The legendary Spa-Francorchamps will host the 2020 Belgian Grand Prix this weekend for a thrilling and emotional round of the Formula 1 World Championship, the seventh of the convulsed 2020 calendar, which is now confirmed to be 17-races long.

With Mercedes’ Toto Wolff mentioning the German team have ‘unfinished business’ at Spa and Red Bull maintaining that second-placed in the WDC, Max Verstappen, still has a shot to beat Lewis Hamilton for the championship, the weekend could be spicy if their cars are close in race trim.

Ferrari won the last two races at Spa, with Sebastian Vettel winning the event for the third time in 2018 and Charles Leclerc achieving the first of his two Grand Prix wins so far last year. The Maranello-based team is expected to struggle in relation to Mercedes and Red Bull due to their engine woes.

For Ferrari, not only their engine being down on power will be a problem at Spa, but they need to address the reliability troubles of their Power Unit.

Last year was emotional for Leclerc after his friend Anthoine Hubert died during the Feature FIA F2 Race. Leclerc has already stated that this weekend will be an emotional one for him, while a minute of silence will take place as a tribute to the young racer who untimely lost his life in 2019.

Can Red Bull put pressure on Mercedes?

Max Verstappen & Lewis Hamilton on the podium

Max Verstappen & Lewis Hamilton on the podium

Can the one-man show Red Bull has become compete versus Mercedes? Especially Hamilton? Well, Mercedes should be favorite for its seventh Pole Position in seven races, but Red Bull might be competitive again on Sunday when the difference is not as big as on Qualifying.

The weather can be an ally for Red Bull given how such a long track would present big challenges for the drivers if there’s rain. A wet weekend is expected for the 2020 Belgian Grand Prix and it could mix things up, especially if the rain is not extreme, which would make the race a strategic one, and timing would be relevant to achieve great results.

Will Racing Point be the 3rd fastest team again?

Racing Point were relatively comfortable behind the top two teams in Spain, which shows how competitive they were. A 4-5 finish at Barcelona and the upcoming race being at historically favorable track in Spa seems good news for the team.

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Also, Renault deciding to withdraw their appeal against Racing Point’s penalty for its rear brake duct is another good thing for the team, as the noise around their car’s legality might be shut down for a while at least (Ferrari have not announced if their appeal will go through).

Racing Point’s preceding team, Force India, achieved good results at Belgium, with Giancarlo Fisichella finishing second in 2009 after starting from Pole Position. Then, they achieved fourth place in 2012 and a 4-5 in 2016. As Racing Point Force India, they achieved a good 5-6 finish after locking the second row in a qualifying session with changeable climatic conditions.

How about McLaren & Renault

These two teams have had up and downs during the year, especially Renault, which counts a fourth and sixth place in the 2020 British Grand Prix as their best result so far, but McLaren scored a podium and three top 5 finishes with their cars and is just one point off of Racing Point’s third place in the World Constructors’ Championship.

Daniel Ricciardo (AUS) Renault F1 Team RS20.
British Grand Prix, Sunday 2nd August 2020. Silverstone, England.

Renault, on its side, is sixth in the WCC behind Ferrari but is falling significantly behind in the fight for the third spot or even a top-five spot in the WCC.

McLaren were not very competitive in last year’s qualifying, but Lando Norris was having a great race and holding P5 before his car suffered a power loss just before starting the final lap of the race, while Carlos Sainz suffered the same issue earlier in the GP.

For Renault, the Spa-Francorchamps circuit can offer some good chances to score points. On power, their engine has not been a disappointment, but their car continues to struggle when downforce is demanded (a pointless afternoon in Spain can be a testament of that) and Spa’s sector two will not be forgiving of their car if the setup is not right.

Renault’s best chance might come at Monza, where they were a force to be reckoned with last year and achieved a 4-5 finish with Daniel Ricciardo in front of Nico Hulkenberg. Esteban Ocon, Ricciardo’s 2020 partner, has had some good performances at Spa, especially in 2018, when he started third and almost took the lead heading into Les Combes.

How competitive will the other teams be in the Ardennes?

AlphaTauri and especially Pierre Gasly have had good races in 2020, while Alfa Romeo, Haas, and Williams are still struggling to consistently compete for the point-scoring places. Haas and Alfa Romeo, among other issues, are suffering from Ferrari’s engine saga, while Williams have improved from last year, but not enough to get close to top 10 finishes under regular conditions.

As Williams was sold to investment firm Dorilton Capital and with the upcoming economical changes to the sport’s essence, they might aspire to decent results in the upcoming campaigns.

2020 Belgian GP Facts & Figures

The Belgian Grand Prix is an iconic round of the Formula World Championship which has been part of virtually every campaign of the pinnacle of motor racing in history.

Spa Francorchamps, Belgium 2017

Spa Francorchamps, Belgium 2017

The race on Sunday will be the 65th running of the Belgian Grand Prix as a part of the World Championship of drivers. The first championship race at Belgium took place in 1950, with Juan Manuel Fangio winning for Alfa Romeo ahead of his teammate Luigi Fagioli.

