The Formula 1 summer break is over, so it’s off to Belgium for the drivers and their teams. The thirteenth race of the season is almost certainly going to be unlucky for some – but who will come out on top this weekend?
The Formula 1 Belgian Grand Prix – Can Lewis Hamilton Make the Most of His Position?
Lewis Hamilton is currently sitting pretty at the top of the table with 213 points – 24 more than Sebastian Vettel, his closest rival. The Mercedes driver will be keen to capitalise on his lead at Spa-Francorchamps and has an impressive record at the track, having won the 2010, 2015 and 2017 editions of the race. Hamilton also has a further psychological advantage, having triumphed at the previous race. He claimed another motorsports trophy for his collection at the Hungarian Grand Prix, while a delayed pit stop and contact with Valtteri Bottas put pay to Vettel’s challenge. The German driver eventually finished second, with his Ferrari teammate, Kimi Raikkonen, taking the final podium place.
Vettel will be desperate to get his title campaign back on track this weekend and prevent his chances of becoming world champion for the fifth time from slipping away. However, he hasn’t been as successful as Hamilton at Spa-Francorchamps in the past; the first and only time he won a Formula 1 race here was in 2013. The driver on the grid with the most F1 wins at the track is, in fact, Raikkonen, who has triumphed there four times. The last time he won the Belgian Grand Prix was in 2009 – but with eight podium appearances so far this season, could he be a credible threat this year?
2019’s Team Changes – How Will Recent Revelations Affect the Race?
It’s so close at the top of the table that each race has the potential to be game-changing at the moment, but the battle for the title hasn’t been the main talking point this summer. Two huge announcements hit the headlines during the break – Daniel Ricciardo revealed that he would be moving from Red Bull to Renault next season, then Fernando Alonso released a statement confirming that he was planning to retire.
Just two days after Alonso’s decision was announced, McLaren confirmed that he would be replaced by Carlos Sainz Jr. The 23-year-old Spaniard, who is currently eleventh in the drivers’ standings, is currently racing for Renault, on loan from Red Bull. It took Red Bull a little longer to announce their replacement for Ricciardo, but earlier this week they confirmed that Pierre Gasly would be moving up from Toro Rosso to take the seat.
Toro Rosso usually picks its drivers from the graduates of Red Bull’s young driver development programme, so Gasly’s vacated seat will almost certainly go to an F1 rookie. However, most of the teams have yet to confirm their 2019 line-ups and there are rumours that the seats of drivers such as McLaren’s Stoffel Vandoorne and Toro Rosso’s Brendon Hartley may be far from safe. Therefore, we could see a host of drivers fired up to fight for points this weekend, with those already set to move looking to prove their worth to their new teams and those still trying to secure seats desperate to show what they can do.
Which driver do you think will top the podium at the Belgian Grand Prix? What are your views on the latest team changes? Tell us in the comments section, on Twitter or on Facebook.