Three Grands Prix in fifteen days. After the summer break, the return to Formula 1 activity will be a full-immersion that will end with the checkered flag of the Italian Grand Prix. The wait preceding the ‘hat-trick’ Spa-Zandvoort-Monza is very high, an interest increased by the results of the two stages that preceded the summer break, verdicts that have effectively overturned the general classification.
The triple-header that will start next weekend at Spa will give very important answers in view of a World Cup that, after the Austria-bis, seemed to be heading towards Red Bull.
Verstappen had left Spielberg with a double stage win and thirty-two points clear of Lewis Hamilton, a margin built in two months of dominance that vanished in the space of two weeks between Silverstone and Budapest.
The first answer that will come from Spa will be about the hierarchies with which the second round of 2021 will start. On the one hand there are the rankings, which see Hamilton and Mercedes in the usual (for them) first position, but from the another is the feeling that the ‘drivers’ and ‘manufacturers’ rankings do not faithfully reflect what we saw on the track in the first half of the season.
The abrupt ‘stop’ to Verstappen’s ride came for reasons unrelated to the technical skills of Red Bull-Honda, and partly also to the work of Max, author of an extraordinary first round.
The episodes that strongly influenced the verdicts at Silverstone and Budapest have postponed the technical confrontation between the updated Mercedes that made its debut in the British Grand Prix and Red Bull, a duel that for now has only been seen in the Sprint Qualifying disputed in the stage English with outcome in favor of Verstappen.
The Belgian Grand Prix, hopefully, should issue a verdict on this very important front, indicating the technical state of the art with which the countdown to the season finale will begin.
“Spa is my favorite track – commented Verstappen on the eve of the resumption of the World Championship – and I also think it is the right circuit to resume our fight for the championship, I am well prepared and I feel good for the weekend that we have Wait”.
At Red Bull there is great confidence, Christian Horner & C. are convinced that they have the most competitive single-seater-team-driver package, and do not seem to be under pressure like the direct rivals, who despite the double leadership in the general rankings are they still hear pursuers.
“We arrive at Spa in a good position – commented Toto Wolff – we lead both championships and the W12 seems to have benefited from the updates introduced at Silverstone. But we know that we have a long way to go, and a lot can still happen in this season so far characterized by ups and downs ”.
That the W12 benefited from the Silverstone updates is a fact, but so far there has been no proof that the upgrade has put Mercedes in a position to play with Red Bull.
The 44 laps of Spa scheduled for Sunday will above all say this, and the stakes seem to be higher than the 25 points at stake, an already invaluable loot considering the minimum margins between Verstappen and Hamilton in the general classification.
Red Bull is called upon to make full loot to regain the leadership it considers its own, and also to try to rebuild a certain margin on the Hamilton-Mercedes tandem that would protect it from the probable penalty that will come in the final phase of the season, when necessary. use power unit number 4.
The only reason for stress for Milton Keynes’s team is related to the unexpected, a luxury that neither Verstappen nor Red Bull can afford anymore.
The cold shower at Silverstone and Budapest brought the team back to the post-Barcelona situation, when Max found himself 14 points behind Hamilton and Red Bull 29 behind Mercedes. With four victories in the next five races, Verstappen has brought the situation back in his favor, an exploit that he hopes to be able to repeat between Spa, the home race in Zandvoort and Monza. But we will need the best Max and the best Red Bull, and above all we will need to return to finish the races without running into mistakes and unfortunate circumstances.