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Belgian Grand Prix 2021

What can we expect at the 2021 Belgian GP?

The 2021 F1 season resumes this weekend at the Belgian Grand Prix. Mercedes and Red Bull have been embroiled in one of the best championship fights the sport has seen in a long time and it's set to continue.

Start belgie 2020
To news overview © Honda

The title fight between Mercedes and Red Bull could not be more finely poised as Formula 1 returns from it's four-week break with the Belgian Grand Prix.

Lewis Hamilton holds a slender eight-point lead over Max Verstappen in the Drivers' Championship whilst Mercedes head the way by 12 points in the Constructors' standings.

It's a battle which has created headlines on and off the track, with no let up from either side. The best thing is, the intensity and pressure is only going to ramp up from now until the end of the scheduled season finale in Abu Dhabi on December 12.

Who will be the team to beat in Belgium?

It's simply too close to call. On form, you would argue Mercedes, who have confirmed their upgrades from Silverstone worked as they wanted, are the slight favourites.

The high-speed nature of Spa has similarities to Silverstone, too. Red Bull's form is up in the air due to Verstappen's crashing out at the British GP following contact from Hamilton, and was an innocent bystander in a series of collisions which were started by Valtteri Bottas and Lance Stroll on the first lap in Hungary.

Given that pole position is not necessarily the best place to start, there's a good chance Verstappen and Hamilton will be wheel-to-wheel on the opening lap and track position could be king if there is little to separate the pair on outright pace.

Ferrari and McLaren are likely to be further behind than normal because of the longevity of the track which is 7.004km.

			© Getty Images/Red Bull Contentpool
	© Getty Images/Red Bull Contentpool

Wet weather heroics?

Spa is well-known for its changeable conditions and there is currently wet weather forecast throughout the weekend.

The last time the rain played a part in the race was in 2010 although qualifying sessions have been affected by rain since then.

Verstappen and Hamilton are the class of the field in the wet and we got a glimpse of what they can do in mixed conditions at the second race of the year in Imola.

A wet weather duel between the championship protagonists would be a brilliant way to restart the season.

Corners such as Eau Rouge and Blanchimont would not be easily flat out so getting the balance between risk and reward would be a conundrum.

It's that game which Hamilton and Verstappen will have to be wary of as both drivers will want to avoid a collision or a DNF.

			© Alpine
	© Alpine

A big midfield fight

Behind Ferrari and McLaren's battle in the Constructors' Championship, a fight for fifth place has emerged.

Alpine's stunning weekend in Hungary has put them in prime position, nine points ahead of AlphaTauri and a further 20 points in front of Aston Martin who were severely hurt by Sebastian Vettel's disqualification last time out.

The pecking order in the midfield has changed from track to track and it appears that this particular fight will be decided by a crazy race such as the one that played out in Budapest.

Aston Martin have had a car which has been quick out of the box in recent races, whilst AlphaTauri have been spearheaded by Pierre Gasly's brilliant performances every weekend.

Alpine seem to be the weakest in a straight line but their driver line-up of Esteban Ocon and Fernando Alonso is arguably the best out of the three teams.

There should be an almighty scrap for the points-paying positions this weekend.

			© Mercedes
	© Mercedes

Outlap shenanigans

There was some controversy during Q3 in Hungary when Mercedes appeared to drive very slow outlaps which put Verstappen and Perez at a disadvantage.

If it's dry, this could happen once more this weekend with cars backing up before the Bus Stop chicane.

The length of the track means the drivers will want to save the tyres as much as possible so they will likely drive very slowly on their outlaps in qualifying.

Mercedes traditionally have slower outlaps than Red Bull so the latter should ensure they either leave the pit lane in front of their rivals or leave a big margin so they do not have to travel at Hamilton and Bottas' pace.

This is further complicated due to the benefit of a slipstream with the wider and bigger modern F1 cars.

You want to be around five to six seconds behind a car when you start your flying lap to get the benefit of a small slipstream without being compromised by the dirty air in the corners.

It will be fascinating to see whether any team decides to go all-in for one driver by strategically telling the other to provide a big tow in the first or final sectors, before getting out of the way.

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F1 2021 Belgian Grand Prix RN365 News dossier


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