Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari, Red Bull Ring, 2017

Raikkonen’s best chance to win? Six Belgian GP talking points

2017 Belgian Grand PrixPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

Things are looking up for Kimi Raikkonen. His place at Ferrari has just been assured for another year and this weekend he gets to demonstrate what he can do at a track which often brings out the best in him.

Is he a candidate for victory this weekend? Here are the top talking points as F1 heads to Spa-Francorchamps.

Can Raikkonen win?

Raikkonen is the most successful active driver at Spa with four wins and he out-qualified Sebastian Vettel at this track last year. And while Mercedes head into the weekend as favourites thanks to their engine power advantage, Pirelli’s soft tyre selection may play into Ferrari’s hands.

But the issue at hand here is not just whether Ferrari may be fast enough to win. It’s also whether the team would allow a Raikkonen victory when Vettel is clearly their best prospect in the drivers’ championship.

It’s doubtful they would interfere in a situation where Raikkonen is leading and Vettel is behind one of the Mercedes. But if the cars are running Raikkonen-Vettel in the closing laps, could Ferrari really resist the temptation to request a switch? Or might the fact Raikkonen is the only one of their drivers contracted to drive for them in 2018 come into play?

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Are the ultra-softs up to it?

Tyres, Circuit de Catalunya, 2017
Very soft tyres for a very hard track
It’s widely understood that Pirelli has erred on the conservative side with the tyres it has produced for 2017. Their decision to bring the ultra-soft tyres to one of the fastest circuits on the calendar is the most striking example of this.

Remember Pirelli had serious concerns about tyre failures at this race in 2011. And two years ago Vettel and Nico Rosberg experienced high-speed blow-outs.

Ferrari had tyre problems at Silverstone this year even with more durable rubber. While one-stop strategies have been the way to go in most races this year, it may not be the case this weekend.

Hamilton vs Bottas

Lewis Hamilton is the lead Mercedes driver in the championship at the moment but there isn’t much in it. Valtteri Bottas has consistently racked up podium finishes and now lies just 19 points behind his team mate.

Whichever way this situation is resolved will have crucial ramifications for the championship. Will one prevail over the other or are they going to continue nicking championship points off each other and playing into Vettel’s hands?

Spa speed boost

The combination of Formula One’s dramatically fast new cars plus those fragile but fast ultra-soft tyres should mean we see some spectacular lap times at Spa this weekend.

Formula One has broken the track record at every circuit it has visited so far this year. At Spa it should be a case not if whether the existing record gets beaten but how much it is lowered by.

The Verstappen factor

Max Verstappen, Kimi Raikkonen, Spa-Francorchamps, 2016
Verstappen enraged Raikkonen last year
Max Verstappen is particularly special around this track. He won all three F3 races on his first visit to the track in 2014. On his F1 debut his gutsy passes won him immediate acclaim.

Last year was more controversial. After parking his Red Bull on the front row of the grid he tangled with the Ferraris at the start, then earned the wrath of Raikkonen with extremely firm – but legal – defensive moves.

Verstappen fans swelled the crowd to huge numbers last year and this year’s race is expected to be a sell-out. With Red Bull gradually making gains with their RB13, this would be a fine place for him to make an overdue second visit to the podium this year.

Palmer fights for his future

Can Jolyon Palmer hold on to his place in F1? It seems a forlorn hope after such a tough first half of the year and so many talents eyeing up his increasingly coveted Renault seat.

But he’s still in the car for now and with the RS17 getting ever more competitive he has the equipment to make a case for himself. A first points finish of the year has to be the objective.

Are you going to the Belgian Grand Prix?

If you’re heading to Belgium for this weekend’s race, we want to hear from you.

Who do you think will be the team to beat in the Belgian Grand Prix? Have your say below.

And don’t forget to enter your predictions for this weekend’s race. You can edit your predictions until the start of qualifying:

2017 Belgian Grand Prix

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42 comments on “Raikkonen’s best chance to win? Six Belgian GP talking points”

  1. Ultrasofts may not go that long, I reckon about 9/10 laps, but then softs would probs go the rest of the distance.

    1. @hugh11 I hope you’re correct. Because coupled with the Spa pitlane being short, and overtaking possibilities, this would create strategic variety, choices being: 1 stop US-S Vs 2 stop US-SS-US

  2. F Truth (@offdutyrockstar)
    23rd August 2017, 13:41

    Spa has some monster straights but the majority of time at this track is actually made up in the technical middle sectors, I expect RB to do alright here for sure.

    I cannot wait to see these things through Eau Rouge in full 4K glory 😍

    1. Yes, this year’s cars will make Eau Rouge the challenge it used to be once again. I can’t wait either!

  3. Received gold1 tickets as a gift yay! We should be in front of the start/finish line. I’ll try to make some videos and will post back here.

    1. @spoutnik Wow! Enjoy yourself. Can’t wait to see those videos!

    2. F Truth (@offdutyrockstar)
      23rd August 2017, 14:19

      You lucky man. Enjoy! Spa start / finish has seen some action over the years…

    3. Holy fish , awesome man.

      Yeah get those videos those video up ASAP. ;)

      1. Evil Homer (@)
        23rd August 2017, 15:16

        @spoutnik

        Awesome mate- enjoy the weekend mate – I am jealous!

    4. If you got a weekend pass make sure you walk over to Eau Rouge/Raidillon and then watch them at Pouhon if you like to see them cornering really fast.. Don’t forget to bring a rain suit, it’s Belgium we’re talking about.. Have fun!!

