Belgian Grand Prix

The Formula 1 season gets back underway after a month-long break this weekend, with Lewis Hamilton hoping to pick up from where he left off before his holidays.

The Mercedes driver was the surprise winner of the Hungary Grand Prix before the teams broke up for summer and now leads Sebastian Vettel by 24 points in the Drivers’ Championship. It is a role reversal from this time last year when Vettel sat atop the standings, only for Hamilton to overhaul him.

The Belgian Grand Prix marked the start of Hamilton turning the tables on the Ferrari man, who endured some rotten luck during the run-in to the end of the 2017 season. However, could the Scuderia’s fortunes on long straights of Spa Francorchamps be about to change, at a race which has a habit of throwing up a surprise or two?

Ferrari to end Spa hoodoo

It has been nearly a decade since a Ferrari driver stood atop the podium in the Ardennes, with Kimi Raikkonen having taken the chequered flag on that occasion. Red Bull and, more recently, Mercedes have ruled the roost in Belgium since that point.

However, the engine upgrades introduced by Ferrari over the course of the campaign means they have the quickest car on the grid, edging a fraction ahead of rivals Mercedes.

Given their superior power, it is no surprise to see Vettel as the 2.30 favourite, slightly ahead of Hamilton at 2.35. It was the Brit who narrowly edged out Vettel last year, hanging on to win by 0:02.358seconds, despite a late safety car.

It could be another tight finish this year with Ferrari’s new-found power and ‘Under Three Seconds’ as the winning margin is available at 3.70.

It has been five years since Vettel recorded the last of his two Belgian Grand Prix wins, while he went into the summer break on the back of one win from the last five races.

The stats make grim reading for the four-time world champion, who only has one pole position at the track but given Hamilton’s record is hardly strong, retiring four times in Belgium over the years, Vettel is the choice for the race winner.

Raikkonen to keep on rolling

Vettel’s Ferrari team-mate Raikkonen is one to watch this weekend given his track record at Spa, sitting third on the all-time winner’s list for the Belgian Grand Prix with three victories. He’s 7.75 to end his five-year wait for a win, but the safer bet is him to record a sixth consecutive podium at 1.74.

The Finn, who is looking for his 100th career pole at Spa, was the in-form driver before the summer holidays and his excellent record at this circuit makes him a threat to all involved.

Spa no place to relax for Red Bull

It has certainly been a dramatic summer break for Red Bull, who announced Daniel Ricciardo would be leaving to join Renault, with Pierre Gasly stepping up from Toro Rosso to replace the Australian.

Off the back of a chaotic interlude, Red Bull head to a track which hardly plays to their strengths given they are carrying a down-on-power Renault engine. Ricciardo might have a decent record at Spa but he’s been out of sorts of late, while Max Verstappen has never finished higher than eighth previously.

Therefore, it is worthwhile exploring the value options for a top six finish ahead of the Red Bulls. Haas have proven they have plenty of straight-line speed this season and both Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean are 2.20 to finish in the top six.