All info you need to see before the 2021 Belgian GP starts
Summer break is over! The legendary Spa-Francorchamps track will host the 2021 Belgian Grand Prix this weekend for another thrilling round of the Formula 1 World Championship and the first race of the second half of the campaign.
|Belgian F1 Grand Prix Facts & Figures|
|Spa-Francorchamps track info|
|Belgian GP Tyre Compounds|
|Spa weekend weather forecast|
|Belgian GP Podium Prediction|
The race will be the 12th of the Formula 1 campaign and will surely have a battle between Red Bull and Mercedes for the top spots, unless another unexpected result shows up as it did in Hungary.
Alpine’s Esteban Ocon is the most recent Grand Prix winner in the pinnacle of motorsport, after he took advantage of the first-lap disaster in the 2021 Hungarian Grand Prix and drove a steady race to claim top spot on the race.
Lewis Hamilton’s second place at Hungary and Red Bull’s Max Verstappen's unfortunate race helped the Mercedes’ driver retake the lead in the World Drivers’ Championship heading into the second half of the year.
Hamilton has 195 points to his name, eight ahead of the Dutchman (187), even though Verstappen has five wins against Hamiltons’ four in 2021. The pair could be looking at each other as the main threat on Saturday and Sunday, and starting the second half of the season well could be an indication of what’s to come in the rest of the calendar, which is also an uncertainty with some races still at risk.
Mercedes also surpassed Red Bull for the lead of the World Constructors’ championship, while Ferrari (Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc) and McLaren (Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo) are tied in their battle for P3 in the teams’ table. Moreover, Alpine’s huge day at the Hungaroring, with Ocon winning the race and Fernando Alonso taking P4 gave them a nine-point lead over AlphaTauri (Pierre Gasly and Yuki Tsunoda) in the duel for P5 in the WCC.
The rest of the field has Aston Martin (Sebastian Vettel and Lance Stroll) in seventh in the WCC, coming off a huge disappointment after Vettel’s P2 at Hungary was denied due to a fuel infringement. Williams’ double points-finish with Nicholas Latifi and George Russell at Hungary has given the team 10 points and eighth place in the teams’ table so far.
Alfa Romeo (Kimi Raikkonen and Antonio Giovinazzi) seats ninth with three points, while Haas (Mick Schumacher and Nikita Mazepin) has not scored yet and will need a crazy weekend in order to put some points on the board.
2021 Belgian GP Facts & Figures
The Belgian Grand Prix is an iconic round of the Formula World Championship which has been part of virtually every campaign of the pinnacle of motor racing in history.
The race on Sunday will be the 66th running of the Belgian Grand Prix as a part of the World Championship of drivers. The first championship race at Belgium took place in 1950, with legendary Juan Manuel Fangio winning for Alfa Romeo ahead of his teammate Luigi Fagioli.
Coincidentally, Alfa Romeo had won the first running of the Belgian Grand Prix in history, back in 1925 when Antonio Ascari dominated the Spa round of the World Manufacturers’ Championship.
The event has taken place at three different tracks, with Nivelles and Zolder hosting races in the 70s and early 80s. World Champions have won 50 editions of the Belgian round, with Michael Schumacher dominating the event six times, including his first-ever GP win in 1992.
Ayrton Senna (five), Jim Clark, Kimi Raikkonen and Lewis Hamilton (four each) follow Schumacher in the list of drivers with most wins in the Belgian Grand Prix. Senna and Clark had streaks of four consecutive wins at Spa each, which is a record at the iconic track.
Raikkonen and Hamilton are two of three active drivers to have multiple wins in Belgium alongside, with four-time champion Sebastian Vettel joining them with his three winners of the Belgian Grand Prix with Red Bull (2011 and 2013) and Ferrari (2018). Ricciardo (2014) and Leclerc (2019) are the other active drivers who have won at Spa.
In terms of team wins, Ferrari leads McLaren with 18 victories to 14. Lotus sits third with eight wins and Mercedes fourth with seven triumphs in three very different eras. They won twice in the European Championship, in 1935 and 1939 with Rudolf Caracciola and Hermann Lang, respectively. Then, Mercedes won an actual World Championship race in Belgium in 1955 with Fangio and added three more wins to their tally with Hamilton (2015, 2017 and 2020) and Nico Rosberg (2016) winning in the Hybrid Era.
A legendary circuit, Spa was originally a 15-kilometer track and it was shortened to a 14-kilometer course which was faster than the first version, while both layouts included public roads.
The circuit proved to be highly dangerous, with the 1960 event being the only one in Formula 1 history in which two drivers died during the same race (Chris Bristow and Alan Stacey suffered sad fatal accidents). Clark dominated the track during the 60s, with four straight wins from 1962 to 1965, but the drivers were fully aware of the dangers of the circuit and ultimately wanted it to adapt to safety measures or simply they would not compete there.
The track was ultimately boycotted in 1969 and though it returned in 1970 with Pedro Rodríguez’s win for BRM, the safety concerns remained and Spa-Francorchamps circuit was out of the calendar until 1983, ironically, a year after legendary Gilles Villeneuve lost his life in one of the other venues of the Belgian Grand Prix, Zolder.
The new 7-kilometer track was designed in 1979, and it has remained similar until recent years, though the last sector was changed in 2007, with The Bus Stop changed and the main straight extended.
