The 2017 F1 season resumes in Belgium this weekend with all eyes on Lewis Hamilton as he continues his chase of Sebastian Vettel at the head of the standings.
Currently second and 14 points in arrears of the German, Hamilton is bidding for a sixth victory of 2017 at this week’s F1 host track, Spa-Francorchamps, in his Brackley-based Mercedes.
The venue has played host to many great races over the years, and is well-loved by all of the Grand Prix drivers. The track offers a true high-speed test as its layout climbs and falls through the Ardennes forest.
Hamilton, who will start the 200th race of his F1 career on Sunday, said: “It is great to be back on-track again, and now after a summer break I feel ready to challenge for the title again.
“All the guys from the team are looking forward to the second half of the campaign and this week in Spa will be the first of nine races that conclude the season.”
The title race is currently headed by Vettel, and his team Ferrari were making headlines earlier this week when they announced that Kimi Raikkonen would be staying on for 2018.
“The team have retained Kimi Raikkonen for next season,” confirmed Marc Gene. “I am sure we will see Kimi on the top step of the podium before the end of the season, and everyone at Ferrari is working hard for the title.”
Valtteri Bottas, driver of the second Mercedes and who is still clinging onto the title race in third, said: “Spa is one of the world’s best tracks and I am really looking forward to racing there.
“I think the track will suit the Mercedes, as will Monza, so I am optimistic of a good result in both races.”
Sergio Perez is close to extending his deal to remain with Silverstone-based Sahara Force India for 2018, and the Mexican will lead the team’s attack in Belgium this weekend.
Esteban Ocon (pictured) will drive the second Force India, the French youngster having scored points in all but one race of a highly impressive debut season.
He said: “Spa is the highlight of the season for many drivers, and I must say the thought of racing a Grand Prix car here is very exciting. It would be great to score a good result here and it is a track that has been good to this team previously.”
Finally, Carlos Sainz Jr. and Daniil Kvyat resume driving duties in the the part Bicester-based Toro Rossos.
Currently powered by Renault engines, it had been suggested that the Red Bull-owned Toro Rosso team may switch to Honda powerplants for the 2018 season but within the last week it appears as if this move is now off of the agenda.
After the three practise sessions on Friday and Saturday, qualifying for the Belgium Grand Prix starts at 1pm on Saturday afternoon with the race 24 hours later.