Friday, October 7

Belgian Grand Prix: F1 – live! | Formula One


When the excitement is in danger of fizzling out, how about a mid-season rule-change to spice things up? That right: welcome back to the second half of an F1 season that sees Max Verstappen a ludicrous 80 points clear in the standings. And welcome back to a new sport – or at least a very marginally readjusted one.

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It should be said that the new regulations – the introduction of an “oscillation metric” and a tightening of the rules on the rigidity of the floor, since you asked – are to ensure driver safety rather than to prevent the season becoming a cakewalk. By trying to limit the bouncing that occurs on those punishing straights, the rules should lessen any chance of head injury..

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The impact? We’ll soon see, but while early whispers suggested the rule-change may hinder Ferrari and Red Bull – who were both exploiting a loophole that allowed some flexibility in their floor – while benefitting Mercedes, then any hopes for a levelling of the playing field were dampened during yesterday’s qualifying, when those two teams roared out in front of the chasing pack with Max Verstappen just as dominant as ever.

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Max Verstappen took fastest lap despite opting against a final run, but Carlos Sainz will start from pole due to grid penalties to Verstappen and Leclerc. Sergio Perez starts in second and Fernando Alonso third. The Mercedes pair of Lewis Hamilton and George Russell were miles off the pace – a “kick in the teeth”, said Hamilton – though will start fourth and fifth after being bumped up the grid.

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If you figure none of that suggests a particularly reinvigorated level of competition, well, you’d be right. With half the season to go, Charles Leclerc already sounds somewhat defeated “[Red Bull] are extremely quick and we can’t quite explain why,” he said yesterday. “When you see the gap to Max it’s a bit worrying.” He was talking about the qualifying sessions but he could just as easily be talking about his own championship hopes of him.

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Season-over? Well, Red Bull hold a 97-point lead in the constructors’ standings, while Verstappen’s failure to win the championship now remains of a capitulation of Devon Loch proportions. In Spa, though, he does start from P14 so he will have to fight his way through the field to compete. Over you, Max.

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Key events

How they line up on the grid today:

1 Carlos Sainz (Ferrari)
2Sergio Perez (Red Bull)
3 Fernando Alonso (Alpine)
4 Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)
5George Russell (Mercedes)
6 Alexander Albon (Williams)
7 Daniel Ricciardo (McLaren)
8 Pierre Gasly (AlphaTauri)
9 Lance Stroll (Aston Martin)
10 Sebastian Vettel (Aston Martin)
11 Nicholas Latifi (Williams)
12 Kevin Magnussen (Haas)
13 Valtteri Bottas (Alfa Romeo)
14 Max Verstappen (Red Bull)
15 Charles Leclerc (Ferrari)
16 Esteban Ocon (Alpine)
17 Lando Norris (McLaren)
18 Guanyu Zhou (Alfa Romeo)
19 Mick Schumacher (Haas)
20 Yuki Tsunoda (AlphaTauri)

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Breaking news (vis Press Association): The Belgian Grand Prix has survived the ax from next year’s calendar. The race, staged at the historic Spa-Francorchamps venue, had been looked at in doubt as Formula One chiefs continue to expand the sport’s schedule outside of Europe. A record 24 rounds have been mooted for next year. A debut Grand Prix on the Las Vegas strip has already been confirmed for 2023, but a failure to rubber-stamp the return of the South African GP in Kyalami for next season ensures the Belgian race will remain for at least another term. A statement released by the sport’s bosses an hour before the start of Sunday’s fixture at Spa read: “Formula One can confirm that the Belgian Grand Prix will be on the 2023 calendar following an agreement to extend our partnership together. “Further details on the 2023 calendar will be announced in due course.” The 2023 season is expected to start in Bahrain on March 5, with the final version of next year’s schedule expected to be released in the coming weeks.

Martin Brundle’s much-trumpeted grid walk is as quietly excruciating as ever. He hounds down the passing Esteban Ocon, who does his very best to ignore the man bellowing his name behind him but, after a valiant effort, eventually succumbs. “The conditions are quite similar to yesterday,” he mumbles. “All good I would say. The car feels as good as yesterday. It’s always tough but the aim is to get back into the contest.” The same scene then plays out with Fernando Alonso, who sidles over once he realizes there’s no getting out of this one. “We will try to be aggressive, but let’s do one step at a time,” he says.

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Not a single driver starts today where they qualified. A vaguely mind-bending consequences of the various penalties imposed on today’s grid.

George Russell starts from fifth today despite a middling display by Mercedes in qualifying. His hopes for the race? “A realistic target is to definitely get ahead of Fernando and do the fastest race possible. It sounds simple – do the fastest race possible and stay ahead of Max and Charles, but I think Max is just going to slice through the field. It would be great if we could fight for that podium but based on yesterday’s pace it will be tricky but it is totally a new day today.”

And our write-up from yesterday’s qualifyingto Verstappen demolition job:

There’s a new gunslinger in town. Or at least, on the way to town. Arriving in town in four years. Here’s a reminder of this week’s big news:

Preamble

When the excitement is in danger of fizzing out, how about a mid-season rule-change to spice things up? That right: welcome back to the second half of an F1 season that sees Max Verstappen a ludicrous 80 points clear in the standings. And welcome back to a new sport – or at least a very marginally readjusted one.

It should be said that the new regulations – the introduction of an “oscillation metric” and a tightening of the rules on the rigidity of the floor, since you asked – are to ensure driver safety rather than to prevent the season becoming a cakewalk. By trying to limit the bouncing that occurs on those punishing straights, the rules should lessen any chance of head injury..

The impact? We’ll soon see, but while early whispers suggested the rule-change may hinder Ferrari and Red Bull – who were both exploiting a loophole that allowed some flexibility in their floor – while benefitting Mercedes, then any hopes for a leveling of the playing field were dampened during yesterday’s qualifying, when those two teams roared out in front of the chasing pack with Max Verstappen just as dominant as ever.

Max Verstappen took fastest lap Despite opting against a final run, but Carlos Sainz will start from pole due to grid penalties to Verstappen and Leclerc. Sergio Perez starts in second and Fernando Alonso third. The Mercedes pair of Lewis Hamilton and George Russell were miles off the pace – a “kick in the teeth”, said Hamilton – though he will start fourth and fifth after being bumped up the grid.

If you figure none of that suggests a particularly reinvigorated level of competition, well, you’d be right. With half the season to go, Charles Leclerc already sounds somewhat defeated”[Red Bull] are extremely quick and we can’t quite explain why,” he said yesterday. “When you see the gap to Max it’s a bit worrying.” He was talking about the qualifying sessions but he could just as easily be talking about his own championship hopes of him.

Season-over? Well, Red Bull hold a 97-point lead in the constructors’ standings, while Verstappen’s failure to win the championship now remains of a capitulation of Devon Loch proportions. In Spa, though, he does start from P14 so he will have to fight his way through the field to compete. Over you, Max.


www.theguardian.com

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