Venue: Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps
A thrilling Formula 1 season will resume after a summer break with the Belgian Grand Prix and we’re backing Valtteri Bottas to blow the title race wide open with victory at Spa-Francorchamps.
The flying Finn was allowed to reclaim third place in Hungary by Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton, highlighting how Bottas is still regarded as a genuine contender.
That move left Bottas on 169 points, 19 adrift of Hamilton and 33 behind table topper Sebastian Vettel, who led home a Ferrari one-two at the Hungaroring, despite suffering with some steering problems.
While the twists and turns of the Budapest circuit suited the Italian camp’s set-up, Mercedes should be more comfortable in Belgium and the odds for this race reflect that.
Hamilton heads the market at 17/20 but that is a touch short for us, making Bottas the value alternative at 5/1 in our Belgian Grand Prix betting tips.
The Briton prevailed here in 2015 and did well to finish third last year after starting from the back of the grid due to a technical penalty.
However, Bottas also showed a liking for this track when with Williams, making the podium in 2014 and then being third fastest in qualifying 12 months later.
How the Hungarian Grand Prix finished:
1 Vettel (Ferrari), 2 Raikkonen (Ferrari), 3 Bottas (Mercedes), 4 Hamilton (Mercedes), 5 Verstappen (Red Bull), 6 Alonso (McLaren), 7 Sainz (Toro Rosso), 8 Perez (Force India), 9 Ocon (Force India), 10 Vandoorne (McLaren), 11 Kvyat (Toro Rosso), 12 Palmer (Renault), 13 Magnussen (Haas), 14 Stroll (Williams), 15 Wehrlein (Sauber), 16 Ericsson (Sauber), DNF Hulkenberg (Renault), Di Resta (Williams), Grosjean (Haas), Ricciardo (Red Bull).
Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff admitted he was content “to limit the damage” by taking the minor honours in Hungary and is looking forward to hitting back in Belgium.
He declared: “Now we have the time to take a step back, recharge the batteries and come back with renewed energy in the second part of the season. There is still everything to play for and both championships are wide open.”
With Hamilton having previously won at Silverstone and Bottas obliging in Austria before that, Mercedes can still boast a 6-4 advantage over Ferrari in race wins this year.
“Our situation still is not too bad with regards to the points and the championship standing,” commented Bottas, who also struck in Russia. “Lewis and me are still in the fight.”
Vettel can be backed at 11/4 in Belgium while Red Bull pair Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo are 14/1 and 16/1 respectively at a track where that team has done very well over the past six years.
An early collision spoilt their chances in Hungary but team leader Christian Horner still took some positives from the weekend.
He stated: “The race was particularly frustrating because it was clear we had a very competitive car, despite the time penalty that Max had to serve.
“His pace during the race was certainly capable of being on the podium and gave nothing away to our competitors.”
Both Red Bull drivers will attract some interest in Belgium but we’re sticking with Bottas to boost his title hopes.
Past Belgian Grand Prix results:
2016 Rosberg (Mercedes), Ricciardo (Red Bull), Hamilton (Mercedes)
2015 Hamilton (Mercedes), Rosberg (Mercedes), Grosjean (Lotus)
2014 Ricciardo (Red Bull), Rosberg (Mercedes), Bottas (Williams)
2013 Vettel (Red Bull), Alonso (Ferrari), Hamilton (Mercedes)
2012 Button (McLaren), Vettel (Red Bull), Raikkonen (Lotus)
2011 Vettel (Red Bull), Webber (Red Bull), Button (McLaren)
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