  4. The first question is a doozie; imagine if Seb falls behind Kimi and is running in second place, while Kimi leads, we could hear: Let me past, I’ll sign but let me past. 😁

  5. With Kimi’s new contract hopefully he finds new motivation to push it to the limit and ignore instructions from the radio.

    1. After signing the contract, Kimi usually takes it a bit easier ;)

      1. F Truth (@offdutyrockstar)
        23rd August 2017, 15:59

        @makana he did the exact opposite last year though

    2. (@redbullf1)
      They screw him with strategy, not team orders.

  6. Kimi has already explained this season that he fully understands that at a point a driver can simply be mathematically out of it, implying it only makes sense to not take points away from the teammate that does have the chance. As only makes sense. The question is does Kimi already accept that even if there are still enough points on the table, his odds of a WDC are extremely slim. I think he must understand that at this point, but it starts with seeing where everyone sits on the grid this weekend and where they are after the start as to who might need to let who by, if anyone does at all. Much might depend on where LH sits. If LH dominates the weekend, SV will be finishing ahead of KR by the end, methinks.

  7. And another question: what will the wheather do? Till yesterday, the forecastst predicted high chances for rain on Saturday and Sunday, but those chances got slimmer.

    1. @demercer It’s Spa. The weather, in general, is very unpredictable there, so that’s why the weather forecasts should more or less be ignored entirely, LOL.

    2. Good question. Rain on Saturday will do great for all Verstappen fans as he will be start in front row. Three quarter of the audience may be turn back home after few laps along with Verstappen DNF but still…

      1. as i see the report chance for rain on friday saterday dry and chance for rain on Sunday. But it’s the ardennes so it could saty dry or poring with rain.

    3. @demercer Actually we’re experiencing some typical late summer hot days. I’m expecting a full dry Spa like 2012?

      1. @xtwl The last two Belgian GP weekends were entirely dry (at least all the F1 sessions) as well.

        1. @jerejj, for all of the talk of how unpredictable and rainy Spa is, there haven’t been that many wet races recently – over the last 15 races, from 2000 to last year (accounting for the few times it did slip off the calendar in that period), I think that there have only been three races held in wet conditions (2000, 2008 and 2010).

          There may have been a few occasions where there has been a bit of rain in qualifying, but normally the races have been held in dry conditions – usually it’s been a case of whether it will be dry, sunny and warm or if there will be heavy cloud and colder conditions. I wouldn’t be surprised if it turns out to be a pretty dry affair throughout the weekend, perhaps with a few cloudier spells during the weekend.

  8. The last of Raikkonen’s 4 wins at Spa came in 2009 – 8 years ago. He is a differently motivated driver now and I don’t think he has it in him to beat Vettel and the two Mercs, not to mention Mad Max and Ricciardo, both of whom are good on this track.

    1. Neil Debacquer
      23rd August 2017, 15:52

      That’s true but he had bad luck at Spa the last couple of years 2015 he had a problem in Q2
      and in 2016 there was the incident in T1 with Max and Seb

      1. In 2016 there was the incident in T1 with Max and Seb

        That’s the point. The Raikkonen of 10 years ago would have avoided those problems in the first place.

        1. As we all know, past-Kimi was able to apparate himself and his car at will, thus avoiding contact caused by other drivers 🙄

        2. Neil Debacquer
          23rd August 2017, 21:45

          he was sandwiched in how can you avoid an incident when you have no way to go..

          1. F Truth (@offdutyrockstar)
            24th August 2017, 9:50

            I have little faith in Kimi’s abilities these days but even I must admit, he made a good start and it left him with nowhere to go. Maybe if he had been a little later on the brakes but still, there’s little he could have done in that race.

        3. The Kimi of 9 years ago wouldn’t have bothered trying to take the first corner apex, just would have gone off track, around all the trouble, overtake 5 cars and ended up in a winning position, Fisi be damned.
          That’s what’s wrong with F1 these days!

          1. eight

  9. RAI will start to win when VET WC is secured…

    1. sadly may not happen, Ferrari will eff upp Kimi’s strategy to silence the critics !

  10. I’ll be in Spa this weekend so despite the fact that rain makes great races, I really hope this time we’ll have the same great weather as last year.

    If I’m lucky enough to capture something special on film, I’ll send it to Keith.

  11. There has been no mention of Start-Line Carnage. If I recall, there have been many instances of not everyone making it through the first corner. Especially as it seems everyone is super motivated after the summer break.
    Can’t help but think that the new Tyres and down-force will make Eau Rouge flat and a non corner. In qualifying, the use of the DRS should separate the brave from the rest. That will be interesting.

    1. Is it in a DRS zone?

      1. I’m sure it isn’t. Not sure what exactly Ian meant either… xD

    2. Wake up, brother :p You’re 5 years out of sync xD

  12. I think Kimi’s best chance to win is if someone loosens the nuts on Seb’s wheels. :-) I hope Ferrari let Kimi win if Seb clinches the championship before the last few races. Not HELP him win per se but at least let him show what he can still do and if winning legitimately is in the cards then let him go for it. Yes, I’m a Kimi fan and I think he deserves it.

  13. Haha Verstappen’s moves on Kimi were “extremely firm – but legal – defensive moves”!!! Good one!

    Max is being overtaken (Kimi a full car length ahead), Max brakes late to regain the lead but can’t make the corner, so pushes Kimi off, but also goes off himself as he had too much speed to ever make the corner, but, the powers that be despite that effort thought he should regain the position and make Kimi let him by… I was bewildered then and still am now. That’s not even going into the “Verstappen rule” move that happened later.

    Check it out for those who have forgotten.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aZi7gJAXnKI

  14. Given the current state of things, I find it hard to believe Ferrari wouldn’t have included team orders of some description in Raikkonen’s contract.

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