Belgian GP: Max Verstappen tries to regain Lewis Hamilton’s title momentum after costly crashes
Lewis Hamilton now holds an eight-point lead in the title standings while Mercedes has a 12-point lead; But can Max Verstappen and Red Bull bounce back at Spa? Watch the entire Belgian GP weekend live on Sky Sports F1 this weekend
By Matt Morlidge
Last update: 08/24/21 6:20 am
Red Bull insists they are ‘fully motivated’ to fight back against Mercedes as thrilling title fight between F1 heavyweights and star drivers Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton resumes at this week’s Belgian GP -end.
After opening big championship advances thanks to a five-game winning streak from Monaco to Austria, the formidable challengers Red Bull entered the August summer break after scoring just two points combined in the last two events where , perhaps decisive for the season, chaos ensued.
A combination of crashes – Hamilton, Verstappen and Silverstone and a pile-up involving Valtteri Bottas and the two Red Bulls in Hungary – and a return to Mercedes form saw the world champions gain 12 points in the team standings, and Hamilton eight points ahead among drivers.
Belgian GP this weekend – all live on Sky Sports F1 from the famous Spa-Francorchamps – is therefore a major test for the titles of Red Bull and Verstappen, as they seek to regain their momentum.
“It’s a lot of weird moments right now that have cost us a lot of points,” said Verstappen, so desperate to win his first F1 world title. “They are of course very fast, but we never give up.”
Team boss Christian Horner added to Sky F1 in Budapest: “We have had six wins, and the races we have lost are with an explosion of tires. [in Azerbaijan], having gone out to Silverstone, then to Hungary.
“I think we have a lot of reasons to be positive and the whole team is fully motivated.
Max Verstappen hit the barriers after colliding with Lewis Hamilton in the first round of the British GP, resulting in a red flag
“We’re going to go out for the second half of this championship and it’s all up to you. The difference between the second and the first, I think the second half of this year is going to be epic and we’re not giving up.”
The Belgian GP, the first race since August 2 and the kick-off of an exceptional five Grand Prix race in six weeks, is live on Sky Sports F1, from Friday’s practice session at 10:30 a.m. to Sunday’s race at 2 p.m.
Does Mercedes now have the fastest package in F1?
The Silverstone and Hungary crashes certainly changed the momentum of F1 2021 and stoked the fire between rivals Red Bull and Mercedes, but it wasn’t just the ones that reshaped the championship.
Mercedes, so out of the rhythm for much of the summer, has another car to worry about.
The upgrade package the team presented at Silverstone appears to have done wonders to reclaim Red Bull, with Lewis Hamilton having taken first place in both qualifying sessions since, despite having the fastest car by far. during the last race in Hungary, where Red Bull usually flourish.
A return to Belgium will again test the cars to the limit, while also providing a great test of the team’s Mercedes and Honda engines, with Mercedes appearing to hit back at Red Bull in that department ahead of the break.
“It was definitely a tough job for us,” said Hamilton in Hungary. “These guys with their update, they had, I think, a combination of things, but they took a really good step once we got to the halfway point.
“From Monaco it was intense but the upgrade really worked and we just worked on our procedure throughout the weekend and tried to get more out of the car and I think now we are a lot closer.”
Sky Sports F1 Belgian Grand Prix program
Thursday August 26
5 p.m .: The F1 Show Live (also live on Sky F1 YouTube)
6 p.m .: Pilot press conference
Friday August 27
9:05 am: Live F3 practice
10am: Belgian GP Practice One Live (The session starts at 10:30 am)
12.50 p.m .: Live F3 Qualifying
13:45: Belgian GP Practice Two Live (Beginning of the session at 2:00 p.m.)
saturday 28 august
9:25 am: F3 Sprint Race One live
10:45 a.m .: Belgian GP Practice Three Live (The session starts at 11 a.m.)
1 p.m .: Live Belgian GP Qualifier Build-Up
2 p.m .: BELGIUM GP QUALIFICATIONS LIVE
4:45 p.m .: F3 Sprint Race Two live
Sunday 29 August
9:30 am: F3 Feature Race Live
12:30 p.m .: Belgian GP Grand Prix on Sunday live
2 p.m .: THE BELGIAN GRAND PRIX LIVE!
4 p.m .: Belgian GP Checkered Flag live
6 p.m .: Highlights of the Belgian GP