Before the annual Formula 1 summer break, all eyes and column inches in the media were being used to recount Ferrari’s less than successful first half of the 2019 season (as well as whether Valtteri Bottas would still have a seat with Mercedes in 2020). However, this week the spotlight has been well and truly focused on Sebastian Vettel’s former team – Aston Martin Red Bull Racing. Due to the recent swap with regard to Pierre Gasly and Alexander Albon, Ferrari is in the press less and with the lack of media spotlight what may also follow is a lack of pressure when the F1 season restarts. Therefore, do not be surprised to see Ferrari racing back at the front around the legendary Spa-Francorchamps circuit.
First of all, for reason to be hopeful, let’s look back at last year’s Spa GP, a race which was won by none other than Ferrari’s talismanic driver Sebastian Vettel. The victory came to the German due to a daring overtake shortly after a restart on Lewis Hamilton – who had been the pole sitter for the race. This shows that Ferrari and Vettel in particular know how to be successful around the legendary Belgian track.
This year, alongside the supposed number 1 at Ferrari is Charles Leclerc and the Monegasque racer is more than ready to tackle Spa with all his might following his race being unceremoniously cut short in 2018. You may recall the scene of Nico Hulkenberg catapulting Fernando Alonso over the Sauber of Charles Leclerc in a spectacular collision resulting in the retirements of: Fernando Alonso, Charles LeClerc, Kimi Räikkönen, and Daniel Ricciardo. Leclerc certainly has unfinished business in Belgium and is more than capable of challenging at the front due to the wealth of talent at his disposal.
Mercedes is also wary of the challenge the Prancing Horse can bring to the Silver Arrows due to the fact that Toto Wolff has been talking up the chances of victory for the Italian giants of motorsport:
“They have a very strong engine and less drag, and that’s why we will see a very strong Ferrari in Spa and in Monza.”
These were the comments shared by Wolff to Autosport and the Mercedes maestro also went on to play down his own team’s chance of victory at Spa.
“It’s going to be difficult for us and that’s why it’s about enjoying the moment…we have to sort out our problems in order to be competitive at Spa.”
So, with possible problems at Mercedes, could history repeat itself with a Ferrari driver on the top of the podium?
Last year at Spa, the three steps were occupied by a victorious Sebastian Vettel who came across the line 11 seconds ahead of Lewis Hamilton and the final step of the podium was claimed by Max Verstappen. I would not be surprised to see the same three drivers occupying the podium of the Belgian Grand Prix in 2019 as well…just don’t ask me the order.
Formula 1 is back in just over one week and the season restarts at Spa-Francorchamps, a track which never disappoints whether a wet race or a dry race. What a prospect we could have in store if the last three F1 GPs are anything to go by…that is of course if all the drivers make it round the first corner unscathed which as history shows is easier said than done! We are watching you Nico Hulkenberg.