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Battle Resumes in Belgium

The Formula 1 paddock returns from its summer break this weekend for round 13 of the championship. The Belgian Grand Prix is a firm favourite amongst the drivers who are pushed to their limits with the incredibly high speed chicanes. But the teams must be very careful on how they set their cars up for the race. Do you aim for a higher top speed and sacrifice down force or vice versa? It’s a fine line but if chosen correctly it could help the drivers take that one step closer to the top of the podium.

Mercedes have confirmed that Lewis Hamilton will serve his expected grid penalties on Sunday after the team used two new engines on Friday. Hamilton was already on the cusp of his engine limits and now because he has broken his allocation he will be forced to take a 30 place grid penalty. Mercedes are expected to introduce a third engine on Saturday morning in free practice 3 thus sending Hamilton even further down the grid, which is impossible, but he is guaranteed to start from the back of the field. He is not the only driver serving an engine penalty, Fernando Alonso will line up one position ahead of his former teammate while Marcus Ericsson was also penalised for the same infringement.

If you had told me that Hamilton would be leading the championship going into the summer break when the Brit was over 40 points behind Nico Rosberg at one stage this season, I would have told you that you were crazy. Well believe it or not, the defending champion not only clawed back the massive deficit to his rival but he overhauled him and now leads the standings by 19 points. So perhaps now was the perfect time to take his engine penalties because even if he finishes outside the points, which I doubt he will, Hamilton will only be 6 points behind Rosberg in the championship battle but with a bag full of engines to play with for the remainder of the season. Anything less than a win for Rosberg this weekend will be an absolute disaster. The German needs to take full advantage of the situation while he has the chance.

The immense fight for second place in the competition between Ferrari and Red Bull will continue to rage until the end of the season. For the first time this year, Red Bull are in the driving seats after overtaking Ferrari in the constructor’s standings the last time out. The Scuderia look to be buckling under the pressure from Red Bull who are only going from strength to strength. Just behind Red Bull and Ferrari, another intriguing battle is unfolding in the fight for fourth place. Force India have closed the gap to Williams to just 15 points and both teams will have a car suited to the high speeds of Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium.

This weekend’s race winner should be a no brainer but we’ve seen just how badly Rosberg has struggled to get a clean start in the past. If the German loses a few positions before the first corner it might not be as straight forward as predicted. It will however be hard to beat the Mercedes in race trim.  

  1. Nico Rosberg 2. Daniel Ricciardo 3. Max Verstappen

Enjoy the race and if you’re taking a bet, the best of luck to you. You can also catch me on Twitter @ChrisFletch46 for questions, comments and all sorts of banter.

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