- Lewis Hamilton wins 2020 Formula 1 Belgian Grand Prix at Spa
- Briton extends lead World Drivers’ Championship by 50-point margin over Valtteri Bottas
- Max Verstappen ‘bored’ on return home, whilst Ferrari suffer further fall from grace
SPA-FRANCORCHAMPS, BELGIUM – After Lewis Hamilton romped home to claim his fifth win of the 2020 Formula 1 season at Spa, what did we learn from the Belgian Grand Prix?
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We are running out of superlatives for this man. Claiming his fifth win of the 2020 Formula 1 season at the Belgian Grand Prix in honour of the recently departed Chadwick Boseman, Lewis Hamilton inched closer to Michael Schumacher.
Not only is the 35-year-old Briton now just two race wins from the German great’s 91 tally, but again romping home at Spa-Francorchamps on Sunday, further opened up a 50-point World Drivers’ Championship lead over teammate Valtteri Bottas.
This weekend’s forecast rain failed to materialise in Stavelot, leaving Hamilton to only negotiate the opening turns at La Source and Au Rouge before once more disappearing into the distance.
Despite more late jitters for Mercedes with their troublesome front tyres, and a slight power outage for the Briton, Hamilton cruised home for his sixth win in Belgium.
Seven down and it appears to be clear sailing towards another historic septenary later this year.
Verstappen again plays second fiddle
A return to his native Belgium for Max Verstappen meanwhile, was met with yet further frustration.
Despite finishing runner-up in three of the last four races, the 22-year-old again came up short due to the increased performance of the Mercedes engine.
And it must be feeling like groundhog day for the Dutchman – aside from his win at Silverstone earlier this month – with few coming close to forming a pursuit group behind Hamilton and Bottas also.
Indeed, as BBC Sport quotes, Verstappen was left to plough a ‘lonely’ furrow in third at Spa.
“It was pretty boring. Not much to do. I couldn’t keep up with them when they started pushing. The last eight laps I was just backing it out and saving the tyres. It was not really enjoyable out there today. It was a bit lonely.”
Despite securing a sixth consecutive podium finish, after a retirement on the opening weekend in Austria back in July, Verstappen must close to the end of his tether, knowing there in truth there is little separating the top three in the drivers’ standings.
For the moment, Red Bull’s number one must look to a double weekend in Italy, optimistic the Mediterranean brings with it more favourable steamy conditions at Monza.
Scuderia fall further from grace
For Ferrari, Belgium brought another tale of woe for the Prancing Horse.
If Team boss Mattia Binotto‘s hair had looked frayed on arrival at Spa this weekend, this weekend would have left it fully suspended, after another horror show.
Having won here for the last two years, Scuderia’s lack of pace was hugely exposed on one of the fastest tracks on the calendar, with both Charles Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel narrowly avoiding a humiliating Q1 exit in qualifying.
Making up the seventh row on the grid, Vettel could only leapfrog his Monagesque teammate in the final race standings on Sunday in 13th.
It adds to what has been a difficult first seven races of the 2020 season, as Vettel himself prepares to leave the team at the end of the year.
The reasons as to Ferrari’s dramatic fall from grace are still to be determined, but with even AlphaTauri and Alfa Romeo faster than the Italian manufacturer across the three days, said answers need to be found ahead of a return home to Italy this weekend.
Sainz will be a worried man…
If Binotto has been suffering sleepless nights due to his car’s sudden failure, the next man to the take up the Prancing Horse gauntlet in Carlos Sainz, will now be looking ahead to next season with great trepidation.
Suffering his own McLaren failure at Spa after a mechanical failure just 40 minutes before lights out, the Spaniard will have witnessed with his own eyes another spectacular failure for Ferrari.
Sainz’ move had looked to a dream for the McLaren driver, but on the back of the opening two months of the campaign, that could now become something of a nightmare.
Of course with the new regulations set to come into force – at least partially – next season, Ferrari’s failings could be a thing of the past by next March, but nevertheless, Sainz will be shuffling nervously in his seat.
…as Russell counts blessings
Whilst Sainz is left pondering next season, George Russell leaves the Belgian GP with his own musings, not least a lucky escape at Spa.
Involved in a crash on lap 10 when Antonio Giovinazzi lost control of his Alfa Romeo at the exit of the Fagnes chicane and bounced back onto the track, a stray front wheel from his car wiped out Russell’s Williams.
As the Briton turned the bend at Fagnes, his sight would have been met by the loose wheel heading straight for him, and smashing his car’s halo mounting, avoided what could have a been serious accident.
Both men forced to trudge back to the pits with three-thirds of the race remaining, Russell may be left with the close-up image of a tyre for some nights to come…
The 2020 Italian Grand Prix takes place at the Autodromo Nazionale di Monza in Italy, this weekend.
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