Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Mercedes and Hamilton Dominates in Belgian Grand Prix

Photo Credit: Pirelli & C. S.p.A.

The seventh race on the 2020 Formula 1 schedule, the Belgian Grand Prix provided drivers the opportunity to compete on the famed Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps. Setting a record lap time on the track configuration used since 2007, Lewis Hamilton captured the pole on Saturday ahead Sunday’s 44 laps competition on the fast 7.004-kilometer Belgium race track with challenging corners serving as a favourite among professional drivers  

The 20-car set to start the 2020 Belgian Grand Prix was reduced by one car following the warm-up laps prior to the race. Suffering a power unit failure, McLaren of Carlos Sainz Jr. was unable to participate in the contest that had him starting in 7th place. McLaren continued through the Belgian Grand Prix with Lando Norris being their sole entry. 

The start of the Belgian Grand Prix went like clockwork for the Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team as Lewis Hamilton jumped to an early lead with Valtteri Bottas launching well enough to maintain second place. Being a fairly orderly opening stage of the race, some excitement was found deeper through the field. There was a flash of potential with the Prancing Horse in the early laps of the Belgian Grand Prix as Charles Leclerc surged from 13th to 8th place after the start. Ferrari elected to place soft compound Pirelli slick tires on the #16 of Leclerc in an effort to vault him up the running order but quickly identified how quickly the rubber wore on the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps as the driver from Monaco ended up relinquishing positions after a handful of race laps

Photo Credit: Pirelli & C. S.p.A.

A safety car period at the race in Belgium is a common sight. On lap 10 of the 2020 event, an incident occurred that would require the Mercedes-AMG GT-R safety car driven by Bernd Maylander to slow the Formula 1 field. The #99 Alfa Romeo entry of Antonio Giovinazzi crashed hard after the car snapped loose out of turn 13. The impact with the track wall allowed one of the front wheel/tire assembly of the Alfa Romeo to disconnect and ended up in the path of an oncoming George Russell’s Williams. Unable to avoid to the broken wheel, it collided with Russell’s car placing the Brit into another track barrier. Fortunately, both drivers walking away from their respective vehicles but the two wrecked cars left a large enough quantity of debris for track workers to clean up.

Photo Credit: Pirelli & C. S.p.A.

The four-lap safety car period presented an opportunity that many teams utilized to pit for new tires. In fact, for all but three finishers of the 2020 Belgian Grand Prix, the pit stop within lap 10 or lap 11 were the only time most drivers would visit their crews on pit lane. Hard compound tires were attached to the front-running Mercedes AMG, the Red Bull Racing vehicle of Max Verstappen, Daniel Ricciardo’s Renault and most other entries with Alexander Albon receiving medium compound Pirelli rubber. The #11 Racing Point RP20 of Sergio Perez and the Honda-powered #10 AlphaTauri race of Pierre Gasly were the only competitors not to use time of the safety car period for pitting selecting a time later in the race for their service. 

When the Belgian Grand Prix’s safety car period ended on lap 14, the march of the Formula 1 cars continued to be led by the Mercedes AMG race cars. Despite some concerns about tire wear in the late laps, Lewis Hamilton drove to a commanding victory at the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps. Claiming his 89th career Formula 1 win, Hamilton’s successful race effort occurs at a Belgium track where he’s won three times previously. Hamilton crossed the line 8.4 seconds before teammate Valtteri Bottas resulting in the 50th all-time 1-2 finish for the factory Mercedes-Benz Formula 1 racing organization. For Bottas, the result concludes what could be seen as the Finnish driver’s greatest Formula 1 weekend to date in Belgium leaving with a career-best qualifying and finishing position. 

Photo Credit: LAT Images/Mercedes AMG

Max Verstappen enjoyed a relatively peaceful 44-lap race run that ended with a third place finish. Behind Verstappen, a former teammate enjoyed a strong performance with the Renault F1 Team. Daniel Ricciardo recorded a fourth place finish as well as the fastest lap time of 1-minute, 47.483 seconds around the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps. With Ricciardo’s Renault teammate Esteban Ocon achieving a fifth place effort, the French race team scored a sizable amount of constructors’ points. After the Belgian Grand Prix, the constructors’ championship points gap between the third-place McLaren and Renault in sixth place is just nine markers. 

Alexander Albon secured a sixth place for Red Bull Racing. The 2020 Belgian Grand Prix was essentially the one-year anniversary of the race where Albon was enlisted with the Red Bull Racing team as Pierre Gasly was swapped out in 2019. With AlphaTauri, Gasly again scored points coming across the line in eighth place. Between Albon and Gasly, the lone McLaren of Lando Norris finished in seventh. The two Racing Point cars rounded out the top 10 in race results with Lance Stroll crossing the line ahead of Sergio Perez. 

For the second time in the 2020 Formula 1 season, the Ferrari team failed to score points in a grand prix weekend. Sebastian Vettel finished in 13th place while Charles Leclerc placed one spot behind. With two Formula 1 races set to take place in Italy in the next two weeks, there will be some concern surrounding the performance of the highly popular Ferrari outfit on home soil. 

The next event of the 2020 Formula 1 championship takes place on the high-speed Monza track for the Italian Grand Prix on September 6th. 

2020 Formula 1
Belgian Grand Prix
Race Results

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