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GP Week : Issue 226
go unnoticed and when the virtual safety car emerged for Ricciardo's wounded Bull the lead narrowed further still. Aside from the fluffed start, Rosberg was on his game. So was Hamilton who, clearly miffed at losing his advantage, promptly made a statement when racing resumed. He quickly extended his lead, dashing any hopes Rosberg may have had and showing without any doubt the pace Mercedes has is hand. Mercedes was more than a second faster than the pack in qualifying, and on Hamilton's performance there's no reason to believe the gap wasn't at least that in race trim too. That will stand the team in good stead for Monza, where brute force from the engine and aero efficiency are key, but Red Bull may feature more strongly than initially thought. During qualifying Ricciardo and Daniil Kvyat showed well through the middle sector, but were expected to struggle down the straights. Instead both drivers were able to pass and race towards the front on merit, rather than slipping back as car after car picked them off in a straight line, as most had predicted. There's no doubt the Red Bull was running less wing than others, one needs only to look at the television footage for evidence of that, but it was still the fastest through the twisty middle sector of the lap. The Red Bull may not be powerful, but it is certainly efficient. Conversely Ferrari was forced to rely on strategy to gain track position. Vettel was slow in qualifying and Kimi Raikkonen didn't make the progress through the field one would have expected from a car thought to be the second best on the grid. Vettel adopted an aggressive strategy, and it looked to have worked until the penultimate lap. Much will be made of Vettel's tyre failure. There were already calls for concern following Rosberg's failure on Friday but the simple fact is it's only the second tyre failure in recent memory. Whether Ferrari pushed its tyres too far isn't clear, and its view will differ with that of Pirelli, but there is no need at this point for alarm. Nobody likes to see tyre failures in racing but it is an inevitability at some point, just ask Nigel Mansell. Force India had a mixed weekend and while it walked away with a solid haul of points thanks to Perez one can't help but feel there was more on the table. Nico Hulkenberg and failed to take the restart while Perez's podium challenge disappeared in the middle of the race. Still, it was a better outing than Hungary where both cars failed to finish and Perez ended opening practice on his head. Where the Force India charge 21 GPWEEK.com // 21 GPWEEK.com // F1 >>> BELGIUM PARTNERS: