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GP Week : Issue 226
Changes to the starting procedure, introduced for the Belgian Grand Prix, served to spice up the opening stanza of the race. From the moment drivers roll out of the garage on Sunday afternoon to the point the lights go out,teams can no longer coach their drivers or offer advice on how to get the best start. Previously, teams and drivers would perform clutch bite point testing with a view to getting the best possible launch. This was refined even as cars left the grid on their formation lap, but from Belgium that practice was stopped. It placed the emphasis back on the driver, who had to make any changes to his clutch on his own, without the advice of his engineer on the pitwall, based on what he felt. As conditions changed, and without the ability to perform practice starts on the grid in the leadup to the race, it created a difference which saw winners and losers. Not known for his starts, Daniel Ricciardo launched from fifth to third at the, while Sergio Perez's getaway was enough to see him challenge Lewis Hamilton for the lead a third of a lap later. "My start was very strong," agreed Perez. "I was close to taking the lead on lap one when I was alongside Lewis [Hamilton] after Eau Rouge." Indeed, for a brief moment the Force India pulled ahead of Mercedes, but with the inside line Hamilton held the spot. But while Ricciardo and Perez were pleased with their starts, Nico Rosberg had a nightmare as he fell to sixth at the first corner. "I messed up the start," he admitted post-race. "Maybe the extra warm up lap had an influence on that - we need to find out what exactly happened but, in any case, I definitely have to improve that for Monza." The poor start effectively cost Rosberg a chance at victory as, by the time he'd worked his way back into second place Hamilton had disappeared some seven seconds up the road. "I managed to be second again and also was able to close the gap to Lewis a bit - but I didn't get a chance to come within overtaking distance." 32 GPWEEK.com // 32 GPWEEK.com // F1 >>> BELGIUM PARTNERS: The art of the start