Peter Collins (1956), Jim Clark (1962), Michael Schumacher (1992), and Charles Leclerc (2019) all took their maiden GP win at Spa-Francorchamps. Schumacher made his F1 debut in 1991 at Spa and sealed his seventh and final Formula 1 World Championship in 2004 in the Belgian circuit.
In the 2000 race, two-time champion Mika Hakkinen made one of Formula 1 greatest overtakes ever, with a backmarker in the middle of the track. Schumacher overtook the backmarker, Ricardo Zonta, on the left side of the Kemmel Straight before Les Combes, while Hakkinen overtook them both after taking the inside line into Les Combes and went on to win the race.
In the Hybrid Era, Red Bull, Mercedes, and Ferrari have won races at Spa.
This year’s race will be the 54th Belgian Grand Prix celebrated at Spa-Francorchamps circuit.
The track seems to be a power-demanding one, but it has 20 corners and the middle sector creates a setup problem which prompts the need for the teams to produce a lot of downforce. It is not easy to have the right setup for Spa, but balance is key to perform an overall great lap. However, a car without high top speed will suffer a bit in the Kemmel Straight on Sunday, especially if that car starts on Pole Position and has no car in front to take advantage of the slipstream. Still, a fast car in the middle sector can have a proper shot at great results.
The current layout is 7.004-km long and the track records are held by Lewis Hamilton, with an outright Fastest Lap of 1:41.253 min in 2020 and Valtteri Bottas, with the Fastest Lap during a race of 1:46.286 min at an average speed of 237.231 km/h in 2018.
2021 Belgian Grand Prix - Tyres
The dry tyres for the 2021 Belgian Grand Prix will be the C2 as P Zero White hard, C3 as P Zero Yellow Medium, and C4 as P Zero Red soft.
Pirelli explained their choice with a simple statement in a press release: “The forces put through the tyres at the Belgian Grand Prix are high, especially at the famous Eau Rouge-Raidillon complex, where the tyres are subjected to a fierce compression and heavy g forces over one of the fastest parts of the track.
The Kemmel Straight at nearly 800 metres long, has the effect of cooling the tyres down, which affects grip through the following corners. In fact, from the exit of La Source all the way to Les Combes (which follows the Kemmel Straight) is a distance of just over two kilometres without any braking.”
The minimum starting pressures for the tyres will be 24.0 PSI (front) and 22.0 PSI (rear).
Pirelli’s head of F1 and car racing, Mario Isola, also offered his thoughts about the strategies seen last year at Spa and what we could expect for 2021: “The Belgian Grand Prix marks our third visit to Spa within a month in very different contexts, following the Spa 24 Hours, the Ypres Rally Belgium – which had its final day at Spa – and now Formula 1.
The challenges of this track, especially when it comes to the weather, are well-known, as are the loads placed on the tyres. Last year the top three qualified on the medium tyre, while the soft offered a good step up in grip but required more management, and so was not considered to be an optimal race tyre. The majority of drivers went from medium to hard, with the pit stop dictated by the safety car at lap 11 for most of them. So we could see an interesting mix of strategies this year.”
2021 Belgian Grand Prix Weather Forecast
Friday, Sep 27th - FP1 & FP2
Conditions: A couple of showers
Max. temperature: 14°C
Chance of rain: 64%
Saturday, Sep 28th - FP3 & Qualifying
Conditions: A couple of showers
Max. temperature: 16°C
Chance of rain: 73%
Sunday, Sep 29th - Race
Conditions: A couple of showers
Max. temperature: 16°C
Chance of rain: 62%
Who will be on the 2021 Belgian Grand Prix Podium?
The weather forecast was quite similar for race day of the 2020 Belgian Grand Prix, and the race ended up being a dry one. Still, the chances of rain are big for the 2021 Belgian Grand Prix, and as we saw at the Hungaroring in the most recent Grand Prix, rain can and often will be decisive on the results.
With rain, some teams that are in the middle of the pack can take risks that those at the top might not even consider, and that’s how we see Lewis Hamilton starting by himself on the grid on intermediate tyres while the entire field pit behind him for dry tyres.
If rain shows up at Spa, the race could be thrilling and the winner could be anyone. Of course, Hamilton and Verstappen are great on the wet as long as unfortunate situations or strategic mistakes do not happen.
Seeing the championship contenders battle it out in the rain will definitely be a nice sight, but we cannot discard any of the other competitors if the weather forecast turns out to be reliable, for once.
Valtteri Bottas is set to have a tough weekend ahead, as he carries a five-place grid penalty from Hungary after causing one of the two main collisions at the start of the race, which involved the two Red Bulls and McLaren’s Lando Norris. The other collision, that had Charles Leclerc and Daniel Ricciardo as the unfortunate drivers, was caused by Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll. The Canadian will also serve a five-place grid penalty at a track where the teams preceding the current Aston Martin structure have scored the fourth-most points in the last five seasons at Spa.
Engine-related penalties will also be a possibility for many competitors at Spa.
Moreover, a predictable race might not be ahead of us, with rain as a possibility and also the tightness between Red Bull and Mercedes in the last two races could suggest that setup will decide this one, especially if it is a dry race.
Options for other teams will also be there, under the right circumstances, while drivers out of the Top 2 in the WDC could be in contention even for a win if the weather plays a big role on Sunday or even Saturday.
The prediction for the top three of the 2021 Belgian Grand Prix is 1. Max Verstappen, 2. Lewis Hamilton, 3. Charles Leclerc.
Tell us your prediction in the comments below.
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