Belgian Grand Prix Betting: Hamilton to strike for resurgent Mercedes

While the football world gets its new season underway, the second half of the Formula One season is about to begin this weekend in Belgium.

The teams return from a four-week break to start a hectic schedule of nine races in fourteen weekends. The first of which is at the track widely considered to be the greatest on the calendar: the majestic seven-kilometre Spa-Francorchamps circuit, which cuts a wickedly fast course through the Ardennes forest.

Before the break Mercedes fired a warning shot at rivals Red Bull in Hungary. Lewis Hamilton's first victory of the season, in the kind of hot conditions which his car has been ill-suited to previously, showed he has the potential to close his 48-point deficit to drivers' championship leader Sebastian Vettel.

But it's in the constructors' championship where the most interesting odds can be found at the moment. Red Bull, naturally, are clear favourites to retain their crown with a low price of 1.08. But Mercedes, who've had the fastest car over a single lap in eight of the ten races so far this year and now seem to be just as quick over a race distance, offer much better odds of 8.00.

This is a very interesting proposition. Mercedes are 79 points behind Red Bull at the moment but there are 387 points still to be won over the remaining nine races. Both Mercedes drivers have won races this year while Red Bull's strength is concentrated in Vettel's hands - he has dominated Mark Webber over the ten races so far.


Belgian Grand Prix odds

Unsurprisingly it's the Red Bull and Mercedes drivers who offer the shortest odds of victory in this weekend's race. Hamilton at 3.75 is probably slightly better value than Vettel at 2.75, but neither offer especially good returns on your money.

It would be unwise to discount the threat of Kimi Raikkonen on a circuit where he's won four times in the past. Although Lotus's race pace is very strong, they are weaker in qualifying and tend to start further back on the grid, putting them at an immediate disadvantage.

Spa's long straights open up greater opportunities for overtaking than can be found at most circuits though, so he should be a threat on race day. He's priced at 5.50 to score his second victory of 2013 for Lotus.

Remarkably, despite two world championship victories and 32 race wins across 19 different circuits, Fernando Alonso is yet to win a race at the mighty Spa-Francorchamps. It's one of those statistics that makes you double-take. Whether he can rectify that this year will come down to what progress Ferrari have made during the break, following disappointing races in Germany and Hungary.

Relations between Alonso and Ferrari appear to be getting somewhat fraught. Company president Luca di Montezemolo took exception to Alonso's post-race comments in Hungary about his car's deficiencies: asked what he wanted for his birthday, Alonso had replied "a car like the others". An article on Ferrari's own website said the remarks - which had not been widely reported until then - " did not go down well with Montezemolo, nor with anyone in the team".

Team principal Stefano Domenicali played down speculation about a rift developing being driver and team, stressing that their focus was on solving improving the performance of the F138. All will be forgiven and forgotten if the team get back to winning ways this weekend. Alonso offers decent odds of 8.00 to do so.

Keith Collantine is the editor of Formula One blog F1 Fanatic

Bet on the Belgian Grand Prix with Unibet.