BUZZING
Aug 23

Alonso Only Seventh But Still Optimistic

Fernando Alonso prepares to get on track in Belgium. (Photo: Getty Images)

Fernando Alonso prepares to get on track in Belgium. (Photo: Getty Images)

Fernando Alonso was in a positive mood after free practice in Friday, despite ending the day a modest seventh.

However, headline times don’t always tell the full story, and the Spaniard insisted that Ferrari made progress.

“This was a good day, even if in the morning we, and in fact everyone, lost time because of the rain, and so in the afternoon we found ourselves facing double the workload,” he said. “Before drawing any conclusions, we need to wait for the analysis of the data acquired this afternoon from both cars. Felipe (Massa, teammate) and I tried different aero configurations, with more and less downforce, which will be the real key to this race, along with the weather.

“In terms of today’s times, we have got closer to the favorites, but I’m not sure which weather forecast I would prefer. It’s true that in the rain, the cards on the table can be shuffled up, but in the wet there are as many chances to benefit as there are to lose.”

Aug 23

Pirelli Blames ‘External Forces’ For Punctures

Pirelli has come under fire this year. (Photo: Getty Images)

Pirelli has come under fire this year. (Photo: Getty Images)

Pirelli is investigating the causes of right-rear punctures that afflicted Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso in FP2, and also a series of cuts seen on other Formula One tires.

Pirelli’s Paul Hembery believes that something on the track was the likely cause in most cases, while also suggesting that a piece of debris was responsible for the Vettel problem.

Inevitably, given the events of Silverstone and the high-speed nature of Spa, teams and drivers are looking for some reassurances from Pirelli.

“It looks on the Red Bull as if something has been rubbing on the surface and then cut straight through the surface,” said Hembery. “And on the Ferrari there are two quite clear holes through the top of the tread. We’ve got to go and look at the track later and see what’s been turns 13 and 15.

Aug 23

Hamilton Finds No Grip In Practice At Spa

Lewis Hamilton struggled in practice at Spa-Francorchamps. (Photo: Getty Images)

Lewis Hamilton struggled in practice at Spa-Francorchamps. (Photo: Getty Images)

Lewis Hamilton had a difficult first day at Spa, finishing FP2 only 12th and some 1.420 seconds off pace-setter Sebastian Vettel after struggling to find one-lap speed.

Hamilton, who came to Belgium on the back of his Hungarian GP win, said he lacked grip with the low downforce specification used at Spa.

“We have some work ahead of us this evening to get the car feeling just right, but overall today was a reasonable start to the weekend,” he said. “The car feels very different here with the low downforce setup, compared to at the last race, and we need to refine a few areas to get the balance sorted.

“We were able to get some good long-run work done today, and that’s the most important thing for the race. We’ve got time to make the changes required, so I’m optimistic that tomorrow will see an improvement.”

Aug 23

Vettel Leads P2 At Spa; Alonso Paces P1

Sebastian Vettel showed the way in P2 at Spa-Francorchamps. (Photo: Getty Images)

Sebastian Vettel showed the way in P2 at Spa-Francorchamps. (Photo: Getty Images)

Sebastian Vettel posted the fastest time before his rear tire punctured in Friday’s second practice at the Belgian Grand Prix.

The three-time defending Formula One champion had to stop with about 20 minutes of the session remaining when his right rear tire popped and the loose rubber flapped around as he made his way back to the pits.

The German had earlier clocked 1 minute, 49.331 seconds, which was .059 quicker than Red Bull teammate Mark Webber and .818 faster than Lotus driver Romain Grosjean. While it was not immediately clear what caused the puncture, it could be unwelcome news for Pirelli given the furor surrounding its fast-shredding tires throughout the season. With his session over, Vettel stood alongside officials in the garage as they studied the car’s data.

Aug 22

Button Still Waiting On 2014 McLaren Contract

BUDAPEST, HUNGARY - JULY 26: Jenson Button of Great Britain and McLaren prepares to drive during practice for the Hungarian Formula One Grand Prix at Hungaroring on July 26, 2013 in Budapest, Hungary.

Photo Credit: Mark Thompson/Getty Images

Jenson Button made it clear Thursday that he does not have a contract with McLaren for 2014 – but insisted that he fully intends to stay on.

Button has an option to continue, but when asked about it he indicated that he didn’t know why there had yet to be confirmation that it will be taken up.

“I think I have a contract for next year, but I don’t think it’s got a signature on it yet,” Button said. “I really want to be here next year. You might think that’s strange after this season, but I think this season is good for us in a way. We’ll be a much stronger team this year. But as you say, you haven’t heard the confirmation of that yet from the team. I think you’ll have to wait for that.”