Belgian Grand Prix

2019 Belgian Grand Prix Preview

Lewis Hamilton

Lewis Hamilton

The Formula One mid-season break is over and we are now just days away from the 2019 Belgian Grand Prix. Lewis Hamilton had a 62-point advantage at the top of the Drivers’ Championship ahead of this weekend’s race and Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps has been a good track for the British drivers in years gone by.

With three Belgian Grand Prix victories to his name, Hamilton is one of Formula One’s most successful current drivers. Only Kimi Raikkonen (4) has more wins here while Sebastian Vettel is level with Hamilton on three victories. Who will finish top of the podium on Sunday afternoon? Only time will tell but Hamilton stands a pretty good chance on current form.

Mercedes have worked hard during the last month to improve their engine and Hamilton may reap rewards this weekend. Moving closer to his sixth world title, the British star has Michael Schumacher’s record of seven Formula One crowns in his sights and it wouldn’t be a huge surprise to see Hamilton extend his championship lead this weekend.

As per usual, Hamilton is the bookmakers favourite to emerge victorious on Sunday. Punters can back the Mercedes man at 6/4 with William Hill and that could turn out to be a massive price given his dominance in 2019. With the likes of Vettel, Charles Leclerc and teammate Valtteri Bottas failing to put up solid resistance on a weekly basis, Hamilton is in a league of his own.

Hamilton secured pole position for the second year in succession last year and he will be quietly confident of doing the same in 2019. The Mercedes driver is arguably the greatest Formula One driver of all-time and a fourth Belgian Grand Prix success will only enhance his chances of claiming world title number six. Getting off to a good start in practice on Friday and then during qualifying is imperative.

However, pole position did not mean success for Hamilton in 2018. Vettel went on to win the race after a superb strategy from Ferrari – it was the team’s 17th success in Belgium. In fact, Ferrari are by far the most successful team in this race and that bodes well for Vettel and Leclerc this weekend. Write the two Ferrari drivers off at your peril.

Hamilton’s grip on the world title race is incredibly strong but a bad performance here may be the catalyst for a shock comeback. Teammate Bottas is Hamilton’s closest rival at this moment in time but we could see the Ferrari drivers make a late bid for world championship glory. Vettel is available at 5/1 with Betway to triumph on Sunday afternoon.

If Hamilton falls short, Bottas is likely to be there or thereabouts in the race for top spot. At times, it has felt like Bottas is inferior to Hamilton but the Finnish driver seems satisfied as Mercedes’ number two. Without a doubt, the German giants are the strongest team in F1 and that perhaps is why Bottas is happy enough to settle for second best. Second best in the sport is better than being stuck on a struggling team.

Mercedes have confirmed that Bottas will stay on the team in 2020 and that could mean he takes a more forward role next year. However, his status as the team’s number two will be cemented further if Hamilton is attempting to equal Schumacher’s record. Bottas will have to settle for Grand Prix wins here and there – 7/2 for a win this weekend is good value with 888sport.

max verstappen

Max Verstappen

And then we have Max Verstappen. He has gone from strength to strength in 2019, plenty of Formula One fans will expect the Dutchman to go on and pip Bottas to second spot in the title race. Verstappen has been winning races in recent times and the Red Bull star will be tough to beat in what is essentially his home Grand Prix.

Expect a big Dutch contingent supporting Verstappen at Spa this weekend. Plenty of fans make the short trip to Belgium to support their rising star and he looks certain to lift the Formula One world title in the future. A bright career in the sport awaits and Verstappen can go all the way to the top. Another win here will do his confidence no harm at all.

At the time of writing, Verstappen is priced at 8/1 with Betway this weekend and that could turn out to be a massive price for Belgian Grand Prix glory. With Red Bull starting to push at the right end of the track, Verstappen could be set for more race wins in the coming weeks. Watch this space, Verstappen is a dark horse for F1 victory this weekend.

Given his performances in recent races, the 2/1 with BetFred for Verstappen to finish on the podium shouldn’t be sniffed at. Daniel Ricciardo may rue leaving Red Bull Racing now that Verstappen is thriving but the Renault driver could spring a bit of a shock by finishing in the points this weekend. Spa is one of the most unpredictable tracks in the sport.

Punters will also be tempted by the 4/6 for Pierre Gasly to record a points finish. Less than two months ago, he was regularly priced as up as the favourite to record the fastest lap on most Grand Prix weekends. Although odds on, 4/6 offers value for Gasly to add to his points tally for the 2019 Formula One campaign.

The Belgian Grand Prix is usually full of drama and the unpredictable nature of the circuit is a big selling point for this race. Expect plenty of twists and turns along the way and we could see a surprise result if the weather begins to turn for the worst. Fingers crossed for a fun yet safe race on Sunday afternoon.

