Belgian Grand Prix Preview: The Iceman Cometh

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Belgian Grand Prix Preview: The Iceman Cometh

Before I begin, I’d like to say that I’m aware that this preview is early considering the Grand Prix is not until the first week in September. The reason it is so early is because I’m off on my holidays to Fernando Alonso’s home country of Spain so I won’t be able to comment and read for some time... but don’t worry, I’ll be back home before qualifying gets underway in Spa!

 

Our favourite sportsmen and teams head to Spa-Francorchamps for round 13 of the 2008 F1 season. Recently voted the best circuit in Formula One (by the F1RT), Spa is shaping up to be a key weekend for a lot of drivers and teams.

 

The circuit in Belgium has a lot of history surrounding it and the race this season is shaping up to be a corker, with the McLaren’s and Ferrari’s going head-to-head for the remainder of the season.

 

Here’s a bit of info about Spa:

 

·         Lap Length- 4.352 miles (the largest on the current F1 calendar)

·         Laps- 44

·         Fastest Lap- 1m45.108s (Kimi Raikkonen, 2004, McLaren Mercedes)

·         2007 Pole- Kimi Raikkonen

·         2007 Winner- Kimi Raikkonen

 

Drivers

 

As you are aware, Felipe Massa won the last Grand Prix and is currently booming with confidence and momentum. This weekend is key for him as he is currently chasing down McLaren boy Lewis Hamilton in the drivers’ championship and trails him by six points.

 

Hamilton himself will be looking for the win at Spa to extend his lead in the championship. He suffered from neck spasms and illness in Valencia so he wants to be fully fit and be able challenge for victory. A podium finish is expected of Hamilton. A win would be great.

 

This weekend could decide the season for Kimi Raikkonen. The Iceman has fallen to third in the championship and if he fails to perform in Spa he could be playing second fiddle to Massa for the rest of the campaign.

 

He has said that Spa is his favourite circuit and Kimi has won there for the past three years.  Winning this year would be a fantastic way to get his title defence back on track and his number one status at Ferrari renewed.

 

Out of the drivers, this weekend is the most important for Raikkonen.

 

Fellow Finn Heikki Kovalainen is trying to remain consistent for the rest of the season after a slow start to his McLaren career. A podium would be great for Heikki.

 

Other drivers who have a pivotal weekend ahead of them include: Fernando Alonso, Nelson Piquet and David Coulthard.

 

Alonso was taken out of his second home race by Kazuki Nakajima last time out. Adding to that fact, he failed to make it into the top ten during qualifying, as did his rookie team-mate, Piquet Jnr. Both must perform at Spa to help Renault try to achieve fourth place in the constructors’ championship.

 

It will be the last time Scotsman David Coulthard will race at Spa in a Formula One car. He has stated in the past that Spa is his favourite track and a finish in the points would be an emotional and satisfying way to say goodbye.

 

Constructors

 

Scuderia Ferrari. Reliable.

 

Ferrari and reliable don’t go in the same sentence any more I’m afraid. With two engine failures in the last two races, Ferrari are under huge pressure to make sure it doesn’t happen again.  The failures were caused by the same problem and both failures have come on the engine’s second race. What would Enzo say?!?

 

On a more positive note, the track nature of Spa is better suited to the Ferrari than McLaren and the Scuderia will be hoping they can overcome their reliability problems to take the win.

 

Focusing on McLaren now, they have been out performed by the Ferrari in Hungary and Valencia and hope to get back on level terms with the Maranello outfit. Two cars on the podium is the goal for McLaren at Spa. Heikki Kovalainen is now becoming more consistent with his race results and Lewis Hamilton hopes to finish on the podium for the remainder of the season.

 

Just for the record, McLaren haven’t had two cars on the same podium this season, the only team in the top three not to do so. Let us hope they can kick the habit on the 7th September.

 

The final feature constructor, Renault, needs to get back on form after a dismal weekend around the streets of Valencia. Neither car made it into the top 10 of qualifying or into the points on race day. As a result they have fallen ten points behind Toyota in the race for fourth place. I personally believe it will be back to business at Renault for I don’t think they got the car set up right last time.

 

Predictions

 

Grid

 

1.       Kimi Raikkonen

2.       Lewis Hamilton

3.       Felipe Massa

4.       Heikki Kovalainen

5.       Robert Kubica

6.       Fernando Alonso

7.       Nick Heidfeld

8.       Timo Glock

9.       Jarno Trulli

10.     Nelson Piquet

 

Race

 

1.       Kimi Raikkonen

2.       Lewis Hamilton

3.       Heikki Kovalainen

4.       Fernando Alonso

5.       Robert Kubica

6.       Timo Glock

7.       Jarno Trulli

8.       Nick Heidfeld

DNF- Felipe Massa (Engine Failure)

 

So there they are. Anyone a bit shocked with Massa’s DNF, or not surprised at all? Has Raikkonen got it in him to win? Can Alonso really finish fourth?!

Do your predictions match mine Bleachers? What would you have different?

 

Comment and rate as usual please!

 

Photo courtesy of Photobucket

 

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