.

    Rach1985 I am not having a downer on Sky (I'm paying for it) in fact there is lots of great stuff on the weekend coverage but get Lazenby on the F1 show and someone else for the track. He did well with rugby and created some good banter with some very iffy pundits and he might even make tyre degradation sound cool. I think that sometimes they are trying too hard to appeal to a wider audience and risk alienating the people who are paying the money. And if I am a being sexist about the blond sort I am sorry.

  • Comment number 67.

    @62 I agree and disagree with some of your points.

    The randomness is not a level playing field as all teams have not been affected equally.

    Thinking about it a bigger gulf between the compounds may actually reduce randomness and strategy by locking drivers into the scenario you gave where they quali on soft and change them at the first stop to hards for the rest of the race because the softs won't last.

    I still think the kind of changes you are suggesting will be unfair as they will have differing effects on different cars which the teams won't be able to get on top of and some teams will be lucking into wins rather than doing it through driver skill & team strategy.

    I want to say the at the end of this year that the best driver/team combo won NOT the luckiest.

  • Comment number 68.

    @66 nah I'm not bothered, and I don't like it when they have a woman for a womans sake. I just think Georgie and Simon should both be given the whole season and then a chance to review good and bad parts then go into next year with a season under their belts.

    Onto the actual race lets have some predictions?! I'm saying Vettel, Hamilton then Kimi. Alonso 5th of course ha ha. I think Kimi has a great chance in this race but the lotus has struggled with the cooler temperatures and that will count against them, it may also play into Ferraris favour as the have done their best in these temperatures it seems. What's everyone else think?

  • Comment number 69.

    @65 Its just a no brainer really, Kravitz, Herbert, Hill etc v Anderson and a bumbling EJ, no thanks!

  • Comment number 70.

    @68 Race Predictions....

    Lewis has a great battle with Kimi and overtakes him with a couple of laps to go then Kimi spins off and crashes in the rain and Lewis takes a magnificent win and the fans go home enthralled by a great spectacle only to find out that the stewards robbed Lewis of the win after the race...

    Oh sorry that was 2008 ;D

  • Comment number 71.

    @70 I was there :D

  • Comment number 72.

    Someone on the TV mentioned Denis Jenkinson, I remember meeting him when he turned up at our local Hill climb at Trengwainton, Penzance in a D Type. It was so wide, it seemed to cover the width of the track which was more suited to single seaters and Minis. I remember he told me the Jag had two 60 gallon tanks! I think it was in the 1970's and he had just completed the Mille Miglia or some similar long distance race

  • Comment number 73.

    @71 I'm so jealous of you, that was an amazing race, driver against driver and no tyres or DRS toys muddying the waters, just pure racing!!!

    The result marked a terrible new low in F1 the likes of which I hope we never see again.

  • Comment number 74.

    @73 But have you seen a race like that in the dry in recent years? A bit of the wet stuff does tend to spice things up. But if the weather had been like that at the start of the race rather than the end of it they wouldn't have even gone out.

    Regarding the result, I believe that race led to more calls to have a former driver on the stewards panel.

  • Comment number 75.

    I must say that i would like Raikkonen to win it! very exciting driver round a brilliant circuit! And it would be great for the Lotus team too! Still think Vettel/Hamilton and Alonso will be in the mix at the end of the race!! Getting excited now .. given out to be a dry race tho!!

  • Comment number 76.

    @68
    I'll go 1st Raikkonen, 2nd Hamilton, 3rd vettel, 4th Alonso, 5th Webber, 6th Button??? Maybe!! Rain would change my thoughts!

  • Comment number 77.

    Yeah if it rains I would say Alonso then Hamilton. Changing conditions I would again say Alonso but then Webber. With Spa even though they have predicted it to be dry race day I will believe it when the chequered flag is waived and no rain has fallen

  • Comment number 78.

    @77

    Not going for Button in the changing conditions?
    I keep thinking Grosjean is due and spa might be his chance! Raikkonen will have to have a problem tho to win that battle if the lotus does turn out to be quick!

  • Comment number 79.

