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5 Drivers who need a Good Belgian Grand Prix today

The 2021 Belgian Grand Prix might or might not be a great race in the end, but certainly from what one saw at the rain-soaked qualifying yesterday, it does appear that we saw the best qualifying battle thus far in the season.

Can the race make the contest even bigger and brighter especially for the able young drivers out there who are keen to write their own script in a sport as dogged and difficult at Formula 1 – we shall have to wait and see. 

Can we have a young race winner? The one who might be vying for a Mercedes driver albeit amid circumstances that aren’t always determined by driver skill alone but perhaps by making politically correct decisions? 

Questions there are many, most of which  will be answered when the five red lights turn green at the most serene albeit daunting F1 venue. 

That being said, which drivers will need to deliver a strong Belgian GP?

Charles Leclerc

The Ferrari driver missed out of Q3 for the first time in his Ferrari career at the Belgian GP. Remember he was the race winner here at Spa in 2019, where he led every single lap from pole to gather a brave win ahead of the mighty Lewis Hamilton. 

But amid rains and unbearable driving conditions, Leclerc’s race craft – or would you call it- rain craft got tested a bit. 

Along with Sainz, his was the other Ferrari that failed to make it to Q3. 

Originally, Leclerc, who got an eleventh, would clearly have had his task cut out that being to break into the top ten, but owing to Norris’ grid drop thanks to the gearbox change for today’s race, Leclerc has not such a terrible race lined up ahead. 

It’ll be now down to how well can he maximise his chances at the famous Grand Prix of Belgium. 

Daniel Ricciardo

Even as the great Australian driver has managed a fighting fourth as of Saturday, for his own race form and chances in the remainder of the year, Daniel Ricciardo must deliver a strong race weekend. 

A race win will be very difficult, what can’t be ruled out – and shouldn’t- is a podium finish. 

Moreover, a P4 is a very delightful and strong qualifying result, the best thus far, for Ricciardo. 

But for that to happen, the smiling man from Perth, due to contest his 200th Grand Prix will have to make the best of his sandwiched position, with Vettel on fifth and Hamilton up in third. 
What can the Honeybadger do when the lights go green at Spa? 

Kimi Raikkonen

Last year he managed a twelfth here and this year if he makes it anywhere close to P12, you’d term it moral victory. 

Once called the King of Spa once for his undulating consistency at the longest venue when compared to all on the calendar, might not be wrong to call the Iceman the man behind a new sobriquet- the ‘spin of Spa,’ his current fortunes attributed to how sadly do fortunes spin in Formula 1, once a repeat winner now nosediving to a back marker position. 

P18 is what a four-time winner at Spa managed on Saturday. Moreover, what many might not remember is that back in 2019, when aligned with a stronger machine, Raikkonen grabbed a fighting P8 on qualifying day.

He proved he still had it but that was for as long as the car suited his style and offered power. 

Now, almost 41, Kimi is having none of the chill that so quintessentially decorated his career.

One can only offer wild theories at what might he do today. So, let’s leave him alone and see what happens at Spa! 

Yuki Tsunoda

Time and again, the F1 newcomer has been outwitted completely by a more experienced campaigner Pierre Gasly, the Sagamihara-born’s teammate. 

On Sunday, Yuki, who begins his maiden Spa drive from 16th on the grid would be aware of the challenge that’s to unfold at the most picturesque F1 venue.

Being pursued by Mick Schumacher, P17, one of his young adversaries and trailing Giovinazzi, P15, under pressure to retain his Alfa Romeo seat. 

But fortunately, being allied by a car that’s anything but a vapid, underperforming machine, Tsunoda would want to maximise his challenges and offer something to write home about. 

Though, can that happen? 

Valtteri Bottas

Starting a Grand Prix with Fernando Alonso in your rear can be a daunting experience. More so when you are comfortably out of the top ten. 

Life for Valtteri Bottas, P13, in qualifying has hardly been a bed of roses. However, it could soon turn into a house of thorns should young George Russell bag his Mercedes seat even as the idea seems mired in utopia and less determined by plausibility for with all due respect, how can Hamilton be assisted in the end, also determines Mercedes’ team mate decision.  

