Mercedes drivers Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg are set to continue their title battle when the Formula 1 season resumes in Belgium after the summer break.
Rosberg is currently leading the drivers' championship with teammate Hamilton, who has been hit by reliability issues in last few races, close behind. Hamilton has won more races this season compared to Rosberg but because of misfortunes in qualifying he trails by 11 points.
Despite a number of adversities, the former world champion has managed to keep the title rival in sight. Hamilton started the last two races from the back of the grid, but still managed to finish on the podium, showing the race pace of Mercedes.
"The aim is to put the more difficult times of some of the previous weekends behind us and to recreate the best moments at every race from now on," Hamilton said. "I love driving at Spa, so there are few better places to start."
There is a massive performance difference between championship leaders Mercedes and the rest of the field, and with Spa-Francorchamps holding the next race, the German team will again head as a frontrunner for both pole position and win.
Because of long straights and engine advantage, Mercedes-powered cars are heading as easy favourites.
Williams, in particular, are most likely to challenge the Silver Arrows and Belgium could be their best chance of claiming top spot.
"The power sensitivity at Spa is very high and every horsepower you have is worth more here than at other tracks, but the drag sensitivity is also very high," Williams' head of performance Rob Smedley explained. "And we know our car is very strong in those areas."
"Additionally, somewhere like Spa can make it hard to turn on the harder [tyre] compounds, and I think our car can do that -- especially when it's a front-end problem.
"The middle sector is something we will have to work on throughout the weekend, and in qualifying we will need to have the tyres switched on for that sector. There is also always a chance for rain in Spa, so we have to be conscious of this throughout the weekend."
Another team that has a Mercedes engine -- Sahara Force India -- are also going into Belgium with lots of expectations, with the track holding good memories as they clinched their first pole and podium position in 2009, with Giancarlo Fisichella, who finished second behind Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen.
The Silverstone-based outfit is currently fifth, just one point ahead of McLaren while fourth place is also within reach. The Vijay Mallya co-owned team have scored 98 points, including a third-place finish in the Bahrain GP, this season.
"Spa is a high-speed track so it's an opportunity for the Mercedes-engined teams," Mallya said. "The time has gone quickly since our breakthrough here, but since then the team has only become stronger. People sat up and started to take us seriously. I am proud of where we are today."
Meanwhile, Alexander Rossi and Andre Lotterer will make their debut in Belgium. Rossi has replaced Max Chilton in Marussia, while Lotterer has joined Caterham on a one-race deal in place of Japanese Kamui Kobayashi.
Where to Watch Live
First Friday Practice Session: 10:00 am local time, 1:30 pm IST, 8:00 am GMT
Second Friday Practice Session: 2:00 pm local time, 5:30 pm IST, 12:00 pm GMT
Final Practice Session (Saturday): 10:00 am local time, 2:30 pm IST, 9:00 am GMT
|India||Star Sports 4, Star Sports HD2|
|US||NBC (Practice 2)|
|Canada||TSN 2 (Practice 2)|
|United Kingdom||BBC, Sky Sports|
|Middle East and North Africa||Bein Sports Arabia|
|Germany, Italy||Sky Sport|
|Germany and Italy||HERE or HERE|