Photo courtesy of Jamey Price
Once we learned of Mercedes plans for Hamilton this weekend, qualifying lost its appeal. After all, the crew from Brackley added engines six, seven, and eight to the 44 car throughout Friday and Saturday, which means they also added a 55 grid position penalty to it. I think that means Hamilton will start in Brussels on the Rue de l’Ecuyer tomorrow.
With Hamilton’s penalty, Rosberg immediately became the heavy favorite for pole, which he achieved. Yay. (All kidding aside, Spa is a daunting track and competition from Red Bull and Ferrari and Force India proved formidable, so congratulations to Rosberg for the achievement. It’s his 28th, by the way.)
But with Rosberg-on-pole inevitability, qualifying did not disappoint. Max Verstappen, pumped up by legions of Dutch fans who popped across the border to watch, wrung the neck of the Red Bull chassis to grab P2, but a tenth behind Rosberg. Even more stunning, not only did Kimi Raikkonen out qualify his teammate, he came within a couple hundredths of taking P2 away from Verstappen. During post qualy interviews, Raikkonen spoke of a slow run through the chicane that cost him three-tenths during the lap, which meant pole was in reach. When is the last time we heard that from the Finn?
Spa is, I think, the greatest racetrack in the world today. And, starting from the back, Hamilton will put on a show working his way to the front. We also have unusually warm temps to disrupt many team’s tire allocation decisions. It may also rain. So look forward to a stunner of a grand prix. And look for Raikkonen to perhaps stun as well. Race win tomorrow? It’s possible.