Belgian Grand Prix Preview: Back in business with a bang

Spa, Charlie Wright, Kettle Mag
Written by F1_Charlie

After four weeks of rest and relaxation for the drivers, the summer break is finally over and the racing is back as the drivers enter the second half of the season. There isn’t a circuit much better to come back to after almost a month away from racing than Spa for the Belgian Grand Prix.

Spa: Belgian Grand Prix

This weekend marks the first race since the introduction of the new starting procedure. The teams will no longer be able to give as much information regarding the starts that the drivers practice over the weekend which would help the drivers perfect their clutch settings in order to get off the line morequickly and with minimal fuss. Come Sunday the start, an area which Mercedes have been struggling with at the previous two races, at both Silverstone and the Hungaroring could be an issue, Mercedes having not been ahead come Turn 1.

Speaking of Mercedes they will be desperate not to have a repeat of last year’s race which saw Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg come to blows on Lap 2 which ultimately ended Hamilton’s race whilst Rosberg claimed a podium finish. Whilst the pair had already fallen out earlier in the year, this only added to Hamilton’s fire who later went on to win multiple races and dominate the end of the season and claim a second world championship.

After claiming victory in a chaotic Hungarian Grand Prix, Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel will be chomping at the bit to chalk up his third win of the season at a circuit in which surprisingly he has only won at twice in 2011 and 2013. Vettel looked comfortable in Hungary with Mercedes not being able to put up a fight, although he has only won twice this season, Vettel is still very much in the championship battle although he has so far this week when asked claimed it would be “bloody difficult” to topple the mighty Mercs who had somewhat of a race to forget last time out.

Kimi Raikkonen

It is not just Vettel in the Ferrari camp that is looking to strike back this weekend. Team-mate Kimi Raikkonen is a specialist around the historic circuit in the heart of the Ardennes Forest. The Finn has won four times at Spa and is unfortunate not to be five time winner after spinning off  in the rain in 2008. His last win at Spa came in 2009 which was also his last win for the Scuderia. With a new contract keeping him at the team beyond this season in his back pocket it almost seems as if a weight has been lifted from his shoulders. 

The track itself is a classic and features some of the best corners in the world, such as the famous Eau Rouge, Pouhon and Blanchimont just to name a few, a slippery car with a strong power unit is key. Thankfully after a troublesome weekend in Hungary, Williams this weekend will be expecting to be much stronger at both Spa and at the following race at Monza. 

Force India were looking to be on for good points in Hungary until Sergio Perez came to blows with Pastor Maldonado and Nico Hulkenberg ending his race at the Turn 1 tyre barrier following a front wing failure – the heavily revised VJM08 could lead the team to a great finish this weekend. Force India scored their first and a highly unlikely podium in 2009, for whatever reason Force India enjoy coming to Spa.

For McLaren it could be an exciting weekend. Whilst the team have struggled overall this season, Alonso and Button both scored crucial points at the last weekend whilst Alonso also got his first points of the season at the race before at Silverstone to open his account. Honda are bringing an update to their power unit which has been somewhat of a let down this season and just at the right time too. Both Spa and Monza require horsepower to deliver a good lap time. If they have the power this weekend and more importantly reliability, then McLaren could be scoring more points this weekend.

Speaking of power-units, Red Bull could be in for a long weekend, however, with that said, Daniel Ricciardo did manage to win this race last year. Hungary was a great race for the team which saw both Ricciardo and Daniil Kvyat finish the afternoon on the podium. Thankfully with rain in the air for Sunday’s race, Red Bull could be thrown a lifeline.

Will the rain come this weekend? It is more a question of when as opposed to if. When the rain comes at Spa is creates incredible racing, just look at 2008 and 2010 for recent examples.

Have Mercedes got this race in the bag before it has already begun thanks to their superior package? Or have the rest of the field made strides throughout the summer period? Leave your predictions below.