They’ve had four weeks off, now they can get back to work! Formula 1 returns at the weekend, and it will involve one of its most famous venues – Spa-Francorchamps.
The track itself has changed considerably over the years, with the original configuration being a 15km-long run through the forests that involved a great deal of danger. Spa is one of the deadliest circuits, having claimed 48 racer’s across various motorsport formulas since 1925, as well as four officials. It is a testing, challenging race, for a variety of reasons.
It’s not uncommon for rain to add an extra dimension to proceedings, and it’s been known for parts of the track to be damp and other parts to be dry, owing to the rolling, hilly nature of the place. The first sector is very fast, so low-down force settings are desired, but sector two is filled with winding mid-speed corners that are better suited to more down force, whilst sector three goes back to being fast again. Therefore, Spa is tricky to pin down in terms of setup.
So, with the faster cars of 2017, we can expect some very fast lap times around here, and it might approach some hair-raising speeds, especially as the cars go screaming up the superfast kink of Eau Rouge, before hurtling down the Kemmel Straight. With the Kemmel Straight usually being a DRS zone too, this could create some nail-biting moments on the approach to turn 7 and the Les Combes complex. Likewise the run down Blanchimont toward the final chicane will create some spectacular overtaking opportunities and some tense moments.
The expectation is that Mercedes will have the slight edge over Ferrari here, and therefore Lewis Hamilton will have a golden opportunity to close the gap on championship leader Sebastian Vettel. However, 2017 has so far proven that nothing should be assumed, so I won’t be making any bold predictions. Instead, I will hope for a fun, interesting and close race!