S bad mood at Ferrari. In qualifying, everything seemed aimed for a front row in red, but in the end Lewis Hamilton in the Mercedes was again in front. Kimi Raikkonen won the Q1. Sebastian Vettel the second knockout round. And then, like in Budapest, the rain came. At first sparse, then violently, then not at all. Five minutes before the checkered flag, the sky closed its gates. That made it clear: if you wanted to go to the front row, you had to start your last flying lap as late as possible.
Kimi Räikkönen was standing in the garage at the crucial moment. His team had insufficient fuel when the cars returned to the pits after a test lap on slicks to switch to intermediates. There was enough time to refuel both cars so that the drivers could drive through to the checkered flag without another pit stop. While Vettel's car was rolled into the garage to change tires and refuel, his Finnish colleague only got fresh intermediates on the pit forecourt. 'If they could fill up the other car, why not mine?' Raikkonen grumbled.
Ferrari wanted to play two strategies
To save Ferrari's honor, one has to say that the engineers probably have two wanted to use different strategies in case the rain gets heavier at the end. In that case, the quick processing would have helped Raikkonen. Refueling takes about two minutes. Nevertheless, the command post still had a chance to correct, especially after Raikkonen's race engineer Carlo Santi informed his driver shortly afterwards that the worst rain was over the box can pick up more gasoline. “We should have noticed that the track was getting faster again. In such conditions, the timing should be such that you can stay on the track at the very end ', mumbled an extremely disappointed Raikkonen.
The Finn is now starting from 6th place.' That will make my Sunday more difficult ' the iceman fears. “On Friday I realized that overtaking was more difficult than I thought.” The four-time Spa winner is particularly afraid of the start phase. “The layout of the track is such that something can happen more easily from my starting position.” In Spa, the battles for positions not only last up to the first corner, but also continue until the end of the Kemmel straightaway. So more opportunities to get involved in an accident.
Vettel in a bind
Chaos also broke out at Sebastian Vettel. When the Heppenheimer came to the pits after the first short run in the rain to pick up slicks, his mechanics tried to maneuver the car away for Raikkonen, who caught up from behind. The Ferrari was only jacked up at the front, so that the diffuser dragged on the rear. Vettel scolded in the cockpit: 'What a shit are you doing. You're scratching the underbody. ”
When Vettel finally refueled with intermediates to attack Hamilton, the timing wasn't right. The World Cup runner-up was the last to cross the finish line, so he drove the decisive lap under the best possible track conditions. But when Vettel went on his last lap, the battery was flat. “I noticed up the hill that I was missing battery power. That cost three tenths. 'After reviewing the data, Vettel did not want to blame the battery problem for the training defeat:' I lost too much time on Lewis in the second sector and in the last corner. My intermediates were pretty much exhausted . “
GPS measurements show that the drive then went into the de-rating again in order to recuperate at least a little energy. Vettel was on the track for a total of three flying laps. In the rain, the drivers switch to a motor mode in which the battery discharges over a period of two laps. On a dry road, the entire energy is accessed in one lap without the battery being charged in between.
Hamilton error proves to be a godsend
Vettel was in the second of the three rounds in a bind. Should he partially sacrifice the lap and try to charge the battery for the very last lap or hope that the time on the penultimate lap will be enough? “It usually takes half a lap to charge the battery. That doesn't work in two corners, ”reveals the German. But then he would only have had the first lap with 2.02.446 minutes. “If at the end there is an abort or any yellow flag, I have a full battery, but I cannot use it. And I would have given away the lap before. ”With his first timed lap, Vettel would only have been in 5th place.
Hamilton had it easier. His slip in turn 12 relieved him of the agony of choice. He could no longer save the round. The Mercedes driver had half a lap to recharge his battery and save his intermediates for the last shot. Vettel was still surprised that the electric power left him so suddenly. “It was probably because the route got faster and faster and the battery discharged faster than usual.”
At the time, Vettel had not yet seen the analysis of how much time the empty battery cost him would have. 'If it's the eight tenths that I'm missing on Lewis, then I'm really angry.' Nevertheless, the Ferrari driver does not give up the race. 'We have a fast car with which we can still win on Sunday.'