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Tactical check GP Belgium: Vettel 31 times faster than Hamilton

tactical check GP Belgium 2018
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D en strategists, the GP Belgium brought a restful afternoon. This time the drivers had to fix it themselves on the track. The command post couldn't help them. The 44 laps of Spa were a classic one-stop race. Little wear and tear and little loss of grip made two stops obsolete. Only two drivers stopped twice. Valtteri Bottas was forced to because he broke his front wing in a traffic jam in front of La Source. For Stoffel Vandoorne it was more of an act of desperation, in the hope that swimming against the current would pay off.

Everyone else stuck to the housewife tactic. Stopping once between laps 21 and 31. Eight drivers from the top ten opted for the Supersoft-Soft tire sequence. Bottas actually too, because the Finn, who started on soft, saw super soft tires during his emergency stop in the second lap, which he later exchanged for soft rubbers. Marcus Ericsson was the only one in the field who scored World Cup points with the Soft-Supersoft strategy. Carlos Sainz in 11th was even more extreme. Start on Medium, Final on Supersoft.

Hamilton with blisters on the rear tires

Sainz was also worth mentioning for another reason. Only the Spaniard won a place through good timing of the pit stop. Sainz stopped one lap in front of Lance Stroll and two in front of Sergey Sirotkin. The undercut took just under two seconds. The Renault driver overtook Stroll thanks to tactics. Compared to Sirotkin, the two laps earlier stop brought 2.7 seconds. Sainz changed positions shortly afterwards on the track. It was one of 25 overtaking maneuvers.

In the duel between Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton, the speed on the track determined the outcome. Sebastian Vettel was 31 times faster than Hamilton in comparable laps. Conversely, only 7 laps went to the Mercedes driver. To make matters worse, the Ferrari was even more gentle with its tires. Hamilton started to form blisters on the left rear after 16 laps. A consequence of the traction problems, mainly from La Source.

When the initially slightly shrinking distances suddenly increased again, the Mercedes strategists brought their star driver into the pits. Ferrari responded a lap later with Vettel. The lead shrank from 3.2 to 1.9 seconds. But as soon as Vettel stepped on the gas seriously, the gap quickly reopened to five seconds. In the second section, the World Cup leader heldnot much longer against it. “After about 15 laps, Lewis took a back seat. I was able to relax a bit, ”said Vettel. In the end, the World Cup runner-up had an 11-second lead.

The Mercedes engineers believe that a duel would have resulted in a delta of around four seconds by the end. Probably a bit optimistic, since Vettel was also behind. 'If Seb was serious about it, he drove away from me a second per lap,' whined Hamilton.

Valtteri Bottas almost repeated the feat of Hamilton from 2016. The Finn was fourth from the penultimate row Before the race he had dreamed of a podium. He was doing himself a disservice with his collision with Sirotkin at the start. The pit stop threw Bottas backwards again, and he asked for Plan B. The team gave him Supersoft tires for the trip to quickly make up ground. Bottas contributed the lion's share to the show with 11 overtaking maneuvers.

The drive through the field was not continuous. Between rounds 12 and 17 and rounds 18 and 22, the fourth place in the World Cup took a short break. “Valtteri had to manage the tires,” explained the engineers. Overtaking was not a sure-fire success in a superior car either. “Even against cars that were two seconds slower. That's why Valtteri drove a great race ”, attested team boss Toto Wolff. Bottas really turned up on soft tires and turned the fastest lap in the end.

Which of course was also due to the fact that the rest of the race was out of breath. Vettel and Hamilton didn't hurt each other anymore. Max Verstappen was 20.3 seconds behind Hamilton and 32.2 seconds behind Bottas. 'We would only have gotten it with a SafetyCar, but in this case Red Bull would have had enough time to put on fresh tires again,' said the Mercedes warehouse.

Force India just looks on HaasF1

Force India had to realize that not only Bottas but also Verstappen was too strong. “No chance of keeping them behind us. We have concentrated on the opponents that we have to beat with regard to the Constructors' Cup, ”summarized Otmar Szafnauer.

Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon aligned their races with the HaasF1. “When Grosjean came in, we responded with Ocon. There was no rush because we were 5 seconds ahead. We waited another lap with Checo so as not to get onto the track behind Gasly, ”explained Szafnauer.


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