Greetings race fans! Welcome to the Sports Obsessive report for the F1 Belgian Grand Prix 2020. Once again Hamilton dominated from start to finish: taking both pole position and the victory, as well as leading every lap of the race. Bottas—in the other Mercedes—came in second and the Red Bull of Verstappen completed the podium. The top three once again sailed off into rather lonely races, the Mercedes displaying their dominance and Verstappen keeping them honest.
Further back is where the more interesting racing happened and the fast-paced rollercoaster that is Spa did not disappoint.
Carlos Sainz failed to make the starting grid, unfortunately, after a mechanical failure on his car. A shame for the team and Sainz, who has had a good year so far. His teammate Lando Norris faired well in the race—starting tenth, finishing seventh and displaying some of that late-race pace we’ve seen so often from the young Brit this season. Mclaren are now third in the Constructors Championship—best of the rest.
Renault showed real pace this weekend: a promising teaser for Monza—another fast-paced track—just next weekend. Off the grid, Ricciardo was all over the back of Verstappen, but unfortunately just couldn’t find a way past—despite some nail-biting efforts on the opening lap. After a safety car period, Ricciardo found himself behind two cars on different strategies to himself which created a roadblock between himself and Verstappen. A convincing performance earnt him a much deserved fourth place, and after giving everything for the final lap he was rewarded with the fastest lap of the race. Teammate Ocon also showed great pace, and after catching Albon towards the end of the race, finally overtook him on the last lap to finish fifth. Albon took sixth after his tyres began to fall away in performance towards the end of the race.
Racing Point were probably a little disappointed with their results—coming in ninth and tenth. The car has shown must faster pace previously in the season and it seemed the team and drivers just couldn’t quite get that performance here today.
Alpha Tauri again showed pace this weekend and finished respectably in eighth and eleventh: Pierre Gasley putting in a stunning drive to finish in the points. When the safety car was brought out, Gasley took a different strategy to the other racers—with the exception on Perez—opting to stay out, gain track position and pit later. You may remember a mention of Ricciardo’s roadblock? That came in the shape of Gasley and Perez. After two-thirds race distance Gasley came in for a stop which dropped him down to 16th place. From then on it was down to him to claw positions back, utilise his fresher tyres and execute some good old overtakes—all of which he did fantastically.
The aforementioned safety car came out on lap 11 to deal with the aftermath of Giovinazzi’s crash. The Italian lost control of his Alpha Romeo—which ended up in the wall. Unfortunately for Russell in the Williams—who took avoiding action to miss the Alpha—he was unable to avoid one of its detached wheels, which he collided with—sending him out of the race too. The aftermath looked serious as the cameras suddenly came upon the two wrecks, but thankfully everyone walked away unharmed.
So, to the big bright red prancing horse-shaped elephant in the room. A terrible weekend left Ferrari lying fifth (Yes, fifth!) in the Constructors Championship. Cast your mind back twelve months: Leclerc won the Belgian grand Prix and went on to win the next race on Ferrari home soil at Monza. Today he finished fourteenth, behind teammate Vettel in thirteenth. Eeesh! A poor qualifying performance saw neither car make it to the final stage of the session and they began the race in thirteenth and fourteenth. Leclerc made a stonking start gaining five places on the opening laps, but sadly and steadily lost positions as the faster cars—seemingly everyone bar Haas and Williams—passed him. At one point in the race, the Ferraris ran thirteenth and sixteenth—out of seventeen cars.
As an F1 fan, it’s painful to watch: Ferrari are legends of the sport and have the financial might to achieve so much more. So what is going on? Last year the FIA received complaints from several teams regarding the Ferrari’s power unit—specifically, the legality of its fuel flow sensor. After an investigation, Ferrari and the FIA came to a secret settlement, which, understandably, other teams were not too happy about. It’s all very cloak and daggers! Ultimately, the upshot seems that Ferrari has lost pace because of this: and a lot of it. They don’t seem to be finding that pace again and are currently struggling in the mix with the midfield teams. It may be a painful year for Ferrari, in fact, it may be a painful eighteen months—with the next new shake-up of technical regulations due for the 2022 season it seems their poor performance may continue until then.
The Haas cars and Alpha Romeos are currently supplied with their engines by Ferrari—it was, therefore, no shock to see them finish out of the points, despite Raikkonen putting in a good performance, even overtaking Vettel at one point.
Williams’ only car to finish was that of Latifi in sixteenth. Still awaiting their first Constructors point this season, Williams have made ground from where they were, but there is still a huge way to go. However, the team do seem optimistic about their future, having been bought by US Investment company Dorilton a few days ago. Similarly to Ferrari, I feel the Williams team are unlikely to make great gains this season or next and will pin their development on the upcoming regulation changes due for 2022.
Spa did not disappoint—it never does: can we come back again this year? After that race Mercedes are in a dominant position: Hamilton will take his record-equalling seventh championship this year and smash Schumacher’s record of the most F1 race wins within the next few races—barring something completely unforeseeable happening. This is F1 history in the making, folks. We are witnessing one of the true greats of the sport and, like many greats, he is just getting better and better. Bottas and Verstappen will spend the rest of the season battling for second. Behind them the racing continues—currently, there are only nine points covering four teams in the Constructors Championship. Mclaren lie in third on sixty-eight points, followed by Racing Point (sixty-six points), Ferrari (sixty-one points), and Renault on fifty-nine points. Hoowee! What a battle—history may be being made out the front but racing drama is being delivered in amongst the pack.
Driver of the day: Pierre Gasly
Honourable mentions: Raikkonen, Ricciardo.
Belgium Grand Prix Race Results
- Ricciardo (Fastest Lap)
The updated race calendar for this year’s 2020 F1 season has been released. It looks like we’re going to get seventeen races in total with the finale in Abu Dhabi on December 13th. For full schedule please see- https://www.motorsport.com/f1/schedule/
Next up- Monza! We head to the fast-paced legendary Italian track.
Where to watch-
USA- Sunday 6th September live on ESPN. Race starts 9:05am EST
UK- Sunday 6th September live on Sky F1. Race starts at 1:05pm GMT
Highlights on Channel Four at 6:30pm and Sky One at 6:00 Sunday 6th September.