#F1 Nico Cruises & Lewis recovers to 3rd as Mad Max & the Ferraris implode #BelgianGP

Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg won an incident-packed Belgian Grand Prix from pole, while behind him the Belgian GP exploded in spectacular fashion. Hamilton and Alonso started the race from the last row on the most durable medium compound, and took advantage of the chaos at the start to move into the top five by the time the race was red flagged.

The cars hadn’t rounded La Source for the first time when we the first flashpoint occured. Max Verstappen, having qualified alongside Rosberg on the front row, fluffed his start. This allowed both Ferrari drivers the chance to attack into the first corner but as the fan favourite recovered he stuck his Red Bull on the inside of Kimi. Unfortunately Vettel was, at the same time, chopping the nose off his team mate as he veered in from the outside.

GP BELGIO F1/2016

GP BELGIO F1/2016 – SPA FRANCORCHAMPS (BELGIO) – 28/8/2016© FOTO STUDIO COLOMBO PER PIRELLI MEDIA

Three into one wouldn’t go and all three cars suffered damage in the incident. Verstappen would dive in to take a new front wing and use the opportunity to take medium tyres. Raikkonen came in with the plank on his Ferrari on fire, luckily it was nothing Duct Tape couldn’t fix.

First Sainz, with a blowout, and then Magnussen threw it at the scenery at the top of Raidillon. The latter spinning up the tyres on the cars and then, having caught the first slide, snapping back into the barriers on the outside of the left hander. With damage to the barrier the race was red flagged.

GP BELGIO F1/2016

GP BELGIO F1/2016 – SPA FRANCORCHAMPS (BELGIO) – 28/8/2016© FOTO STUDIO COLOMBO PER PIRELLI MEDIA

Tyre changes are allowed during a red flag period, effectively handing all the drivers a ‘free’ pit stop. This benefited drivers who started on the supersoft tyres most, as the softest compound available was well into its opening stint when the red flag came out. Six drivers took advantage of the red flag to make a tyre change, including the top three finishers.

At the re-start, most drivers chose the soft compound, although race leader Rosberg was a notable exception on the medium. Rosberg completed his final stint on the medium to win with what was effectively a two-stop strategy: the same number of stops used by Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo in second. Theoretically Lewis Hamilton made up 53 places during the race. Having been given a 55 place grid penalty prior to the race. He still finished 3rd, two places behind Rosberg. As damage limitation goes it was pretty impressive. The Englishman now has three extra engines locked in for the remainder of the season.

GP BELGIO F1/2016

GP BELGIO F1/2016 – SPA FRANCORCHAMPS (BELGIO) – 28/8/2016© FOTO STUDIO COLOMBO PER PIRELLI MEDIA

Paul Hembery, Pirelli motorsport director: “It was an action-packed race where we saw a wide variety of strategies right from the start – with all three compounds seen on the starting grid – which were further influenced by the racing incidents and red flag period. Nonetheless, Nico Rosberg won with two tyre changes, as we had predicted, thanks to the medium compound proving to be especially effective in the unusually high track temperatures seen at Spa all weekend, which made tyre management particularly crucial. The top eight adopted tyre strategies that were all slightly different, including the impressive performances from Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso, who raced their way up from the bottom of the grid using alternative strategies.” 

Fastest times of the day by compound

  Medium Soft Supersoft
First HAM 1m51.583s HAM 1m52.361s KVY 1m52.081s
Second ROS 1m51.746s RIC   1m52.461s PAL 1m53.251s
Third VET  1m52.728s VER  1m53.281s RAI  1m53.759s

Longest stint of the race:

MEDIUM Massa, Gutierrez 22laps
SOFT Verstappen 17
SUPERSOFT Palmer 10

Truthometer: We thought that two stops would be the winning strategy, but the short safety car period followed by the red flag revised most predictions. Nonetheless, Rosberg won with two tyre changes as expected: he started on the soft tyre, changed to the medium under the red flag and then made his final stop for the medium again on lap 26.