Saturday, September 6, 2008

Belgian Grand Prix: Points of Interest/Qualifying

McLaren-Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton gets pole position for Sunday's Belgian Grand Prix. As it relates to the my Points of Interest for the Belgian Grand Prix, this is how its shaping up.

1. The performance of Williams. So far the battle of speed is as expected with Rosberg going quicker than Nakajima. However, it was a surprise to see Nakajima struggle so much in qualifying. As it relates to Williams vs. Red Bull and Honda in qualifying, Webber has been able to show his speed in relation to Coulthard and that the Red Bull chassis is very strong. Williams the last several years have not been able to keep the development pace of the other teams and the performance as the season progresses shows it. However, I was expecting at least one Williams perform better. Nonetheless, it is interesting to see Rosberg in the Williams outqualify both Hondas.

2. Toro Rosso. Watching the performance of Sebastien Bourdais was awesome. He put in very good laps in Q1 (setting the best time!) and Q2. Again, being that Toro Rosso chassis is essentially the Red Bull chassis, it is only confirming the strength of the design and development the car has undergone, not to mention the power Ferrari engine which I think the Red Bull team would love to have. Ferrari power is strongly represented in the speed traps in all 3 sectors, particularly in sector 1 via the Ferrari factory team and the 2 customer teams, Toro Rosso and Force India.

3. Speed differential. The speed differential across all sectors is not as pronounced as I expected, but we still have the race to run. However, in the fastest part of the track (sector 1), Ferrari seem to have a distinct advantage which again would indicate more power available. The representation of other teams in different sectors can also be a function of aerodynamic set up and efficiency. For example, Renault is strongly represented in the speed traps for sector 2 and 3 but down in sector 1. Given Alonso's qualifying performance, the chassis is working well and they are probably carrying more downforce on the car but it is hurting them in the faster sections, like sector 1.

We will continue to see how these points of interest develop now as we go into the race on Sunday.

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