The second half of the 2017 F1 season gets underway out in Belgium this weekend.
After weeks of inertia, the F1 field will finally make their return to track. And what a venue to reboot the season at! I mean Spa is still one of the few fire breathing dragons left on the calendar, with its highspeed turn capable of catching even the best of drivers off guard. We should be in for an absolute belter of a race weekend here with Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel set to resume their Cold War in one of the former USSR states.
We’ll preview the race weekend as well as how the Constructors’ and Drivers’ Championships currently stand below.
How Things Stand
Current Drivers’ and Constructors Standings
Top spot on the Drivers’ Championship is currently occupied by Ferrari’s main man, Sebastian Vettel. The German has been in sensational form this term winning four of the 11 races that have been held. He’s managed to get himself on the podium on four further occasions with his only non-podium finishes coming at the British Grand Prix, in Azerbaijani and in Canada. He currently sits 14 points ahead of Lewis Hamilton on the Drivers’ standings and 33 points ahead of Valtteri Bottas.
Driver’s Championship Standings (Top 10)
Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari) 202 | Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) 188 | Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) 169 | Daniel Ricciardo (Red Bull) 117 | Kimi Raikonnen (Ferrari) 116 | Max Verstappen (Red Bull) 67 | Sergio Perez (Force India) 56 | Esteban Ocon (Force India) 45 | Carlos Sainz 45 (Toro Rosso) | Nico Hulkenberg 26 (Renault)
While Vettel has been dominating the Drivers’ Championship, it has translated to a lead in the Constructors’ standings for Ferrari as they trail Mercedes by 39 points. The main reason for the Silver Arrows dominating the Constructors’ Championship is that both of their drivers have contributed while Ferrari needs Kimi Raikkonen to produce more top three finishes.
In total, Mercedes have won six of the 11 Grand Prix held, with Hamilton topping the pops on four occasions and Bottas winning twice. Red Bull are the only other team to win a race, with Daniel Ricciardo claiming the honours out in Azerbaijan.
Mercedes 357 | Ferrari 318 | Red Bull 184 | Force India 104 | Williams 41 | Toro Rosso 49 | Haas 39 | Renault 26 | Honda 11 | Sauber 5
Belgian Grand Prix | Sunday 27 August | Spa-Francorchamps | 13:30
To Win Race
Lewis Hamilton 7/10 | Sebastian Vettel 7/2 | Valtteri Bottas 7/2 | Kimi Raikonnen 12/1 | Max Verstappen 20/1 | Daniel Ricciardo 22/1 | Sergio Perez 750/1 | Esteban Ocon 750/1
While most tracks that have endured safety changes have become tame lap dogs, Spa is still a snarling beast that’s capable of taking even the most experienced drivers’ heads off. The reason this track is so perilous are the sweeping high-speed corners that see drivers open up the taps on.
One can’t speak of the 19 hair-raising corners that the drivers will have to contend with without mentioning Blanchimont. This challenging and extremely dangerous turn leads onto the start/finish straight, and while it is a great zone to have a dive at an overtake, it has caught many a driver out in the past.
Another area of the circuit that will really test drivers’ ability is the left-right-left sequence of turns which starts at the bottom of the Eau Rouge corner and runs through Radillon. This segment contains a steep climb that leads into a marvellous uphill right-hander.
Sunday’s race distance will span some 308 kilometres with each lap equating to just over seven kilometres. Drivers will duke it out over 44 of these lengthy laps and we’re likely to see a whole host of different tyre tactics employed.
Due to the wide nature of the track, qualifying on pole doesn’t really mean much here. His is evident when you look at the following stat; only six of the last 13 race winners were drivers who qualified on pole. Also, Lewis Hamilton started last year’s race at the back of the grid due to a technical penalty but still managed to claim third place – this certainly is a track that caters to drivers who fancy the overtake.
Spa is notorious for late afternoon rain showers and it looks like that will be the case this weekend with afternoon thundershowers being predicted on all three days of the race weekend.
Pirelli has opted to issue the Ultra-Softs and Super-softs for the race weekend, which is a bit of a gamble considering two drivers had the softs blowout on them in last year’s race.
Fernando Alonso – Podium Finish – Yes – 100/1
Is the tide finally turning at McLaren? Well they managed to claim the fastest lap accolade out in Hungary with veteran Spaniards Fernando Alonso setting a blistering time. The talk coming out of the McLaren garage is that the team has made some major improvements to the car during the break. Based on the aforementioned two factors, I’ll be having a small strike on the former Ferrari man to land himself on the podium this weekend.
Max Verstappen: Podium Finish – Yes – 5/2
Max Verstappen may not offer as much Value as Fernando Alonso to claim a spot on the podium, but the youngster has a much better chance of achieving it. The young gun was sensational in qualifying here last year but an incident with the two Ferraris, off the start line, scuppered any hope he had of claiming a top three finish. I think Spa and the race gods will be a lot more kind to young maniac this time around. And at 5/2, he’s certainly worth a moderate strike.
To Win Race – Daniel Ricciardo 22/1
Okay, I’ve left both Hamilton and Seb out of the equation here as I think we are going to see he grinning Aussie claim his second victory of the season. Ricciardo has a healthy record at the track finishing second in 2016 and first in 2015. It’s a bit of a risk but a Ricciardo win is well worth a R10 to R20 stake.