F1 2021 Belgian Grand Prix Preview: Who Will Come out On Top After the Summer Break?

The 2021 Formula 1 season has had as many twists and turns as the calendar’s most famous circuits. Before the summer break, Sir Lewis Hamilton took back the championship lead after claiming second place at the Hungarian Grand Prix.

Thanks to damage sustained in a first corner crash, Max Verstappen only managed ninth and is now eight points behind Hamilton in the driver’s championship.

Who will come out on top around the incredible Spa-Francorchamps circuit this weekend? We’ve got everything you need to know in right here in our Belgian Grand Prix preview!

Track Guide

The Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps is one of the cornerstone circuits of Formula 1 and world motorsport. The 7km-long track cuts through the Ardennes Forest and is the longest circuit on the calendar. The drivers will power around the Belgian track for 44 laps on Sunday.

Image credit: Formula 1

Spa is home to some of the best and fastest corners in the world. Eau Rouge, Pouhon and Blanchimont are just some of the turns that thrill us and the drivers. Setup is always difficult here, as the first and final sectors are all about straight-line speed, but you need downforce to be quick in sector two.

The biggest challenge in Spa though, is the weather. The Ardennes forest and surrounding hills create their own microclimate and can create rainstorms out of thin air.

READ MORE: F1 BLAST FROM THE PAST:

Last time out

The 2021 Hungarian Grand Prix produced one of the most surprising set of results in modern F1 history. Turn 1 crashes caused by Valtteri Bottas and Lance Stroll shook up the grid no end. Sergio Perez, Charles Leclerc and Lando Norris joined Bottas and Stroll on the side-lines, with Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen sustaining considerable damage.

Hamilton and Verstappen’s crash has continued to dominate the headlines. Image: Reuters

At the restart, Hamilton was the only driver not to pit for dry tyres, and would drop to the back of the pack as a result. Esteban Ocon would inherit the lead but was hounded by Sebastian Vettel for the entire race. Ocon held firm though, to take his and Alpine’s first win in F1.

Vettel crossed the line second, but failed to provide a 1kg fuel sample and was disqualified post-race. Hamilton recovered to an admirable second place, with Carlos Sainz drawing Ferrari level with McLaren with third place. Fernando Alonso produced an incredible defensive display to finish fourth.

Pierre Gasly and Yuki Tsunoda completed a great day for Alpha Tauri with fifth and sixth, respectively. Williams had their highest-scoring weekend since 2017 with Nicholas Latifi in seventh and George Russell in eighth. Verstappen ended up ninth, with Kimi Raikkonen getting a point for Alfa Romeo in tenth.

Who has won the development battle?

Despite the mandated factory shutdown, the teams will have made big strides in performance over the last four weeks. Mercedes got a 1-2 in qualifying for the Hungarian GP, but that is a completely different circuit to Spa. In general, Red Bull have had better straight-line speed and been faster around power circuits.

Could we see another crash between the two leaders in the championship?

If there’s one thing that Mercedes and Hamilton know how to do, though, it’s how to win. Hamilton can never be discounted, especially if Mercedes have a good low-drag setup.

You can always try a move into La Source, but it’s arguably better to be second into Eau Rouge for the run up to Les Combes. Hamilton has won four times in Belgium, but this is not a circuit that one of his favourites in terms of results. Verstappen has never won in the country of his birth, but that could easily change this weekend.

Session Times

Practice 1: 27 August               10:30-11:30 (5:30-6:30 AM EST)

Practice 2: 27 August               14:00-15:00 (9:00-10:00 EST)

Practice 3: 28 August               11:00-12:00 (6:00-7:00 EST)

Qualifying: 28 August   14:00 -15:00 (9:00 -10:00 EST)

Race: 29 August             14:00 (9:00 EST)

All times are in British Standard Time (BST), unless stated otherwise.

Grid Talk Podcast

Want more content to preview your Belgian Grand Prix weekend? The Grid Talk crew have you covered with their latest podcast, the 2021 Belgian Grand Prixview. George Howson hosted Sam Thatcher, Tom Downey and Aaron Harper, both audio and video versions of the show are linked below:

Grid Talk Podcast

Want more content to preview your Belgian Grand Prix weekend? The Grid Talk crew have you covered with their latest podcast, the 2021 Belgian Grand Prixview. George Howson hosted Sam Thatcher, Tom Downey and Aaron Harper, both audio and video versions of the show are linked below:

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