Things we learned from the Belgian Grand Prix

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Despite being one of the most iconic tracks on the calendar, Spa, home to the Belgian Grand Prix, failed to impress yesterday with the first four drivers finishing in the position they started in.

Mercedes continued to excel with its impressive and dominant performance at the Belgian Grand Prix, earning a double victory with Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas. It was the Anglo-German team’s 3rd one-two finish at Spa, following Juan Manuel Fangio – Stirling Moss in 1955 and Lewis Hamilton – Nico Rosberg in 2015.

Max Verstappen brought his Red Bull RB16 home in third spot, securing his sixth podium finish in seven races so far. The most shining star was, however, Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo who repeated his fourth-place finish from the British Grand Prix, but this time he really impressed with daunting pace.

The fast Australian – Daniel Ricciardo suprised the field by stealing the additional championship point from Lewis Hamilton after setting the fastest lap of the race with a time of 1m47.483 on his 33-lap-old hard tyres. The Perth-born gave Renault the fastest lap in a Grand Prix for the first time since Robert Kubica in Canada in 2010.

A successful race – Following a fierce battle with Red Bull’s Alexander Albon, Esteban Ocon ended up in fifth position when the chequered flag fell at the end of the 44-lap Belgian Grand Prix. The Frenchman’s P5 tied his career-best results from Spain 2017 and Mexico 2017.

Double-scoring four – Four teams managed to power both their drivers into the Top 10 on Sunday with Mercedes, Red Bull, Renault and Racing Point adding championship points to their tally with both their cars.

A low-point – Ferrari failed to score a single point on Sunday after struggling for pace over the whole weekend. The Scuderia last did not score any point at the Styrian Grand Prix when its drivers Charles Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel collided. Other races with no points were the 2019 Brazilian, the 2017 Singapore and the 2015 Mexican Grand Prix, but all these failures were down to collisions rather than lack of pace.

Fast in the box – Williams recorded the fastest tyre change at the Belgian Grand Prix with changing the old rubber on Nicholas Latifi’s FW43 for new boots only in 2.37s. The slowest was, interestingly, Renault, but that did not influence the Australian’s commanding drive at the triangle of Francorchamps – Stavelot – Malmedy.

Too slow – Charles Leclerc was alleged to drive unnecessarily slowly during the pre-race reconnaissance laps. FIA race director Michael Masi specified a maximum time of 2:04.0 between the Safety Car lines and car 16 recorded a time of 2:06.087. After the stewards heard from the driver and the team representative, they found out that Leclerc had crossed SC2 line hence triggering the timing for the lap, then stopped for approximately 12 seconds to perform a practice start, then completed the Reconnaissance Lap. Accordingly, no breach was determined to have occurred.

Another reprimand – Racing Point drivers Lance Stroll and Sergio Perez have been given another reprimand after the team continued to use its Mercedes-inspired brake ducts. On Wednesday 5 August, 2020 a Special Panel of Stewards was formed that heard together the protests lodged by Renault DP World F1 Team against the cars of BWT Racing Point F1 Team. The stewards claimed that the brake ducts are in conformity with the 2020 F1 Technical Regulation, but the Silverstone-based outfit broke the Sporting Regulation with the design process that saw the team receive the brake ducts of Mercedes’ 2020 F1 car, the W10 from the defending champion squad on January 6 after it was not permitted any more.

One-stop strategy – Despite the softer compounds for this year’s Belgian Grand Prix, Pirelli’s tyres held on perfectly, enabling drivers to cover the race distance at Spa with stopping only once. Of the 17 drivers who saw the chequered flag, 14 drivers completed the race with a one-stopper. Only Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc, Williams’ Nicholas Latifi and Haas driver Kevin Magnussen decided to stop for a second time in the second half of the race, but they all visited the pits for boosting their chances with fresh tyres.

Longest stints – After starting the race on the soft compound, Sergio Perez completed a 18-lap stint on the red-walled tyres. The Mexican opted against pitting during the safety car period, extending his first stint to go a different route in terms of strategy. When it came to the medium rubber, it was Red Bull’s Alexander Albon who covered the longest distance by racking up 33 laps in total. Romain Grosjean and Kimi Räikkönen tested the durability of the White hard compound in the most extreme way by completing 34 laps on the same set.

Still zero points – Despite enjoying a much better performance with its FW43, Williams is yet to score a single championship point this year.

Hamilton in the distance – After winning five in the first seven races, Lewis Hamilton is clearly on his way to clinch his seventh title in the FIA Formula 1 World Championship. The Briton has scored 157 points thus far and is 47 points clear of Red Bull’s Max Verstappen. Hamilton’s teammate Valtteri Bottas is three points behind the Dutchman, followed by Alex Albon who has 48 points to his name. Despite his underpowered and underperforming Ferrari SF1000, Charles Leclerc is still fifth in the Drivers’ Standing thanks his brilliant drives at the Austrian, British and 70th Anniversary Grands Prix.

Over 100 points clear – With ten races to go this season, Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team has already one hand on the Constructors’ title. The Anglo-German outfit has scored 264 points in total with which they are 106 points clear of Aston Martin Red Bull Racing. McLaren sits third in the Standings with 68 points followed by BWT Racing Point F1 Team (66) and Scuderia Ferrari (61).