Belgian Grand Prix – Is the championship battle finally starting to swing in the direction of Ferrari? How much ground can Force India recover in the constructors’ championship? Here are all the main talking points from the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps.
The halo passes with flying colours
It certainly divided opinion when it was introduced at the start of the season, but there’s little doubt that the halo came in handy at the Belgian Grand Prix when Fernando Alonso’s McLaren was sent flying over the top of Charles Leclerc’s Sauber.
Having been hit by Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg, Alonso was powerless to stop a collision between himself and Leclerc. Most of the McLaren cleared the Sauber but, as footage from Brendon Hartley’s Toro Rosso confirms, the halo was required to stop the right-front wheel of the McLaren from striking the Sauber driver. The impact of the wheel on the halo was enough to buckle the McLaren’s suspension.
With the halo introduced at the start of the year, it’s already faced two tests; this one at Spa, and another incident in a Formula Two Sprint Race in Barcelona where Tadasuke Makino and Nirei Fukuzumi collided, with Fukuzumi’s car ending up on top of Makino’s.
The safety device will still have it’s critics. Yes it’s not the prettiest of racing car add-ons but can many of us genuinely say that we still notice it? Better-looking solutions may be a couple of years away, but if this interim solution can preserve a life, then surely it’s still worth having.
Is momentum with Ferrari?
For one reason or another, Ferrari struggled to convert their front-running pace into victory at the Hockenheimring and the Hungaroring, and wet weather opened the door for Mercedes to interrupt a potential Ferrari pole position at the Belgian GP.
However, Sebastian Vettel and Ferrari fought back and passed pole-sitter Lewis Hamilton at the first opportunity they had. They looked untroubled from there and took the victory required to reduce Hamilton’s lead in the drivers’ championship.
With many believing that the battle for power unit superiority has swung in favour of the prancing horse, they’ll have plenty of opportunities to fully utilise their advantage in the coming races.
Their home race in Monza is the power track, whilst there are plenty of other venues to take advantage of straight line performance, such as Mexico, Russia and Abu Dhabi. Singapore has typically been a circuit where they’ve performed well in previous years, too.
Force India up to P9, how far can they climb?
Having risen from the ashes of Force India, Racing Point Force India got their new ownership off to a flying start at the Belgian Grand Prix with a hefty 18 points towards their restarted constructors’ championship campaign.
This already puts them off the foot of the table and above Williams into ninth, and they would’ve taken eighth place from Sauber had Marcus Ericsson not scored a point for the Swiss team.
The next two targets of Sauber (8th, 19 points) and Toro Rosso (7th, 30 points) look achievable, whilst a sterner task will be to overhaul McLaren (52 points) and reclaim the sixth place that they held prior to the takeover.
Racing Point Force India need to outscore McLaren by an average of 4.25 points per race over the rest of the season to beat McLaren on countback. They’ll fancy their chances of inflicting big damage on their advantage at the power-hungry Mona circuit, which will favour the Mercedes power unit over the Renault.