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In the last race before the annual summer break, rain could spice up Verstappen’s hunt for an extremely rare eighth consecutive victory. Here’s who to back and what to watch out for in the 2023 Belgian Grand Prix!


There’s an end of term feeling in Formula 1 as the sport prepares for its annual August break. Before three weeks of no racing, the 20 drivers are headed to Spa-Francorchamps for the Belgian Grand Prix. There were fears that the iconic and much-loved Spa track would fall off the calendar
after this year but, thankfully, it has been confirmed that the Belgian Grand Prix will return once more next year.

For the final race of the first half of the season, F1 is utilising its Sprint format. It means that qualifying for the Grand Prix takes place on Friday afternoon, while Saturday is dedicated to the Sprint. It means there’s likely to be even more thrills and spills than usual!


Verstappen searching for 8 in a row


Last weekend, Red Bull became the first team to win 12 consecutive Formula 1 races, surpassing McLaren’s record of 11 from 1988. The records could continue to fall for Red Bull, who this weekend are hoping to become the first team to win all of the first 12 races of a Formula 1 season.

Just like his team, Max Verstappen is in unstoppable form right now. A victory this weekend would make him only the second driver, after fellow Red Bull alumni Sebastian Vettel, to win eight consecutive World Championship races.

Verstappen certainly could not be stopped at last year’s Belgian Grand Prix. He set the fastest lap time in qualifying but started only 14th on the grid as a result of power unit and gearbox penalties. He went on to win by almost 18 seconds.

Having won at Spa in the last two seasons, Verstappen is, unsurprisingly, the favourite to win the 2023 Belgian Grand Prix. Doing so would make him only the fourth driver – after Jim Clark, Ayrton Senna and Michael Schumacher – to record three successive wins at the circuit.


Watch out for McLaren on Lap 1 – if it’s dry


McLaren’s impressive turnaround continued at the Hungarian Grand Prix, with Lando Norris once again finishing as runner-up and Oscar Piastri scoring another top five finish. McLaren’s rivals have referred to them as having a “rocket ship”, thanks to their speed on the straight. If Norris and Piastri can repeat their recent qualifying showings, they could have a legitimate chance of leading at the start of the Belgian Grand Prix.

After the uphill run through Eau Rouge and Raidillon, the Kemmel Straight follows. This is an area where Sebastian Vettel memorably slipstreamed his way into the lead at the start of the 2018 Belgian Grand Prix – something which McLaren’s “rocket ship” could have a chance of doing on Sunday, grid position and weather permitting.

McLaren’s recent form at the Belgian Grand Prix hasn’t been particularly inspiring, with them having scored only three times since 2015. Their best recent result here is fourth place for Daniel Ricciardo in the rain-hit 2021 race. Could McLaren record their first Belgian Grand Prix podium
since 2012 this weekend? Their recent turnaround suggests they have the potential to do so.


Anonymous Aston Martin


After the last few races, you may well be asking: what has happened to Aston Martin? Since Fernando Alonso’s incredible run of podiums at the start of the year, the team has been largely anonymous in recent races; though they do keep picking up double points scores in the lower half of
the top ten.

The team’s star driver Alonso has finished in the top five only once in the last three races and recorded his worst result of the year to date last time out with ninth place. Nevertheless, he remains the only driver to have qualified in the top ten at every race in 2023, as well as one of only three –
along with Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton – to have scored in all 11 races this year.

Alonso has never won the Belgian Grand Prix in his illustrious career – a statistic he’d surely like to change as his ten-year wait for a 33rd win continues. A win could be out of reach, but you can expect Aston Martin to finish in the points this weekend. The Silverstone-based team have scored in every Belgian Grand Prix since 2009.


Rain is on the way


Situated in the Ardennes Forest, Spa is famous for its micro-climate, with the weather having the ability to change in a moment. The length of the track – 7km, the longest on the calendar – means that one end of the circuit can have torrential rain while the other end is bone dry. Rain is forecast this weekend.

Let’s hope that it spices up the action, rather than leading to a situation like the 2021 Belgian Grand Prix, where heavy rain prevented any racing action from taking place. The threat of rain could make backing anyone other than Verstappen for victory an appealing option. Lando Norris, for example, who impressed in the wet here two years ago currently sits at 10/1 for the win.

Even without rain, the chances of a Safety Car or Virtual Safety Car are high. There has been at least one caution period in every Belgian Grand Prix since 2015.


Will Williams find a way into the points?

Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull have dominated the podium positions at the Belgian Grand Prix in recent seasons. Since 2016 the only other team to finish on the podium at Spa is Williams. The backmarkers secured a second place finish thanks to a superb qualifying showing by George Russell when no real racing took place in 2021.

Alex Albon secured a point for the team here last year too, and the British-born Thai will be hoping to maintain his 100% points-scoring record from his three previous Belgian Grand Prix appearances.

Team-mate Logan Sargeant has previous winning form at Spa, having won in Formula 3 here back in 2020. He’s still searching for the first points of his career and to become the first American driver to score a point in F1 in almost 30 years.

In the last four races, Williams have recorded two points finishes along with three 11th places. Could the team have the outright pace – like they did in Silverstone – to be contenders for points? Or could rain help them find a way into the top ten?

Odds are correct at the time of posting

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