Two-time defending Formula One world champion Max Verstappen will look to bag his 45th career race win at this weekend’s Belgian Grand Prix, the first edition in history to be held before the summer break.
Red Bull’s rapid pace this year has helped the team to win 12 successive races. The team broke McLaren’s long-standing record of 11 consecutive race wins, at last week’s Hungarian Grand Prix.
The Belgian Grand Prix is set in the picturesque rolling hills of Spa and passes through the towns of Francorchamps, Malmedy and Stavelot. The long-standing Grand Prix is one of the seven tracks to be a part of the first Formula One Championship in 1950.
The track is a favourite for drivers and fans with its long straights and fast sweeping corners. It is comparatively long, being a 7.004 kilometre track with 19 corners and two DRS detection zones and comprises 44 laps. Unpredictable weather is another feature of the Belgian GP - it could be raining on one part of the track and sunny on another - providing the drivers a new challenge. There is a rain forecast for this weekend’s race.
Battles at Spa
Spa has been host to many historic moments over the years. Possibly one of the most intense battles seen at this track was between Aryton Senna and Nigel Mansell in 1987 where Mansell tried to overtake Senna for the race lead on the restart. However, they ended up colliding and crashing - leading to a DNF (did not finish) for both drivers. This resulted in a heated argument between the two after the race.
The 2021 Belgian Grand Prix was affected by severe rains and dangerously wet conditions resulting in only two laps of the race being completed behind the safety car. The outcome of the race was controversially decided on the basis of qualifying results - leading to George Russell’s first ever podium finish.
Storylines this year
After a rough start to the season, McLaren - the Woking based team - has made some necessary upgrades to its car which has resulted in podium finishes in the last two races. The team will hope to continue this podium streak along with fast pace in qualifying from the driver pairing of Lando Norris and the rookie Oscar Piastri.
How Mercedes shapes up before the summer break also remains to be seen. The Silver Arrows have also performed well on a few occasions this season with the seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton starting on pole at the Hungarian Grand Prix. However, he was unable to convert this to a podium finish. Mercedes currently sits second in the constructor’s championship with 223 points, 39 points ahead of Aston Martin, which is third.
Focus will also be on Daniel Ricciardo as well, who replaced Nyck de Vries at AlphaTauri in Budapest and did considerably well by finishing P13, two places above his teammate, Yuki Tsunoda.
Ferrari fans will hope to see a better performance this weekend after a disappointing season so far. In the last race, Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz finished P7 and P8 respectively.
Records on offer
The Belgian Grand Prix this weekend is a chance to make and break many records. Verstappen could become only the second driver after Sebastian Vettel to win eight consecutive races. Hamilton is aiming to be the third driver after Michael Schumacher and Ayrton Senna to win at Spa five times. If Leclerc and Sainz score eight points between them, Ferrari will be the first team to have scored 400 points in total at Spa.
July 28, Friday
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