This race weekend was in memory of Anthoine Hubert who sadly lost his life in a Formula 2 accident at Spa-Francorchamps last year. Hamilton broke the track record to take pole and carried that speed through the race to win the Belgium Grand Prix.
The news for this week is that Renault have withdrawn their appeal against the penalty issued to Racing Point for illegal brake ducts.
Also, four more races have been added to the calendar to complete the 17 race 2020 season. Turkey will host at Istanbul Park, Bahrain will host two back-to-back Grand Prix using two different circuit layouts and the season will end in Abu Dhabi on 13th December.
Friday was grey and wet. Haas had power issues meaning they didn’t run in FP1 and only ran for half an hour in FP2. Both cars had to replace their power units. Ocon also had a power unit replacement along with a gearbox change.
Ferrari won at Belgium in 2019 and 2018 but they are well off the pace this year. The team changed their downforce set up to a higher setting in FP3 compared to the lower downforce Monza spec on Friday but the two scarlet red cars only placed 17th and 20th in the timesheets. Disappointingly, they only qualified 13th and 14th.
Kvyat out qualified teammate Gasly for the first time this season with the AlphaTauri’s placing 11th and 12th.
Hamilton set a new track record to take pole and dedicated it to late actor, Chadwick Boseman, who sadly passed from colon cancer.
There was action before the race began this week as Sainz experienced a gearbox blow out on his lap to the grid so had to pit and retire.
Leclerc had a good start to the race and climbed from 13th to 8th in the first few laps but the Ferrari’s real pace and degrading slow tyres soon caught up and he dropped back to 11th by lap 6. Norris also had a tricky start to the race and dropped three places by running wide.
Gasly stormed past Perez up Eau Rouge on lap 2; a daring move to claim 9th.
The only safety car came on lap 11 when Giovinazzi spun into the barrier, losing a tyre which bound across the track and hit Russell’s Williams. The debris looked nasty and it was a tense wait before the drivers climbed out of their cars unharmed.
Every car pitted during this safety car period except Gasly on hard tyres and Perez on softs. Perez dropped like a fly as his soft tyres degraded and he eventually pitted on lap 19 and returns to the track in last place. Gasly does well to keep the hard tyres alive and pits on lap 27, dropping him to 16th of the 17 remaining cars.
Of the second round of pit stops, Leclerc’s was by far the slowest as his mechanics had to top up his pneumatic pressure.
The end of the race closed in and tyres were starting to blister and lose grip. Hamilton ran wide at the Bus Stop Chicane on lap 38 and Bottas repeated this a lap later, but they held their positions as they had done all race.
Hamilton crossed the line to win the Belgian Grand Prix, followed by Bottas then Verstappen. Ricciardo performed well to take 4th place and the extra point for fastest lap. Ocon overtook Albon on the last lap to take 5th; a brilliant result for the Renault team who are currently 6th in the Constructors’ Championship and closing in on Ferrari. Norris recovers from his unfortunate start to finish 7th. Gasly climbed up the order well after his late pit stop to finish 8th ahead of the two Racing Points. The Ferraris finished 13th and 14th out of 17; no improvement from where they began the race.
Hamilton’s dominating drive extends his lead in the championship to 47 points; almost enough to stay ahead even with two DNFs! He is now just two race wins off Michael Schumacher’s astonishing record of 91.
Ferrari disappointed again this weekend, not scoring any championship points. Leclerc won here last year but that pace was likely only due to the illegal engine they were running in the 2019 season. This investigation, unlike Racing Point’s, has taken place completely out of the limelight ‘to avoid the negative consequences that a long litigation would entail’. This, to me, means that Ferrari have such a power in F1 that they can resolve an issue, like running an illegal engine for a season, with a behind the scenes settlement agreement; we know this just isn’t true for the other teams on the grid.
Sainz was unfortunate this weekend to not even get onto the grid. Of the six times he has been to Belgium, he has failed to meet the chequered flag at four, not even starting two of those.
Holly’s driver of the day…and loser
I can’t decide on one driver for my driver of the day so Ricciardo and Gasly will share this week’s title. Ricciardo executed his Q3 lap brilliantly to start 4th and raced smartly to keep that position. Gasly recovered from a strange pit stop strategy skilfully in addition to other bold overtakes prior to the safety car. This leaves a tough decision for Red Bull as they are yet to sign a teammate for Verstappen next year.
Although Ferrari underperformed at Belgium compared to previous years this isn’t out of the ordinary for them this season now they are using a legal engine.
Haas’ issues in free practice meant both drivers hardly ran and had to replace their power units. Grosjean qualified 17th and finished 15th while Magnussen qualified last and finished last despite many overtaking opportunities around this 7.004-kilometre track. This is a shame for the American team that were fighting for 4th in the Constructor’s Championship just a couple of years ago.