F1 is back – and not a minute too soon!
The summer break is over and the Formula 1 season is back upon us once again with the Shell Belgian Grand Prix at Spa-Francorchamps in what promises to be one of the most exciting run-ins in years, with no less than 5 drivers realistically vying for the world championship.
Fernando Alonso, currently leading the pack, has surprised many – perhaps even his own team – with the performances he has managed to get out of his Ferrari this season, winning three races and finishing in the points in every race so far. Indeed, were he to finish in the top 10 again this weekend, he will equal Michael Schumacher’s record of 24 consecutive points finishes – a testament to the unique driving abilities of Ferrari’s undisputed Nr.1.
Closely following the Spaniard are the Red Bulls with Mark Webber leading his teammate and current world champion Sebastian Vettel by just two points. Webber will be looking to extend that lead and end the season as Red Bull’s top driver, something that will no doubt be extremely satisfying to the charismatic Australian given the battles he has had with his team’s hierarchy over the last few seasons as the young German swept to two consecutive world titles. Vettel, however, won’t be giving up his crown without a fight and we can fully expect to see him coming out fighting in the second half of the season, starting in Spa, as he tries to cut the gap on Alonso, let alone his teammate, and re-establish himself as the dominant driver of his generation.
5 points adrift of Vettel lies the former world champion Lewis Hamilton, whose confidence levels will be soaring after his last successful outing at the Hungaroring back in July. The McLaren driver appears to be more at ease, both with himself and his team, this season and clearly still believes he has it in him to claim the world championship for the second time. Given that he is undoubtedly one of the most talented and exciting drivers in the field, you would not count against him. McLaren have made steady improvements to their car since the beginning of the season and with talk of the team preparing a ‘double DRS’-like system in Belgium, similar to the one employed Mercedes already this season, it will be fascinating to observe how Hamilton fares this weekend.
The man who finished behind Hamilton in Hungary, Lotus’ Kimi Raikkonen, will also be hoping to repeat history this weekend by claiming his fifth win at the famous Belgian circuit, having won here on four previous occasion, the most recent being in 2009. There would be few more popular winners than the very cool Finn, were he to guide his Lotus to their maiden season victory, having come in second place three times this season already at Bahrain, Valencia and Hungary. And in light of his record here, who would bet against him doing just that.
So with 5 of the world’s best drivers all still in contention to claim the coveted world title as the second half of the season nears its start, we are set for one of the most exciting Formula1 seasons in years. Add to the fact that the legendary Michael Schumacher will be competing in his 300th race in Belgium – a feat only bettered by Rubens Barrichello – and there really is no excuse not to tune in this weekend and enjoy the show.
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