Belgian Grand Prix – Qualifying


It’s been less than two weeks since the Spanish Grand Prix but there’s been lots of F1 news:

  • After the race we learned BOT “lost three kilograms during the Spanish Grand Prix and believes the black overalls worn by the Mercedes Formula 1 drivers were a factor.” [autosport]
  • Williams were sold to US investment company Dorilton Capital [FIA]
    Apparently there was “unanimous support from the Williams board, which includes Sir Frank Williams”
    “‘It’s business as usual’ – Claire Williams says she remains in charge following the team’s sale” [FIA]

  • The FIA said they would ban Qualifying engine modes starting with the Belgian GP… but then said it would start after Belgium… and then back to saying it’ll start in Belgium [BBC]
    “As it stands, the restrictions are set to come into force at some point during the upcoming triple-header of races” [FIA]
    Final decision is it will come into effect for the next race weekend

  • FIA announced the final four races of the 2020 season: Turkey, 2 in Bahrain and then ending the year in Abu Dhabi [FIA]
    I’ve updated my 2020 Calendar page accordingly; the 17-race season now ends December 13th!
    “F1 to use Bahrain’s ‘outer track’ for Sakhir Grand Prix, sub-60s laps expected” [FIA] [BBC]

  • “Renault have announced their decision to withdraw an appeal against the penalty handed out to Racing Point” [FIA]
    “But Renault and Ferrari pressed on with their appeals because they wanted to be sure that this would be followed through.” [BBC]
    “Wolff predicts Racing Point case will not go to appeal court” [racefans]

  • “Former Renault and Benetton boss Flavio Briatore is in hospital in Italy having contracted Covid-19.” [FIA]
  • “Stroll to donate $1,800 for every point he scores in the Belgian GP” [FIA]
  • “The whole motor racing community was shocked and saddened after F2 racer Anthoine Hubert lost his life in a crash at Spa last year” [FIA]
    There are a number of personal and organised tributes happening this weekend

The weather forecast for this weekend was 60% chance of rain on Friday, then 80% for Saturday and Sunday [FIA]

Free Practice:

  1. FP1: BOT (1:44.493), HAM, VER, PER, STR
    BOT celebrates his 31st birthday by topping the timings, but then he locked up and punctured a tyre (After FP1 he said “I’m getting used to these punctures – I had one last week on my road car as well”)
    Ferrari only managed P14 and P15, with LEC ahead of VET again – only the Williams pair set slower times
    GRO and MAG “were kept in the garage without setting a time in FP1 as Haas examined their Ferrari power units”

  2. FP2: VER (1:43.744), RIC, HAM, ALB, PER
    The track was still drying so it was a while before there was any action in FP2
    RIC parked his Renault after suffering a loss of hydraulic pressure coming out of Eau Rouge – this brought out the Virtual Safety Car
    GRO and MAG finally took to the track, both Haas cars having changed their Ferrari power units
    An advertising panel came loose, bringing out the red flags and ending the session with 10mins left on the clock
    Ferrari dropped to P15 and P17, with LEC ahead of VET again

  3. FP3: HAM (1:43.255), OCO, NOR, ALB, BOT
    Haas sent MAG and GRO out as soon as the session started, having only managed 10 laps on Friday
    VET posted the slowest time, with LEC only managing P17
    “Perez under investigation as Grosjean complains over “dangerous” impeding” [racefans]

The latest weather forecast says 40% chance of rain during Quali
Air temperature 16°C; track 24°C

