Belgian GP 2008: Lap by lap report

Round 13 sees Formula One at Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium. Spa is one of the most hitoric circuits on the F1 calendar and is also one of the most popular. The longest circuit that drivers will race on at 7.004 km long, it has a mixture of long straights coupled with challenging fast corners, all within a stunningly pretty backdrop. Eau Rouge is arguably the most renowned corner- high speed and a sudden change in height make it spectacular and also one of the most technically demanding corners in F1 today.

Despite qualifying in fourth, many believe Kimi Raikkonen may triumph today. The Finnish driver appears to love the track having won three races here.

Today’s race looks set to be an interesting one the majority of the track is dry, although the end and start parts of the track are wet. Drivers and teams have a tough decision on tyres intermediates look like the choice of tyre for the start and end of the lap, whereas slicks look the choice of tyre for the mid-part of the lap. With a questionmark over whether rain will fall during the race, tyre choice looks to be the most important factor in today’s 2008 Formula 1 ING Belgian Grand Prix.

Parade Lap Everyone but Nelson Piquet, in P12, is starting the race with the softer compound tyres despite the start-finish straight looking rather wet. Rain is not predicted for the next 30 minutes.

Lap 1 Hamilton gets away well, as does Raikkonen. Raikkonen runs wide but manages to take a place from Kovalainen. Raikkonen then makes a pass on his team-mate to take third. Piquet is up to seventh, Bourdais up to fourth. Alonso, who also ran wide at the first corner, has also had a good start. Fisichella makes contact with another car at the first corner causing damage to his noe cone.

The worst starter on the grid was Kovalainen who has dropped to P11 from P4. Your current top 6 are Hamilton, Raikkonen, Massa, Alonso, Bourdais, Piquet.

Trulli spins at the chicane, causing Rosberg to take avoiding action.

Lap 2 Hamilton makes a mistake at La Source, spinning and meaning Raikkonen has to take avoiding action. This mistake allows Raikkonen to close right up. Raikkonen makes a pass to take the lead on the run up to Les Combes. Fisichella pits for a new nose cone.

Lap 3 Coulthard runs wide at La Source. Kovalainen passes Glock for P10.

Lap 4 Kovalainen passes Heidfeld for P9. Raikkonen sets the quickest lap of the race so far with a 1:51.439. Kovalainen now passes Piquet for P8.

Lap 5 Raikkonen’s lead over Hamilton is now around 1.5 seconds.

Lap 6 Hamilton is now the quickest man on-track with a 1:49.895 he is the first man to put a lap in under the 1 minute 50 second mark. Piquet is passed by Heidfeld.

Lap 7 The front runners are coming up to lap Fisichella already. Raikkonen responds to Hamilton by putting in an even quicker lap.

Lap 8 Kovalainen is now on the tail of the BMW of Robert Kubica.

Lap 9 Kovalainen passes Kubica for P7 the Finnish driver has a quicker exit from Eau Rouge, allowing him to make the overtake. The Force India of Adrian Sutil takes a trip over the grass and through some gravel before he rejoins safely. Hamilton and Raikkonen continue to swap quickest laps Hamilton’s latest lap was 1:48.892.

Lap 11 Kovalainen lines up Webber at the bus stop from a little way back. Mark Webber turns in and Kovalainen clouts the side of him. Kubica repasses Kovalainen as a result of the move. Everyone continues on but it is believed that Webber will need to pit for some repairs. The move looks to have been a slightly over-ambitious move by Kovalainen. The stewards announce they are investigating the result.

Lap 12 Hamilton pits and stays on the softer dry tyres. His pit-stop is just 6.8 seconds. He pops out behind his team-mate. The stewards announce Kovalainen will have a drive-through penalty as a result of his overtaking manoeuvre which the stewards deem was avoidable. Raikkonen pits from the lead. He takes on another set of soft tyres. His stop is 7.2 seconds long. He rejoins in front of Bourdais, who is currently running in P4. Massa leads, from Alonso, Raikkonen, Bourdais, Kubica, Kovalainen.

