After the (extremely) long summer break, F1 is back in action at one of its gemstones this weekend, a track not only loved by the fans worldwide, but admired by drivers as well, The Spa Francorchamps for the Belgian Grand Prix.
As much as the drivers are willing to go behind the wheel, fans are equally excited to see them back in action.
With new start rules in accordance, the start is expected to be extremely tricky and chaotic this time. Apart from the change in rules, the other big news surrounding the race is, the retaining of Kimi Raikkonen by Ferrari for 2016, a rather surprising move, considering all those rumours surrounding Valtteri Bottas.
Here we present to you, a team by team analysis for the Belgian Grand Prix, what to expect out of them, their updates for the race and much more.
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There is not a single aspect where the Silver Arrows has shown any signs of poor performance. Any time their drivers have not been able to do good, the reason has been their troubled start, especially with Lewis Hamilton. Now with the new start rules, things might get a little more difficult for the Silver Arrows. With the disaster of 2014 Spa kept in mind, both drivers will look to put it behind their mind and give a good show, as good as the Spa deserves. The Mercedes will always be vary of the threat from the Ferrari, as the team has proven in the past that any mistake from the Mercs, will immediately be advantage Ferrari.
Lewis Hamilton will be a sure shot favourite for the race, if and only if he can master the new start process. Meanwhile, soon to be father, Nico Rosberg will look to settle things after a disastorous Hungarian Grand Prix. Their immensely powerful engine will perform mighty well in the conditions.
Another interesting news that’s doing the rounds is, the Mercedes looking for a racing seat for Paul Wehrlein, the mighty Merc reserve driver, very eagerly.
He is currently linked with Williams and Force India, which might twist the driver market a bit.
Nothing can be as major ahead of the race as Ferrari’s announcement of retaining Kimi Raikkonen for 2016. All odds were against the Finn,with strong rumours about Valtteri Bottas, Nico Hulkenberg. The current rumours point to Max Verstappen for the 2017 seat which is surprisingly odd.
With the drivers for next season settled, Ferrari will look to gain as much as they can from the Mercs. Hungary proved that they can be beaten, and surely Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel are the ones who can do that.
The new start rules might favour them, but that primarily depends on the race day itself. Due to the fast paced nature of the track, the Ferraris may lack behind the Mercs by a good a margin if things go perfect for the Silver Arrows, but nevertheless, the team will be highly upbeat after Hungary.
- Red Bull
They went into the summer break after a double podium finish in Hungary. Their confidence was high going into the break.
Spa will be a tough track for the Bulls due to the lack of power on the Renault Power Unit, something they desperately need in a track like this. Daniel Ricciardo won last year, but unfortunately that seems like a distant reality for this year’s edition. Renault seems to be focused on their power unit for 2016 and are determined to stay with Red Bull. Red Bull apparently have approached Mercedes for their power units for next year, but the Mercedes team seems to be in a fix over that decision.
Daniil Kvyat on the other side will look to bring another good performance and seal the deal for next year with the team. Currently the Red Bull team is rumoured to be looking at the rookie Toro Rosso drivers, who have been fairly impressive.
With Ferrari’s announcement of retaining Kimi Raikkonen, things will finally settle at Williams for Valtteri Bottas. He will, most certainly retain his seat at the team for next year. On the other side, the Brazilian, Felipe Massa is yet to finalise a contract with the team for next year. He sure has impressed with the Williams and there should be no reason why Williams will choose to oust him. Recent stories point to a possible pay driver. Massa’s contract runs out this September, hence any decision will be taken shortly.
The Williams chassis will suit the fast paced Spa circuit, especially with the Mercedes Power Unit. They might even be able to top the Ferraris and challenge for a podium finish.
Coming after their first double points finish in Hungary, the team is expected to stride forward in this race after receiving a power boost from Honda. Honda spent three development tokens over the course of the summer break to improve their combustion performance. But this further means that Alonso and Button both will be fitted with new engines and thus incurring heavy penalties for the engine change. Both of them will start at the back of the field and might make up to the top 12 if it rains and things spice up.
Alonso and Button, both world champions have enough experience around the Spa-Franchorchamps to deliver a good result despite starting at the back of the field. If Honda’s updates are really something big this time, they can easily hope for another points finish and possibly a top 12 finish as well.
It has all gone horribly wrong for McLaren this season with the aerodynamically weak chassis and a mediocre Honda Power Unit. High hopes lay on this Honda upgrade for better results for the team.
6. Force India
Sergio Perez had a severe crash in the Practice session of the Hungarian Grand Prix, while Hulkenberg suffered a front wing failure during the race. It suddenly was all wrong for Force India and their highly acclaimed B-spec car. It seems they’ve put it all behind themselves and worked on all these irregularities during the mid summer break.
Speaking about the same, Perez commented, “Yes, I’m sure all the problems are behind us.The team is completely ready for the weekend The engineers told me in detail what happened. During the race we also had problems with the front wing but, as I said, they are all solved and in the past.”
Practice sessions will be crucial for the team as they lean more and more about the new car, especially since Spa is amongst the fastest in the calendar. The circuit will be a good test for the Force India’s car. The two drivers are ever so motivated, thanks to some good results during this season. Nico Hulkenberg will again miss out on a big team next season. He might move out of F1, his seat being taken by Paul Wehrlein, while Sergio Perez is expected to stay. Hulkenberg is also linked to a move to Haas, but that would be very silly of him, if it was to take place.
Considering their good (and now safe) chassis, they might be up on the Red Bull’s back ever so close this time. Both Nico and Sergio are exciting drivers capable of delivering the punch, and hence a top 8 finish is expected of them.
7. Toro Rosso
Riding high on Max Verstappen’s fourth place finish in Hungary, Spa might be a difficult time for the team considering their weak Power Unit and the fast paced nature of the track.
But the two exciting drivers, Carlos Sainz Jr and Max Verstappen, will make sure that they grab everybody’s eyeballs like they always do over the course of the season.
Anything can come out of these two, considering how Spa always manages to throw the predictions to the bin, but a top 12 finish by both the drivers will be incredible for them.
This is one such team, that I never understand why is still at the back. They have a good car powered by the Mercedes Power Unit, two very good(though unreliable) drivers in the form of Romain Grosjean and Pastor Maldonado, but still never manage to bring forth a good result.
Things are unstable with the team right now considering their financial woes and strong links with Renault buying them out. Spa might be a difficult time for the team, considering limited development of the car over the months.
The Sauber team is having another baseless season this year. They had a strong season opener, but after that, they have hardly shown any signs of progress. Felipe Nasr has impressed a lot in his debut, but apart from that, their season is plagued by fighting at the back with the McLarens. This race will probably the same for them considering the mighty layout.
Having retained the two drivers for 2016, Sauber looks far more settled than any other team right now, though where their season is going, is questionable.
Although Manor cannot take much positives from their performances this season, but they indeed have one of the most reliable cars on the grid. Spa will be another difficult time for the team and probably a double finish is what they must be aiming at, as of now.