Bad Belgium Memories Haunt Hamilton

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Championship leader Lewis Hamilton will be looking to end his run of near misses at Spa and win the Belgian Grand Prix.

Lewis Hamilton driving his Mercedes F1 car in testing

Spa-Francorchamps is one of the most iconic tracks on the Formula 1 calendar, beloved by fans and drivers alike for its picturesque setting, high-speed nature and fabled corners.

More recently, the home of the Belgian Grand Prix has gained notoriety for being one of those rare venues where Mercedes haven’t always had things their own way.

World champion Lewis Hamilton has finished runner-up in the Ardennes forest region the last two years with a Ferrari claiming victory on each occasion. However, with a Scuderia hat-trick unlikely, Hamilton has a great chance to get over his mini Belgium slump and continue his march to a seventh title.

Silver Arrows Hitting Their Mark

Hamilton is the 20/43 favourite in the Formula 1 betting to win the Belgian Grand Prix having completely dominated the Spanish Grand Prix last time out, coming home 24 seconds clear of Red Bull’s Max Verstappen in second.

That brought up the Briton’s fourth win of the season and 88th of his career, as he moved 37 points clear of Verstappen at the top of the Drivers’ Championship. The 35-year-old, once again, looks peerless with Verstappen doing well just to hang on to his coattails given his Red Bull is significantly slower than the Mercedes.

That being said, Hamilton hasn’t always looked comfortable in Belgium in recent years, most notably when he suffered a heavy crash in final practice last year. He recovered to chase home Charles Leclerc and has won this race three times in the past, most recently in 2017.

Hamilton’s recent issues at Spa just cast a bit of doubt over his prospects for this year’s race, although it remains tough to see who might get the better of him with his Mercedes team mate Valtteri Bottas not in great form of late and priced at 7/2.

Verstappen Hampered by Lacklustre Power Unit

Verstappen is also a 7/2 chance but it would take a drive of epic proportions for the Dutchman to claim his first win in Belgium. The 22-year-old might be performing at his very best right now, recording podium finishes in eight of his last nine races but the nature of Spa makes his task of challenging the all-conquering Mercedes even harder than usual.

With an average speed of 140mph, Spa suits those cars with superior straight-line speed, something Red Bull lack due to their Renault power unit. The team have announced they’ll have a series of upgrades ready for the Belgian Grand Prix but even that might not be enough as they chase a first win in Spa since 2014.

Racing Point's Sergio Perez

Racing Point Eye Podium Place

One team that doesn’t lack straight-line speed is Racing Point, who have caught many by surprise this season. Sitting third in the Constructors’ Championship on 63 points, Racing Point should be firmly in the points picture again at Spa and may even secure their first podium of the season.

With Mercedes power units underneath them, expect Sergio Perez (28/1 race winner) and Lance Stroll (50/1) to be battling with Red Bull for a top-three spot, particularly in the likely absence of a challenge from Ferrari as they continue to under-perform.

Sebastian Vettel won at Spa in 2018 before Leclerc’s success last year but their performances this term suggest they are some way off claiming a third consecutive win, with even a podium finish a struggle.

Chris is broadcast and written journalist with a wealth of experience, across a number of different sports. As well covering football on the radio, he is a regular online and print contributor on the likes of rugby union, American Football and Formula One.
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