    @78 no not a huge fan of Buttons and has had a mixed bag this year in the changing conditions. Plus his qualifying this year has been poor and first corner carnage usually ensues here. I suppose my predictions of Alonso really depend on it raining in qualifying and him banging it on pole, then it raining or being changeable in the race. If its dry I'm saying Vettel. The reason I'm not saying lotus is because the have struggled in the colder temperatures.

  • Comment number 80.

    I know what you youy mean about bein a fan of Button he seems to just go through the motions in a race. Nice guy but i wish he had a bit of fire in his belly! I'm a big hamilton fan so i'd like to see him push on and start closing the gap on Alonso (whom i dip my hat to as he has driven that Ferrari amazing all year) Hope Hamilton does keep the momentum going and push for the title!

  • Comment number 81.

    3. Sky's coverage will never be better than BBC's - not in this country. The BBC showed every minute of every race.

    Sky doesn't work in the rain.

  • Comment number 82.

    @80 well I'm a Ferrari and Alonso fan so I hope that Hamilton doesn't do that ha ha. But I think the key will be for someone to catch Alonso will be stringing together 3wins in say 4 races. Or for Alonso to have an off, but I'm keeping fingers crossed for Alonso.

  • Comment number 83.

    @81 sky have shown every minute of every race without adverts live. They are actually really good.
    People complaining about Sky should remember that the BBC went to bed with them over the F1. Channel 4 put in an offer so it would've been free to air. BBC decided no and wanted a race share plan with Sky instead. I hope people don't forget that when slamming sky.

  • Comment number 84.

    @82
    Definitely hamilton will need to string a few race wins together! Alonso is a class act that isn't going to give any points away cheap! I appreciate Alonsos ability and cool head and i certainly think its going to take a massive effort to beat him! But thats why we watch and support! I must say i don't want in won/lost on technical issues/failures, they're good enough to go wheel to wheel! Just hope Hamiltons wheels are infront at the end! HA!

  • Comment number 85.

    @84 for sure just some good clean racing and hopefully no what ifs at the end of the year. I'm sure if Hamilton doesn't win the title his team and their pit stops will be coming in for a lot of stick at the end of the year. And not forgetting there are still the two Red Bulls and Kimi. All these will be taking points off each other and wins so that is how Alonso I hope will do it, by being consistent and winning two maybe three of the nine races left. Can't understand Mclarens decision to keep backing button. He is 88 points behind Alonso. With loads of great drivers between them. For me he will never catch that gap. Can't understand Mclarens thinking on that one.

  • Comment number 86.

    @85
    Hamilton certainly hasn't had the best of calls from the mclaren team! You get the feeling that if Ron Dennis was on the pit wall some (not all) decisions could of been better! And i guess with button they're sticking to the 'We'll let our drivers race' policy which yes does seem a bit daft considering where both drivers are! They really need to keep pushing hamilton and cut out the errors to stand any chance of catching alonso! Whats your thoughts on Massa? Does it work better for Alonso to have a pretty poor partner? I do think to a degree that button and hamilton spur each other on a bit!

  • Comment number 87.

    @86 I don't have a problem with Mclarens let them race policy, if they were in a situation like Red Bull of course you would still let them race. And whilst yes Button is mathematically still in with a chance of the title is it a realistic chance? I think if at the end of the year Hamilton loses the title by less than say a race win Mclaren will be kicking themselves
    On Massa I think it all depends on what Ferrari's plans are for 2014. If they have a contract with Vettel then I don't see much point in changing Massa for 2013. However if they don't they should Massa for Perez. I think they should put a young ish driver in there but it's got to be someone that won't be mentally destroyed by Alonso like Grosjean was in his previous F1 outing

  • Comment number 88.

    I think we have a race weekend which is going to be completely unpredictable as most weekends have been this season.
    There is no question the Lotus will have a strong chance of victory this weekend but I feel Romain has an equal, if not better chance, to win than Kimi.
    This weekends winner will depend on which driver delivers the best performance from their Pirelli tyres and what role the weather conditions will play.
    Having visited Spa in the past only a fool would try to predict the weather conditions for the weekend.
    If it rains I think the win could go to Alonso or maybe one of the Sauber cars as an outside bet.
    If it stays dry then I'll say either Vettel, Hamilton or a Lotus driver.

