Mercedes to bounce back?
Ferrari delivered the final blow of the first half of the 2017 season, as they secured a 1-2 finish in Hungary, despite Sebastian Vettel having a steering issue for the full race. The Scuderia were always favorites going into the Hungarian GP, but nevertheless, Lewis Hamilton won’t have been the least pleased to see Vettel extend his championship lead by 13 points, after the Brit managed to close the gap down to just a single point after the British Grand Prix.
Mercedes will be hungry to return to winning ways this weekend in Spa, a track which they should be securing victory at. The 7,004 km circuit boasts several long straights and high-speed corners, which will suit the Silver Arrows. They will be expecting to hold a considerable edge over their Italian title-rivals, as was the case in Silverstone.
Despite the Brackley team having won over half the races this season, they have only managed to secure a 1-2 finish on a couple of occasions. You wouldn’t bet against them securing their third of the season come the checkered flag on Sunday.
Raikkonen to beat Vettel?
Kimi Raikkonen will have felt hard done by last time out in Hungary, as he was left out to dry by the team. As mentioned above, Vettel was experiencing steering issues right from lights out, which was consequently affecting his pace.
The Finn was the faster man on that day, but Ferrari did not give the orders to Vettel to let his teammate past. Kimi was left with the task of having to fend off the Mercs, and essentially act as a barrier between Hamilton and Vettel.
The motives behind Ferrari’s decision to not perform the switch of their drivers was clear. They wanted Vettel to maximize the best possible result for himself, in order to extend his lead in the championship by the greatest margin achievable. But this was a risky maneuver by the Scuderia, as it could have very well cost them a 1-2 finish.
Going into Spa, then, the Ice Man will be hungry to finish ahead of Vettel in the race for what would be only the second time this season. Raikkonen is a specialist around Spa-Francorchamps, having won at the track on four occasions, so he will certainly favour his chances against his teammate, and will be out to prove a point on why Ferrari announced earlier today that they are keeping him on for 2018.
Verstappen will hope for a change in fortune
Max Verstappen couldn’t have dreamt of a worse first half of the season, as he has had a torrid time so far in 2017. The teen’s season has been plagued by reliability issues, and just plain bad luck. His Red Bull car has failed him on too many occasions, including races where a good result was on the cards.
Verstappen will be desperately wishing for a much improved second half of the season, starting at what is essentially his home race, due to the absence of a Dutch Grand Prix. As it was last season, there is likely to be a huge Dutch support once again, cheering on their country’s fine racing talent.
Through no fault of his own, Verstappen was unable to give his fans a show back in Austria where his race was ended in the first corner. There would be no better place to get a really good result behind his belt, not only to put behind the mishaps of Hungary, but to give the orange wall of fans a show which he’s proven more than capable of delivering.
Crunch time for several drivers
We are approaching the stage of the season now where driver line-ups for the next season are considered, and contract negotiations are undertaken. This means that for those who have had a poor first half of the season, it really is the time to turn their year around, before it’s too late.
Jolyon Palmer, Daniil Kvyat, and Marcus Ericsson are just a few to name who are under the cosh, and need to start performing a whole lot better. The Belgian Grand Prix presents a brilliant opportunity to do just that, as one solid performance can often turn the tables, and be followed by a run of good races, which is ultimately what will give them a chance of retaining their seat for next season.
Team bosses will have given thought to their 2018 driver line-up over the summer break, which makes it all the more important for a strong performance this weekend. An unimpressive display can reaffirm the thoughts gathered over the summer break, whereas the opposite can make team bosses reconsider taking on a new driver for 2018. A big weekend, then, for those who need to start performing sooner rather than later.
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