BELGIAN GRAND PRIX: F1 returns after a four week lay-off and Mercedes will be looking to bounce back from the drubbing Ferrari visited upon them at Hungary last time out. The championship battle moves to the Spa Francorchamps track in Belgium this weekend and offers the silver arrows a perfect opportunity to respond.
The Belgian grand prix is a classic track. On the F1 calendar in some form or other since 1925, 20 of the quickest prototype racing cars in the world will tear through the Ardenne Forest this Sunday in a true test of an F1 car’s capabilities. With dramatic elevation changes, changeable weather conditions, high speed corners and long straights, Spa offers challenges in every department.
A strong aero-power balance is vital to win in Belgium. This is where Mercedes could and should excel. If we take a look at Silverstone, the closest thing to this track so far this season, Ferrari could be in a spot of bother here, combined with Red Bull’s poor showing at the same track and Mercedes could enjoy an unusually easy weekend.
Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas boast the best engine and the best aero package for fast corners, therefore you can’t look past them.
Best of the Rest
As tends to be the case, one of the Mercedes customer teams will be well set to benefit for the same reasons. The differentiator being their respective aero packages. Force India have the car for all conditions it seems and they’re romping away with the ‘best of the rest’ title. A sixty point Championship lead over a declining Williams team illustrates this.
If you’re looking for something with better odds then back Renault. They’re applying constant updates to both chassis and engine and should be set to surge.
One team that might struggle to feature in the points at Belgium are Toro Rosso. The junior Red Bull team have flattered to deceive the season and are starting to feel the ill-effects of their year old Ferrari engine. Factor in the long straights at Spa and the kamikaze nature of Daniil Kvyat’s driving this season and you’ve a strong contender for the midfield’s weakest outfit this weekend.
A look at past form on this track throws an interesting spanner into our prediction of a dominant Mercedes weekend. Kimi Raikkonen absolutely loves this track. A four time winner, and a man who’s just been signed up for another year at Scuderia Ferrari. The Finn has been patchy this season but will arrive at Spa-Francorchamps in high spirits. Anyone tempted by an outside bet will land here, at 13.5 on our exchange he’s better value than most weekends.
Raikkonen’s teammate has registered two wins here from his Red Bull hey-days, Sebastian Vettel (5.1) has been in stellar form and could possibly split the two Mercedes drivers by the time the chequered flag drops. Also with two wins here is Lewis Hamilton (1.85), he would’ve likely won more but for ill fortune.
He was punted off the road by his teammate in 2014, and suffered multiple grid penalties for mechanical issues last year.
All of the above may be thrown in the air if it rains. Which is currently a 50 per cent possibility for Sunday. Red Bull’s Max Verstappen (22.0) is the man to back in the rain.
While Raikkonen may have the course form, and Vettel may have won the last race, F1 2017 has proven to be extremely track specific when it comes to the driver’s machinery. On this basis we can’t look past Lewis Hamilton. While 1.84 for the win is quite short, Mercedes have the car for this track, Spa is a driver’s circuit, and next to Bottas, Hamilton is still the better driver.
A look at our specials offers an opportunity to get some value. ‘Mercedes Domination’ requires all three Mercedes powered teams and their drivers to finish in the points this weekend. With Mercedes and Force India well positioned and likely to do so then taking a punt on Williams to join them at 9.0 could offer great dividends.
A more sure and solid bet is our ‘Pretty in Pink’ special. At 1.9, it would represent a minor shock for Esteban Ocon and Sergio Perez to fail to make the points. There’s only two races where they didn’t get both cars into the points and only one race where both failed to score. It’s a short price but it’s almost guaranteed returns.
A bigger dividend midfield bet is to back this apparent Renault comeback. The odds haven’t caught up with their updates as of yet, and if they’re as effective as the team say, backing ‘Renault Resurgence’ for a double points finish at 7.8 could be a great call.
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