Though truth certainly is that the Finn, whose career isn’t quite frankly going anywhere, isn’t the happiest man in F1. 
After causing a string of crashes at Hungary, his 2021 Spa drive has already got compromised by a five place grid drop. Moreover, there’ll be a host of hungrier drivers out there to vie for a best possible spot much like Valtteri on race day. 

Think Leclerc. Think Vettel. Don’t forget Ocon and Perez. 

But should Bottas, who’s yet to win at Spa Francorchamps, deliver a promising race result, it might just ease some of the insane pressure he’s been under, though for absolutely no fault of his critics. 

He’s got the car that might not be the fastest this year but is yet, second best only to the Red Bull. 

This article was written by Dev Tyagi for Sportlightpro.com

F1 2021 Portuguese Grand Prix Preview: Will Hamilton or Verstappen reign supreme in Portugal?

It’s fair to say that the 2021 Formula 1 season has gotten off to a real bang. Sir Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen have won one grand prix apiece, setting up a titanic title battle that should rage all season long.

Round 3 brings us to the Autódromo Internacional do Algarve in Portimao, Portugal. The Portuguese Grand Prix made a very welcome return to the F1 calendar last year and is a popular retention from 2020’s fill-in races.

So, what does this weekend have in store? Here’s our low-down of everything you need to know ahead of the 2021 Portuguese Grand Prix!

Track Guide

This is the second grand prix that Portimao will host. Image: F1

Portimao is a modern circuit, but unlike most, it wasn’t designed by Tilke. That means it’s surprisingly good, with a brilliant mix of medium and low-speed corners.

The circuit is also notable for its elevation changes, being one of the most undulating tracks in the world.

Overtaking is rarely possible anywhere aside from Turn 1, but this is an easy passing spot thanks to DRS and a very long flat-out zone from Turn 14.

Last time out

Max Verstappen battled it out for the lead against Lewis Hamilton again at Imola

Two weeks ago, we were treated to an awesome contest at Italy’s famous Imola circuit. The Emilia-Romagna GP served up a real treat, as Hamilton and Verstappen again battled it out for the lead.

The defending champion started on pole, but it was Verstappen who got the best start from P3 and led after the Tamburello chicane.

Hamilton suffered damage to his Mercedes, but despite this and the wet conditions, he kept relatively close to Verstappen.

Sir Lewis was closing on Max, but a spin while lapping slower cars saw him fall a lap down. However, a clash between Valtteri Bottas and George Russell brought out the red flags and gave LH44 a chance to regain lost ground.

Hamilton powered through from ninth to second by the chequered flag, but it was Verstappen who dominantly won by over 20 seconds.

Lando Norris brought home a very popular podium for McLaren in third, while Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz scored very solid points for Ferrari in P4 and 5.

Who will be fastest in Portugal?

Sir Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen have been the standout performers in 2021 so far. Image: Motor Sport Magazine

For the first time since 2018, we have a real title battle between two different teams. Red Bull have begun 2021 with arguably the fastest car on the grid, but even this isn’t clear.

Over one lap, the jury is still out for who is the fastest on the grid. Verstappen claimed pole in Bahrain by over three tenths of a second, but Hamilton stole pole at Imola by the slimmest of margins.

Hamilton could claim his 100th pole position in F1 this weekend, a record no driver is within 30 of his tally. The seven-time champion could well start in P1, but could be in trouble if Bottas doesn’t perform.

Sir Lewis could drive the race of his life, but if Red Bull have both their drivers at the front, it will likely be either Verstappen or Sergio Perez standing on the top step on Sunday afternoon.

Session times

Practice 1: 30 April               11:30-12:30 (6:30-7:30 AM EST)

Practice 2: 30 April               15:00-16:00 (10:00-11:00 AM EST)

Practice 3: 1 May               12:00-13:00 (7:00-8:00 AM EST)

Qualifying: 1 May               15:00-16:00 (10:00-11:00 AM EST)

Race: 2 May              15:00-17:00 (10:00-12:00 EST)

All times are in British Standard Time (BST), unless stated otherwise. Note: BST is also the same time zone as Portugal.

Grid Talk Podcast

Want more content to preview your Portuguese GP weekend? The Grid Talk crew have you covered with their preview for this weekend’s race at Portimao. George Howson hosted Tom Horrox, Phil Mathew and Henrico Marks to discuss all of the talking points ahead of Round 3. Audio and video versions of the show are available below: