5 points we can take away from the Belgium Grand Prix
Lewis Hamilton once again dominates the weekend and wins the Belgium Grand Prix, whilst you had to look near the bottom of the leader board to find the off pace Ferrari.
Where the speeds are high and the downforce is low, Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps is usually a fan, and driver, favourite of the season. The power hungry track is also the longest circuit in the calendar covering a distance of 4.3 miles and has nineteen corners. Whilst Spa is renowned for usually being a wet race and drama filled - the 2000 Hakkinen/Schumacher battle and the 1998 race springing to mind - this weekend was a dry one and Lewis Hamilton controlled, what was, an emotional weekend. Here is what we learnt...
Copyright: McLaren 2020
1. You cannot help but feel sorry for Carlos Sainz
Sainz came into Sunday full of positivity after a pretty successful qualifying time, putting him in seventh position, and behind the three strong teams of the weekend: Renault, Red Bull and Mercedes. However, due to a broken exhaust, the Spaniard didn't even manage to line the car up on the grid. Sainz has had some pretty unlucky events this season. He had a tyre blow out at the British Grand Prix, where it was anticipated that he would finished fourth, and a pitting issue at the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix, whereby there was an issue with the gun. On top of that, he was also given a new engine after cooling issues at Silverstone as well. If not being able to race at Spa this weekend was not painful enough, Sainz then had to watch his future team Ferrari struggle to fight for positions near the bottom of the grid.
2. What has happened to Ferrari?
The main talk of the weekend was Ferrari's poor pace. The two drivers just about managed to squeeze themselves into Q2 sandwiching Williams driver George Russell in thirteenth and fifteenth. Whilst last year we saw Ferrari dominate the practice sessions, qualifying and the race, Vettel could only manage to qualify fourteenth and Leclerc thirteenth.
The race did not prove any less painful to watch either. In the words of Charles Leclerc on Instagram: "Fun first lap, not fun after that". Leclerc managed to have a strong start and climbed up to ninth position, however, lap after lap, drivers passed him down the Kemmel Straight and by Lap 7, Leclerc was back down to twelfth with Sebastian Vettel behind him. When Giovinazzi and Russell crashed out on Lap 10, Ferrari saw the opportunity to pit Leclerc, but the team were not ready and were still getting the tyres out whilst Leclerc was already in the pits. Whilst at this point we are used to seeing Vettel having strategy issues, it was Leclerc turn. During Lap 14, his team came on the radio to say they were looking at either Plan B or C. Leclerc was not happy with this due to the fact the two strategies were very different and he told them to quickly make their mind up. On Lap 17, the lack of power was evident when their sister team Alfa Romeo were able to overtake Vettel. Leclerc then had a poor five second pit stop on Lap 25 due to the fact they had to pump up the neumatic pressure on the car. Leclerc finished fourteenth and Vettel thirteenth. With Monza coming up and Ferrari's lack of power, it is probably a good thing that the Italian fans cannot come out in force and watch the race at the circuit.
Copyright: Renault Sport
3. Renault were on great form
Despite Daniel Ricciardo having a brake by wire issue, he put in a great lap qualifying fourth and Esteban Ocon qualified sixth. The greatness did not stop there and on race weekend, both Renault drivers put in a great performance.
At the start of the race, Ricciardo got a great slipstream behind Bottas and Verstappen and came up to the side of Verstappen to fight for third. With neither driver backing down Ricciardo went wide around Turn 6 and Verstappen then went wide around Turn 7, but it was Verstappen who ended up taking the lead. Ricciardo pretty much maintained his fourth position throughout the race and was closing the gap between himself and Verstappen. The Honey Badger could not quite catch up to the Red Bull but in his efforts he gained an extra point for fastest lap - something Renault have not done in almost a decade.
Esteban Ocon also displayed some great driving. On Lap 40, Albon was struggling on the medium tyres and Ocon took full advantage of that, but it was not until the last lap that Ocon finally managed to pass Albon on Turn 5 and take fifth place. Renault picked up a total of twenty-three points making that their best ever point scoring race. With Monza being a power dominated track, it will certainly be exciting to see what Renault have in store.
4. Pierre Gasly - Driver of the Day
Pierre Gasly was on top form during race day. The Frenchman started twelfth on the grid and was the only driver to start the race on the hard compound. Gasly had a great start and by Lap 9 he was battling with Sergio Perez for ninth. Perez squeezed the AlphaTauri into the wall, but Gasly kept his cool and declined to back off and passed him at Raidillon corner. After Giovinazzi and Russell crashed out, everyone but Gasly and Perez pitted meaning Gasly went up to fourth place. During Lap 27 Gasly pitted and came out second to last, however, this did not deter him and right to the end Gasly fought for positions and finished an impressive eighth. Gasly dedicated his race to his good friend Anthonie Hubert. Gasly has been on great form this season and I hope it continues.
5. Mercedes were on top form
Wheather you love them or hate them, Mercedes have hardly put a foot wrong in designing their car, and whilst we would like to see closer races, you have to applaud them on their pace and their cars reliability.
Lewis Hamilton controlled both qualifying and the race. In quali, he ended being half a second faster than his teammate, Valterri Bottas, and set a new track record of 1:41.252. The grip and speed that Hamilton had made it look pretty effortless. Again, during the race, Hamilton was able to control the race pretty comfortably despite the tyres wearing out near the end causing a few mishaps, most notably, when Hamilton went wide at the chicane during Turn 18 and 19. The Brit dedicated his weekend to Chadwick Boseman, a superhero both on and off the screen, who sadly passed from cancer aged forty-three.
Bottas could not quite keep up with Hamilton over the whole weekend, but nonetheless, comfortably took second. Bottas' contract was renewed with Mercedes for another year, however, he seems to be proving himself more as second driver, propping up Hamilton, rather than fighting with Lewis for the Championship. Bottas is a good team member, and whilst he has been handed a few poor strategies, if he wants to win the Championship he is going to need to start thinking more about himself and get his elbows out on track.
Copyright: 2003-2020 Formula One World Championship Limited
This weekend was dedicated to Anthonie Hubert who tragically lost his life last year during a Formula Two race at Spa. His loss ricocheted through the paddock and is still as raw a year on.
Born on 22 September 1996, Anthonie already had racing in his blood due to his father, Francois, being an amateur rally driver. His father encouraged Anthonie's passion for the sport and he started carting from an early age. In 2006 he was crowned champion in Championnat Régional IDF and in 2010 he took his future career international and started competing in CIK-FIA Karting Academy Trophy finishing runner-up. By 2013 he moved up to the French Formula Four Championship, winning on his first attempt, before moving onto Formula Renault, European Formual Three and often raced alongside Pierre Gasly, Charles Leclerc and Esteban Ocon. After a string of successful seasons, Hubert moved up to GP3 in 2017 and won the title in 2018. In May 2018 he became a member of the Renault Sport Academy and, in the 2019 season, he entered Formula Two. Anthonie showed his talent through winning in Monaco and on home soil in France, but unfortunately his talent and life was cut short in a horrific accident at Spa.
It was clear that Anthonie was not only a gifted driver but a true gentleman. Repose en paix Anthonie.