The four-week summer vacation of the Formula One world is about to come to a merciful end as the tour heads over to the iconic Spa-Francorchamps circuit for the Belgian Grand Prix in a week’s time. As for me, wannabe Formula One writer that I am, I’m also returning to my writing hobby after being busy (and burned out) from actual work. I hope I have fully refueled my mind to get myself ready for what seems to be a cracking second half of the F1 season. Three drivers, two teams are all contending for the title with nine races to go.
I guess I’ll keep this post short since I’m not really feeling the mood to write a long article recapping all the news, storylines, and gossip over the past few months that I haven’t been writing. The only reaction I have from all the noteworthy news is that I sincerely wish for a full-on Robert Kubica comeback somewhere down the road.
Now, I will just write briefly about the previous race in Hungary. My main take-away from that is that it was a massively important win for Sebastian Vettel and a massively important one-two finish for the Scuderia. Vettel maintains his championship lead despite a dominating stretch of races from the Mercedes drivers.
My last blog post was Ferrari’s win in Monaco and over the time I wasn’t writing, Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas quickly bounced back to remind us that Mercedes haven’t lost their touch. Hamilton dominated Canada and was supposed to win that intense Baku race if not for the unlucky headrest problem that crucially dropped him behind Vettel. In the scenic Mountains of Styria in Austria, Mercedes’ smooth operator Bottas left little doubt that he’d convert his second career pole position into his second career win. Finally, in front of his home fans at Silverstone, Hamilton repeated the dominance he had in Canada, while disaster struck the two Ferrari drivers in the form of imploding tires very late in the race. Vettel lost more valuable championship points by finishing a season-low seventh.
At Hungary, the Scuderia roared back with an emphatic front-row lockout in Qualifying but the race wasn’t exactly smooth sailing for them even though they eventually held their positions up to the checkered flag. Vettel had to endure a steering problem that came up at the race’s halfway point, slowing him and teammate Kimi Raikkonen down at the front of the pack. The two Ferraris quickly became vulnerable to the charging Silver Arrow of Hamilton at third but the twisty nature of the Hungaroring plus the traffic from the back-markers provided Seb and Kimi enough cushion for defense.
Vettel spent the four-week break still in command of the championship standings. His fourteen-point lead over Hamilton is definitely not invulnerable. Meanwhile, Will Buxton recently wrote a column on Bottas, likening him to a shark that smells blood in this year’s title race. I agree that the Finn is a dangerous threat but his window of opportunity closes a lot sooner than his teammate—Bottas needs to pounce immediately with a big result in Spa. While Mercedes are ready to quickly pick apart any weakness from their rivals, Ferrari ride on to Belgium fueled by the much-needed momentum boost they earned in Hungary.