F1 Belgium Gran Prix
The main storylines for the 76th Belgian Gran Prix
B is for ... Breaking Records
The 2020 Belgian Gran Prix presents an opportunity for numerous records to be matched or broken. Currently the championship leader Lewis Hamilton is in a joint holding of the most points scored at the Belgian Gran Prix, alongside 4 Time World Champion Sebastian Vettel and both drivers can overtake elder statesman Kimi Räikkönen on Kilometres led. A win for either the German or the Brit would put them joint third in the wins list alongside Kimi Räikkönen and Jim Clark and a podium for Hamilton would match Michael Schumacher's record of 9 podiums at the circuit.
In terms of team records, Mercedes can overtake the McLaren team in points scored, putting them second to Ferrari in the table and a Mercedes pole position would put the team joint, with the Scuderia, at the top for pole positions in Belgium.
E is for ... Ebbing Away
If Valtteri Bottas has any luck, it's bad luck.
After starting the season with a win, a puncture in the penultimate lap of the British Gran Prix and a poor strategy for Spain leaves the Finn 43 points down on his teammate and third overall in the Championship.
The 8 time Gran Prix winner has openly admitted the championship is slipping away and he needs to take the fight to Lewis in the upcoming races to have a hope of staying in the championship fight.
Bottas headed the first practice session, 0.069 seconds ahead of Hamilton, and after a Virtual Safety car and brief red flag stoppage finished in P6 in FP2, more than 3 tenths down on Hamilton.
L is for ... Leclerc
Belgium saw the sight of the young Monegasque's first Gran Prix win, with the help of his teammate finishing just under a second ahead of the charging Silver Arrows, after taking a dominant pole (0.7 seconds ahead of his 4 time world champion teammate and to the then 5 time world champion Lewis Hamilton).
This year however, after losing their engine advantages in a confidential agreement with the FIA, neither Ferrari managed to break into the top 12 in the opening practice sessions. The highest finishing car with a Ferrari engine in both sessions came from the Alfa Romeos , Kimi Räikkönen finishing 1.2 seconds off the pace of the leader in FP1 and then the Italian Giovinazzi matching his World Champions' position of 13th on the timing screens, 1.1 seconds off the pace of Verstappen in FP2.
G is for ... Grosjean
A few weeks ago the Frenchman started rumours on his future when he suggested he was losing his love for Formula One and considering a move to a different series to allow him to run up at the front once again.
However insider sources suggest Romain may not have the opportunity to leave of his own free will as Nico Hülkenberg has been reportedly lined up as his replacement for the 2021 season, after his excellent comeback performances for Racing Point replacing Sergio Perez.
I is for ... Inevitable Weather
Since the chaotic 1966 Gran Prix at Spa-Francorchamps, the circuit has been synonymous with changing conditions.
This year's race has the highest possibility of rain and the F3 qualifying was interrupted by rain leading to, alongside a red flag after Alesi had a chat with the barrier, a surprise pole for Zendeli.
A is for ... Albon
A more positive weekend for the Thai-British driver as he finished in the top 6 in both practice sessions, a respectable 0.4 seconds, around the 7km track, off Verstappen in FP2.
The Red Bulls appear to be in the fight as Max put his car less than a tenth away from both Mercedes in FP1 and then topped the timing sheets in FP2 from the Renault of his former teammate Daniel Ricciardo.
Hopefully the Bulls can continue to mount the challenge on Mercedes in Qualifying and the race.
N is for ... New Start
Esteban Ocon's return to Formula One, after his year in the Mercedes simulator, has been disappointing so far. With an average gap of around 0.28 seconds to Daniel Ricciardo in Qualifying, the Frenchman finds himself in 12th in the Championship, 2 places behind his teammate.
The Frenchman hoped that his new engine for the Belgian Gran Prix would allow him to reset and start to challenge his teammate however he finished 0.1 and 0.3 seconds behind his teammate in FP1 and FP2 consecutively and on race pace he was also slower than Ricciardo.
Can he take the fight to the Australian?
G is for ... Gasly
This weekend marks a year since Pierre was dropped from the Red Bull team and the anniversary of the death of his close friend Anthoine Hubert. Since his dropping, the Frenchman has had excellent performances for Alpha Tauri, achieving his first podium in the Brazilian Gran Prix of 2019.
The driver has publicly said he is not thinking about his potential F1 return however, especially considering Alex Albon's difficulties, the return is not off the cards.
Tributes to Anthoine have be made by many drivers, including Charles Leclerc and Alex Albon, and F1 will observe a minute's silence in remembrance to him. F2 has also permanently retired his race number, 19.
P is for ... Perez
Reports still strongly suggest, despite his firm stance against, the Mexican will be vacating his seat of 6 years for the incoming Sebastian Vettel. In the press conferences on Thursday, Sergio again said that he had no reason to suspect his seat was uncertain saying:
“The feedback that I get from within the team is that we all want to continue.”
However both Otmar Szafnauer and Lance Stroll refuse to comment on the situation, perhaps undermining his position.
Historically Spa has been Perez's most successful track in F1, achieving a best starting position of 4th (his best starting position to date) on 3 separate occasions, he will hope for a solid race this year to further cement himself in the team.