Fri, Aug 26, 12:28pm by Staff Writer
Daniel Ricciardo will be looking to capitalise on championship leader Lewis Hamilton’s significant grid penalty when the Belgian Formula One Grand Prix gets underway Sunday.
Mercedes driver Hamilton will start from toward the back of the grid on the Spa-Francorchamps track as a penalty using for more than the allowed number of power unit components on his engine so far this season.
The penalty has levelled the field a little for Ricciardo and Red Bull, the most serious challenger to Mercedes this season.
William Hill has Nico Rosberg as favourite to win at Spa, paying $1.50, while teammate Hamilton is at $6, just ahead of Ricciardo on $7.50.
Ricciardo’s Red Bull teammate Max Verstappen is on $8 for the win, with Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen at $11 and $21 respectively.
Red Bull is the only team to have taken a win from Mercedes this season, thanks to Max Verstappen at Barcelona, and Ricciardo is confident the team can now capitalise on work done to the car over the four-week F1 break.
“It’s heading in the right direction, obviously the last few rounds have got better and better, from a team’s perspective as well we’re really making progress and every update they’re bringing on the car, every development is working,” he told reporters in Spa.
“I think (Red Bill) are really happy with what me and Max (Verstappen) are doing. It’s a really good time for me and Max at the moment and we’re trying to ride the wave as long as we can.’’
Hamilton’s grid penalty will go a long way toward helping the Red Bull drivers make the most of their advances.
Under F1 rules, drivers are allowed to use no more than five power unit components on their engine for the season, with additional replacements resulting in grid penalties.
After experiencing technical problems in the opening rounds of the season, Hamilton has his allocation of turbochargers and MGU-Hs units this year, meaning a sixth will see him move down the grid from wherever he qualifies.
Mercedes has confirm the season leader will likely start Sunday from the back of the grid.
Ricciardo rates the Spa track as one of his top three on the F1 calendar.
The Australian’s victory in Belgium was one his three for 2014 and helped to third in that year’s championship.
“Spa is cool and the track is amazing,” Ricciardo told the Red Bull website this week.
“It’s very historic, fast and flowing. I had a win there two years ago so it has always been a good track to return to for me,” he said. “I think it’s funny how spread out the circuit at Spa is. On one side you can have sun while it rains on the other.”
Ricciardo has 133 championship points after 12 races this season, placing him third behind Hamilton on 217 and Rosberg on 198.
The Belgian Grand Prix gets underway at 10pm Sunday AEST.
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