Coincidentally, Alfa Romeo had won the first running of the Belgian Grand Prix in history, back in 1925 when Antonio Ascari dominated the Spa round of the World Manufacturers’ Championship.

The event has taken place at three different tracks, with Nivelles and Zolder hosting races in the 70s and the early 80s. World Champions have won 50 editions of the Belgian round, with Michael Schumacher dominating the event six times, including his first-ever GP win in 1992.

Ayrton Senna (five), Jim Clark, and Kimi Raikkonen (four each) follow Schumacher in the list of drivers with most wins in the Belgian Grand Prix. Coincidentally, these three champions had streaks of at least three straight wins in the Belgian Grand Prix, with Senna and Clark winning four straight times each, which is the record in Belgium.

Raikkonen is one of three active drivers to have multiple wins in Belgium alongside Hamilton and Vettel, both being three-time winners of the Belgian Grand Prix and both doing so with two different teams. Ricciardo (2014) and Leclerc (2019) are the other active drivers who have won at Spa.

In terms of team wins, Ferrari leads McLaren with 18 victories to 14. Lotus sits third with eight wins and Mercedes fourth with six triumphs in three very different eras. They won twice in the European Championship, in 1935 and 1939 with Rudolf Caracciola and Hermann Lang, respectively. Then, Mercedes won an actual World Championship race in Belgium in 1955 with Fangio and they added three more wins to their tally with Hamilton (2015 and 2017) and Nico Rosberg (2016) winning in the Hybrid Era.

Spa-Francorchamps Track

A legendary circuit, Spa was originally a 15-kilometer track and it got shortened to a 14-kilometer course which was faster than the first version, while both layouts included public roads.

Spa-Francorchamps layout 2018

The circuit proved to be highly dangerous, with the 1960 event being the only one in Formula 1 history in which two drivers died during the same race (Chris Bristow and Alan Stacey suffered sad fatal accidents). Jim Clark dominated the track during the 60s, with four straight wins from 1962 to 1965, but the drivers were fully aware of the dangers of the circuit and ultimately wanted it to adapt to safety measures or simply they would not compete there.

The track was ultimately boycotted in 1969 and though it returned in 1970 with Pedro Rodríguez’s win for BRM, the safety concerns remained and Spa was out of the calendar until 1983, ironically, a year after legendary Gilles Villeneuve lost his life in one of the other venues of the Belgian Grand Prix, Zolder.

The new 7-kilometer track was designed in 1979, and it has remained similar until recent years, though the last sector was changed in 2007, with The Bus Stop changed and the main straight made longer.

Peter Collins (1956), Jim Clark (1962), Michael Schumacher (1992), and Charles Leclerc (2019) all took their maiden GP win at Spa-Francorchamps. Schumacher made his F1 debut in 1991 at Spa and sealed his seventh and final Formula 1 World Championship in 2004 in the Belgian circuit.

In the 2000 race, two-time champion Mika Hakkinen made one of Formula 1 greatest overtakes on Schumacher, with a backmarker in the middle of the track. Schumacher overtook the backmarker, Ricardo Zonta, on the left side of the Kemmel Straight before Les Combes, while Hakkinen overtook them both after taking the inside line into Les Combes.

In the Hybrid Era, Red Bull, Mercedes, and Ferrari have won races at Spa.

This year’s race will be the 53rd Belgian Grand Prix celebrated at Spa-Francorchamps.

The track seems to be a power-demanding one, but it has 20 corners and the middle sector creates a setup problem which prompts the need for the teams to produce a lot of downforce. It is not easy to have the right setup for Spa, but balance is key to perform an overall great lap. However, a car without high top speed will suffer a bit in the Kemmel Straight on Sunday, especially if that car starts on Pole Position and has no car in front to take advantage of the slipstream. Still, a fast car in the middle sector can have a proper shot at great results.

The current layout is 7.004-km long and the track records are held by Sebastian Vettel, with an outright Fastest Lap of 1:41.501 min in 2018 and Valtteri Bottas, with the Fastest Lap during a race of 1:46.286 min at an average speed of 237.231 km/h.

What happened in the 2019 Belgian Grand Prix?

Ferrari took advantage of a track that suited their SF90 and Leclerc started from Pole Position ahead of Vettel. At the start, Leclerc held his lead while Vettel recovered from a relatively bad start to overtake Hamilton at the Kemmel Straight easily.

La Source hairpin right after the start

At the start, Verstappen crashed with Raikkonen on La Source, which put an end to the Dutchman’s streak of 21 consecutive races finished in the top five.

Leclerc was able to pull ahead, while Vettel was the first of the front-runners to pit. As Leclerc pitted several laps later, he emerged behind Vettel but the German let him through. Hamilton pitted, caught Vettel and overtook him after a couple of laps of trying, while Leclerc was extending his lead at the front.

