Formula One returns after its summer break to the legendary Spa-Francorchamps circuit in Belgium. A favorite among fans and drivers, Spa is renowned for its great changes in elevation and high-speed corners, the most famous of which – Eau Rouge – has a special place in the heart of all F1 personnel. As the drivers get back in the saddle and prepare to attack the second half of the 2013 season, an explosive and exhilarating Belgian Grand Prix could be in the offing.
Belgian Grand Prix Talking Points
Mercedes plan assault on Red Bull
With Sebastian Vettel enjoying a 38-point lead over Kimi Raikkonen and Red Bull leading Mercedes by 69 points, you could be forgiven for writing off both championships with barely half of the season gone. Judging by their recent form, Mercedes are the only team well-placed to challenge the defending champions; starting off with a win in Spa would certainly put the Silver Arrows in good stead for the rest of the season.
Ferrari and Lotus try to keep a grip on their coat-tails
For Ferrari, this season is becoming increasingly about damage limitation. No wins since May and more references to the troublesome wind tunnel suggest that finishing in the top three would be a good result come Interlagos for the Italian team. Lotus’ outlook is far brighter following two strong results in Germany and Hungary, and Spa is a big race for the team as the “King of Spa” Kimi Raikkonen chases a fifth win in Belgium – with or without ‘the device’.
Who will come back with renewed vigor?
The summer break gives drivers a chance to relax and take a break from the stresses of the sport, making it a key point of the season. Last season, Felipe Massa returned from his holidays a completely different driver, laying down a remarkably consistent run of results in the final stretch of the season. Therefore, for the drivers hoping to move up the grid in the coming few weeks, Spa is an important race to get the second half of the season off to a good start.
This season versus next season
Another big question surrounds the development paths that teams will choose to take. As Brawn proved in 2009, planning ahead of a change in the regulations can pay great dividends. Therefore, the teams have to decide whether they want to plan ahead and sacrifice the second half of the year, or secure some good results in 2013 and trail at first in 2014. Despite their lead, Red Bull have to think about getting the championships sewn up to avoid losing out at the beginning of next season.
Kimi, Ricciardo and Red Bull – a decision close?
This week has seen the news break that Kimi Raikkonen may no longer be in the running for the Red Bull seat after a breakdown in negotiations. Therefore, with the door now open for Daniel Ricciardo, an announcement may be close. However, with so many teams still to confirm their line-up for next season, the world champions may yet bide their time further.
Lap Record: Sebastian Vettel 1:47.263 (2009)
Tire Compounds: Medium (Option); Hard (Prime)
2012 Winner: Jenson Button (McLaren)
2012 Pole Position: Jenson Button 1:47.573
2012 Fastest Lap: Bruno Senna 1:52.822
DRS Zones: Main Straight (T19 to T1); T4 to T5
Friday – Free Practice 1: 04:00am ET
Friday – Free Practice 2: 08:00am ET (LIVE on NBCSN)
Saturday – Free Practice 3: 05:00am ET
Saturday – Qualifying: 08:00am ET (LIVE on NBC Sports Live Extra)
Sunday – Race: 08:00am ET (LIVE on NBCSN)