M it the Belgian Grand Prix Formula 1 reported back from the summer break at the end of August. However, there was no question of summer this year. The Pirelli rain tires were in continuous use in the middle of the season. After Canada, Silverstone and the Nürburgring, the profiled rubbers were also strapped on again in Spa. But you always have to expect that in the Ardennes.
Already on the way there we felt the forces of nature. Heavy rain showers and strong gusts of wind shook our Citroen C5 properly. It didn't get any better along the way. The clouds moved deep through the Ardennes. Cozy is different.
Boullier in defense mode
The big topic on Thursday was the expulsion of Nick Heidfeld from Renault. The Mönchengladbacher's name tag was still hanging over the box, but Bruno Senna had long been in the starting blocks. A press round with team principal Eric Boullier was scheduled in the Renault Motorhome. There was a need for clarification. The German journalists in particular served the French one critical question after another. Boullier reacted visibly annoyed.
Renault had also shot itself in the knee. Neither the fans nor the press was able to credibly convey why the driver who was more successful in points had been thrown out. 'Bruno Senna's commitment has no financial background,' explained Boullier. Incidentally, four new sponsors came to the next race in Monza. So much for the topic.
Large train station in the Mercedes-Motorhome
After the rainy Friday, half the paddock met at Mercedes. Michael Schumacher had invited and served a small Kölsch barrel. The record champion celebrated 20 years in Formula 1 - at the location of his Grand Prix premiere. It goes without saying that the Mercedes motorhome was bursting at the seams. Even Rubens Barrichello had come. When the Brazilian celebrated his 300th GP at the same location a year earlier, Schumi stayed away.
For the 20th time, Schumacher was showered with presents. There was a framed picture of Mercedes from Group C times. Ferrari presented a bonnet with a nice dedication. The rain of presents lasted until Sunday. The Belgian cycling legend Eddie Merckx presented the Kerpener with a racing bike on the grid. In return, Schumi distributed special T-shirtsFriends and companions.
When the guests left the Mercedes party on Friday afternoon, their eyes wandered upwards. A colorful double rainbow had formed in the sky and stretched across the paddock. The entire paddock streamed to the windows and balconies to admire the rare natural spectacle.
Bladder problems at Red Bull
For the pilots and teams, however, the weather was that biggest enemy this weekend. A really dry lane only formed at the end of qualifying. And problems arose immediately. On some teams, blisters formed on the inside of the front tires.
On Saturday evening we were already wondering why the briefing at Red Bull was taking forever. More by chance, I later asked Sebastian Vettel about the bubbles. But the Heppenheimer didn't want to admit at this point that it was a bigger problem. Only before the race did it become clear that Red Bull was even briefly considering starting out of the pit lane in order to choose a safer setup.
Tire boss Paul Hembery did not want to accept the buck for the bladder problem. He indicated that some teams had experimented with extreme camber values. The Englishman did not want to give names. But it was clear that it could only be Red Bull.
I have seldom experienced so much hectic on the Sunday before a race. Red Bull even asked the FIA whether the 'damaged' tires could simply be exchanged for new ones. But the competition protested. With a bad feeling in the stomach, the decision was made to start. In the end, the risk paid off. Vettel won the race. Adrian Newey's face showed how difficult the decision was. The chief technology officer even shed a few tears after crossing the finish line.
Hamilton makes two headlines
In addition to Red Bull, the headlines after the race in Spa were again Lewis Hamilton. A collision with Kamui Kobayashi pushed him out of the way. In qualifying, the McLaren driver had already taken on Pastor Maldonado the day before. It wasn't the first such incident of the season. Team principal Martin Whitmarsh defended his protégé after the race. Later that evening, Hamilton admitted his mistake and apologized to Kobayashi and his team via Twitter.
It was not until 10 p.m. that all the stories and picture galleries were online and we were finally able to make our 400-kilometer way home to Stuttgart do. Do I have to mention that it started raining again just in time for departure?