By Neil Leverett
- Formula 1 resumes this weekend after its’ month-long summer break
- Round 13 arrives at Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium
- Britain’s Lewis Hamilton holds 24-point lead in Drivers’ Championship after win in Hungary
SPA-FRANCORCHAMPS, BELGIUM – As F1 resumes this weekend after its’ now traditional summer hiatus, Lewis Hamilton looks to hold and extend his advantage over Sebastian Vettel in Belgium.
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Hamilton holds advantage after summer break
As the Formula 1 season resumes this weekend in Belgium, Lewis Hamilton holds a healthy lead in the World Drivers’ Championship with a 24-point cushion over rivals Sebastian Vettel, as the circuit drops into Spa-Francorchamps.
With almost an single race advantage – in terms of points – the 33-year-old Briton is in the literal driving seat with eight races remaining of the season.
After the German won in Hamilton’s back yard of Silverstone back in July, the Briton has won back-to-back races on the calendar gaining vengeance in Germany and last time out at the Hungaroring in Budapest – ahead of Vettel.
McLaren Mercedes’ number one man is in the ascendancy and has full momentum on his side, and as Vettel looks to close the gap once more in the leafy Belgian enclave of Stavelot, the Briton’s form could be ominous as Hamilton has won in Belgium in two of the last three years.
Vettel seeks rejuvenation in fortunes
The last two weekends of last month were rather trying occasions for Vettel meanwhile. Hamilton’s win in Hungary saw the Mercedes man nose ahead in the race wins tally for the campaign with five, but such has been the unpredictable nature of this season, a possible swing in momentum is only as far as the next chicane.
The Briton may have the rubber and tarmac over his nemesis as the two battle to reach an historic five world titles, but with month off of R&R, Vettel may fancy notching his first win at Spa since 2013 winning then for Red Bull.
Indeed, the signs are good. The German has not yet be fastest in practice pre-qualifying but on Friday in the first session, Vettel finished top of the pile.
It was Kimi Raikkonen who then headed of the charts in the second session, and though Vettel was below Hamilton – who clocked the second fastest time – it seems Ferrari mean business this weekend, happily for Vettel.
Constructors’ battle hots up
Not only for Ferrari’s top dog, but for the his employers also. With just 10 points separating both Italian and German manufacturers, the Constructors Championship looks as tight as ever, with barely double figures Mercedes advantage as the teams arrived in Belgium.
Having dominated practice, Ferrari’s aim to fire back into the second half of the season looks set to hold some weight. However, as we have seen as the business end of the weekend begins in qualifying in has been the car emblazoned in silver that have dictated much – often surging late in Q3.
As Ferrari still come to terms with the sudden loss of Sergio Marchionne as Maurizio Arrivabene fills the Italian’s rather bulky shoes, Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has his own team focused on events of this weekend, but Wolff, despite Mercedes having won the past three season running believes there are no favourites this weekend. Wolff told PlanetF1:
“It’s very difficult to make any predictions for Spa.
If this season has taught us one thing, it’s that there are no clear favourites for specific tracks anymore and that it’s not always the fastest car that wins. Instead, the competitive balance seems to swing back and forth from circuit to circuit. What is clear is that our competitors are pushing extremely hard and put up a very tough fight.
So, we need to keep our heads down, work hard to eliminate our weaknesses and further build on our strengths, and take the season race by race. 2018 promises to be a season that we will still be talking about in years to come and we can’t wait to get out there and start racing again.”
The Belgian Grand Prix takes place this weekend at Spa-Francorchamps, with the race on Sunday at 2.10pm BST.
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