Button hoping upgrades boost McLaren at Spa

By Jessica Borrell

  • Spa-Francorchamps preview
  • Crucial upgrades for McLaren
  • Who has fared best from the summer break?

Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium – The 2015 season resumes with a legendary test for drivers after the summer break.

Spa-Francorchamps has to be the ultimate track for current drivers to race on. They love this track; the heritage, the wheel-to-wheel combat through the historic Eau Rouge, and the sweeping Kemmel straight taken flat out is magnificent to watch, let alone drive. A pleasant reminder to Mr Ecclestone; the best tracks don’t need any trickery to be favoured by fans and drivers.

This weekend commences the latter half of the season, with the serious business of points and places to be determined. If competing in theBelgian Grand Prix wasn’t tough enough, the ongoing saga of driver line-ups with a new team entering the sport can be distracting. It can provide vital opportunities to impress, or show destructive lapses in concentration when you’re looking for a seat next season.

McLaren trading in their tokens

McLaren received their first double points finish of the season at the Hungaroring a month ago and declared it a “turning point”. From Spa onwards, updates being introduced are hoping to turn around what has been their worst season to date.

Jenson Button told Sky Sports after the Hungarian Grand Prix last month that it is a step in the right direction but they need more.

It is definitely a step forward in terms of the performance, the car was enjoyable to drive, but we need another step forward if we are to repeat this again.”

McLaren’s extra token allowance is being used on their biggest issue…Honda (or to be more precise their engine). We have seen at slower tracks that the car isn’t a monster to drive but there is simply not enough power. We see in action Fernando Alonso and Button can fend off many attackers, but on a straight they are sitting ducks.

Don’t presume McLaren will be fighting with the likes of Williams this weekend, but expect them not to sit at the back of the grid with the Manor Marussia’s.

Summer break winners and losers

To look at each driver pairing on paper there are some you would expect to be trouncing their teammate, but more entertainingly for all there are many surprisingly even fights, shown by the fierce fighting we have all loved this season. For instance, results show that Lewis Hamilton is confidently leading the championship from teammate Nico Rosberg by 24 points, but the last three races haven’t been easy for either Mercedes driver and Hamilton’s lacklustre starts are leaving him with a lot of work to do during a race.

Both Ferrari drivers have had their share of misfortune, but Kimi Raikonnen has come off far worse in the driver standings, with Sebastian Vettel starting to produce the fairytale season that the Tifosi were expecting from him.

If you look further down the grid, with Sauber and Torro Rosso, no driver has led the team in performance, with results showing Felipe Nasr and Max Verstappen are easily leading their teammate on points. It has to be mentioned that the creative and exciting pairing of Carlos Sainz and Verstappen is a rare but great sight to see from a junior team, who on occasion have out performed the senior Red Bull team.

Back to the future for Haas F1

It’s easy to forget with all the drama on the track that there is a new outfit coming to Formula 1 in 2016, Haas F1. After buying equipment from the Caterham auction, and gaining public support from Ferrari, new team boss Gene Haas has shortlisted his desired drivers, with the likes of Ferrari’s very own reserve driver Esteban Gutierrez and American GP2 racer Alexander Rossi as rumoured targets.

Whilst being questioned by Motorsport.com on the subject of their preferred pairing, Haas was quick to remind that he won’t have it all his own way when forming his team.

We’re also actually waiting for the current F1 teams to make their decisions before we will. You never know who’ll become available. It seems like the bigger teams are putting in younger and younger drivers, so some of the more experienced drivers might become available,” he said.

The Belgian Grand Prix starts at 1pm and is live on Sky Sports F1 with highlights on the BBC.

 

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