Belgian Grand Prix : Race Predictions

Belgian Grand Prix: Race predictions

August 21, 2022

After what felt like an eternity, racing finally resumes this week, though we haven’t been deprived of any action. There was plenty of silly-season drama in the drivers transfer market, but now the action will shift back to the track.

Reigning World Champion Max Verstappen, who looks all but set to take his second Drivers’ title, seems ready to kick off from where he left off in Hungary, and the writing is on the wall for his title rival Charles Leclerc. 

There are plenty of reasons to be excited for Formula One’s return. In this article, I take a look at a few things that might take place this race-weekend.

Also Read – F1 Drivers with the most Grand Slams

Max attack

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen returns to racing post the summer break in Belgium with an 80-point lead in the Drivers’ Standings. The Championship battle is all but settled, and it is looking more than likely that the Dutchman will win his second World Driver’s Title in as many years. 

Verstappen has won an incredible eight races out of thirteen so far this season, and it seems like that number will only go higher by the time the season ends. Apart from Red Bull having a solid car and Verstappen’s supreme mastery of his own skills, the reigning World Champion has also been assisted by Ferrari’s age-old ‘Harakiri’ tendencies. 

The Scuderia and their main challenger Charles Leclerc have dropped the ball on multiple occasions this season, and the fact that Ferrari, even after their mess-up in Hungary, state that there is no reason their approach should change, showcases where the problem lies. To make matters worse for them, Mercedes have finally started to arrive to the party and look like they might pip Ferrari for the second spot in the Constructors’ table.

While Ferrari have been strong on Saturdays, expect Verstappen to be back on the top step of the podium once racing resumes in Belgium.

Pole prediction: Max Verstappen / Charles Leclerc
Win prediction: Red Bull / Ferrari

Internal struggles 

Just as all the racing fans around the world have been waiting for summer break to end, two teams who have eagerly waited for racing to resume, a little bit more than the others, are Alpine and McLaren, albeit for the wrong reasons.

Going into the summer break, Aston Martin’s Sebastian Vettel announced that the current season would be his final season in Formula One has he plans to retire from the sport. This set off a chain reaction, starting with Aston Martin announcing current Alpine driver Fernando Alonso as Vettel’s replacement from the 2023 season onwards. Alonso’s team, Alpine, put out two statements, the first stating that they weren’t aware of Alonso leaving the team until Aston Martin put out the announcement and the second being that of Alonso’s replacement.

Alpine announced reigning Formula 2 champion Oscar Piastri as Alonso’s replacement, but hours after the announcement, Piastri put out his own statement stating that he had not signed any contract with Alpine and would not drive for the French team in 2023. It has been long rumoured that Piastri will most likely be moving to McLaren to replace the struggling Daniel Ricciardo, and Piastri’s response to Alpine’s statement just confirmed the same.

While neither team have given any further updates, for Alpine, their internal struggles is something that will surely play on their minds until the matter is sorted. They need to make sure that all this noise off the track doesn’t hamper their Constructors’ Standings.

McLaren are in a similar situation. They have openly spoken out about Ricciardo’s poor performances and, if needed, they will look at options to relieve the Australian of his contract. The Piastri saga just adds more fuel to the fire, and while already they have been struggling on performance compared to their own standards, McLaren like Alpine will hope all this doesn’t hamper the performances of their drivers. 

Alpine’s stellar start to the season should see them go well in Belgium. McLaren will be wary of not only the Alpine threat but their other midfield rivals, who have also been showcasing strong pace. Expect Alpine to put in a strong performance in Belgium.

Chance to catch up

Looking to make the most of all the troubles of McLaren and Alpine will be their midfield rivals Haas and Alfa Romeo. Both teams spent the most of the turbo hybrid era (2014-2020) towards the back of the grid, but the 2022 regulations have been a welcome change for both Haas and Alfa Romeo. Both Ferrari-powered teams have returned to the midfield, and after a strong start to the season, both teams have a strong chance of finishing fourth in the table behind the top three of Red Bull, Mercedes and Ferrari. Alfa Romeo currently sit sixth in the Constructors’ table with 51 points, while Haas are just below them with 34.

Now, don’t let the points fool you, because both the teams have shown that they have the pace to match the likes of McLaren and Alpine on their day. 

Alfa Romeo have a completely new driver pairing in Valterri Bottas and the rookie Zhou Guanyu. While Bottas started the season strongly and had five consecutive points finishes, he has been hampered by reliability issues, which has seen the Finn retire three times already this season. Now, if you thought Bottas’ luck was bad, wait till we get to Zhou. The young Chinese driver in his debut season has already suffered five DNFs, with most of them being related to technical issues. Alfa Romeo have stated previously as well that their progress has been hampered a bit by these reliability issues and probably the summer break came at an ideal time for them. Should they be able to work around these issues, the Swiss team can give both Alpine and McLaren some serious competition for that fourth spot. 

Haas are another Ferrari-powered team have also shown strong race pace during the first half of the season, but multiple issues such as driver errors and mechanical issues have hurt the team. If the American team can overcome their shortcomings, they also stand a chance to throw their hat into the ring for the upper-midfield fight. 

Podium dark horses: Alpine / Alfa Romeo

Race details: When and where to watch (India)

Circuit: Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps
Venue: Stavelot, Belgium
Practice Session 1 time: 17:30 (IST), 26 August 2022
Practice Session 2 time: 20:30 (IST), 26 August 2022
Practice Session 3 time: 16:30 (IST), 27 August 2022
Qualifying time: 19:30 (IST), 27 August 2022
Main race time: 18:30 (IST), 28 August 2022
Where to watch:
Star Sports Network | Disney+ Hotstar

Aditya Chaudhuri

Hailing from the City of Joy, the things that bring me joy are cricket, a good non-tilt CS:GO session, F1 and movies.

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