F1: Another Perspective – Raikkonen Needs Spa Treatment
In the advent of Mercedes’ emergence as the dominant force in Formula One, the term ‘on a knife edge’ has seldom been used. However, there is now no better way to describe the season after a Hungarian Grand Prix that, quite simply, donated the formbook to the Andrex factory!
The destination of the constructor’s title is still in no doubt, but a double podium failure for Mercedes at a circuit that should have yielded another 1-2 finish will be a massive cause for concern, and there must surely be nerves aplenty ahead of this weekend’s race.
Indeed, Mercedes chief Toto Wolff has expressed concern at the poor starts made by both Mercedes drivers in the last two grands prix. Furthermore, the chasing pack are becoming ever more familiarised with their upgrades, and the once indefatigable gulf that separated Mercedes from the rest of the teams now appears to be slowly dwindling.
So which drivers are set to threaten the podium and (possibly) knock the Mercedes drivers off their perch yet again? Here are three drivers to keep an eye on this weekend…
Sebastian Vettel is, quite possibly, the most unplayable teammate that Kimi Raikkonen has ever had.
Many experts have compared Vettel’s ruthless streak to that of a prime Michael Schumacher. Now wearing the red attire of his boyhood hero, Vettel has firmly established himself as Ferrari’s top dog, emulating said ruthlessness on a few occasions to Raikkonen’s detriment – but payback awaits in Belgium!
In dry conditions at the circuit there is, pound for pound, no better driver than Kimi Raikkonen and his record speaks for itself. Now armed with an array of upgrades, this weekend represents a golden opportunity for the Finn to get one over Vettel and reach the podium – as he surely will if the conditions remain clement.
VERSTAPPEN (Toro Rosso)
During the summer break, Max Verstappen’s father Jos defended his son’s corner amid various criticisms. Rival teams insist that the 17-year old is too young for F1 and is a volatile influence due to his youthful exuberance, with the events in Monaco being a case in point.
Quite apart from being steeped in tradition, Spa is a circuit that rewards dauntless drivers such as Verstappen and the Belgian Grand Prix is, to all intents and purposes, Verstappen’s home race. For this reason his typical racing spirit will undoubtedly be redoubled, and opponents would underestimate him at their peril!
Verstappen also performed strongly at the Spa circuit in his final Formula 3 season, ending the weekend with a 100% record.
KVYAT (Red Bull)
The young Russian scored his best result yet at the Hungaroring, finishing second ahead of both Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg at a circuit that seemingly favoured only the Mercedes duo. In a superb demonstration of ‘technical’ driving, Kvyat negotiated the treacherous elements of the circuit in a most accomplished fashion.
Although the result yielded at the Hungarian Grand Prix is a cause for encouragement, Red Bull boss Christian Horner has warned against complacency, acknowledging that a repeat performance in Belgium is unlikely. However, wet conditions would level the playing field considerably, opening the door for Kvyat to score another high points finish.
For live updates of the Belgian Grand Prix, visit Motorsport24.com – race begins at 12:00 UTC on August 23.