After the summer break, Formula One has returned to action at Spa Francorchamps for the 2017 Belgian Grand Prix.
As the teams settle back into routine for the second leg of this season, just what did we learn this weekend?
McLaren is growing
McLaren this weekend has been surprisingly strong at a power sensitive circuit. Normally, you would expect them to be fighting Sauber at these sort of tracks but the fallen giants have pushed Renault and Force India all weekend.
Stoffel Vandoorne might of started at the back after taking several penalties but in hindsight, it might prove beneficial in the coming races despite Fernando Alonso outdriving his Honda engine into retirement.
More of that in Monza then maybe their partnership with Honda could continue into 2018.
Force India have demonstrated that their latter half of top ten consistency is still strong and with Esteban Ocon no longer a rookie, they have two solid drivers who will be able to push forward in coming races.
The start certainly must of been scary with both drivers banging wheels on entry to Eau Rouge. Fortunately, both were able to continue before another clash wrecked Perez’s race.
The main positive though is that he can take a free gearbox change ready for some demanding circuits.
Their consistency even still extends to inter team clashes on track, Without all of those clashes, the team can do much more and potentially be above Red Bull given the current reliability issues in that team.
Consistency is key but they need to get the drivers in harmony before they end up self destructing and not fulfilling the potential that they have to be a front running team.
Williams need improvement
Williams have taken their poor form from July to Spa and are looking a shadow of recent seasons.
Felipe Massa’s crash in FP1 on Friday caused him to miss a whole day’s running. For an experienced driver, he should of easily outdrove the car on Saturday to get into Q2, which he failed to do.
For all of his faults earlier this weekend, Massa delivered a strong performance to take advantage of Force India’s clash and clinched an unlikely eighth place result.
Lance Stroll still seems to be struggling to produce results following an exceptional June with yet another weekend outside the top ten.
The main issue is practice and qualifying because they could easily be fighting higher in midfield, if can qualify higher on the grid.
Palmer on the up
Jolyon Palmer will surely head to Monza confident after a strong weekend in his Renault.
Qualifying saw him run into issues with an engine shutdown before a gearbox failure in a rare Q3 appearance. Race day brought disappointment with another non points result.
Ultimately, he should be happy with the progress made and if he takes the confidence made through the remainder of this season and deliver points, he could keep his seat for 2018.
Hamilton vs Vettel is on
After this race, we can definitely say that the title battle is down to Hamilton vs Vettel.
The key thing that will separate both teams is tyre choices because Ferrari went aggressively on ultra softs. In hindsight, that was probably the wrong decision because they could of mounted a late post safety car charge if took more of the super softs than Ultras.
Repeat that tyre choice at other circuits and Vettel could lose ground and the championship lead to Hamilton.
Upcoming races also are quite power sensitive and Ferrari were derating at the end of the Kemmel straight. Do that at other tracks like Malaysia and Japan, they could easily be outraced by Mercedes and Hamilton in particular.
This decade have seen four drivers go on to become the world champion in same year that they won in Belgium. Could we see a repeat of that for the third year running?
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