Wet weather spells tyre lottery

Tyre choice will be more crucial than ever in this weekend's Belgian Grand Prix, as the possibility of a wet, or even washed-out, qualifying session means that teams who planned ahead in Friday's dry free practice runs could reap dividends on Sunday

Wet weather spells tyre lottery

Spa, in the Ardennes region, has a microclimate all its own and mixed weather conditions are often a feature of the Belgian GP weekend. Although Saturday has dawned overcast and raining, causing the cancellation of free practice, race day is expected to be dry all day.

Some teams factored the projected weather conditions into their tyre selection and Friday programmes. Toyota, for instance is believed to have selected a harder Michelin tyre than its rivals on the French rubber because it can see the possibility of a more favourable race tyre without the downside of poorer qualifying performance. That, of course, would be avoided if everyone has to qualify on wet tyres.

Bridgestone is expected to have the upper hand if the track surface is properly wet but the situation could be reversed if it is merely damp. Although rain was falling by Friday evening in Belgium, both Friday free practice sessions were held on a dry track.

"This race is going to be dominated by tyres," said Toyota technical director Mike Gascoyne. "We can be quite conservative with our race strategy and still be strong. Bridgestone will be strong in qualifying with its intermediate tyre in cool conditions. A lot of the Michelin runners suffered graining on Friday and we feel we will have an advantage over the other Michelin runners. The track will be very green on Sunday."

Ferrari's Ross Brawn said, meanwhile: "We did some long runs in the second session on Friday and we haven't quite got the car balanced yet, not having been here last year. But the Bridgestone tyre choice is clear. It looks consistent and with a bit of tuning to the car, we should be in good shape."

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