Vettel finished second at Belgian Grand Prix but questions linger for Ferrari

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • G+
  • Mail
  • Pinterest
  • LinkedIn
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • G+
  • WhatsApp
  • Pinterest
  • LinkedIn

Formula 1 might have packed up for a month for its half-term break but what, if anything, has changed on the grid’s return?

The Belgian Grand Prix weekend threw up the fifth Lewis Hamilton-Sebastian Vettel one-two of the season, and in one sense that didn’t tell us anything we didn’t know before the mid-season holiday.

The short of it is that the season will continue to be a pulsating head-to-head between Hamilton and Vettel right, it would seem, to the final race of 2017.

Just seven points now separate them, Hamilton’s win to Vettel’s second cutting the German’s advantage to a tantalisingly slim margin.

But as bizarre as it might sound, if anything Ferrari might actually come away from Spa this weekend as the happier of the two teams despite not actually taking the chequered flag out front.

Due to the nuances of the Ferraris and Mercedes, certain circuits suit their cars more than others. Spa is very much a Mercedes track and the expectation was that this was very much suit the German manufacturer much akin to the high-speed, sweeping corners of Silverstone.

But unlike the British Grand Prix, Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas were not able to stamp down their authority as quite they might have anticipated.

Sure, Hamilton got away with the victory but the Mercedes hierarchy were left scratching their heads a little bit in the post-race debrief.

Team boss Toto Wolff said of the small margin of victory: “We were surprised. They’ve done a good job in bringing an upgrade package.”

So how has this been achieved and Ferrari been able to cut the deficit at a race in which they would have expected to have more of a time gap come the race end?

Among the upgrades in Belgium are a new front suspension featuring a third damper, which the team tested out at the post-Hungary test.

What that has done is give them lower drag on the long, fast straights but something that has been achieved without losing their advantage in other areas on the race track. That quest has also been aided by a new front wing and endplate.

So what do those innovations mean for the rest of the championship? Is it now a case of advantage FerrarI?

No one quite knows, not even the title protagonists themselves, and it will probably become none the clearer at Monza, the next race on the calendar.

The big question mark that looms is over the subsequent race next month in Singapore, a habitual bête noire for Mercedes.

The reality is that Mercedes are all too aware that their cars tend not to work so well at the low-speed, high downforce circuits.

And in Belgium, Wolff intimated that this issue in which the team struggles to get its tyres working quickly enough will indeed be a problem. So in short, Ferrari have caught up at their weak tracks while there’s a big query as to whether Mercedes has done so.

It is there under the night lights of the street circuit that the manner in which the title will be won might be swayed one way or the other.

Mercedes do not have any major upgrades looming, Wolff putting it thus, “that the team will continue to bring new bits to the car”.

And the rest of the season is a developmental one as well as a racing one.

There was no shortage of bravado from the title rivals in the immediate aftermath. “Close,” was Vettel’s succinct take while Hamilton brushed it aside by suggesting he had lifted off.

The battle lines between them are drawn, likewise between Ferrari and Mercedes. Who has the advantage currently is not abundantly clear but Ferrari look the happier heading for home.

Most popular

Related Tags

Related Sections

Max Verstappen frustrated by early exit at Belgian Grand Prix

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • G+
  • Mail
  • Pinterest
  • LinkedIn
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • G+
  • WhatsApp
  • Pinterest
  • LinkedIn
Max Verstappen

Max Verstappen dropped a heavy hint that he is running out of patience with Red Bull after another enforced retirement in Sunday’s Belgian Grand Prix.

The 19-year-old Dutchman suggested he is considering his future and is ready to leave following his sixth retirement in 12 races.

“This should not happen with a top team,” he said. “It is unbelievable…”

Asked how many more retirements it would take to persuade him to re-consider his future, he said “not too many.”

Verstappen has been consistently linked with a switch to Ferrari, but remains under contract with Red Bull until 2019.

He started fifth in Sunday’s race, but was forced into retirement with a loss of power on lap eight.

He parked the car in front of thousands of Dutch fans – 80,000 arrived to create a massed ‘orange army’ in a crowd of 125,000 – at Eau Rouge.

“I can’t believe it,” said the son of former Benetton driver Jos Verstappen.

His Red Bull team-mate Daniel Ricciardo finished third behind victorious Briton Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes and championship leader Sebastian Vettel of Ferrari.

“It is very disappointing. There are so many fans here and they pay a lot of money for very expensive tickets and then the race finishes for me after eight laps.

“This cannot and should not happen with a top team – to finish like this.”

The Dutch teenager is widely regarded as the outstanding young talent in the sport after winning the 2016 Spanish Grand Prix on his debut with Red Bull after a dazzling earlier spell with sister team Toro Rosso.

Most popular

Related Tags

Hamilton wins Belgium Grand Prix to trim Vettel's lead to seven points

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • G+
  • Mail
  • Pinterest
  • LinkedIn
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • G+
  • WhatsApp
  • Pinterest
  • LinkedIn
Lewis Hamilton.

Lewis Hamilton completed his 200th Grand Prix in victorious style on Sunday when he claimed a much-needed win for Mercedes to trim Sebastian Vettel’s championship lead to seven points.

It was the three-time world champion’s third Belgian victory and the 58th of his career, lifting him back into serious contention for the title.

Another victory in next Sunday’s Italian Grand Prix could give him the lead for the first time this year.

Four-time champion Vettel came home second ahead of Australian Daniel Ricciardo of Red Bull, Finn Kimi Raikkonen in the second Ferrari and his compatriot Valtteri Bottas in the second Mercedes.

Nico Hulkenberg finished sixth for Renault ahead of Romain Grosjean of Haas, Felipe Massa of Williams, Esteban Ocon of Force India with in 10th place, Carlos Sainz of Toro Rosso.

DRIVER OF THE DAY

Hamilton put in an inspiring performance for his 58th career win on his 200th start.

The 32-year-old Briton had to survive some concerted attacks from Vettel’s Ferrari before emerging triumphant for the fifth time this season.

With Vettel breathing down his neck late in the race – the gap reduced to 1.2 seconds on the final lap – Hamilton stayed composed to seal a seventh win for Mercedes.

FASTEST LAP

Sebastian Vettel had a solid weekend in Spa, finishing on the podium for an eighth time this season and even clocked the fastest lap of 1:46:577 on lap 41.

Hamilton’s 1:46.603 on lap 35 proved the second-fastest, with Ricciardo’s 1:47.549 on lap 44 coming in third.

BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT

Max Verstappen’s hopes of silverware in front of his home crowd were dashed when he was forced to retire on lap 8 with engine problems.

The Dutchman is enduring a hugely frustrating campaign to date, with six retirements in 12 races.

ONE TO WATCH

Felipe Massa produced a devastating display to jump eight places and finish 8th.

Starting from P16, the Brazilian overtook the two Force India cars to finish in the points.

The Williams driver has had a solid season, and his result in Spa is sure to bring confidence for the rest of the season.

Felipe Massa

Felipe Massa

Most popular

Related Tags