Hi folks,

Formula 1 returns' to Belgium this weekend and there is nowhere better to conclude the European season than at Spa-Francorchamps.

The 4.352-mile track really is just one of the best circuits - and is very, very special. Virtually all of the drivers love it although, of course, the weather there can be very fickle. That should add to the race though - and a bit of rain always spices things up, as we saw at the Nurburgring back in July.

One of the great things about the track is all the undulations - it just has bags of character. It is also a very long lap and really flows, with corners like nowhere else in the world. It is extremely satisfying when you get them right.

It may not have the glamour of Monte Carlo, or the newness of Istanbul Park, but Spa very much deserves its place on the schedule.

Hopefully, all the revisions will help to keep it there in the future too, although the new pit-lane entry has already been criticised, as a lot of the drivers' feel it is not wide enough.

Before we get to the Belgium though, there is that crucial World Motor Sport Council 'spy row' hearing and what effect that will have on proceedings is anyone's guess.

I am not going to try and predict what is going to be decided - that just wouldn't be wise - but, needless to say, I hope it doesn't end up spoiling what has been a brilliant season to date.

The whole spy thing really is dragging on a bit too much now and, while it is very unlikely to all be fully resolved on Thursday, let's hope, if it is not the end, it is at the least the beginning of the end. Then we can concentrate on what Formula 1 should be all about - racing.

Monza certainly gave us a few good battles, even if the outcome was somewhat predictable.

Going into the Italian Grand Prix weekend, McLaren-Mercedes were the favourites and they certainly delivered.

Fernando Alonso's performance was perfect. He was strong all weekend long and he seems to be really drawing on his years in the sport. He is digging deep to try and get that third title and, with the gap down to just three points now, it is very close.

Lewis Hamilton, for his part, wasn't quite on the best of form, although he was still very, very good. After a bit of a shaky getaway at the start, he soon made up for it and kept second place, even if Felipe Massa did put him under quite a lot of pressure in those opening laps.

Late on, of course, Lewis dropped behind Kimi Raikkonen, but his move to re-take P2 from what must have been about 50 metres behind the Finn was just astonishing. I have to take my hat off to him for that one - I haven't seen anything like that for a long, long time. It was very clean and very committed. It also paid off and could well end up being one of the moves of the season. Top marks, Lewis!

All-in-all, considering everything McLaren had to put up with in the build-up to the Monza weekend - and during it - it was a really remarkable result, and Ron Dennis' satisfaction at the end was clear to see, even if the strain continues to be etched on his face.

On track, the silver cars were just unbeatable, and to do that on Ferrari's home soil must have made it even sweeter.

The Scuderia looked to be a bit behind coming into the weekend after the pre-event test, but you never can tell from testing what precisely is going on. In the end, it was a fair indication and they just didn't have the performance needed.

Massa's reliability problems must also be a real concern and they are definitely on the back foot going to Spa.

You still can't rule Kimi and Felipe out in terms of the drivers' championship though - as it is still mathematically very possible for both of them to make up the gap to Lewis and Fernando - but you have got to say the odds really aren't in their favour anymore, unless of course that hearing ends up changing things. But let's not think about that...

Of the rest, BMW Sauber continued to do what they do, namely trail the top two, but convincingly beat the rest. Fourth and fifth for them was another good result and Robert Kubica did especially well to come back after his issues in his pit-stop.

BMW now have more than double the points of Renault in the constructors' championship - their nearest rivals - and that says it all.

Indeed, the regie had to make do with just two points, thanks to Heikki Kovalainen who finished seventh and who really is starting to show up his vastly more experienced team-mate, Giancarlo Fisichella.

Fisi was only twelfth at the flag, never having recovered from his woes in qualifying. He hasn't scored points since British GP, while Heikki has put together a run of five points finishes on the trot and that really gives you an indication of just how much he has come on. With Flavio Briatore poised to make his decision on drivers for 2008, Fisi really needs to perform in Belgium.

Nico Rosberg is in a similar position to former GP2 rival Kovalainen but, while he was sixth, Williams team-mate Alex Wurz was way down the field again and must be fearing for his future.

Nico, however, continues to impress and some insiders are even suggesting he might go to McLaren next year, should Alonso go back to Renault. I think Frank Williams might have something to say about that!

The final point went to Jenson Button and Honda and, after JB also got into the top ten in qualifying, it was a very good weekend for them, especially if you consider this year really has been a bit of a write-off.

Rubens Barrichello was tenth in the other RA107 and that shows maybe they have finally made some progress. I hope so.

What can I say about the others?

Well, Red Bull Racing were close to getting into the top eight with Mark Webber, who certainly have a better weekend his team-mate, David Coulthard. I don't think DC will have many fond memories to take from Monza 2007, what with his problems in qualifying and then his crash right at the start. Enough said I think. Good job Spa takes place so soon.

Toyota also had a pretty poor time and the tail-enders - Super Aguri, Toro Rosso and Spyker - did what they usual do, bring up the rear.

The new Spyker B-spec car didn't seem to make much difference, although at least both Adrian Sutil and Sakon Yamamoto managed to finish, which was something. Maybe they can build on that, which is certainly what they will be hoping. They did seem to have a little more speed in practice and early on in the race.

So to sum up, I think you'd have to say the momentum is with McLaren and that should continue, assuming the WMSC doesn't do anything too drastic on Thursday. Here's hoping the battle is settled on the track.

Another Fernando win?

Likely...

MB

 

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