It’s been another dominant weekend for Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes.
The Belgian Grand Prix at Spa-Francorchamps followed a plot that we are all well accustomed to by now as Hamilton comfortably lead the race, despite some tyre concerns in the last few laps.
Valtteri Bottas couldn’t make any significant challenge on his teammate, having to settle for second once again.
While it is still mathematically possible for Bottas to win the title, it now looks very unlikely that will happen. The Finn finds himself with a 50-point deficit to Hamilton in the drivers’ championship, having failed to continue his great form in the opening race of the season in Austria.
Bottas was even told that he was not allowed to push hard to go in pursuit of his teammate.
Another season is going to go by with Bottas acting as Hamilton’s wingman. We’ve seen it too many times before.
That’s why he’s so valued by Mercedes, I suppose, because he’s willing to play that second-in-command role to the six-time world champion in Lewis Hamilton.
It could just be though that while on a good day, Bottas can give Hamilton a real good run for his money and even beat him, Hamilton is just too good for Bottas most of the time.
Bottas is a good driver. It’s just that he is driving in the shadow of the legend that is Lewis Hamilton, who continues to put in stellar performances week in, week out.
It’s a hard ask to beat Lewis Hamilton. Nico Rosberg only just about managed to do it in 2016.
Bottas will have his day I’m sure. Just not yet.
In many people’s eyes, the only person who can be expected to consistently provide a credible challenge to Lewis Hamilton is Max Verstappen. And if you think that, you’d be correct but a challenge by Verstappen is very dependent on how much performance he can get out of his Red Bull.
While Mercedes made great strides forward, Red Bull shuffled their feet along the floor, thinking they would be alright, given the stability of the regulations between last season and this season.
Their best bet at the moment is to aim for podiums and hope for the best. Verstappen is meeting that target but, all the while, Hamilton streaks away into the distance and even strategy can’t help Red Bull out.
Red Bull are annoyed that they can’t challenge Mercedes like they were able to last year, but at least they aren’t having as bad a season as Ferrari.
Ferrari’s season has gone from bad to worse. As if it could get any worse.
It’s borderline rock bottom. What’s going on at the Scuderia is almost laughable.
Ferrari were nowhere. They had no pace whatsoever.
Whether it be practice, qualifying or the race itself, they were way off the pace.
It’s a stark contrast from this time last year when Charles Leclerc took his maiden race victory at Spa, before going on to take the first win at Monza by a Ferrari driver in nine years.
The only cars they were challenging were their customer teams, Haas and Alfa Romeo, and still Kimi Raikkonen managed to get his Alfa Romeo ahead of both Charles Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel in the race.
Leclerc had a good first lap, making up four places, but then he just got swamped.
It was like he was in the slow lane on the motorway as first Pierre Gasly overtook Leclerc on the Kemmel Straight, then Sergio Perez, Lando Norris and Daniil Kvyat all also got past the Monegasque driver.
The Ferrari had no straight-line speed whatsoever and, with Spa being such a power-sensitive circuit, they really felt the pain this weekend.
Ferrari have clearly been adversely affected by the FIA’s investigation into last year’s power unit and the changes that had to be made as a result.
After pre-season testing, the Scuderia had not been expecting to do as well initially this season, but they would hardly have expected things to go like this.
The greater embarrassment is yet to come. Next up on the calendar is Ferrari’s home race at Monza, a very power sensitive circuit. After that comes their 1000th Grand Prix at Mugello.
They should thank their lucky stars that the Tifosi are not allowed to attend next week’s Italian Grand Prix because the reception would be less than favourable, to say the least.
There was a massive crash on lap 11 of this race, which brought out the safety car, as Antonio Giovinazzi lost it coming out of the Fagnes Chicane and went hard into the barriers. George Russell also went into the barriers, having made contact with a wheel from Giovinazzi’s car.
Both Giovinazzi and Russell walked away from the crash injury-free.
On a brighter note, Renault had a brilliant weekend, bringing a low downforce package to Spa and making it work well.
Both Daniel Ricciardo and Esteban Ocon were at the top end of the timesheets throughout practice and qualifying and bagged a good haul of points on Sunday. Ricciardo finished fourth, setting the fastest lap of the race as he did so, and Ocon finished fifth.
This result brings Renault into play for the battle for third in the constructors’ championship.
McLaren have moved back into third, thanks to Lando Norris’ seventh place finish. That moves Racing Point down to fourth, sitting five points behind. Ferrari are a further two points behind in fifth and Renault are another two points behind in sixth position.
Mercedes have extended their lead over Red Bull to 104 points at the top of the constructors’ championship, as they continue their truly dominant display.
Next weekend’s Italian Grand Prix may see an even more dominant display from Mercedes, as their package will be well suited to the fast Monza circuit.
Not that I’m intentionally trying to make you not want to watch. In fact, we should all be in awe of how Mercedes have worked within the regulations to produce an absolutely magnificent car.