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Five things to watch out for at the Belgian Grand Prix

Five things to watch out for at the Belgian Grand Prix

F1 News

Five things to watch out for at the Belgian Grand Prix

Five things to watch out for at the Belgian Grand Prix

Formula 1 heads to Belgium this weekend for the start of its third consecutive triple-header.

Red Bull, Mercedes and Ferrari have all won at the Spa track in the turbo-hybrid era, with the circuit always producing exciting races as it is considered one of the best in F1.

Looking ahead to the race weekend, we have selected five key points to look out for during this weekend's running.

Bottas needs a win to keep title bid alive

After failing to win since the opening race of the season, Valtteri Bottas heads into the seventh round trailing team-mate Lewis Hamilton by 43 points.

Although unfortunate to lose 18 points following a late puncture at the British Grand Prix, the Finn has been beaten by the Red Bull of Max Verstappen at every race since F1 left Austria.

The Dutchman has also leap-frogged Bottas in the standings as Verstappen sits on 95 points compared to the 89 of his Mercedes rival.

Bottas now desperately needs a win to keep up with Hamilton. With the full calendar for this season confirmed at 17 grands prix, the 30-year-old knows he has fewer races than usual to catch the six-time champion.

Albon looking to recreate 2019 debut drive

In the summer of 2019, Red Bull announced Alexander Albon would be promoted from Toro Rosso at the expense of Pierre Gasly.

The Thai driver made his debut for the team at Spa following the summer break but took a 10-place grid penalty, starting from 17th.

The then 23-year-old showed incredible commitment and confidence to cut through the field, however, notably going around the outside of Daniel Ricciardo, while also putting two wheels on the grass on the final lap to take fifth place from Sergio Perez.

With Albon not having the smoothest of seasons this year - being lapped by team-mate Verstappen at the last race in Spain - he will look to draw inspiration from his drive in 2019 as he continues the wait for his maiden podium.

"Rush has gone" at Spa with high-downforce cars

Both one of the most thrilling as well as one of the most dangerous tracks on the calendar, Spa has long been a fan and drivers' favourite.

With modern-day F1 cars, however, the track has become less thrilling - in qualifying trim, at least.

Daniel Ricciardo, who won the Belgian Grand Prix in 2014, has said the "single-lap rush" is gone at Spa as Eau Rouge-Raidillon is taken flat-out quite easily on Saturday afternoon.

The disappearance of that rush at Spa was unthinkable in F1's old days, with all drivers notably boycotting the circuit in 1969 because of the dangerous nature of the track.

Spa claimed the lives of 10 F1 drivers that decade alone. Last year, it also tragically took the life of F2 talent Anthoine Hubert.

Ricciardo did add it is still "pretty epic" to climb through Raidillon in the slipstream of someone with a full tank as the car will start sliding.

McLaren has to bounce back from 2019 Spa drama

With one car not even getting off the line at the start and the other stalling in the final seconds of the race, McLaren had an incredibly frustrating Belgian Grand Prix last year.

Rookie Lando Norris was on for a then career-best finish of fifth a year ago, only to suffer a mechanical failure which dropped him out of the points in the final two corners of the race.

McLaren has yet to endure a mechanical failure in 2020, something team principal Andreas Seidl thinks is a "great testament for the step forward we have taken as a team".

With McLaren again sitting in fourth place in the constructors' championship, can they keep up the fight with Racing Point and Ferrari for third with a clean race in Spa this season?

The first test of pure straight-line speed

Four tracks have hosted the six grands prix so far in 2020, but none of them put an emphasis on straight-line speed as much as Spa Francorchamps.

Ferrari took the chequered flag in both 2018 and 2019 courtesy of their superiority on the straights but are highly unlikely to do so again as the SF1000 has failed to live up to expectations this season.

The longest track on the F1 calendar, most of the lap around Spa is taken flat-out, leading to the average speed being one of the highest of all circuits.

With Ferrari's engine not being nearly as powerful as in the previous two years, the Belgian GP will lay bare the differences between the four engine suppliers. Although Mercedes has 'only' won three of the six Belgian Grands Prix in the turbo-hybrid era, the German works team will be the heavy favourite this weekend.

As for Ferrari, its losses in a straight line will become apparent. Where will Charles Leclerc, who took his maiden F1 victory at Spa in 2019, and Sebastian Vettel finish this time around?

Before you go...

Haas "not doing any development" on 2020 car as all focus now on 2021

Verstappen worry for Belgian GP as Spa "doesn't suit our package"

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