Formula 1 will return from its summer break this weekend for the Belgian Grand Prix, with Max Verstappen leading the Championship by 80 points.
Charles Leclerc will be leading the charge against the Dutchman in the final nine races, which will take place over 12 weeks.
The grid for the 2022 F1 Belgian GP is now set after a multitude of penalties this weekend. The qualifying session was rather anti-climactic with Carlos Sainz and Sergio Perez competing in a battle of ‘who can produce a worse lap’ in Q3. At the end of the day, Sergio Perez produced a worse lap and handed pole position to Carlos Sainz for the race.
There is a great mix of drivers up and down the grid and the penalties have mixed things up significantly. Having said that, what can fans expect from the 2022 F1 Belgian GP? Who is our pick to win the race? How will the midfield teams fare against each other? Let’s find out as we share predictions for the 2022 F1 Belgian GP.
#5 It’s going to be an action-packed race
From P15 onwards, we have high-caliber drivers like Max Verstappen, Charles Leclerc, Esteban Ocon, Lando Norris, and others. There are certainly a few resemblances to the 2005 F1 Japanese GP where most of the top drivers started the race in lower positions. That day it was the Iceman Kimi Raikkonen that produced arguably the greatest drive in the history of the sport.
What’s going to happen this time around? Could we see one of these drivers taking the checkered flag? We’ll get to that later, but on face value, what we can say is that the race is going to be action-packed up and down the grid.
#4 Watch out for Fernando Alonso
We don’t want to toot our own horn, but we did predict that Fernando Alonso would start the 2022 F1 Belgian GP in P3. The second row will feature Alonso and Lewis Hamilton. While Hamilton might be motivated and even equipped with a faster race car as compared to Fernando Alonso’s Alpine, the Spaniard is hungrier.
Alonso is going to be ruthless at the start. While keeping Lewis Hamilton behind one is no easy feat, Alpine is much quicker in a straight line as compared to the Mercedes. Could we see the Spaniard running a prolonged stint in P3 or even higher in the early stages of the race? There is a very high possibility that this could happen. Keep an eye on Fernando Alonso as he will produce some magic tomorrow.
#3 Spa could be a reality check for Mercedes
What works for Mercedes at the F1 Belgian GP? Having Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc start the race at the back of the grid. What doesn’t work? Their poor straight-line speed will leave their drivers sitting ducks at the start.
Not only that, even when it comes to overtaking a car in front, one cannot simply rely on DRS and slipstream to bail one out. The drivers in front of Lewis Hamilton are Fernando Alonso, Carlos Sainz, and Sergio Perez. All of them hold a significant advantage in straight-line speed. Mercedes drivers could find themselves stuck behind these cars during the 2022 F1 Belgian GP and ultimately lose a lot of time.
Lewis Hamilton could challenge for the win in the 2022 F1 Belgian GP. For that to happen, however, he will need to run most of his race in clean air, which looks unlikely at the moment. The Belgian GP could be a reality check for Mercedes in terms of where it finds itself as compared to Red Bull and Ferrari.
#2 Expect more drama in the Charles Leclerc-Ferrari relationship
We saw a glimpse of intra-team tension during the F1 Belgian GP qualifying, but stay tuned because there’s going to be a lot more of it in the race. Ferrari contributed to a season of bloopers when they sent Charles Leclerc out to give Carlos Sainz a tow on fresh soft tires.
The incredulity in Leclerc’s voice was obvious and it got even worse when the race engineer told him to do a qualifying lap after a less than optimal warm-up lap. On Sunday, Charles Leclerc will start one position behind Max Verstappen in P16. In that position, Leclerc will require every bit of help he can get from his strategy unit. We hope not, but this is probably where things will start to unravel for the Ferrari driver. Expect another weekend where the Ferrari driver laments ‘what could have been’ after all is said and done.
#1 Max Verstappen wins the 2022 F1 Belgian GP
Let’s call it what it is, Max Verstappen is driving in a different Formula this weekend. The Red Bull driver did not even need to do a second flying lap and he held close to seven-tenths of a second advantage over the rest of the field.
On Sunday, unless Max Verstappen encounters a reliability issue, tangles with another car or is compromised in any other way, he is going to be hard to beat. The driver holds close to seven-tenths of a second advantage over even his teammate in the same car! Verstappen is driving at a different level right now and unless he encounters something that compromises his race, we predict that he’s going to win the 2022 F1 Belgian GP.
The last time that Formula 1 went racing was in Hungary at the end of July, where Verstappen made his way through the field from 10th place on the grid to clinch his eighth win of the season.
While Verstappen stood on the top step, Mercedes celebrated a double podium after Lewis Hamilton and George Russell finished in second and third place respectively.
Hamilton has the chance to finish in the top three for the fifth consecutive race, while Russell can achieve a third straight podium finish this weekend.
