FRANCORCHAMPS, Belgium: Four weeks on from a poignant and incident-packed Hungarian Grand Prix, the Formula One circus is back this weekend with defending champion Lewis Hamilton aiming to increase his lead in this year’s title race at the classic Belgian Grand Prix.
The 30-year-old Briton, who has a 21 points advantage over his Mercedes team-mate German Nico Rosberg in the drivers’ championship after 10 of this year’s 19 races, wants not only to stay on top, but to erase all memories of last year’s events with a confidence-boosting win.
After the sadness of losing Frenchman Jules Bianchi, who died shortly before last month’s Hungarian race won by resurgent German Sebastian Vettel for Ferrari, Hamilton and the rest have taken a break and returned recharged for the action that lies ahead.
Last year, Hamilton and Rosberg collided in a controversial and spectacular incident that overshadowed the race and led to disciplinary action by the team, a sequence of events that team chief Austrian Toto Wolff is keen not to see repeated.
“Any mistake we make is a gift to our rivals and we cannot afford to do that,” he said.
“With 10 races down and nine to go, we enter the second half of the season with a stronger points total than at this stage last year and yet our margin to the competition is actually smaller.
“In F1, there is never a moment you can take your foot off the gas and Hungary proved once again that any slip is an opportunity our rivals can grab with both hands.
“We have all enjoyed a chance to recharge over the summer, but we have also kept our minds focused on what lies ahead. I think we know what is needed and we have to remain relentless.”