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Formula 1 Belgian GP

F1 Form Guide: Belgian Grand Prix

Red Bull has now won more races in a row than any team ever, but its rivals are closing in – so can the record-breaking run be stopped in Belgium?

Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing RB18

Red Bull is starting to feel a little more pressure from its rivals after a season that has so far seen the team build on its winning form from the end of last year and stretch out a 12-race unbeaten run. 

However, for the first time since Azerbaijan, seven races previous, it was not a Red Bull on pole at the last race. Instead, it was the Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton that took top spot – his first since Saudi Arabia in 2021. 

That was on a track that reduced Red Bull’s straight-line speed benefit but Spa will give that top-end advantage back. That said, there is a chance of rain for Friday’s qualifying and Saturday’s sprint. 

It is clear the opposition is closing in slightly, so with rain in the mix there could be opportunities to be had. As F1 heads to Belgium, what can we expect? 

POLE PROMISE 

The fight for pole – on Friday, remember – is perhaps more open than the battle for victory, as there have now been two non-Red Bull poles this season. Spa is a long track where mistakes accumulate, so Verstappen could be beaten. 

The Dutch driver has seven poles this season, but most have been fairly close. In Austria and Monaco, the gap to his rivals was in the hundredths of a second, and all but one – excluding rain-affected Canada – have been within three tenths. 

Lando Norris is at 9/1 for pole while recent pole sitter Hamilton is at 11/1, and the opportunity is there, especially if it is wet. George Russell at 16/1 could also be worth considering as he qualified second for Williams in the wet here in 2021. 

SPRINT CHANCE 

Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing RB18

Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing RB18

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

Belgium will see another F1 Sprint Race on Saturday with a chance it could be wet. Although these are now played out as their own entities, with qualifying on Saturday morning, they are a chance to score some valuable extra points.  

Ignoring Verstappen, who is again the clear favourite, his team-mate Sergio Perez and the McLaren of Norris sit at 10/1 for the win, with Hamilton 12/1. Russell could be even more tempting, at a rather surprising 25/1. 

PODIUM CHALLENGERS 

When it comes to the race itself, this is when power unit changes often come into play – last year eight drivers had grid-drop penalties because they went beyond their parts limits – so that could see some lead drivers out of position. 

That said, even when Red Bull’s drivers are out of place on the grid, they tend make their way back up to the front. So, if Verstappen does drop back, it is likely his car performance, wet or dry, will see him climb back up. 

Last year, he started in 14th place after his engine change penalties but managed to climb all the way up to not only win the race but to finish 17.8 seconds up the road from second-placed Perez, albeit with help from the safety car. 

Having also ‘won’ the Spa race that never happened in 2021 – when the rain only allowed a handful of laps behind the safety car – Verstappen is a strong favourite to get a hat-trick this weekend. 

McLaren, after a raft of upgrades, have now become the favourites to challenge Red Bull and Norris is sitting at 10/1 for the victory. That may be tough, but it is perhaps more interesting than his 18/25 podium odds. 

It is tight amongst the non-Red Bull front runners, and that is reflected in the odds as very few of the strongest drivers offer good value. However, if McLaren is on form again, Oscar Piastri is at 6/1 for a first ever podium. 

POINTS PLAYERS  

Again, the tight battle amongst Mercedes, McLaren, Ferrari and, albeit to a lessening extent, Aston Martin, means the odds for points finishes are also not particularly inspiring. 

It is, therefore, worth looking at who outside those teams could snatch that final points spot in 10th – and so far, Kevin Magnussen, Yuki Tsunoda and Pierre Gasly have done that twice, with Alex Albon and Valtteri Bottas once. 

Last year, both Gasly and Albon finished in the points at Spa but Magnussen is the longest shot at 23/5, with Tsunoda 7/2 and Bottas 5/2. Also, new AlphaTauri recruit Daniel Ricciardo is at 7/2 for a point, which could be worth a look. 

Alex Albon, Williams FW44, Daniel Ricciardo, McLaren MCL36, Lance Stroll, Aston Martin AMR22

Alex Albon, Williams FW44, Daniel Ricciardo, McLaren MCL36, Lance Stroll, Aston Martin AMR22

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

CHANCE CHOICES 

Red Bull has set all but three of the fastest laps this season with Alfa Romeo Stake driver Zhou Guanyu and Mercedes pair Hamilton and Russell the other three to do so. Mercedes and McLaren are both at 5/1 to go fastest around Spa. 

At least one car has failed to get to the end of the opening lap on every one of the last five races at Spa (ignoring the safety car race in 2021). Alpine retired both cars early at the last race and they are 33/5 to be the first to do so again. 

In the last five races, Logan Sargeant has twice been classified last, with Gasly, Tsunoda and Nyck de Vries also getting that ‘honour’ once each. This weekend, Sargeant is 4/1 for a repeat and Tsunoda 6/1 with Gasly 34/1. 

NOTE: Odds correct at time of writing 

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