Lap 13 Webber pits. Massa pits from the lead and takes on another set of soft tyres. Alonso also pits, as does Kovalainen. Raikkonen is now leading the race again. Kovalainen will have to come in again as you are not allowed to serve a drive-through penalty if you also stop for tyres/fuel. Hamilton is now 4 seconds behind Raikkonen thanks to traffic after his pit-stop.

Lap 15 Piquet spins and taps the wall at Fagnes. He has damage to his front wing. He gets out of the car, retiring. Kovalainen comes in for his drive-through penalty. He rejoins in P14 behind David Coulthard. Trulli pits.

Lap 16 Bourdais and Kubica both pit. The both take on the softer tyre. The current top six are Raikkonen, Hamilton, Massa, Vettel, Alonso, Bourdais. Raikkonen’s lead over Hamilon is over 5 and a half seconds.

Lap 17 Sutil pits. Barrichello and Coulthard are continuing their battle for P12. Coulthard passes Barrichello. Raikkonen puts in the quickest lap of the race with a 1:48.476.

Lap 18 Vettel pits from P4. He rejoins in P7. Heidfeld passes Glock for P8.

Lap 20 Raikkonen puts in another storming lap. His lead is now over 6 seconds. However Hamilton’s times are not that much slower than the Finns.

Lap 21 Barrichello is out of the car in the Honda garage. He has retired from the race thanks to a gearbox issue he lost sixth gear during the race and he was having to over-rev the engine to get from seventh to fifth, placing a lot of strain on the engine. The team chose to retire him so as not to stress the engine ahead of Monza.

Lap 24 Raikkonen continues to dominate the race, putting in an even quicker lap with a 1:47.930.

Lap 25 Raikkonen dives into the pits from the lead, as does Hamilton. Raikkonen’s stop is 9.1 seconds and he takes on a set of the harder tyres. Hamilton also takes on a set of hard tyres. They emerge from the pit in the same order as they came in in P2 and P3. Rosberg pits. He also takes on a set of the harder tyres. Rain is predicted in the next 20 minutes.

Lap 27 Alonso pits from P7. Nakajima also pits. Massa pits from the lead and has a 7.9 second stop. He rejoins just behind Trulli, who is a lap down.

Lap 29 Raikkonen’s lead is down to 1.9 seconds, with Massa a further 4 seconds adrift.

Lap 32 Heidfeld makes his second pit-stop. As expected, he changes to the harder compound tyre.

Lap 33 Kubica and Vettel pit in unison. Kubica has a slow pit-stop which means Vettel overtakes him in during the pit stops.

Lap 38 Light rain is starting to fall on some areas in the track. Will the rain arrive properly before the end of the race, and if it does, how much rain will fall?

Lap 41 Raikkonen is now just under a second ahead of Hamilton.

Lap 42 A small error from Hamilton as he locks up at the Bus Stop. He is now 2 seconds behind Raikkonen with just 3 laps to go. Rain is starting to fall a little harder now. It’s too late to come in for a tyre change now.

Lap 43 Hamilton attempts a pass at the Bus Stop and momentarily gets ahead before going wide. He gets ahead but has to allow Raikkonen through. Hamilton fights back and takes the lead at La Source. Raikkonen struggles and runs wide. Hamilton goes off onto the grass and Raikkonen takes the place back before spinning and giving the place back. Heidfeld pits for a third time to take on intermediate tyres. Are the two leads going to take a chance and stay out for the last eight miles on a greasy track, or will they pit for intermediates? Raikkonen spins, hits the wall and is out. Massa and Hamilton stay out.

Lap 44 Hamilton nearly loses it through Eau Rouge. Alonso pits from P3. Bourdais is now in P3. The drivers are tip-toeing around the track.

Final Lap Hamilton wins, Massa second as Kovalainen stops on the race-track. Heidfeld comes over the line in third, Alonso fourth. Then Vettel, Kubica, Bourdais and Glock. The quick pit-stop for Heidfeld at the end really paid off for the German as he overtakes several cars on the final lap to take the final podium place.