Lewis Hamilton should be doing a rain dance ahead of the Belgian Grand Prix weekend with Le Mans winner Richard Bradley believing rain is the only way the Mercedes driver can challenge Max Verstappen for the win.
Last time out in Hungary, Hamilton and Mercedes have a brief moment of celebration as the Briton beat Verstappen to pole position to record the team’s first qualifying P1 of the championship.
It all came to naught in the grand prix with Verstappen grabbing the lead through the first corner and going on to win the race by 34 seconds and not ahead of Hamilton but instead Lando Norris, while the seven-time World Champion fell to fourth as he also lost out to the second Red Bull of Sergio Perez.
‘Lewis Hamilton is the only one who can give Max a serious run for his money’
But with rain forecast for this weekend’s Belgian Grand Prix, 60% and up for all three days with the weekend being a sprint event with Friday evening qualifying, Bradley reckons Hamilton could have a chance to redeem himself.
That, though, will be dependent on the weather.
“It always rains at Spa, Spa is a magnet for water,” the Briton said on the latest On Track GP podcast.
“I think if it is wet, realistically he’s the only one who can give Max a serious run for his money. We all know how good Lewis is in the wet. I think that’s honestly going to be his only hope to be with Max this weekend.”
Bradley, however, has a bit more faith in the other Mercedes reaching the podium no matter the conditions – if he can get his qualifying right.
Showing good race pace in Hungary, George Russell rebounded from his P18 on the grid to finish in sixth place.
“I think if George qualifies in the top two rows he could be a dark horse for second,” declared Bradley.
He reiterated that later in the podcast when he put down his predictions for the Belgian Grand Prix, saying while he expects Verstappen to be first rain or shine, “I think Lewis will give him a run for his money – so Lewis P2.
“And I think, to be honest I think Russell third come rain or shine. I can see Hamilton doing well if it is wet but I can see George doing well if it is wet or dry.”
Bradley rules out Lewis Hamilton winning a grand prix this season
But only open to giving Hamilton a P2 at Spa, Bradley admits that’s because he doesn’t believe the Mercedes driver will win a race this season.
Last year Hamilton recorded his first win-less campaign in 16 years on the F1 grid, and according to the 2015 Le Mans winner, he’s in for another this season.
“No, no,” he replied when asked if Hamilton could win this season.
“But,” and there’s a bit of good news for British fans, he does “see Norris on the top before the end of the season.
“Just remember the rate of progress they [McLaren] have made. As a delta, they’ve found by one-and-a-half seconds since the start of the season. They clearly have a way in which they can analyse how they can best make progress with the car.
“So if they keep going on that trajectory, you know the Red Bull hasn’t exactly gotten better as the year has gone on, okay Verstappen had a particularly good Hungary, but you know at Silverstone he was fairly average for him let’s be honest, so yeah I think it is going to be the McLarens.
“The interesting thing is you’ve got the two anomaly circuits coming up where if you set your car up for a certain circuit in a certain way, because these two are so different in terms of aerodynamics and efficiency, you can get shock results. I’m thinking Spa and Monza.
“So a team like McLaren – or Aston – you have a really, really good strong mechanical base might go ‘okay let’s optimise an aero package for these two circuits’ and just go for it like that.”