MERC RIVALRY CONTINUES: Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton (left) will continue his battle with team mate Nico Rosberg as the F1 season resumes in Belgium. Image: AFP/ Christof Stache
SPA-FRANCHORCHAMPS, Belgium - Formula One 1 its summer holiday as drivers prepare for the 2014 Belgian Grand Prix. No one really expects that the break has cooled down the rivalry between championship leaders Mercedes' Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton.
Even Mercedes team principal, Toto Wolff, told the F1 website in a recent interview he expects it "to get more heated."
Hamilton finished third, after starting from the pit lane, ahead of pole sitter Rosberg at the last race on July 28 in Hungary on July 28 after ignoring a team order to let him pass because he was faster and on a different strategy.
A TEAM EFFORT NEEDED
It was the latest incident between the two who are likely to decide the championship among themselves in the remaining eight of 19 races, with Rosberg still ahead on 202 points to Hamilton's 191, and Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo a distant third on 131.
Wolff said "what we do is manage the team every day" and insisted that Hamilton and Rosberg can not ignore the big picture.
He said: "For the drivers, it is about the drivers' world championship, but nevertheless you have to understand that there is a big organisation behind them - one of the biggest and most well-known brands in the world - and sometimes the team comes first.
"That is clear and both of them acknowledge and accept that. This is very important. They recognise the historic achievements of Mercedes-Benz in motorsport, and they put their own place in the right context."
'I LOVE DRIVING AT SPA'
Hamilton and Rosberg for their part can't wait to get back to racing and resume their title battle on the highly popular 7km course.
Hamilton said: "I can't wait to get back in the car and back into the battle for the championship. The aim is to put the more difficult times of some of the previous weekends behind us and to recreate the best moments at every race from now on."
Hamilton added: "I love driving at Spa" where he won in 2010, then for McLaren-Mercedes, while Rosberg is seeking his first top spot on a course he called "just unreal."
Mercedes have ruled the season with nine wins from 11 races but are "taking nothing for granted," Wolff insisted.
"Although the team has done a fantastic job, we are fully aware that this championship is far from decided - as demonstrated clearly in Hungary by the performance of some of our competitors."
RED BULL, FERRARI RIVALS
Ricciardo is the other big story with his wins in Canada and Hungary, as he has left his prominent team-mate, four-times reigning world champion Sebastian Vettel, no chance at all, as Vettel languishes in sixth place with 88 points.
Vettel recalled that his win there 12 months ago started an incredible streak of nine wins in a row en route to the title.
Vettel said: "The race in Spa started our series of nine victories in 2013, which I always like to remember."
Kimi Raikkonen, who has so far underperformed for Ferrari, also looks back fondly as "the last time I drove here in a Ferrari (in 2009) I won.
"That was in a year when we had been struggling since the start. But in Spa we managed to get things going a bit more in the right direction and it would be good if the same thing could happen this year. That would hopefully mean the racing would be a bit more fun."
Ferrari are quite far off the pace, with Raikkonen 12th on 27 points and Fernando Alonso fourth on 115.
The weekend starting with Friday practice and culminating in Sunday's (August 24) race will also see the F1 debut of German Andre Lotterer in place of Kamui Kobayashi of Japan at Caterham. The team said the measure was only for the Spa race.
Stay with Wheels24 for the 2014 Belgium GP this weekend.