By Pat Espresso

A CLASSIC date in the F1 calendar at one of the truly great circuits, with the championship poised perfectly for a thrilling race this weekend.

The Red Bulls will be hoping that their superior design can overcome a lack of brute horsepower to keep the Ferraris and McLarens at bay through the superfast 4.3 mile track through the Ardennes forest.

Spa is a favourite for many racing drivers and fans, with Eau Rouge taken at breathaking speed and Blanchimont demanding supreme bravery and skill. Les Combes is certain to provide lots of overtaking opportunities.

Championship leader Mark Webber will be desperate to keep his stablemate Sebastian Vettel behind him, adding to his points haul to make a stronger case for the team to put their full weight behind his challenge.

Fernando Alonso, as undisputed number one at Ferrari, has no such problems. He must take advantage of the car’s new-found speed to start scoring big points to bring him into contention as the championship draws to a close.

McLaren will be crossing their fingers that they have managed to close the performance gap during the imposed summer lay-off, aware that they were some distance behind the top teams in Hungary.

Jenson Button, too, must be feeling growing pressure to start replicating his early season form as Lewis Hamilton threatens to overshadow the current world champion.

It will be interesting to see how Michael Schumacher goes at Spa, the scene of so many victories for a legendary driver who appears to be a pale imitation of his former self in the Mercedes. Ross Brawn and Norbert Haug must already be thinking hard about their 2011 car as this season seems a write-off.

Surely Spa would be a fitting venue for Lotus to notch up some much-needed points to secure the team’s place as the best of the new arrivals. Jarno Trulli and Heikki Kovalainen deserve something to show for their efforts.

The longest circuit of the season seldom provides a dull race and with the added threat of rain ever-present at the Belgian track, it is a near-certainty that Spa will add another enthralling chapter to this season’s magical championship.

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