Formula 1 specialist Ben Issatt(@BenIssatt) previews the upcoming Belgian Grand Prix and provides us with his best bets for Sunday’s race.
- 2019 Profit/Loss: -3.75pts
2019 Belgian Grand Prix Betting Preview, Odds & Tips
- Date: 01/09
- Time: 14:10pm BST
- Venue: Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium
- Channel: Sky Sports F1
Formula 1 returns from the summer break at one of the most eagerly anticipated races of the year, the Belgian Grand Prix.
Four weeks have passed since Lewis Hamilton emerged victorious in a brilliant battle with Max Verstappen in Hungary, but a very different race awaits on the iconic layout that is the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps.
The longest track in F1, this strip of tarmac in the Ardennes Forest is one of the most hallowed in motorsport with challenging corners like Eau Rouge/Radillon, Pouhon and Blanchimont.
That is why Spa is considered a track where only the very best drivers excel and why you won’t find many who haven’t fallen in love with the place.
Perhaps it is no surprise then that Michael Schumacher has a storied history at this race, including his debut for Jordan in 1991, first F1 win a year later and his record seventh championship, which he secured in 2004.
It wasn’t all positive though, he collided with David Coulthard in 1998 while leading in a year that was also memorable for a 13-car pile-up on the opening lap in terrible conditions.
And two years later in 2000, Mika Hakkinen produced one of F1’s most famous overtakes on Schumacher, either side of Ricardo Zonta for the win.
Every race at Spa is one that rarely that’s forgotten though and this year is set to see a duel between Ferrari and Mercedes for the win.
Charles Leclerc has been dominant so far, claiming pole by seven-tenths of a second in qualifying ahead of teammate Sebastian Vettel.
But Lewis Hamilton starts right behind in third and the pace of the Briton over a long run in practice was faster than the both Ferrari’s on Friday.
And that promises to make for an entertaining battle at Spa.
Key Stats & Facts
- Kimi Raikkonen has the most wins for a current driver at Spa (4).
- Lewis Hamilton has retired four times in Belgium, more than at any other.
- Sebastian Vettel has won the Belgian GP three times, including in 2018.
- Charles Leclerc – 5/2 (PaddyPower)
- Sebastian Vettel – 3/1 (BetFair)
- Lewis Hamilton – 10/3 (BetVictor)
- Max Verstappen – 20/1 (Bet365)
- Valtteri Bottas – 21/1 (SportBesa)
As Spa has proven many times over the years, it isn’t over until the winner has crossed the finish line and that may well be the case this year.
Mercedes had the better car over Ferrari on a long run on Friday, but temperatures are expected to cool for the race which could help the Italian team.
Their main issue so far has been overheating the tyres but that should be much more manageable and result in improved performance vs. Mercedes.
Hurdles do remain, however, the start has seen numerous big crashes including last year, and the flat-out blast from Turn 1 at La Source through Eau Rouge and along the straight to Les Combes always provides the opportunity to slipstream ahead.
Should Leclerc emerge ahead though, his pace advantage has been such that catching him will prove very difficult.
The quiet man to watch is Max Verstappen, with the Red Bull likely to be more competitive than in qualifying.
Mercedes may well be in sight for the Dutchman, who will be keen to repeat his podium from last year in front of thousands of Dutch fans.
In the midfield, there are plenty of options as six drivers take grid penalties meaning some fast cars start out of position.
The notable one is Alex Albon in his first race for Red Bull, but he faces a tough task to make his way through the field, given the top speed of some cars ahead, although a top 10 points finish is still quite possible.
My pick though is Racing Point, who always perform well at Spa and have Sergio Perez starting seventh with Lance Stroll one of those out of position in 18th.
Given the approach they have taken with their cars, both certainly have the potential to finish higher that’s why two of my recommended bets are allocated to them.
Stroll in particular is always a strong race driver and has come through the field to score points four times this season.
Renault is also a team to watch as they had the fastest midfield car in qualifying but have both drivers, Daniel Ricciardo and Nico Hulkenberg, starting just outside the top 10 due to penalties.
On a final long-shot note, you’ll see I’ve added Hamilton not to finish as one of my recommended bets.
This is because he’s had a tricky weekend so far, including a crash on Saturday and also Mercedes’ engine reliability has been poor in their customer team cars.
So while obviously, it is pretty unlikely, it may just be worth a few quid and hope for a minor miracle!