Belgian Grand Prix Betting: Ferrari Show Mercedes Can Be Beaten As F1 Returns

Congratulations to anyone who took up odds of 15.0 on Sebastian Vettel to win the most recent round of the F1 championship in Hungary four weeks ago. But might we see another defeat for the previously dominant Mercedes this weekend?

It will come as no surprise to learn Vettel's odds are not as generous this time round. His Hungarian Grand Prix triumph - the Ferrari driver's second victory of 2015 - has cut his odds on victory this weekend to 9.0.

But this might finally be the weekend to tip the other Ferrari. Kimi Raikkonen is a specialist at Spa-Francorchamps, the venue for Sunday's Belgian Grand Prix. He has won four times at the Ardennes circuit, more than any other driver. And even in the midst of his dreadful 2014 campaign, this was the only track where he finished ahead of highly-rated team mate Fernando Alonso.

Fourth place was the best he could manage on that occasion, but this year his Ferrari is definitely a race-winning proposition, and odds of 15.0 make him considerably better value than his teammate.


All eyes on the start

The disastrous race Mercedes endured in Hungary allowed F1 fans to spend the summer break dreaming the silver cars might face some opposition when the season resumed.  Those hopes are likely to be dashed, but there is one significant change in the works for this weekend which could give Mercedes a headache.

Mercedes' greatness weakness this season has not been the unreliability which plagued them last year, but their starts. In the last two races both cars got away poorly from the line, allowing rivals from other teams to seize the initiative - Williams at Silverstone, Ferrari at the Hungaroring. 

The start is one of the most crucial phases of a race and teams invest huge effort in optimising how their cars transmit over 750bhp to the road from a standstill. Practice starts are painstakingly analysed and drivers are given detailed instructions on how to perfect their launches. 

But, from this weekend, new regulations will prevent drivers from receiving that feedback. They will have to work out for themselves how to fine-tune their clutch settings, and the expectation is that as some do so better than others we will see more unpredictable starts.

So while the odds heavily favour Mercedes to lock out the front row again - Lewis Hamilton is 1.45 to take pole position, Nico Rosberg 2.55 - don't be surprised if they find themselves following one of their rivals around Spa's majestic curves for the first time on Sunday. Nonetheless they remain clear favourites as always: Hamilton at 1.50 to win, Rosberg 3.0.


Other Spa picks 

Red Bull enjoyed their best race of the year so far in Hungary as they continue to iron out the problems with their RB11 and its problematic Renault engine. The latter will be a handicap for them at Spa, but do keep an eye out for generous odds on a top-three finish for Daniel Ricciardo or Daniil Kvyat, both of which were on the podium last time out.

Providing the weather stays dry, Williams is another team to keep a close eye on. They were in excellent form at Silverstone, a track with a similar high-speed configuration to Spa, and Valtteri Bottas was on the podium at this race last year. A win for him would be a shock, and a well-rewarded one with odds of 34.0.


Keith Collantine is the editor of Formula One blog F1 Fanatic