Meanwhile, Verstappen’s Championship rival Leclerc needs a positive run of results to close the gap to the Dutchman after finishing in the podium places on only one occasion in the last eight races.
Leclerc’s teammate Carlos Sainz will also be looking to experience a successful weekend, with the Spaniard currently sat in fifth place in the Championship standings.
While Ferrari hope that they return from the summer break with their reliability issues behind them, Fernando Alonso and Daniel Ricciardo head to Belgium, knowing they will not be racing for their current teams next year.
Alonso has decided to leave Alpine to replace Sebastien Vettel at Aston Martin after the German driver previously announced he will be retiring from Formula 1 at the end of the season.
As for Ricciardo, he will leave McLaren at the end of the year after the team confirmed the termination of the Australian’s contract for 2023.
Meanwhile, Ricciardo’s teammate Lando Norris will attempt to continue his run of promising results this weekend after finishing in the top seven in the last four races.
The Belgian Grand Prix will take place at the 7.004km Spa-Francorchamps circuit, which has undergone changes since last year.
A number of gravel traps have been added to the circuit, certain areas of the track have been resurfaced, while new barriers and debris fencing have also been installed.
The track still features a number of long straights and high-speed corners, which tests the skill of the drivers and the setup of the cars.
On Sunday, they will be two DRS zones, with the first one from turn four up to five, while the second zone is on the pit straight.
The 2021 Belgian Grand Prix was the shortest Formula 1 World Championship race in history after torrential rain only allowed the drivers to complete two laps behind the safety car.
Although only two laps were completed last year, Verstappen was classified as the winner, and the Dutchman is one of five drivers on the grid who have previously won the Belgian Grand Prix.
Hamilton has won the event on four occasions, Vettel has stood on the top step at Spa three times in his career, while Ricciardo and Leclerc have one win to their name in Belgium.
Meanwhile, AlphaTauri driver Pierre Gasly is set to start his 100th Formula 1 Grand Prix this weekend.
1. Carlos Sainz (Ferrari)
2. Sergio Perez (Red Bull)
3. Fernando Alonso (Alpine)
4. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)
5. George Russell (Mercedes)
6. Alexander Albon (Williams)
7. Daniel Ricciardo (McLaren)
8. Pierre Gasly (AlphaTauri)
9. Lance Stroll (Aston Martin)
10. Sebastian Vettel (Aston Martin)
11. Nicholas Latifi (Williams)
12. Kevin Magnussen (Haas)
13. Yuki Tsunoda (AlphaTauri)
14. Valtteri Bottas (Alfa Romeo)
15. Max Verstappen (Red Bull)
16. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari)
17. Lando Norris (McLaren)
18. Esteban Ocon (Alpine)
19. Zhou Guanyu (Alfa Romeo)
20. Mick Schumacher (Haas)
Although Verstappen topped the timesheets on Saturday, he will start from 15th place due to a grid penalty for using too many engine parts, presenting Sainz with the chance to start from pole position.
Leclerc and Ocon qualified fourth and fifth respectively, but like Verstappen, Norris, Bottas, Zhou and Schumacher they also have penalties.
Starting behind Sainz will be Perez, while Alonso will line up in third spot alongside Hamilton who moves up to fourth position.
Albon impressed to qualify ninth and after penalties are applied, the Williams driver will start the Grand Prix from sixth place.
1. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) – 258
2. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) – 178
3. Sergio Perez (Red Bull) – 173
4. George Russell (Mercedes) – 158
5. Carlos Sainz (Ferrari) – 156
6. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) – 146
7. Lando Norris (McLaren) – 76
8. Esteban Ocon (Alpine) – 58
9. Valtteri Bottas (Alfa Romeo) – 46
10. Fernando Alonso (Alpine) – 41
11. Kevin Magnussen (Haas) – 22
12. Daniel Ricciardo (McLaren) – 19
13. Pierre Gasly (AlphaTauri) – 16
14. Sebastian Vettel (Aston Martin) – 16
15. Mick Schumacher (Haas) – 12
16. Yuki Tsunoda (AlphaTauri) – 11
17. Zhou Guanyu (Alfa Romeo) – 5
18. Lance Stroll (Aston Martin) – 4
19. Alexander Albon (Williams) – 3
20. Nicholas Latifi (Williams) – 0
21. Nico Hulkenberg (Aston Martin) – 0
1. Red Bull – 431
2. Ferrari – 334
3. Mercedes – 304
4. McLaren – 99
5. Alpine – 95
6. Alfa Romeo – 51
7. Haas – 34
8. AlphaTauri – 27
9. Aston Martin – 20
10. Williams – 3
We say: Lewis Hamilton to win
With Verstappen and Leclerc set to start towards the back of the grid after being penalised for using too many engine parts, Sunday’s race could be a chance for one of the Mercedes to claim their first victory of the season, and we think that Hamilton could be the man to stand on the top step on Sunday.