BRITISH INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL, PHUKET
The Phuket News Novosti Phuket Khao Phuket

Login | Create Account | Search


Questions to be answered in F1’s big finish

Questions to be answered in F1’s big finish

FORMULA ONE: There are just 15 weeks to go until F1 crowns its champion for 2021, but there’s plenty more to work through between now and the grand finale.

Formula-One
By Michael Lamonato

Thursday 26 August 2021, 02:09PM


F1 returns to Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium this weekend after its three-week summer break. Photo: AFP

F1 returns to Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium this weekend after its three-week summer break. Photo: AFP

Formula 1 returns from its three-week summer sojourn this weekend for the classic Belgian Grand Prix with a red-hot title race and a bucketload of questions to be decided in the sprint to the finish.

The sport adjourned for its annual break delicately poised. After a chaotic race in Budapest Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes regained advantages in the drivers and constructors championships over Max Verstappen and Red Bull Racing. The Briton leads the Dutchman by just eight points, while the German marque heads the Austrian outfit by 12.

Just weeks before the suspension it seemed fanciful to think Hamilton could level with Verstappen after a drubbing at the double-header in Austria, but two disastrous first-lap crashes in the UK and Hungary left the Dutchman with just five points to the Briton’s 45, resetting the balance.

But while momentum on the title table has swung wildly towards the reigning champion, the battle on the track has not, and Red Bull Racing’s car is at least a match for the Mercedes machine.

And the title challenger intends to keep developing the RB16B too despite next season’s all-new regulations compelling every other team, including Mercedes, to switch focus to 2022. Red Bull Racing hasn’t contended for a championship since 2013 and is determined to seal the deal while it can.

But the car is only part of the equation; the men in them are a crucial second component. In Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen each has a world-leading driver to dependably deliver, notwithstanding the simmering tension between them since their crash in Silverstone.

Their teammates, however, are every bit as important, but both are struggling in the breakneck pace set by the campaign leaders languishing more than 80 points adrift and behind Lando Norris in the inferior McLaren.

Both have their excuses.

HeadStart International School Phuket

Perez is new to the team and has been incrementally improving, including victory in Azerbaijan, but has fallen into a form slump in the three rounds to the break. A return to relative competitiveness from Belgium should be enough to earn him a consolidating sophomore season.

Bottas, on the other hand, in his fifth year with the team has his more consistent podium-getting drives weighed heavily against some high-profile blots in his copybook.

A crash in Imola while battling for ninth, a deeply uncompetitive non-points finish in Baku and his triggering of the first-lap pile-up in Budapest have him as the man under pressure.

It may be too late to keep himself in a title-winning Mercedes. Team boss Toto Wolff said he intended to make a decision on the out-of-contract Bottas during the break, with junior driver George Russell champing at the bit for promotion after a three-year apprenticeship at Williams. No announcement has been made at the time of writing, but the feeling in Budapest was that change was in the forecast.

Would Bottas continue to play the role of the loyal second-in-command if he’s cut loose, or would the pressure to bolster his bargaining power in negotiations with backmarkers, the only teams left with vacancies, be his primary motivation? His decision could materially affect Hamilton’s chances of taking the title to the wire.

And how we get to the wire is a great unknown. The cancellation of the Japanese Grand Prix has thrown the tightly packed 12-race, 15-weekend fixture into disarray, and replacement races will not only challenge teams to adapt on short notice, but they will also alter the balance of performance, potentially favouring the strengths of one team’s car over the other.

The 2021 Formula 1 season has already delivered a classic 11 rounds of a heavyweight title fight. What the championship has in store this weekend at Spa-Francorchamps and beyond is anyone’s guess.

Comment on this story

* Please login to comment. If you do not have an account please register below by simply entering a username, password and email address. You can still leave your comment below at the same time.

CAPTCHA

Be the first to comment.

 

Have a news tip-off? Click here

 

Phuket community
Authorities crackdown on scam texts

"She said people seeking to take out loans should contact a legitimate financial institution&qu...(Read More)


Authorities crackdown on scam texts

Someone keeps sending me these unsolicited messages and annoying adverts. It's this shady outfit...(Read More)


Authorities crackdown on scam texts

land of scamm banning scamming...this is the fart of the day... ...(Read More)


Phuket Opinion: Enough rope

WTFB @ spot on once they realized that they had been rumbled after the daily map totals did not add ...(Read More)


Phuket Opinion: Enough rope

Three things cannot be long hidden: the sun, the moon, and the truth....(Read More)


Phuket begins new vaccine injection method

What skip is blithely ignoring is that worldwide the serious cases needing ICU care are 97% UNVAXED....(Read More)


Authorities crackdown on scam texts

This is a common issue whey you insert a Truemove sim card into your phone. True intentionally s...(Read More)


Phuket Opinion: Enough rope

I assume that it is the inability to manage the numbers that has led to the failure to publish updat...(Read More)


Phuket Opinion: Enough rope

And they wonder why Thailand is still on many countries red lists !...(Read More)