Let’s see them race
Formula One returns after its four week summer break at the ever popular Spa-Francorchamps, home of the Belgian Grand Prix. Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg will continue their titanic battle for the drivers title, Caterham have a new driver and the grid will react to their new colleague for 2015, 16-year-old Max Verstappen. It's going to be an interesting weekend.
Formula One has been in the headlines all summer but now, finally, we’re back to enjoy the final eight races. At the front it’s fair to say that the gods weren’t on Hamilton’s side during the first half of the year. The mid-season break came at the perfect time. Those recovery drivers were beginning to take their toll, not even Hamilton could do that every week. The time away will be like pressing the refresh button.
Rosberg must be frustrated that he isn’t further ahead. The German could easily be over 40 points clear, instead the gap is just 11. For that reason Hamilton will feel, strangely, that he is carrying the momentum. Even with luck on his side, Rosberg can’t quite build a comfortable lead. Surely that will come back to hurt him?
Spa will test both and push them to the absolute maximum. Hamilton is the favourite for pole and is the only driver on the gird who has qualified fastest more than once before.
But his recent qualifying record suggests he won’t be near the front following problems in the last four races. As good as his comeback drives have been, it’s time to see Hamilton and Rosberg battle it out like they did in Bahrain, Spain and Hungary. Only then will we able to see who is best.
Imagine them going through eau rouge almost side by side? It’s what F1 wants.
Is there a more pure racing venue than Spa? Monza comes close, Suzuka and Monte-Carlo are up there but The Belgian Grand Prix is something else. The track remains largely unchanged in an era where old venues are losing their allure. Spa, however, remains the most popular jewel in F1’s crown.
Drivers love it for its ‘real racing’ feel. The feeling a driver gets when he accelerates out of the first corner, up the hill, sling shots through eau rouge and down the long straight at 200mph is unimaginable. That sort of buzz is why drivers are addicted to what they do and risk their lives.
Buried in the Ardennes, Spa is a throwback to old school racing. The changes in typography, the sweeping corners and the high speed turns make it, along with Monte-Carlo, the greatest challenge an F1 driver can face.
Rain is always a threat and could be a factor during qualifying, but Sunday is expected to remain dry. The circuit will favour those with Mercedes engines, so Williams are in contention for a strong weekend. Pirelli have supplied the white medium and yellow soft tyres.
Kamui Kobayashi’s F1 career is hanging in the balance after he has been replaced for this weekend by German Andre Lotterer. Caterham say that Kobayashi is still part of the team but Lotterer has come in for his experience in changing conditions. The 32-year-old is the oldest debutant in F1 since 1995 and has won three Le-Mans races before, including this year.
Track length- 7.004 KM
Lap record- Sebastian Vettel (2009) 1:47.263s
If we get what we need, a fair fight between Hamilton and Rosberg, then expect the Brit to come out in top. Yet, this column has said that all season and it’s only happened once. So, perhaps, take no notice.