F1 is back, and what better track to visit than the legendary Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps; four miles of pure adrenalin set deep in the heart of the Ardennes forest.
Here’s five things we’re excited to see in Spa…
Hamilton’s charge through the field
It’s been confirmed that Lewis will take an engine penalty this weekend, which means he’ll probably start towards the back of the grid. For me, this spices up the race for two reasons.
Firstly, it adds pressure on Nico Rosberg to win the race, especially with Hamilton at such a disadvantage this weekend, and secondly, the prospect of seeing Hamilton fight his way through the field will really add something to the race. Lewis enjoys a challenge, so I’m expecting him to make some solid progress on Sunday.
Will Red Bull start to pull clear of Ferrari?
Red Bull’s recent good form continued in Hockenheim, and their double podium finish moved them ahead of Ferrari in the constructors’ championship. Since Baku, Red Bull have scored 116 points to Ferrari’s 65 and I know believe they are in a position to challenge Mercedes at almost every race.
Daniel Ricciardo will fancy his chances of repeating his 2014 win, and Max Verstappen will be buoyed by the army of Dutch fans here to support him. I’m expecting to see one, if not both Red Bulls on the podium this weekend.
A big weekend for Williams
The Spa-Francorchamps circuit should suit Williams better than some of the circuits they’ve been to recently, and they really do need to have a strong weekend here. The month of July was an absolutely wretched one for the team, with only six points to show from four races.
With Force India closing to within 15 points, Williams’ fourth place in the constructors’ championship is now under real threat, and in all honesty, I’d probably put my money on Force India right now.
It’s make-or-break time for Daniil Kvyat
Whilst a lot of focus will predictably be on crowd favourite Max Verstappen, the man he replaced is also likely to find himself under intense scrutiny. Kvyat pretty much imploded before the summer break as the pressure seemed to get the better of him, but he says the summer break did “good things” for him.
Whether it has made a difference or not, this is make-or-break time now for Daniil Kvyat. He has to find his form soon, otherwise, his F1 career could be over. He drove an excellent race here last year, climbing through the field to finish fourth and a repeat of that performance this year is badly needed.
F1’s latest new boy – Esteban Ocon
After Rio Haryanto’s sponsors failed to pay up, young Esteban Ocon has been drafted in as his replacement. He finished second here in both F3 and GP3, and should be a good test for the highly-rated Pascal Wehrlein this weekend.
For those of you not familiar with Ocon, he won the GP3 title last year and beat a young driver by the name of Max Verstappen to win the Euro F3 title in 2014. He’ll be only the tenth teenager to start a Grand Prix on Sunday and his battle with Wehrlein will be fascinating as both have strong links with the Mercedes team.