The last weekend of August sees us head off to Spa for the F1 Belgian Grand Prix. This comes one week after the recent foray around the streets of Valencia. Funnily enough, it may have been the dullest race of the season that has decided the result of the formula one championship. In Valencia, Red Bull was unable to score any points while Brawn GP took a win plus a few points.
Jenson Button ($2.84 for a podium finish) now leads the championship by 18 points of team-mate Rubens Barichello. To be realistic, Rubens Barichello ($27 for a Qualifying/Winner Double) is unlikely to challenge Button for the championship lead. It was only because of a poor start by Jenson Button coupled with a bit of bad luck that led to a disproportionate gap between the Brawn drivers. Button was only a fraction off of Barichello’s pace and his fastest lap was a few hundredths of a second quicker than Rubens. With the Formula 1 Drivers Championship now Button’s to lose, BetFair is paying odds of $1.59 for Jenson Button to become the 2009 driver’s champion.
The 2009 Belgian GP will be all about carrying last week’s form forward for the boys at Brawn GP. They were able to regain the upper hand over challengers Red Bull in Valencia and will be looking to consolidate their championship lead. Brawn GP is tipped to win the 2009 Constructors Championship and Betfair is paying odds of $1.47. The main challengers for the two Brawn drivers will once again be Lewis Hamilton, Kimi Raikkonen and Mark Webber. Vettel’s championship race is all but over after using two of his three remaining engines in Valencia. The Spa-Francorchamps circuit is renowned for the stress that it causes on engines with the majority of circuit time being at full-throttle. This will benefit the teams with a more reliable vehicle.
My tip is, Raikkonen and Hamilton ($5.10 for Pole Position) will hold the advantage at Spa as the slow exit from La Source is a perfect place to hunt down opponents for those cars equipped with KERS (Kinetic Energy Recovery System).The driver’s that are able to get to top speed the quickest will have the advantage with the long, uphill drag to Eau Rouge. This is then followed by the one kilometre long Kemmel straight.
Red Bull ($3.30 for the Constructors Championship) was considering fitting KERS to their cars for this race, but it has now been confirmed that it won’t happen. The hope that they could get it set-up and running nicely on their cars in time was foolish. I would not be surprised to see a podium of KERS users.
For the likes of Mark Webber ($5.50 for a Win), this is a very important race. He will need to take points out of Jenson Button if he wants any chance at winning the 2009 drivers title. I see this as unlikely after last week’s disappointing performance. However, Red Bull has proven that they are fast in the wet and the Spa circuit is notorious for providing poor weather conditions.
There are also a large number of drivers who will be racing for their futures on Sunday. Nico Rosberg has been impressive this season and will be looking to build on his streak of points finishes. Kazuki Nakajima will need to start winning some points if he wants to be driving next year and Kubica has raised his game since BMW announced that they would be pulling out of Formula One. Kubica may be lucky enough to secure himself a drivers’ seat at Renault, Toyota or even Williams next year if he can score some points this weekend. Jarno Trulli has been dumped by Toyota and needs to pull something out of his sleeve if he wishes to continue racing. Fisichella and Heidfeld are two more drivers who are in desperate need of a points finish.
The rookies, Grosjean and Alguersuari both performed reasonable last week and Luca Badoer showed everyone why he hasn’t had a driver’s seat since 1999. There are rumours circling that Ferrari may use their last driver change after the race at a Spa.
My prediction is a podium consisting of Jenson Button in first place, Kimi Raikkonen ($2.52 for a podium finish) in second followed by Lewis Hamilton in third.