F1 Raceweek: It is Spa time, but the holidays are over

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The four long weeks of Formula One's mid-season break are almost over, with the iconic Belgian Grand Prix kicking off the final run-in this weekend.

With 12 of the 21 races completed, the run out at Spa-Francorchamps sends us hurtling towards what is sure to be another exhilarating finale.

In order to make sure you are up to speed before the action resumes, we take a look at what has happened since July's German Grand Prix.


Happy holidays

Championship leader Lewis Hamilton used the break to visit his Grandad in Grenada as part of a mini Caribbean tour, while he also jetted off to New York and Costa Rica. Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg also enjoyed some time in the sun, but the German will no doubt have his mind on reducing the 19-point advantage Hamilton holds over him in the drivers' standings.

After agreeing a deal to remain with Ferrari until the end of 2017, Kimi Raikkonen tied himself down to a marriage contract with Minttu Virtanen. Following a trip to the United States with friends to unwind, Daniel Ricciardo picked up some pretty strong criticism of his attempt at a rap on his Instagram profile. However, he appears to still think it could be his "next career move".

Valtteri Bottas returned to his native Finland for some clay pigeon shooting, while Romain Grosjean changed motorsport for watersports in Corsica.

New face for Manor

Rio Haryanto's seat at Manor was under threat before the race at Hockenheimring, and during the break his position was clarified.

The Indonesian has been replaced by Esteban Ocon, a member of the Mercedes-Benz driver development programme, who will make his F1 debut at Spa.

Haryanto reportedly had trouble gathering sponsorship money to see out the season and has accepted the position of reserve driver with the team.

Hamilton facing engine dilemma

Reliability issues at the start of the campaign mean Hamilton is already on his fifth and final engine of his allocation for the season, with his next change incurring a penalty.

Reports suggest the defending champion could opt to take the hit and start from the back of the grid at Monza in the grand prix that follows the race in Belgium. Hamilton, though, remains focused on extending his lead this weekend.

"The first half of the season was a bit of a rollercoaster, so it's great to be in the position I'm in with more than half of the races behind us," he is quoted as saying by Mercedes' official website.

"There will be more up and downs to come, I'm sure, but the way myself and the team have performed so far gives me huge confidence. I'm feeling refreshed, re-energised and ready to go."

 

McLaren futures uncertain

It's been a difficult year for McLaren and there remains little clarity about their driver line-up for the long-term future.

Williams deputy team principal labelled Jenson Button an "attractive option" to join them for 2017, while Fernando Alonso reiterated his thoughts that next year could be his last depending on how rule changes affect the sport.