Five talking points from the Belgian Grand Prix
Updated: Jan 1, 2022
Two weeks ago people bemoaned the boredom of the Spanish Grand Prix. Well, this week I present to you even more of a sleep inducer with the usually exciting Belgian Grand Prix turning in an absolute snoozefest.
Alas, I’m back once again to bring you five talking points, as best as I somehow can.
It’s time for Albon to go In my five talking points from the 70th anniversary article, I discussed the problem Red Bull has with filling in that second seat next to Max Verstappen. I discussed how they have three very capable drivers in their two teams on the grid, each of which has now had the opportunity to race in the senior team, and each of which have failed to do that seat any justice. And with that in mind, it’s now time for Alexander Albon to depart and join that “is a much more talented driver than they were in a Red Bull” club that Daniil Kvyat and Pierre Gasly currently occupy.
I’ll start by saying I’m an Albon fan.
The guy seems incredibly nice and incredibly talented. He looked like he missed his F1 opportunity in 2018, but by pure circumstance got his opportunity in the big time and rightfully so. He looked destined for big things when getting the bump to the senior Red Bull team last year, and 2020 was meant to be the year that he really shone. But nope. He has “pulled a Gasly” and now is the time for Red Bull to wield the axe. Even Lewis Hamilton chimed in after the race on Sunday, saying Red Bull needs two capable drivers in what is a “very good car”. And well Lewis, I couldn’t agree with you more.
As I mentioned in that article a few weeks back, Red Bull have had this issue since Daniel Ricciardo left, and they need to look outside their own barn in order to fill the void. And they’re not short of options for 2021, with the likes of Sebastian Vettel, Sergio Perez and Nico Hulkenberg all available to choose from.
Vettel returning to his Championship team for sure is a stretch, but they definitely could use somebody with Seb’s talent and experience back in that team. Perez and Hulkenberg are incredibly solid mid-field drivers who in the right equipment would be able to match someone like Verstappen easily and bring in solid points for the team. And it’s not just about the points. With a capable second driver, Red Bull would be capable of better strategy options to really put it to the Mercedes, and give us some decent racing for once.
Sebastian Vettel. (GEPA Pictures/Red Bull Content Pool).
It sucks to be a Ferrari fan Oh boy. It’s not a great time to support the prancing horse right now is it? Admittedly, it hasn’t been since 2008 when they last won a Championship, but right now it’s bordering on embarrassing. Both Charles Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel weren’t even close to being on pace this weekend and considering the high speed nature of Spa is set to be replicated even more next weekend at Monza, it’s not about to get any better. This will be the one time I’m sure the Scuderia are glad there won’t be any fans at their home race, because it wouldn’t be a pretty thing to witness in person.
The most glaring stat to come from the entire weekend as to just how bad Ferrari were in Belgium was the fact that of all the teams in 2020, they were the only team slower than they were in 2019. And not just a bit slower. 1.3 seconds slower. And for anybody who knows anything about F1, they know that 1.3 seconds may as well be an hour in F1 time.
The engine restrictions coming into play next weekend really couldn’t have come at a worse time for Ferrari, who will sadly have to live through this form slump for at least another season and a bit. As a Ferrari fan, I think I’m going to just hide inside my red bubble for now, just like I have for the last 12 seasons.
Danny Ric still is in the top tier driver category Our man Daniel Ricciardo is a class above the majority of the field and I would easily say he is in the top three drivers on the grid. With a decent Renault behind him all weekend, he shone in every session he raced in and brought home a solid fourth place finish after qualifying in the same position, He also secured his first fastest lap since the 2018 Hungarian Grand Prix, and Renault’s first fastest lap since the 2010 Canadian Grand Prix.
Can we all just imagine how he would be doing in that Red Bull had he not left in 2018? Ah the good old days. It’s races like this where he’ll be wondering if he has made the right decision to leave for McLaren next year.
Yes, overall McLaren have been the much better car in 2020 and will continue to do so no doubt for the rest of the season. But there is the unknown quantity of Mercedes coming on board next year with the Woking outfit, a fact that seemed to sway Danny Ric from staying at Red Bull in 2019 when the unknown factor of Honda were coming on board. But even with that in mind, McLaren definitely seem to have a lot more together than Renault do for the future. All that aside, it’s great to see Dan showing off just why he is so good, and that he is still capable of an amazing result to show off just how talented he is.
Bring on Turkey and Sakhir A couple of weeks back I mentioned how exciting it was for the prospect of Turkey returning to the F1 calendar. Now that we have the confirmed and can get incredibly excited for it, I have to say for once I’m extremely excited to see the cars race at Bahrain. Well, at least one of the times the cars will race there that is. With two races scheduled at the Sakhir circuit, the smart decision was made to make one of the races happen on a different track layout in order to change things up a bit. This of course will happen on the shortened version of the track, with laps set to drop below 60 seconds which will be a sight to see. For the first time in the 16 year history of the Bahrain Grand Prix we can actually look forward to watching racing there. I say bring it on.
Stroll and Latifi Watch: Nothing much to see here A quiet one for both my Canadian boys. Unfortunately for my man Lance Stroll the Racing Point just didn’t seem to work as well at Spa as their midfield rivals at Renault and McLaren. That meant a qualifying spot of ninth and a finishing spot of ninth as well. Two points are better than none of course, and Stroll remains in the hunt for fourth in the Championship and still sits only six points behind Albon. But it was not the heights that perhaps were expected.
For Mr Latifi, well, he wasn’t last and that’s always a positive. He qualified 19th and finished 16th ahead of the Haas of Kevin Magnussen and only a second behind the second Haas of Romain Grosjean.
It’s all about the experience for Nicholas who continues to remain consistent in his difficult Williams.
It’s time to move onto one of my favourite tracks at Monza, which is usually exciting, but Spa is usually exciting also. So based on that, we’ll cross those fingers for a decent race for once! Bring it on!
This article was originally written for The Roar. You can read the published version here