2020 Belgian Grand Prix Blog
It wasn’t a classic and fans can be forgiven for complaining about the lack of action at the front of the pack, but that is sport and a combination of factors allowed Mercedes any easy win in the Belgian Grand Prix.
First and foremost, they had the best car. Second, they had the best driver. Lewis Hamilton looked unstoppable all weekend, taking pole by half a second from his teammate. Try as he might, Valterri Bottas was never really able to challenge during the race and he continues to play second fiddle. Lewis on the other hand is just two more victories away from Michael Schumacher’s all-time record, and it seems unthinkable that he won’t achieve this.
The timing of the safety car also played a crucial role in how the Belgian GP unfolded. On lap 10 Antonio Giovinazzi lost control of his Alfa Romeo and crashed into the barriers at Les Fagnes. The force of the collision sent one of his tyres spinning across the track and George Russell could do nothing to avoid it, meaning he also suffered a heavy crash on the other side of the track. This could have been a nasty incident and it was a relief to see both drivers climb out of their cars.
But back to the safety car, and the round of pit stops which followed, the teams would have been crazy not to take advantage of a ‘free stop’ but lap 10 was earlier than they would have planned and inevitably this lead to tyre management precautions for a large portion of the race. In his post-race interview, Max Verstappen described the race as “pretty boring”, believing he spent 38 of the 44 laps at Spa managing his tyres en route to third place.
Perhaps Verstappen would have more to do had Ferrari not suffered one of their worst weekends in memory. The Scuderia won the Belgian Grand Prix in both 2018 and 2019, so it is simply astonishing that this year they managed only a 13th and 14th place finish. Mattio Binotto did not mince his words afterwards, saying: “On a track that requires aerodynamic efficiency and power, we were severely lacking in both. Charles and Sebastian did their very best, both yesterday in qualifying and today in the race, but we couldn’t even get into the points. We are disappointed and angry, as indeed are our fans and with good reason.”
Ferrari have some serious problems. Analysis shows the straight-line speed of their car is just nowhere near what it was last year. Indeed, the contrast is so stark that Christian Horner said it left a “sour taste” over 2019 races which he believes Ferrari should not have won whilst using their controversial engine unit.
We must also mention Renault, who enjoyed their best race of the season by some way (4th and 5th place finish). Daniel Ricciardo has an ongoing bet with Cyril Abiteboul, that the team principal will get a tattoo should Ricciardo finish on the podium at any race this season. Spa is the closest he has come so far with an excellent drive to finish in fourth place. Abiteboul, who does not currently have any tattoos, should be incredibly pleased but also a little concerned about the remaining races this year.
There’s no time to rest as Formula 1 moves on to the Italian Grand Prix this coming weekend. The track at Monza is the fastest in Formula 1, and with the race taking place in their own backyard, we just hope that Ferrari can somehow eke out some improved performance from their SF1000.
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