Expect Verstappen to go close in his pursuit of glory this weekend. Hamilton is the deserving favourite as per usual but the Dutchman will be in a bullish mood ahead of what could be a massive day for Red Bull and Dutch motorsport fans.

RACE WINNER: Max Verstappen (8/1 with Betway)
POINTS FINISH: Pierre Gasly (4/6 with SportingBet)

About Belgian GP

History

First held back in 1925, the Belgian Grand Prix is one of the most prestigious races on the Formula One circuit. Widely regarded as the most popular track in the sport, the race takes place at Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps – which is known across the world for its picturesque surroundings and it is a favourite with the drivers.

The track itself is unique, particularly when it comes to weather conditions. Although the Belgian Grand Prix takes place at the end of August/beginning of September, rain regularly hits Sunday’s race but quite often only impacts certain areas of the circuit. With conditions often tricky, it is usually one of the more exciting Grand Prix races of the year.

The race is well supported, with Formula One fans travelling from all over the world to see the delights of Spa. With a maximum capacity of 70,000 spectators, it doesn’t rank as one of the biggest in terms of attendance but the history and heritage surrounding Belgium’s main sporting event will keep it relevant on the Formula One calendar for years to come.

Winners

Michael Schumacher

Michael Schumacher

Michael Schumacher is the most successful driver in Belgian Grand Prix history with six race wins to his name. The Ferrari legend finished top of the podium in three consecutive years between 1995 and 1997 and he remains a popular figure at Spa. To this day, Schumacher is the only driver to win the World Championship at this track.

With four Belgian Grand Prix victories, Kimi Raikkonen is the most successful ‘current’ driver in Formula One. Many will have expected to see Lewis Hamilton or even Sebastian Vettel up there but both are sitting on three wins apiece. Raikkonen has four ahead of 2019…

After a nine-year wait, Ferrari secured their 17th Belgian Grand Prix success in 2018 – Vettel finishing ahead of Hamilton in a tense finish. Mercedes had won this race in 2015, 2016 and 2017 prior to that and Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas will be looking to get back to winning ways.

Fastest Lap

The difference in times due to weather conditions is clear for all to see. In 2017, Hamilton secured pole position after completing a blistering 1:42:553 qualifying lap. 12 months later, it was Hamilton again who qualified first on the grid but 1:58:179 was enough. A whole 16 seconds difference, Spa is always weather dependent.

During the 2018 Grand Prix, Bottas set the fastest time with an exceptionally quick 1:46:286 in the closing stages. Again, that was almost 12 seconds faster than the time set by Hamilton in qualifying. Focusing too much on the fastest lap figures at Spa would be foolish given the discrepancies and tricky weather conditions that drivers tend to face on Grand Prix day.

Ahead of 2019, Hamilton has a convincing lead at the top of the Formula One standings. At the time of writing, the Mercedes driver is the 3/1 favourite with William Hill to record the quickest lap during Sunday’s race. And on current form, you’d be hard pressed to write the five-time world champion off.

Interesting Facts

Belgian Grand Prix

Spa Grand Prix Circuit

At just over seven kilometres long, Spa is the longest circuit on the Formula One calendar. Well, the longest track that is in use today. Due to the ‘up and down’ nature of the track, it has one of the smaller spectator capacities in existence though.

Arguably the most famous corner in motorsport, Eau Rouge/Raidillon features a dramatic elevation change of 35 metres from the lowest point to the highest point. Overtaking on that particular section of the track looks impressive but it is incredibly risky.

Did you know – 11 of the last 19 Belgium Grand Prix races have been won by less than five seconds. But it hasn’t always been that way, Jim Clark recorded the largest victory in this great race back in 1963, finishing 474 seconds clear of his nearest rival.

The Future

As one of the most popular races on the calendar, Formula One bosses will do everything in their power to keep the Belgium Grand Prix in the sport. With the 2020 calendar already out and confirmed, we know that Spa should have a long and successful future in Formula One – like Silverstone, Monaco and Monzo, the Belgian event is now part of the furniture.

Is there a way for race organisers to enable more spectators to attend in future years? It is a difficult one due to the nature of the circuit itself. If the track was flat, the attendance issue wouldn’t be a problem but Spa isn’t the easiest circuit to change. It looks like 70,000 may be the maximum capacity for some time.

Looking at the short-term future, fingers crossed for an exciting and safe race in 2019. This weekend’s Grand Prix event has the potential to be one of the best yet and Mercedes will be quietly confident of emerging victorious. If you haven’t already, scroll up to check out our 2019 Belgian Grand Prix preview.