2020 Formula 1 Belgian Grand Prix was held at the iconic and on the most favourite track of the drivers and the audience, the Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium. The track is situated in the lush green Arden forest and is one of the longest tracks on the F1 calendar with a lap length of 7 kilometers. It is a great circuit with a mix of long straights and some famous corners like Eau Rouge and 180-mph double left-hander Pouhon.
The track layout favours cars with good engine power and low drag aerodynamic characteristics. In the last two years, Mercedes failed to win at the Spa track, and both times Ferrari was the team to beat. This year, Mercedes faced no challenge from any team and came out to win the 6th race of the season easily. Hamilton had a comfortable Sunday afternoon drive in the W11 Mercedes F1 car and recorded his 89th Grand Prix victory.
Thursday Pre-Race Preparations: F1 adds 4 new races
Weather is always unpredictable at the Spa racing course and very swift in changing the conditions from dry to wet. The forecast was for both dry and a mix of rain for the Belgium Grand Prix weekend. It also is a testing platform where nearly all the teams try their ultra-low downforce package for the Monza track.
F1 announced the addition of four more races for the 2020 Formula One season and presented the final 17 race calendar for the year 2020. The final four races will include the Turkish GP, followed by two grands prix in Bahrain namely Bahrain GP (original track) and Sakhir GP (outer loop circuit). The season will finish at Yas Marina Circuit UAE on 13 December.
Friday Practice: Pecking order shows Mercedes in the lead
The rain stayed away from the circuit. The drivers enjoyed driving around the track in the bright sunshine, gathering data for the engineers to analyse and prepare for the rest of the weekend. Single lap pace analysis results revealed the pecking order, and it was no different to what it has been throughout the 2020 Formula 1 season.
Mercedes was the team to beat with Red Bull quite a long way down on the single lap pace. Racing Point and Renault were the best of the rest behind the top two but 1 sec/lap slower. Last year's pole-sitter and race winner Ferrari was only 4th quickest ahead of McLaren.
Race simulations leaderboard looked no different to qualifying pace ranking chart. Mercedes was leading the field ahead of the Red Bull racing team. Renault and Racing Point again tied on the race pace but 1.3 sec/lap slower than the top team. Ferrari looked like a midfield team with no speed in either form short or long.
Saturday Practice: 2020 Belgian GP finds former polesitter in the tail end of practice sessions
Lewis Hamilton finished the 3rd practice session on top ahead of Esteban Ocon (Renault) and Lando Norris (McLaren). Ferrari, which struggled after the Friday practice sessions but converted to low-downforce setup to make up for the time on the straights, made the car worse. Scuderia drivers finished 17th and 20th with the prospect of being eliminated in the Q1 session very likely. Just a reminder, Ferrari was on pole position at the same track in 2019.
Qualifying: Hamilton takes pole as Ferrari gets knocked out of Q2
The first qualifying session started, and the big question mark was: Can the Ferrari F1 team get out of the Q1 session? After 18 minutes, both the cars made it into the Q2 session but only by a slim margin. George Russell was again the star of the session, making it into the second round by splitting the two Ferraris. The eliminations consisted of both Haas drivers, two Alfa Romeos and Nicholas Latifi (Williams).
Q2 began with both Mercedes drivers going out early on a set of medium tyres, and so did Max Verstappen and the two Racing Points. Mercedes occupied the top two positions followed by the Dutchman, but Racing Point finished outside the top 10, so they had to run again on soft tyres. The Ferraris could not go any quicker than they did to get into Q2 and where knocked out along with George Russell and the two Alpha Tauri drivers.
Lewis Hamilton started the final qualifying session by setting a new track record and took provisional pole position ahead of his teammate. On the final runs, not many drivers improved on their initial times, but Hamilton went much faster and posted a time of 1:41.2 to set a new track record and beat his teammate by 0.5 sec.
The 2020 Belgian Grand Prix would have the Silver Arrows on front row, Verstappen on 3rd and Daniel Ricciardo a brilliant 4th for Enstone-based team. Albon 5th, Ocon 6th, Sainz 7th, Perez 8th, Stroll 9th and Norris 10th complete the rest of the grid.
Sunday Race: Mercedes finishes 2020 Belgian Grand Prix with 1-2 win
It was a typical Sunday drive to the grid for all the drivers except Carlos Sainz of McLaren who had an exhaust failure on the way to the grid and as a result, failed to start the 2020 Belgian GP. Last year his car stalled on the grid and he also did not start the 2019 Race. Five red lights and Hamilton dropped the clutch and raced to the first corner and survived the first lap attacks from behind. Everybody got away cleanly with Hamilton racing ahead of Bottas and Verstappen.
Lap 11, the Alfa Romeo of Giovinazzi spun while going through Fagnes chicane and hit the tyre barrier very bad. His left rear tyre came off the car and hit the Williams of George Russell, who was taken out of the race as well. The safety car was deployed, and everyone pitted except Perez and Gasly. The racing resumed once again with Hamilton in the lead.
By lap 22, Hamilton was ahead of Bottas by 3 sec and Verstappen was in 3rd place with no extra pace to attack the leading pair. In the midfield, Ricciardo was running comfortably in the 4th position ahead of Gasly who was yet to change tyres. Albon was the lead car in 6th place ahead of Ocon, Stroll, Norris and Kvyat. Ferrari pitted Charles Leclerc for the second time on lap 25, changing to medium tyres and refilling the pneumatic pressure system as well.
Late stopping Perez and Gasly were the only two doing some overtakes in the middle of the race due to tyre advantage but barely making it to the top 10. During the last three laps, there were some concerns on the Mercedes pit wall that they might have a repeat of 70th anniversary GP, but it was all under control.
Hamilton crossed the start-finish line to claim his 4th victory at the famous track, while Bottas completed the Mercedes 1-2. Verstappen finished 3rd and labelled the race “boring” which indeed it was. Ricciardo a fine 4th and Ocon overtook Albon on the last lap to finish 5th. This race was Renault’s best result in the F1 since they made the return in 2016. Norris finished 7th, Gasly 8th, Stroll 9th and Perez 10th.
Temple of Speed, Coming Up: 2020 Italian Grand Prix
The second race of this 3rd tripleheader of the 2020 F1 season will be at the Temple of Speed, Autodromo Nazionale De Monza. Ferrari won at the track last year. Can they even finish in the points this year? Find out here on Carpart.com.au, next week!