The Formula 1 Season is Back – Can Anybody Stop Hamilton and Mercedes?

After a month’s break throughout August, the Formula 1 season will get back into gear this coming weekend as the teams will convene at the popular Spa Francorchamps circuit in Belgium for one of the most exciting and unpredictable Grand Prix of the season. Indeed, if Belgium can live up to its reputation for upsets, then it may well throw some much-needed excitement into the mix for the remaining F1 season.

That’s because the first half of the season has been utterly dominated by Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton. Mercedes drivers have won 10 of the first 12 races of the season and Hamilton has picked up eight of those wins. The net result of this is that Mercedes lead the constructor’s race by a huge margin and Hamilton has an equally large lead over his teammate Valtteri Bottas in the Driver’s Championship too.

However, with the weather often unpredictable at Belgium and the circuit being one that can turn the form book on its head, Belgium often gives us an exciting start to the second half of the season and this weekend could well prove to be the same.

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Current Standings (after 12 races)

Driver’s Championship

  • Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) – 250 (8 race wins)
  • Valeri Bottas (Mercedes) – 188 (2 race wins)
  • Max Verstappen (Red Bull) – 181 (2 race wins)
  • Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari) – 156
  • Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) – 132
  • Pierre Gasly (Toro Rosso) – 63
  • Carlos Sainz Jr (McLaren) – 58
  • Kimi Raikkonen (Alfa Romeo) – 31
  • Danil Kvyat (Toro Rosso) – 27
  • Lando Norris (McLaren) – 24
  • Daniel Ricciardo (Renault) – 22
  • Lance Stroll (Racing Point) – 18
  • Kevin Magnussen (Haas) – 18
  • Nico Hulkenberg (Renault) – 17
  • Alexander Albon (Red Bull) – 16
  • Sergio Perez (Racing Point) – 13
  • Roman Grosjean (Haas) – 8
  • Alberto Giovanazzi (Alfa Romeo) – 1
  • Robert Kubica (Williams) – 1
  • George Russell (Williams) – 0

Constructor’s Championship

  • Mercedes – 438
  • Ferrari – 288
  • Red Bull – 244
  • McLaren – 82
  • Toro Rosso – 43
  • Renault – 39
  • Alfa Romeo – 32
  • Racing Point – 31
  • Haas – 26
  • Williams – 1

Gasly Demoted from Red Bull, Albon Promoted

After Hamilton’s win in Hungary on the final race before the summer break, there was some big news in the paddock when Red Bull announced a driver change. Although driver’s change teams often, it usually happens at the end of the season, but Red Bull decided to make a change immediately following the result in Hungary.

Pierre Gasly, who has clearly underperformed this season behind Max Verstappen and who was lapped by his team mate in Hungary, was demoted back to Red Bull’s second string Toro Rosso team and from that team Alexander Albon was handed the seat in the Red Bull for the Belgium race onwards.

It is hoped Albon will be able to better match the performance of Verstappen and bring in more points for the team after Gasly struggled to perform anywhere near the standard Red Bull would have expected from their second driver.

That change aside, the other teams and driver’s on the grid will remain the same, at least for the time being.

Belgium Grand Prix Factfile

At 7.004 kilometers long, the Spa Francorchamps circuit in Belgium is the longest in the F1 season and its undulating hills, tricky corners and fast straights make it one of the more testing, but enjoyable drives for the drivers.

Their love for the circuit belies how difficult it is, especially if the weather (as can often happen) decides to be on the wetter side. This in turn can help produce some truly magical and exciting races, especially when one part of the track is bathed in sunshine and another is experiencing a downpour, which has happened in the past in the race.

Of the current crop of drivers in F1, only four have tasted victory at the circuit. Daniel Ricciardo’s single win came in 2014 while Lewis Hamilton (2010, 2015, 2017) and Sebastian Vettel (2011, 2013, 2018) have both recorded three wins. The driver with the most wins however is Kimi Raikkonen who landed four wins (2004, 2005 for McLaren-Mercedes and in 2007 and 2009 for Ferrari).

Michael Schumacher is the most successful driver at the race with six wins in total on the circuit that was the German legend’s most favourite in the F1 calendar. Ayrton Senna is next on the all-time winning drivers list with five wins including four in a row between 1988 and 1991.

Belgium Grand Prix Tips

To Win Outright

History shows that it is difficult to win the Belgian Grand Prix in successive years, the last person to do that was Kimi Raikkonen in 2004 and 2005. This suggests that last year’s winner Sebastian Vettel may have difficulty repeating the feat this year.

Ferrari will have been working hard to bridge the gap between them and Mercedes in that summer break and I don’t think the driver’s or team will have had too much time off over the last few weeks. However, it remains to be seen whether the gulf in performance can be bridged and my gut feeling is that it won’t have been.

That means I feel it is likely to be a race between Hamilton, Bottas and Verstappen once again. It’s clear that Hamilton is Mercedes number 1 driver, despite what Toto Wolff may say to the contrary, so I would expect Bottas to once again be in a more supporting role for Hamilton, which hands the British driver an advantage.

As such, I think Hamilton’s main challenge will once again come from Max Verstappen, as it has done over the last few races and it is going to be interesting to see how this rivalry develops over the remainder of the season and in years to come.

The weather could play a big part this weekend, but even so, I still feel Mercedes are going to win the race and Hamilton will be the man to do that.

Race Tip – 1st Hamilton, 2nd Verstappen, 3rd Bottas.

Hamilton to win – 11/8 at bet365 Sport

*All odds shown are correct as of 11am on Monday 26th August 2019 at bet365 Sport.

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