MotorSportsTalk’s Predictions: Belgian Grand Prix

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Following a month-long summer break, the 2015 Formula 1 season resumes this weekend with the Belgian Grand Prix at the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps.

Championship leader Lewis Hamilton arrives at the track with a healthy advantage of 21 points over Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg in the drivers’ standings, but knows that one retirement could change everything.

Ferrari arrives in Belgium as the team in form following Sebastian Vettel’s dominant performance at the Hungarian Grand Prix last month, and with Kimi Raikkonen now under less pressure after being confirmed for 2016, the Italian marque will be hoping to fight at the front once again this weekend.

Once again, MotorSportsTalk’s Luke Smith and Tony DiZinno have cast their eye over the field ahead of this weekend’s race and made some predictions. Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.

Luke Smith (@LukeSmithF1)

Race WinnerLewis Hamilton. A former winner at Spa, Hamilton heads to Belgium this weekend with a point to prove after his clash with Nico Rosberg at Les Combes last year. That will undoubtedly be the big talking point this weekend, and although he was off the boil in Hungary, expect Hamilton to soak up the pressure and bounce back with a win at Spa on Sunday.

Surprising FinishKimi Raikkonen. Raikkonen is a Spa master, winning the race four times. No wonder it is his favorite circuit. Following yesterday’s news that he would be staying with Ferrari for 2016, the pressure has been eased. Let’s see if he can flourish this weekend.

Most to ProveNico Rosberg. After blowing a golden opportunity to get back into the title hunt and even take the championship lead in Hungary, Rosberg arrives in Spa under a ton of pressure. Memories of 2014 will be fresh in everyone’s mind, casting Rosberg as the villain for this particular novella. Can he silence his critics and beat Hamilton at Spa?

Additional Storyline to WatchMcLaren’s improvements. Hungary looked to be something of a turning point for McLaren as both Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button finished in the points. Honda has promised an engine upgrade for Spa, and although another top-five may still be out of reach, it will be intriguing to see how McLaren fares this weekend.

Predict the Podium

1. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes
2. Nico Rosberg Mercedes
3. Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari

Tony DiZinno (@tonydizinno)

Race Winner: Lewis Hamilton. I think Mercedes resumes up front after the crazy, abnormal Hungarian Grand Prix, with Lewis back ahead of Nico and no drama after last year’s race.

Surprising Finish: Kimi Raikkonen. Armed with a new contract, Kimi could contend for a podium at a track he runs very well at. Has to get past his teammate first but if there’s a place to do it, it’s Spa.

Most to Prove: Red Bull and McLaren. Both teams scored double points at Hungary but a track that’s diametrically opposed to the high-downforce, low speed twisty circuit, can they back it up here?

Additional Storyline to WatchThe midfield battle. Beyond Merc and Ferrari who emerges best from the summer break at the head of the next tier?

Predict the Podium

1. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes
2. Nico Rosberg Mercedes
3. Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari

For full details on NBCSN, CNBC and NBC Sports Live Extra’s broadcasting of the Belgian Grand Prix, click here.

Michael Schumacher’s son to make F1 practice debut at Nurburgring

F1 Mick Schumacher
Joe Portlock - Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images
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MARANELLO, Italy — Mick Schumacher, son of the legednary seven-time champion, will have an official Formula One drive during an F1 race weekend for the first time next week at the Nurburgring, Alfa Romeo and Ferrari said Tuesday.

Schumacher gets the practice drive in an Alfa Romeo on Oct. 9 on his home track in Germany as a member of Ferrari’s young driver program, taking over Antonio Giovinazzi’s car for the first session of the weekend.

“I am overjoyed to get this chance in free practice,” Schumacher said in a statement. “I’m going to prepare myself well, so that I can do the best possible job for the team and gain some valuable data for the weekend.”

The 21-year-old Schumacher leads the Formula 2 standings after winning races in Monza and Sochi. He won the European Formula 3 championship in 2018 and tested a Ferrari F1 car in Bahrain in April 2019. He also has done demonstration runs in his father’s old cars, most recently this month ahead of the Tuscan Grand Prix in a championship-winning 2004 Ferrari.

Michael Schumacher holds the F1 record with 91 victories, which Lewis Hamilton is on the verge of tying.

Ferrari said two other drivers in its academy program will also get practice drives in Formula One.

Callum Ilott, a British driver who is second to Mick Schumacher in F2, will drive an F1 Haas at the Nurburgring on the same day as Schumacher. Russian driver Robert Shwartzman will drive in practice for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on Dec. 11, though Ferrari hasn’t said for which team.

The German round was added to the F1 schedule after the coronavirus pandemic disrupted the season and will be officially known as the Eifel Grand Prix after a nearby mountain range. The Nurburgring last hosted F1 in 2013.