Lewis Hamilton trying to overcome a miserable starting position will be one of the most intriguing aspects of the 2016 Formula One Belgian Grand Prix. Hamilton's penalty-induced problems could see fellow Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg close the gap in the drivers' standings.
However, Rosberg has had his struggles lately, and he's without a race win since June 19 at the European Grand Prix.
Here are the schedule details, followed by a preview:
Date: Sunday, August 28
Time: 1 p.m. (BST)/8 a.m. (ET)
TV: Sky Sports F1/NBCSN
Here are the top 10 drivers involved in the race:
|2016 Belgian F1 Grand Prix|
|3||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull||133|
|6||Max Verstappen||Red Bull||115|
|8||Sergio Perez||Force India||48|
|10||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India||33|
The odds are against Hamilton making it a seventh win in eight races. He's also going to find it tough to repeat last year's victory at Spa-Francorchamps, especially since he incurred a 30-place grid penalty, per Andrew Benson of BBC Sport.
The infraction stemmed from engine problems, which forced Hamilton into using extra engine parts. It's resulted in the Englishman starting this race at the back of the grid.
Still, winning from there would be enough to earn a piece of history, according to Sky Sports, as no driver has ever done so. The same source noted how Hamilton is currently leading the F1 title stakes by a healthy 19 points, but events this weekend could yet have a major impact on his chances.
If he struggles, it's sure to be Mercedes team-mate Rosberg who profits. The team has been pushed recently by Red Bull Racing, but Rosberg will take to the circuit with the superior vehicle.
If anybody is ever going to break the Mercedes stranglehold, it's likely to be Ricciardo. He's been pushing for the podium, but he'll have to negotiate an unpredictable circuit while focusing on staying close to Mercedes.
Benson has lauded the course in another BBC Sport report:
Unlike so many modern tracks, built as they usually are on featureless wasteland with any elevation change often artificial, Spa follows the contours of the mountains that host it.
As such, it is a link to the very soul of Formula 1, which emerged in 1950 as a development of European road racing in the first half of the century.
Not only is the uneven direction of the track a potential issue, so is its condition on the day. It's not unusual for parts of the course to trap and absorb rain while others stay dry, according to the Haas F1 race preview.
So this is a race determined by who drives the smartest, rather than those who simply lean on speed. Speaking of speed, Rosberg was the one setting it during the practice races.
Still, the German is wary of the challenges awaiting him in Belgium, despite Hamilton being hindered by his penalty, per James Galloway of Sky Sports F1.
Rosberg is smart not to underestimate how much motivation Mercedes' chief rivals will take from Hamilton's supposed plight. In particular, Red Bull drivers must seize their chance with Hamilton beginning from the rear.
Although things look tough for the latter, expect him to still be in the mix come the final reckoning. Hamilton is also unlikely to see his overall lead dented too much, even if Rosberg makes good on his favourite's status in Spa.