  • Comment number 89.

    @87
    I Don't think button has a chance either, But i understand while they might not come out and publically say they are issuing team orders they might behind the scenes!I think i read that they wern't issuing any team orders 'yet'?? Anyway I think hamilton will have the beating of button till the end of the season now as long as his head stays in the right place! I do like the look of Perez or even Di resta for a ferrari drive. I think a lot of drivers will be put off partnering alonso (thats meant with credit to him) as he does command and deserves number 1 status in the team. A little bit of me would love to see Kobayashi in one of the top teams, don't think i'll see it tho! He's like a guilty pleasure! Ha!!

  • Comment number 90.

    @89 yeah I think if Hamilton continues as he is he should be beating Button anyway. But if at spa they were 2nd and 3rd with Button in front I would have them switch.
    What would you do though if Ferrari have signed Vettel for 2014? Is there any need to swap Massa if they have Vettel signed. What would it do for a young mans confidence if they only had him a year? Apparently Kamui is struggling to keep his Sauber drive, if sky are to be believed.

  • Comment number 91.

    @55.Espoo

    An interesting statistic, over a third of people who pay to watch F1 on Sky, choose when available, to watch F1 on the BBC instead.

  • Comment number 92.

    @90
    If Vettel has signed for 2014 then it's prob a no brainer to keep massa but i feel like its a wasted seat in 2013 either way! Both ferrari seats should have world champ contenders in them i think! I agree that the best thing to do with hamilton and button would be to swap them but my gut instict is that they wouldn't which isn't going to win Mclaren the world champ! Hoping for a cracking spa race, with a result to make the championship even more interesting!

  • Comment number 93.

    Andrew,
    Really pleased you have credited Nigel Roebuck in your recent article about Lauda.
    His book "Grand Prix Greats" is so well-written, don't you agree!

  • Comment number 94.

    @90 yeah you are right I think Gerrari could be a wasted seat next year, or could the impossible happen and Hamilton move there?
    Yeah Mclaren won't swap them around if that situation did arise, but I think that is a silly decision on their part. But like you I'm just hoping for an exciting race, although Mark has been given another 5 place grid penalty for a gearbox change. Does this guy have the worst luck when it comes to racing?

  • Comment number 95.

    Pure media hype to see Lotus as contenders for the long term. Autosport started with this nonsense at the beginning of the mid-season break.

    Nothing is impossible. Lotus may win this race. Or some race. It´s a strange season. Williams won a race. Sauber are contenders.

    Raikkonen is a basically good driver, but inconsistent and incomplete. The Lotus car is surprisingly quick, as is Grosjean ( also inconsistent but has more potential than Raikkonen at this point in their respective careers). Together, drivers and team, they have won nothing so far. You might say they've lost some, but it isn't a compliment at this level.

    I am surprised and impressed that Lotus have stayed so strong so long and I really wouldn´t mind if together they got a result(though, given the mess that the outgoing management made of Lotus Cars, maybe I would mind. This is the Renault F1 team, let´s remeber).
    But this is not a team which currently has any hope of the title.

    There are bigger boys out there who know how to win.

  • Comment number 96.

    Has Britain really become so mean and dumbed down that the fortunate people who can afford Sky can proudly and smugly inform people who cant to 'deal with it' or that 'quality costs' ?

  • Comment number 97.

    @96 where has anyone said that?

  • Comment number 98.

    how did favourite raikkonen do today? i didn't see. based on this article i expect he was at least on the front row. it's a marvellous gift that people who really know what they are talking about display their knowledge for the poor, ignorant masses. thank-you gods of wisdom!

  • Comment number 99.

    Button will win due to the right wing

  • Comment number 100.

    #98, I think it was rather bold of Andrew to put Kimi as favourite. Your comment is a stunning example of "those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat", in that you don't even want to stick your neck out as a critic!

    By the way, I do hope your moniker is a silly joke of your parents, rather than a sick, morbid pun of your own. If not, I find it offensive, since there is only one thing noteworthy about that driver's F1 career.

 

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