Friday, 5 September 2008

Belgian Grand Prix Preview

This weekend sees the Formula One circus step into the final third of the season; the home stretch as the race for the title really heats up. Going into this weekend McLaren's Lewis Hamilton holds a slender lead over his main rivals from Ferrari, Massa and Raikkonen. However, on the evidence of the past couple of races Ferrari are the team to beat on pace, and Spa is traditionally a circuit that suits their cars. Hamilton may have his work cut out to still be top of the tree come Sunday evening.

Kimi Raikkonen is the current master of the legendary Spa-Francorchamps circuit, with multiple victories here in the past. If ever the Finn needed one of his great Spa performances, it's now. On his current form he is in danger of driving his way out of his lead driver slot at Ferrari. On the evidence of the past few races Felipe Massa is quicker, more consistent, and more able to produce the goods under pressure than Raikkonen. If Massa out performs Kimi again then Ferrari will surely be left with no choice but to focus all their efforts behind the Brazilian for the remainder of the season.

Of course, Spa is one of those magical places that has the ability to rip up the form book and throw it out of the window. Particularly so when it is wet, as it is predicted to be for much of this weekend. Many racing purists have complained that the unique challenges of Spa have been neutered somewhat by modern safety regulations, making it a tame imitation of what it once was. But when the rain falls (and by God it really knows how to rain in this part of Belgium!), Spa is as challenging and treacherous a circuit as you could ever wish to find. When water starts to flow down the slope of the infamous Eau Rouge corner you know you're going to be in for a wild ride! The lack of traction control this year could make things all the more spectacular, judging from the carnage of the last seriously wet race at Silverstone a couple of months ago.

On that day Lewis Hamilton reigned supreme, while Massa and Raikkonen both struggled in the awful conditions. If Ferrari prove to be on top again, McLaren and Hamilton may be performing a rain dance on the eve of battle to try and swing the race in his favour...

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