We have spent four fantastic days in the paddock of the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa-Francorchamps. Apart from being so close to the action, the biggest advantage of being in the paddock is being privy to lots of inside news and stories. Through this piece, we try and bring you a little closer to the world of Formula 1 in all its colour and character.
Lewis Hamilton's statement on Ferrari’s ‘tricks’
Right after the race, Lewis Hamilton made a seemingly controversial statement — that Ferrari have ‘got a few trick things going on in the car.’ He also spent time examining the Ferrari car, as if to prove a point. Later in the Drivers’ Press Conference, Hamilton clarified that ‘I’m not saying that there’s anything illegal on. I’m just saying we all have something trick. There’s probably something trick on… Trick is just something that helps you bring that extra bit of performance.’ Of course, it is likely that Hamilton intentionally chose the word ‘tricks’ to allude to the fact that Ferrari’s car may not be all legal - a form of psychological warfare on the race winner Sebastian Vettel.
— Formula 1 (@F1) August 26, 2018
Driver Silly Season and paddock gossip
The biggest topic in the paddock this weekend has been the Driver Silly Season – it seems that everyone is busy speculating and betting on what will happen. Various stories regarding 2019 driver movement have broken this weekend, including that famous conversation between Esteban Ocon and Sebastian Vettel about the former’s 2019 drive (or lack of it) followed by Sergio Perez confirming that he has a seat for 2019. That apart, there is a lot of gossip floating around the paddock. Watch this space for more, we say.
Kimi Raikkonen displaying emotion?
While walking around the paddock on Friday morning, we bumped into Ferrari driver Kimi Raikkonen. Now if you know Raikkonen, you’d know that the man never, ever displays the slightest hint of any emotion. That’s why we were extremely surprised to see Raikkonen wearing a broad smile. We rubbed our eyes in disbelief (is he really smiling?). We then saw that the smile was for some of his old friends, who he seemed to be meeting after a long time. Interestingly, Raikkonen also displayed shades of disappointment after he ran out of fuel for a last run in qualifying.
Why Ricciardo moved to Renault?
A lot has been said about Daniel Ricciardo’s unexpected move to Renault, with wagging tongues wondering whether it was triggered by Red Bull Racing's growing focus on Max Verstappen. Renault Boss Cyril Abiteboul provided some clarity when he explained that Ricciardo was enthused by the opportunity to lead a manufacturer team to the top. Abiteboul said, “It’s more than a three-day job. He’s going to be driving the charge for the next stint of Renault in Formula 1. It's a big responsibility, but I think he sees that as an honour and exciting.”
Spotted in the paddock
If you’ve watched Formula 1 in the 2000s, you will surely remember this man - Juan Pablo Montoya. Best remembered for his mercurial personality and passion, Montoya was spotted in the Mclaren garage at the Belgian Grand Prix. Interestingly, Montoya is the only current driver who can give Fernando Alonso a run for his money on winning the Triple Crown. Like Alonso, Montoya has won two out of the three races for the Crown. While Alonso still needs to win Indy 500, Montoya needs to win the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The other individual spotted in the paddock at Spa will surely raise some eyebrows – we happened to see Jean-Eric Vergne. Vergne, the reigning Formula E champion, has been linked to the ongoing driver silly season, so it’s telling timing to see him in the paddock.
Force India’s hurried name change
Like we all know, this was Force India’s first outing under its new name ‘Racing Point Force India.’ The entire name change has been very hurried – and a tell-tale giveaway of this was the fact that the team’s garages alongside the pitlane still bore the erstwhile name ‘Sahara Force India.’ It reminded many of us of the time when Formula 1’s logo was recently changed, but the old logo kept cropping up in unusual places – including on Bernie Ecclestone’s shirt.
Eau Rouge at Spa
Many would rate Eau Rouge as one of the most iconic corners Formula 1 has ever seen. Interestingly, the corner is named after the river that runs below it. The circuit has been planned in a way that all visitors to the Spa-Francorchamps circuit can see the action at Eau Rouge – irrespective of what tickets they have. The circuit owners seem to intentionally not blocked out the view, god bless them. Thousands of fans flocked to this point through the racing weekend
Next weekend, the action shifts to Monza - also the last European circuit on the 2018 calendar. Ferrari will be keen to further chip away at Hamilton’s lead and also shine in front of their home crowd. Perhaps we may hear a confirmation from Ferrari regarding their second driver for 2019 as well. Will it be Kimi Raikkonen or Charles Leclerc?
Updated Date: Aug 27, 2018 09:53:50 IST