Red Bull is still unlucky for Max
Max Verstappen’s season hasn’t gone the way anybody wanted or suspected at the beginning of the season. The young Dutchman is right now 50/50 in his season – finishing half his races and retiring from the other half. Worst of all, the fault lies mostly not on Verstappen, but on his team. Yet again in Belgium, in front of what was primarily a home crowd (with up to 80,000 Dutch fans attending), Max Verstappen had to retire in lap 7, when he was still fighting for fourth place with Ferrari’s Kimi Räikkönen. Red Bull have let Verstappen down countless times, and this no doubt ranks as one of the most hurtful ones.
At the moment the people at Red Bull HQ can breathe calmly, as Max is contracted to them for 2018. But, if this trend continues over to next season, we might see the crown jewel of the Red Bull’s development program move on to greener pastures.
Ricciardo is the restart master
Spa is definitely one of the most power-requiring tracks in the F1 calendar, so Mercedes and Ferrari were always favoured to be the contenders for the chequered flag. But somehow, through all the mess of Sunday’s race, Daniel Ricciardo managed to make it to the podium, beating both Kimi Raikkonen and Valtteri Bottas and making up for the points the team lost when Max Verstappen retired. If the season has been unlucky for Verstappen, it has certainly been the opposite for Ricciardo.
Yet again, the always-smiling Aussie managed to make his critical move at a safety car restart. Going through Eau Rouge and Raidillon into the Kemmel straight with a Tag Heuer (Renault) engine against a Ferrari and a Mercedes seemed to be a doomed attempt. But Ricciardo managed to pull off an outstanding overtake on Bottas and keep behind Raikkonen, who came close to replicating Mika Hakkinen’s legendary overtaking of Michael Schumacher in 2000. This wasn’t the first time this season Ricciardo has shined in a restart. In Baku, he seemingly won the race thanks to his double overtake on the first straight after the safety car had left the track.
The drivers’ championship is now a two horse race
Going into the summer break, the fight for the drivers’ championship was still a fight between Lewis Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel and Valtteri Bottas, but after returning to work, the Finn might have his dream shattered in Belgium. After an okay start, where he managed to keep hold of third place, he fell far behind Hamilton and Vettel, but didn’t face a challenge from Kimi Raikkonen behind him. However, the safety car and restart cost him a place on the podium and most likely any chance of fighting for the championship, as after today, he is 41 points behind championship leader Sebastian Vettel and 34 points behind his teammate Lewis Hamilton. Even winning a race with both of his contenders not finishing won’t let Bottas overtake either of his rivals.
However, some positive news for Bottas came in Spa. Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff admitted to the Finnish media that Valtteri’s contract extension is 100% guaranteed, unless Wolff gets hit by a bus.
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