Lewis Hamilton dominated Saturday around Spa Francorchamps to take pole for the 2020 Belgian Grand Prix, on a day in which Ferrari were the headline act for the wrong reasons.
Rain lingered in the air throughout the day but failed to materialize into something substantial as Hamilton dominated the day from start to finish, whilst Ferrari continued their struggles from yesterday.
Here is the full story behind Saturday’s action at 2020 Belgian Grand Prix.
Kevin Magnussen was the first driver to hit the track and set the initial pace on mediums with a 1m 45.984 in the opening 25 minutes, as many opted to remain in their garages as rain clouds gathered around Spa.
Several cars then came out at once with Valtteri Bottas proceeding to lead the timesheets come the halfway mark of FP3 with a 1m 43.813, which was 0.083 seconds quicker than Red Bull’s Max Verstappen as both drivers set their times on the soft compound.
Hamilton found himself 0.325s down on Bottas come end of the first runs as Pierre Gasly popped up into fifth for Alpha Tauri behind Perez, whilst Magnussen opted to do his soft qualifying simulation early which put him seventh before a brief shower fell across the circuit despite failing to soak the track.
Once the shower had dispersed, everyone headed back out with traffic at the Bus Stop chicane proving difficult for many drivers as Esteban Ocon went top with a 1m 43.485, until Hamilton popped up with a 1m 43.255 to displace the Frenchman with Lando Norris sat in third ahead of Alex Albon.
Bottas and Verstappen failed to improve on their initial best laps with the former spinning on exit of La Source whilst Verstappen failed to bank a proper flying lap due to traffic throughout his attempt as the duo rounded out the top six.
Ferrari meanwhile endured another torrid session as Charles Leclerc found himself 1.892s off Hamilton’s pace in 17th position, whilst Sebastian Vettel propped up the timesheet in 20th place and 2.165s off the pace which represents a remarkable fall from grace after topping this session last season.
Haas duo of Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean were the only drivers on track in the opening minutes of qualifying as Magnussen provided Grosjean with a slipstream which benefitted the Frenchman, although Grosjean would provide Magnussen with a slipstream during the second run.
Once everyone headed out, Hamilton found himself top ahead of Bottas with a 1m 42.323 with the bottom five come the 11th minute, made up of; Nicholas Latifi, Kimi Raikkonen, Vettel, Grosjean and Magnussen.
Vettel ultimately proved to be the only driver to escape Q1 out of that bottom five as Raikkonen missed out by just 0.087s to Leclerc, as Grosjean improved to 17th on grid ahead of Antonio Giovinazzi, Latifi and Magnussen after the Dane ran wide on his final effort.
Mercedes chose to qualify on medium tyres in case of a dry race despite forecast being for rain, with Hamilton setting the quickest Q2 time of 1m 42.014 ahead of Bottas and Verstappen who had also opted for mediums.
Racing Point also attempted the same strategy but struggled and found themselves in the elimination zone alongside Vettel, Leclerc and Russell, who hadn’t set a time after aborting his first run.
Come end of Q2, only Stroll and Perez survived in seventh and ninth out of those initially in the bottom five as Leclerc outqualified Vettel and Russell, whilst Alpha Tauri pair of Daniil Kvyat and Gasly completed the Q2 exits in 11th and 12th respectively.
13th and 14th on the grid however represents a sharp decline for Ferrari, who had locked out the front row here this time last year.
Red Bull meanwhile split their tyre strategy with Albon setting his quickest Q2 time at the end on softs whereas Verstappen backed out of his effort and will begin the race on mediums if it is a dry start.
Hamilton once again set the initial pace in Q3 with a stunning 1m 41.451 ahead of Bottas by six tenths of a second as Ricciardo, Verstappen and Albon rounded out the top five come the end of the opening runs.
Bottas then managed to find improvement on his final lap but Hamilton clinched his sixth Belgian pole with a 1m 41.252 to outqualify Bottas by 0.511s, as Verstappen leapfrogged Ricciardo into third and ended up only 0.015s off Bottas’ effort as Ricciardo and Albon completed the top five.
Ocon was the only other driver apart from Verstappen to improve on final laps as he moved above Carlos Sainz by just 0.042s, whilst Perez pipped Stroll for eighth despite both Racing Point drivers not doing a final run as Norris only managed to qualify tenth on the grid.
|1||Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes||1m 43.255|
|2||Esteban Ocon||Renault||+ 0.230|
|3||Lando Norris||McLaren||+ 0.386|
|4||Alex Albon||Red Bull||+ 0.476|
|5||Valtteri Bottas||Mercedes||+ 0.558|
|6||Max Verstappen||Red Bull||+ 0.641|
|7||Daniel Ricciardo||Renault||+ 0.718|
|8||Lance Stroll||Racing Point||+ 0.733|
|9||Carlos Sainz||McLaren||+ 0.751|
|10||Sergio Perez||Racing Point||+ 0.925|
|11||Pierre Gasly||Alpha Tauri||+ 1.253|
|12||Daniil Kvyat||Alpha Tauri||+ 1.288|
|13||Nicholas Latifi||Williams||+ 1.516|
|14||Kevin Magnussen||Haas||+ 1.586|
|15||Romain Grosjean||Haas||+ 1.589|
|16||Kimi Raikkonen||Alfa Romeo||+ 1.677|
|17||Charles Leclerc||Ferrari||+ 1.892|
|18||George Russell||Williams||+ 1.902|
|19||Antonio Giovinazzi||Alfa Romeo||+ 1.935|
|20||Sebastian Vettel||Ferrari||+ 2.165|
|1||Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes||1m 41.252|
|2||Valtteri Bottas||Mercedes||+ 0.511|
|3||Max Verstappen||Red Bull||+ 0.526|
|4||Daniel Ricciardo||Renault||+ 0.809|
|5||Alex Albon||Red Bull||+ 1.012|
|6||Esteban Ocon||Renault||+ 1.144|
|7||Carlos Sainz||McLaren||+ 1.186|
|8||Sergio Perez||Racing Point||+ 1.280|
|9||Lance Stroll||Racing Point||+ 1.351|
|10||Lando Norris||McLaren||+ 1.405|
|11||Daniil Kvyat||Alpha Tauri||1m 42.730|
|12||Pierre Gasly||Alpha Tauri||+ 0.015|
|13||Charles Leclerc||Ferrari||+ 0.266|
|14||Sebastian Vettel||Ferrari||+ 0.531|
|15||George Russell||Williams||+ 0.738|
|16||Kimi Raikkonen||Alfa Romeo||1m 43.743|
|17||Romain Grosjean||Haas||+ 0.095|
|18||Antonio Giovinazzi||Alfa Romeo||+ 0.207|
|19||Nicholas Latifi||Williams||+ 0.395|
|20||Kevin Magnussen||Haas||+ 0.571|