It’s been a long four weeks waiting for Formula One to return, but Sunday will finally give us the racing drama we’ve been missing, with the 2014 Belgian Grand Prix taking centre stage.
The famous Spa-Francorchamps circuit will play host to the best racers in the world for the 47th time this weekend, as one of the elite looks to etch his name into the Belgian Grand Prix’s star-studded history books.
Here, we dive into the thick of the action and assess who could be standing at the top of the podium come Sunday evening.
Mercedes Stars Set to Duel Again
The Spa-Francorchamps circuit is a devilish track, and one of few left on the F1 calendar that has the ability to trip a driver.
With some tight, fiendish turns to negotiate, the entire lineup in Belgium won’t have it easy on Sunday, although the spotlight will undoubtedly be coming down on just two of them.
Team Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton have dominated the Formula One season so far, with Daniel Ricciardo’s two victories the only times one of the pair hasn’t been top of the podium.
While the Australian could indeed find a way to victory if he continues his stunning form, the race for the World Championship will be the centre of attention in Belgium.
Rosberg currently sits 11 points in front of Hamilton in the general classification standings, but the Englishman’s previous brilliance on the Spa-Francorchamps will undoubtedly stand him in good stead heading into the race.
The 29-year-old won the Belgian Grand Prix title back in 2010, and it seems he’s full of confidence and determination heading into this year’s race—as he revealed via Twitter:
The rivalry between him and Rosberg has left both drivers riled at certain points of the season, and Hamilton revealed at a Puma Forever Faster event that his tussle with the German is like nothing he’s ever experienced before—per William Esler of Sky Sports:
The battle does feel a lot more intense this year. When I was racing against Raikkonen and Massa [in 2008] they were in a different team and their cars had different strengths and weaknesses to my car and, in my team, it was just me that was really competing with them. Now I’m racing against a guy who has the same car as me—we both have access to exactly the same data and feedback so it is really hard to try and be ahead. It’s a little bit like playing poker - you have a set of cards and the other guy is not supposed to know what you got, but Nico and I can see each other’s cards so then it’s more difficult to beat each other.
Mercedes will have to be razor-sharp with both drivers in Spa, as previous grand prix races have taught us that rain can just turn on like a tap in the Belgian region.
Therefore, the preparation has to be spot-on from the team, who all but have the Constructors’ Championship in the bag.
Here’s when and where you can find out how both Rosberg and Hamilton handle the challenges presented by the Belgian Grand Prix:
|2014 Belgian Grand Prix Start Time and TV Schdule|
|Day||Race Time||Sky Sports Coverage||BBC One Coverage|
|Sunday||1 p.m. BST||11:30 a.m. BST||12:10 p.m. BST|
Elsewhere, Hamilton’s countryman Max Chilton will play no part in the Belgian Grand Prix on Sunday, after contractual issues with Marussia forced him out—per Phil Duncan of MailOnline.
Alexander Rossi will step in for the Brit to make his debut, and Caterham’s Andre Lotterer will also take to the grid for the first time on Sunday.
That makes for an interesting lineup in Spa, as we see below:
|2014 Belgian Grand Prix Lineup|
|Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull|
|Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull|
|Daniil Kvyat||Toro Rosso|
|Jean-Eric Vergne||Toro Rosso|
|Sergio Perez||Force India|
|Nico Hulkenberg||Force India|
While victory for one of the Mercedes behemoths is rather expected now, it’s safe to say that they won’t have an easy time reaching the top of the podium no matter the superiority of their equipment—setting up an exciting race in Belgium.