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Why Belgian GP dash presents F1 groups with FP1 problem

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As with earlier 2023 occasions it signifies that automotive set-up is frozen after FP1 as the sector heads into qualifying, and any adjustments thereafter will set off a pitlane begin for the dash and the grand prix itself.

The groups have already got some expertise of the brand new format, which was utilized in Azerbaijan and Austria.

Nonetheless, it is going to be notably difficult at Spa, the place automobiles are particularly delicate to downforce and drag ranges, in addition to trip top, with the compression at Eau Rouge making a compromise for the latter.

Normally on the Belgian venue engineers have three observe classes throughout which to experiment, whereas eyeing the straightline velocity of their instant rivals, earlier than selecting the most effective answer for qualifying.

This time they are going to have only a single session after which they need to make these essential set-up calls.

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In the event that they get it unsuitable their automobiles may very well be out of kilter for the remainder of the weekend, leaving their drivers both unable to defend on the long term up from Eau Rouge and Raidillon, or missing velocity by means of the corners on the remainder of the monitor.

Groups typically react to the place they suppose their automobiles are more likely to begin, for instance when these with grid penalties have erred in the direction of much less downforce and most straightline velocity with a view to assist their passage by means of the sector.

The choice method is to focus extra on the twisty second sector, the place further downforce pays dividends.

Max Verstappen, Pink Bull Racing

Picture by: Erik Junius

Groups will make their lives more durable by bringing new elements that they need to study and optimise within the single observe session. Everybody strikes in the direction of a decrease drag spec for Spa, which frequently includes model new wings or brake ducts tailor-made to the monitor’s necessities.

Some groups may also have normal updates that they must study. For instance, Alpine can have a brand new ground this weekend.

Spa can also be solely the third race with the brand new Pirelli tyre building launched on the British GP, with the more durable C2 solely seen beforehand at Silverstone, and the softest C4 solely run in Hungary, and thus groups are nonetheless studying about them.

So as to add to the problem, climate forecasts counsel there’s a excessive probability of rain on Friday, which is able to make it even more durable to make these essential decisions with an eye fixed on the remainder of the weekend, as further downforce has apparent enchantment in moist situations.

“The most important concern for us is a moist FP1, which frequently occurs there through the years,” mentioned Aston Martin efficiency director Tom McCullough. “Clearly we’re going a bit earlier this yr earlier than the August break.

“You are going to rely quite a bit in your simulation instruments. We’re nonetheless studying with these tyres, and you are going to go straight right into a weekend if you decide to your low gas, excessive gas and moist set-up all with one session at a fairly distinctive monitor. I believe we’re in affordable form.”

AlphaTauri chief race engineer Jonathan Eddolls factors out that the Italian workforce has a more durable job than others as new recruit Daniel Ricciardo continues to be studying the AT04.

“All dash weekends are extra of a problem, it is the identical for everybody,” he mentioned. “I believe you could put extra emphasis in your pre-event and simulator work. And should you’ve acquired simulator, you possibly can hit the bottom operating.

Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing RB18

Sergio Perez, Pink Bull Racing RB18

Picture by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

“Clearly for Daniel, it will be extra of a problem. He is nonetheless studying in regards to the automotive. We go to a really completely different downforce degree, and really completely different monitor, more durable tyres, cooler temperatures.

“I believe it is going to be a case of we’ll attempt to get the set-up as shut as we are able to to start out, after which we’ll simply give him the laps and tune the stability in all probability with aero stability by means of FP1.”

Eddolls acknowledges that groups typically take completely different approaches on drag ranges, and what your rivals do finally ends up feeding into your personal decisions.

“Generally the optimum out of your simulations of your automotive could be completely different to someone else,” he defined. “Then when you find yourself with a prime velocity delta, typically you could run barely completely different to what you suppose is your race optimum, simply to be with the others.

“So for certain, the rear wing will probably be a narrative. We have got new ones coming, particular to that occasion. We do all we are able to by way of our pre-event simulation work, taking a look at final yr. Our method this yr to attempt to give you an optimum that works for us, however that places us in sync with the others.

“After which if we’re out we’ll have to alter for qualifying, however that is by no means easy both.”

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In principle, the restricted operating ought to favour the groups with the most effective simulation instruments, which inevitably means the same old prime runners ought to be higher ready.

“The format is completely different,” Ferrari boss Fred Vasseur remarked. “However thus far I believe we did fairly nicely on the dash race when you’ve got only one FP1 earlier than the quali, Baku and Spielberg went fairly nicely.

“I hope it is going to be the identical at Spa. I believe we’re fairly superior, all of the groups, with the simulation. We all know the place we’re.”

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