Belgian GP 2020
AUGUST 31, 2020
Race Analysis - Unstoppable
By Dan Knutson
Lewis Hamilton was unstoppable as he led every lap to win the Belgian Grand Prix in his Mercedes. Here is what happened.
Hamilton earned his 93rd F1 pole of his career with a lap time that was whopping 0.578 of a second faster than his Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas.
"That's got to be one of the cleanest qualifying sessions I think I've ever had," Hamilton said. "Every lap was bang on the dot. No mistakes, no real issues. Q3 is always a hard one because you want to get the first lap and the first lap was great.
"I thought it was pretty much a perfect lap, and then I managed to go out and find a little bit more in a couple of other areas. It was nice to have that gap, that six tenths in the first laps, then I could really explore on that next one and try to take even more of a risk. A phenomenal feeling driving around this track, because it's incredible how fast it's become."
Max Verstappen qualified his Red Bull third while Daniel Ricciardo took fourth in his Renault. Their respective teammates Alex Albon and Esteban Ocon lined up fifth and sixth.
Last year's Belgian Grand Prix pole and race winner Charles Leclerc qualified his Ferrari 13th, one spot ahead of his teammate Sebastian Vettel.
A BIG SNAP
"On the start itself I had a big snap out of Turn 1," Hamilton said, "and Valtteri was all over we, and as I had wheelspin, I had a de-rated shift as well, so that wasn't particularly exciting, so I had to already block, I think, coming out of Turn 1. But the goal is to go in there in the lead and bridge a gap to the car behind – but in this instance, it worked out to my benefit, to be honest, a mistake, well, not a mistake, a snap, it was just the tires, the way they are. It meant that Valtteri didn't have a gap behind to slingshot alongside me. That's definitely the stressful moment of the race."
"I tried to use the opportunities, the first one was at the race start," Bottas said. "Out of Turn 1 I felt a better run than Lewis and I really actually had to lift not to run into the back of him and I tried to leave a bit of a gap to get a good momentum off the tow, but today I was surprised how small the tow effect was, maybe with the tailwind into Turn 5 it made a different."
AT THE END
Hamilton kept out front. At the end of lap one of 44 the order was: Hamilton, Bottas, Verstappen, Ricciardo, Ocon, Albon, Lance Stroll (Racing Point) and Leclerc.
THE SAME FOUR
The order of the top four remained the same all the way to the finish on lap 44.
Antonio Giovinazzi's Alfa Romeo clobbered the barriers on Lap 10.
"A disappointing ending to my race: I was pushing a lot to keep within DRS range of Sebastian (Vettel) and the car just snapped on the exit," he said. "I was on the limit and when you're there, sometimes mistakes can happen."
THE WRONG PLACE
George Russell got caught up on things.
"It is frustrating," the Williams driver said. "I was in the wrong place at the wrong time and there was nothing we could do. I went to the left to avoid Antonio's car and then his wheel came from nowhere and hit the front of my car which pushed me into the wall. It was quite a big impact, but I am ok. I feel very fortunate to have the halo on the car as it could have gone quite near my helmet."
That brought out the safety car, and provided Bottas with another shot at the lead on the restart. But Hamilton held on.
"Controlling at the front and trying to bridge the gap on the restart to the car behind – that's another opportunity for them to slipstream you – is not easy," Hamilton said.
Most of the drivers pitted during the safety car period, and many donned the Pirelli hard compound tires. This would be a one-stop race.
Bottas, still in second, had to settle for second.
"Towards the end of the race, we had to really manage the tires quite a bit," Bottas said. "I was starting to get the same kind of vibration that I felt before the end of the race in Silverstone when I suffered the puncture. I had to reduce the pace quite a bit to save the tires, but it worked out."
Verstappen had a lonely day.
"I love this track but the race was not really the most exciting from my side," he said. "It was a bit lonely. There was not much action up front unfortunately and the tire wear was quite high so we couldn't really push. I had some vibrations towards the end of the race so I really had to manage my tires, I took no risks and brought it home."
Ricciardo, who finished fourth, clocked the fastest lap of the race on lap 44, and got the bonus point.
Hamilton now has 89 career F1 victories – just two shy of Michael Schumacher's record 91.