Belgian Grand Prix Preview: Hamilton v Vettel6 min read
The summer break is over and so attention turns to Spa for the Belgian Grand Prix. Belgium has been a happy hunting ground for Mercedes in recent years – can Sebastian Vettel end Lewis Hamilton’s recent run of form and close the gap in the Championship?
It’s Hamilton against Vettel in the championship fight
Both the Constructors’ and the Drivers’ championships are neck-and-neck, something that has been unheard of at this stage of the season during the ‘power unit’ era. As racing is set to return with the Belgian Grand Prix, it’s Hamilton that has momentum on his side after wins at both the German and Hungarian races prior to the four-week summer break.
Prior to the German Grand Prix, Sebastian Vettel was sitting on a 12-point lead. After just over a week, he saw this turn into a 24-point deficit. To make reading worse for Vettel, he hasn’t won at Spa since 2013. However, with arguably the fastest car on track, could the tides be turning for the German?
Vettel can’t have been happy going into the break behind Hamilton. He will only have one objective for the Belgian Grand Prix… beat Hamilton.
Despite the recent dominance of the Silver Arrows in Spa, it’s hard to look past Vettel for both pole position and the race victory. It’s not likely to be easy for Vettel, but he can go into the race weekend knowing that Championship Leader Hamilton has retired from the Belgian Grand Prix four times, more than he has done at any other race during his time in F1.
As a side note, Sebastian Vettel is to go fastest in FP1. FOUR TO ONE! Whereas Ferrari may not want to tip their hand that early in the race weekend, it seems unfathomable that Vettel and Hamilton wouldn’t be joint favourites in the market. I’m not even looking twice, that’s a bet every day of the week – twice on Friday.
Sebastian Vettel to be fastest in FP1 at
Sebastian Vettel to qualify fastest at
Sebastian Vettel to win the Belgian Grand Prix at
Any chance for Red Bull?
Red Bull are in dire need of a having both cars finish the Belgian Grand Prix in points paying positions. Constant engine issues and driver errors have ruined their record this season, meaning that it’s been five races since both Red Bulls saw the chequered flag. After hearing Daniel Ricciardo will be leaving for Renault at the end of the season, Red Bull really need to steady the ship.
At this stage it looks like Max Verstappen may be taking on a new MGU-K and will receive a grid penalty. Sadly for Red Bull, that is unlikely to be the end of their issues; Spa is very much a power circuit, something that the Renault Power Unit that is in the back of the Red Bull is lacking a little. The superior straight-line speed of both the Mercedes and Ferrari could leave Ricciardo and Verstappen scrapping for ‘best of the rest’ again.
Verstappen will want to put on a good show for the masses of orange clad Dutch fans that will make the short trip to Spa-Francorchamps. Although I’d hope that Red Bull have get to the bottom of their packaging issues for their Renault power unit, it’s difficult to believe they will have managed to calm Max down at all. He will, given the opportunity, go for any perceived gap, even if one doesn’t exist.
Max always adds some excitement to race weekends, but this can come with unforced errors especially when he’s pushing hard. It’s not beyond the realms of possibility to see an early exit for the Dutchman and at 20/1 to be the first driver to retire, considering the recent power unit failures and Max’s nature, this has to be worth a speculative punt.
It’s also worth noting that Verstappen has never finished higher than eighth at Spa and Ricciardo has finished on the podium three times, once on the top step. In a race match bet, I’d be backing Ricciardo every time.
Max Verstappen to be the first driver to retire at
Ricciardo to beat Verstappen (race match bet) at