The Key Strategic Moment of the Belgian Grand Prix was the Red Flag stoppage on Lap 10 after the accident involving Kevin Magnussen. This neutralized all race strategy positions and allowed the drivers to change tires without a time penalty which consolidated first and second places for Nico Rosberg and Daniel Ricciardo. This also brought Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso into the race, having both started on medium tires from the back of the grid. Lewis Hamilton was able to secure a podium in third, whilst Fernando Alonso managed to stay ahead of the Williams Martini Racing duo to score a fine seventh place finish.
Top the midfield pack?
What is Williams Martini Racing’s winning strategy for Spa?
Williams are under some pressure as the second half of the season gets underway in Belgium. Just 15 points ahead of Sahara Force India and a bunch of midfield team’s behind them, Spa is a circuit where they can score valuable points. Williams qualified in the top three last season and finished third in 2014. Their car works well on high-speed circuits, but struggles in wet conditions which are always a risk at Spa. A strong race strategy will be vital, but their pit stop execution is still the best in the field.
Issues for Williams
How did they perform at Spa?
Software issues during qualifying placed the Williams Martini Racing cars in eighth and tenth positions behind their Force India rivals. Chaos at the start of the race enabled Felipe Massa to rise into 4th position with Valtteri Bottas securing sixth. The Safety Car and then the Red Flag stoppage leveled the playing field. Valterri Bottas suffered from not having a new set of medium tires for the final stint and Felippe Massa experienced tire wear problems in the closing stages, allowing Valteri Bottas through to challenge Fernando Alonso for seventh. The race ended with Force India moving ahead of Williams Martini Racing in the Constructors Championship.
Race Strategy Briefing
A technical track
With 19 corners on a 7km lap, this is the longest track on the calendar and one of the toughest on engines. With uncertain weather, Race Strategy is always critical.
The Supersoft will not last long in the race, so we will see mostly two-stop strategies with soft and mediums. Sebastian Vettel tried one stop last year.
A power circuit
There are two periods in each lap where the car will be at full throttle for of over 20 seconds, making the demands on the engine huge.
Easy to overtake
The long straights and DRS zones mean that overtaking is fairly easy at Spa and this means risker strategies can be considered, as traffic isn’t a problem.
Tough on tires
Spa has a number of high energy corners and this makes it a very hard track for the tires. Managing that over a long lap and timing the pit stops is critical.
August 28 | 14:00 local time, 14:00 CET
Spa-Francorchamps in the Ardennes forest is a pilgrimage for Formula 1 fans across the world every year as they travel to Belgium to admire Formula 1 cars through the iconic high-speed corners Eau Rouge, Pouhon and Blanchimont. Its mix of fast and slow corners and undulating surfaces make it one of the most challenging tracks in the world. Sudden rain showers have contributed to some very memorable Grand Prix moments. Its size, spread out across seven kilometres, means that it can be dry in the pits but pouring with rain at the other end of the circuit. With its fair share of incidents, the 1998 GP was the most spectacular in recent times. Thirteen of the twenty-two starters were wiped out only a few hundred yards in to the race due to heavy rain and a collision between Michael Schumacher and David Coulthard. Damon Hill won that race for the Jordan team. Of the current crop of drivers, Kimi Räikkönen has won the race four times and Sebastian Vettel twice.
Circuit length 7.004 km
Race distance 308.052 km
Race winner N/A
Pirelli allocation Supersoft/Soft/Medium
Winning at Spa is never easy. The changeable conditions, the challenge of the daunting circuit, a strong chance of a safety car and high tire wear make this one of the toughest races to manage strategically. Spa has many fast corners and the loads on the tires are high. As the track is set over a large area with lots of elevation changes, there is a chance that it can be raining on one part of the circuit and not on the rest, which puts pressure on drivers and teams to make the right calls. It is easy to overtake here on the long straights, which means that it is possible to recover any lost ground. But as engine power counts for more at Spa than anywhere else, you need the right power unit to really do well.
In collaboration with James Allen