Adrian R. Huber
Madrid, Aug 27 (efe-epa).- Lewis Hamilton, who has his sights set on equalling Michael Schumacher’s record of seven world championships, arrives in Spa-Francorchamps for the Belgian Grand Prix as the clear frontrunner for this year’s Formula One title.
Two weeks ago at the Spanish Grand Prix in Barcelona, the Mercedes driver secured his 156th podium finish, beating Schumacher’s record, with his fourth victory from the six races held this season.
It was Hamilton’s 88th race win of his F1 career, and leaves the Briton just three victories from equalling another of Schumacher’s records.
The Mercedes star, who has won five of the last six F1 world titles, leads the way with 132 points, 37 more than Dutch Red Bull driver Max Verstappen, who won on Aug. 9 at Silverstone, the only time this season that one of the Mercedes “Silver Arrows” has not placed first.
Hamilton’s Mercedes teammate, Valtteri Bottas, who won in Austria, is third, 43 points off the pace.
Free practice sessions will start on Friday at the legendary circuit at Spa-Francorchamps, the longest on the tour at just over seven kilometers, and which has been fitted out to comply with the required Covid-19 measures. The Grand Prix weekend, like others this year, will be held behind closed doors without spectators.
The Belgian Grand Prix will be the first of three races to be held in the coming weekends, with the next coming at another mythical race track at Monza, while the first Grand Prix of Tuscany, at Mugello, will be held on the second Sunday of September.
Ferrari, the sport’s most successful team historically, occupies a lowly fifth place in the Constructors’ World Cup – which Mercedes is dominating for the seventh consecutive year with 221 points, 86 more than Red Bull – after a hugely disappointing start to the season, would happily take a repeat of last year’s result in the next two races. The Monégasque Charles Leclerc, fourth in the drivers’ championship on 87 points, already a long way behind Hamilton, won his only two victories of his F1 career at Spa, where he made his debut, and at Monza, Ferrari’s home circuit.
It will be difficult to avoid painful memories this weekend at Spa, where last year F2 driver Anthoine Hubert died after a terrible crash.
On Wednesday, Leclerc paid tribute to his close friend Hubert.
“Spa-Francorchamps has a special place in my heart,” Leclerc said. “While it is here that I took my first win, it is also where we lost our friend Anthoine last year. He will be in our thoughts.”
The Belgian Grand Prix at Spa-Francorchamps takes place on Sunday. EFE-EPA