23 August 2013
Belgian Grand Prix: Drivers looking to test Spa grid work
Drainage channels on the Spa-Francorchamps grid raise concerns amongst the F1 fraternity ahead of this weekend's Belgian Grand Prix.
Drivers arriving at Spa-Francorchamps ahead of this weekend's Belgian Grand Prix were greeted by some obvious changes to the circuit's start-finish straight, and admitted that they would seek the opportunity to see if they would make any difference on race day.
Renowned as the venue most susceptible to varying weather conditions, Spa has taken action to try and reduce concerns over standing water on the pit straight by cutting a series of grooves in the tarmac to try and channel precipitation away from the grid. The work only covers a part of the straight, however, leaving the front five rows with a different surface to normal.
With Thursday's track walks paying particular attention to the changes, several drivers revealed that they would request the opportunity to try practice starts from the grid - something normally prevented by the regulations.
“We noticed it while doing the track walk, but we haven't spoken with the start guy yet,” Lotus' Romain Grosjean confirmed, “It's true that it looks different when you do the walk, but I think the first eleven grid positions are more or less the same, so there is no disadvantage. The advantage will be more with the eleventh, twelfth positions if there could be any problems, but I think, from the first few rows, it should be the same for everyone.”
Toro Rosso's Jean-Eric Vergne, who could find himself in the top ten shoot-out in qualifying if the Italian team gets its car working better than it was in Hungary before the summer break, confirmed that the drivers would be seeking talks with Charlie Whiting in an effort to better understand the effect of the grooves.
“We had a meeting just before the press conference and were discussing it,” the Frenchman confirmed, “I think we will probably bring it up during the drivers' briefing or team managers' briefing to try and ask if we can have a practice start to see if there is a difference or not.”
World champion Sebastian Vettel confirmed that the matter had been raised, but played down suggestions that the work could hamper the top half of the grid.
“We've noticed it, we've talked about it, [but] we don't know the difference because we've never had starts on that kind of surface,” the German noted, “I don't expect it to be a big difference.
“Obviously, we are not allowed – at the moment, at least – to do any practice starts, [but] maybe that will change, to have a look for all the teams. If it's wet, it's better, if it's wet for all of us for sure, but I think that's the reason why they did it. But, like I said, [we have] no experience, so we don't know.”
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