Alex Albon made his Red Bull debut at Spa last year and made a great recovery during the race with some proper racing maneuvers and also taking advantage of some retirements in front of him and his good pace to finish fifth after starting 17th. He would need a similar or even better performance this weekend to shut down the talk about him needing to be replaced from the second Red Bull seat.

Hamilton got close to Leclerc by the end of the race, cutting the gap lap by lap, but Leclerc ultimately maintained his lead, though a yellow flag caused by Antonio Giovinazzi’s Alfa Romeo crashing on sector two was key to prevent Hamilton from catching Leclerc, as the middle sector was where Hamilton was gaining lap by lap.

Ultimately, the Monegasque gave Ferrari its first victory of 2019 and their first since Raikkonen’s victory at Austin in 2018. Also, it was the first time Ferrari had taken straight wins at Spa since their three victories in a row there from 2007 to 2009.

Hamilton and Bottas followed Leclerc for the ceremonial podium, which not included champagne due to the death of Hubert on Saturday. A tribute was made before the race with a minute of silence and a standing ovation on lap 19 for the young driver who had tragically lost his life the day before (19 was Hubert’s racing number in F2).

Vettel finished fourth after a two-stop strategy and took the point for the Fastest Lap.

Albon, Sergio Pérez, Daniil Kvyat, Hulkenberg, Gasly (in his first race since he was demoted to Toro Rosso) and Lance Stroll completed the top 10.

2020 Belgian Grand Prix - Tyres

The dry tyres for the 2020 Belgian Grand Prix will be the C2 as P Zero White hard, C3 as P Zero Yellow Medium, and C4 as P Zero Red soft.

Pirelli explained their choice with a simple statement in a press release: “This choice has been made because most drivers chose the medium and soft tyres last year. In fact, many drivers selected a full allocation of 10 soft tyres in 2019 and only one hard (although this will not be possible this year as all the allocations are standard”

Last year, Pirelli’s choice was the C1, C2 and C3 tyre, but the C1 did not make an appearance in the race, which prompted the softer selection for this year’s race.

Indeed, this year, teams are not allowed to select their tyre allocation, as Pirelli will give each driver two sets of hard tyres, three sets of mediums, and eight sets of soft tyres.

The minimum starting pressures for the tyres will be 24.5 PSI (front) and 21.0 PSI (rear).

Of course, with a big chance of rain for the upcoming weekend, we might not see many dry tyres during the race, but there is still the chance to see rain in certain parts of the track and that would mean some portions of Spa would be completely dry and others would be wet, so it will be interesting.

Last season, the better strategy was the one-stopper, but a softer tyre selection might change strategies if rain does not arrive… which brings us to our next topic.

2020 Belgian Grand Prix Weather Forecast

A wet Belgian Grand Prix? Bring it on!.

2020 spa franchorchamps weatherFriday, Aug 28th - FP1 & FP2
Conditions: Overcast
Max. temperature: 18°C
Chance of rain: 55%

Saturday, Aug 29th - FP3 & Qualifying
Conditions: A thunderstorm around
Max. temperature: 17°C
Chance of rain: 40%

Sunday, Aug 30th - Race
Conditions: A couple of showers
Max. temperature: 16°C
Chance of rain: 63%

Who will be on the 2020 Belgian Grand Prix Podium?

Given the information at hand and the weather forecast (which not always delivers), we might be in front of the race of the year at Spa.

Race Results 2018 Belgian F1 Grand Prix

2018 Belgian GP podium: 1. Vettel, 2. Hamilton, 3. Verstappen

On dry and wet conditions, Hamilton will probably be fighting for the win, while Red Bull might have a better chance in the wet. So, Hamilton and Verstappen fighting for the win in a historic track? Good enough. Still, Bottas will have something to say at a track in which he has not been competitive in comparison to his six-time champion teammate, but he needs to take a good swing against Hamilton and Verstappen to get back on track and try to retake second place in the WDC.

Racing Point would be a dark horse for this one, though they underachieved at the previous track in which we expected a lot from them (Silverstone). Still, we can see Racing Point locking the third row of the grid and possibly placing one of their cars higher on Sunday. The rain would be a challenge for Pérez, who did not look well in the Styrian Grand Prix.

We are going to gamble a bit with the podium since the legendary Spa-Francorchamps can surprise us. Mercedes should start from Pole Position on a dry track and if it is wet, then Hamilton should be the favorite to take it, though Verstappen would have his chances enhanced by tricky weather.

In the race, if the rain indeed arrives or not, we can see the top teams fighting it out, with Hamilton and Verstappen probably in the front. If the race comes to strategic decisions and good judgement of when to pit or not to pit, Red Bull might have the upper hand over Mercedes.

We’re expecting a proper fight at the front and everywhere down the order.

The prediction for the top three of the 2020 Belgian Grand Prix is 1. Max Verstappen, 2. Lewis Hamilton, 3. Lance Stroll.


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