F1 preview: A lap of the Belgian Grand Prix
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Mercedes ace Lewis Hamilton admitted he and his team have “work to do” to prepare the car for the Belgian Grand Prix this weekend. Unpredictable weather set to play a major role over Saturday and Sunday, making it difficult for teams to plan ahead for their strategies.
Both Silver Arrows finished behind Max Verstappen in FP2, but the Dutchman ended the session by putting his Red Bull into a tyre wall after losing the rear end at turn seven.
As well as giving his mechanics a lot of work to do to get the car ready for qualifying and the race, it was most likely a sign of things to come over the course of the weekend with wet weather forecast at Spa-Francorchamps.
Mercedes trackside engineering director Andrew Shovlin was pleased with the “pretty clean day overall” the team enjoyed, but is expecting difficult conditions for the next two days.
He said: “It’s often tricky on Friday here with the long lap and unpredictable weather but we’ve made good use of the sessions and have ended up with a reasonable balance.
“It’s hard to know quite where we stand – the circuit is very power sensitive so going up and down on modes can give big swings in lap time but the car seems to be working as it should and it looks like we’re there or thereabouts on pace.
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“There’s a bit more to find on the balance and Lewis had some vibrations on the long run that won’t have helped but hopefully we can make some further progress with the car overnight.
“We’re expecting more of the same from the weather over the rest of the weekend, it’s quite hard to read more than 30 minutes into the future so planning qualifying and the race could be tricky but it’s not unusual to be in that position here.”
Hamilton’s message after Friday’s practice sessions was similar, as the seven-time world champion spoke of changes needing to be made to the setup of his Mercedes.
“Finding the right balance here is a big challenge,” he said. “In FP1, we tried one way, and then we changed it this afternoon.
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“The pace was quite similar – you try one option, and you are faster in the first and third sectors, but slower in the middle. And then you try the other option and it’s the opposite. So, figuring out the right balance is really tricky.
“It’s also tough to gain knowledge in these short sessions but we’re navigating it the best we can and at least it was dry for most of the running.
“Overall, it was an okay day, but I didn’t quite have the car underneath me, so we’ve got some work to do tonight to figure that out.
“The weather is also going to play a big role. If it does rain, you obviously want more downforce, but then if it doesn’t rain, you are a sitting duck on the straights. So we have to be very careful with the changes we make.”
Qualifying in Belgium is scheduled to begin at 2pm on Saturday, with the race set for the same time the following day.
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