Qualifying session 1 (Q1)
Haas send MAG and GRO out immediately
MAG 1:45.377
GRO 1:45.073
VER 1:43.408
SAI 1:43.322
RIC 1:43.309
HAM 1:42.323
(BOT P2)
Everyone on the soft compound tyres
With everyone having set a lap time, LEC P14 and VET P19
(VER P3)
5mins left of Q1; bottom 5 are LAT, MAG, RAI, VET, GRO
STR (P7) and everyone below (except OCO) are heading out for another timed lap
They’re trying to go slow enough to preserve their tyres but quick enough to hold track position
Radio from KVY complaining about his teammate, “Gasly is too slow guys – it’s a mess!”
BOT leaving the pits
Chequered flag; bottom 5 are LAT, MAG, RAI, VET, GRO
LEC P12
GRO P13
GAS P4!
RUS P12
KVY P5
VET P13
PER P8
STR P5
LAT P17
GIO P17
RAI P16
MAG ran off at Turn 14, across the gravel and just keeps it out of the tyre wall
Back of the grid: RAI, GRO, GIO, LAT, MAG
Ferrari squeak through to Q2 – VET P13, LEC P15

Qualifying session 2
Looks like most are on medium tyres for the first Q2 run – ah, more like 50:50 with the slower cars on softs
HAM 1:32.014 on mediums
BOT P2 (mediums)
RUS heads for the pit lane instead of setting a time
HAM, BOT, VER on mediums; next 7 are on softs; Racing Point pair on mediums; VET & LEC on softs (P13, P14); and RUS didn’t set a time
RIC reports a “BBW issue” – Brake By Wire, which must be worrying
5mins left of Q2; bottom 5 are STR, PER, VET, LEC, RUS
It’s getting darker; clouds are threatening
Radio from NOR complaining OCO is “moving quite dangerously”
PER P6
STR P5
GAS P9
Chequered flag
LEC P13
GAS P9
NOR P8
SAI P4
VET P14
ALB P3
Middle of the grid: KVY, GAS, LEC, VET, RUS

HAM, BOT & VER will start the race on those medium tyres; ALB will be on the softs
Christian Horner says both drivers have enough tyres left that they have the choice for 1-stop or 2-stops tomorrow

Top 10 shootout will be between HAM, BOT, ALB, VER, SAI, RIC, STR, OCO, PER and NOR

Qualifying session 3
Everyone heading out on softs
HAM 1:41.451
NOR P2
VER P2
BOT P2
OCO P4
ALB P4
RIC P3
SAI P6
STR P8
PER P8
Order after first run: HAM, BOT, RIC, VER, ALB, SAI, OCO, PER, STR, NOR
I guess Renault fixed RIC’s BBW problem
3mins left; everyone except the Racing Point pair are on track for a final run
BOT getting a tow from HAM; RIC from OCO; VER from ALB; SAI from NOR
Chequered flag
HAM 1:41.252
BOT P2
ALB P5
VER P3
NOR P10
OCO P6
SAI P7
RIC doesn’t complete his lap, so he’s P4
Front of the grid: HAM, BOT, VER, RIC, ALB, OCO, SAI, PER, STR, NOR

That’s HAM’s 93rd pole, his 6th at Spa.

Interviews:
HAM: “Today was really quite important to me, I woke up to the sad news of Chadwick passing away. That news really, really rocked me and it wasn’t easy to get back to focus but I knew I had to get out there and drive to perfection. He was such a shining light.”
BOT: “Turn 1 was a bit inconsistent, I think the tyres were too cool. Second run felt pretty good overall, I’m not too bothered as second place is a good place to start here. The first lap is a great opportunity.”
VET: “For us overall, it’s been a very constant weekend. To be P3 and that close to Valtteri, I can be pleased with that, the lap was decent. A lot of opportunities for tomorrow.”

LEC: “To be honest, it’s very difficult to find an explanation. It is a big step back, it’s not a good day and we need to keep working. Everyone in the team needs to keep their heads up even though it’s hard in times like this.”
VET: “It is the true picture. It is what the car can do today”; “We tried to do our best”
Christian Horner: Mercedes have a lot of downforce on their car, so they’re expecting rain; RIC has almost none

Provisional grid: HAM, BOT, VER, RIC, ALB, OCO, SAI, PER, STR, NOR, KVY, GAS, LEC, VET, RUS, RAI, GRO, GIO, LAT, MAG

[2020 calendar] [2020 line-up]