Belgian Grand Prix – Race


There were a lot of updates and news items after the Spanish Grand Prix but I put them all in my Qualifying post.
One thing I mentioned was that it’s the anniversary of Anthoine Hubert’s death in the Formula 2 race and, of course, there will be a number of personal and organised tributes happening [BBC] [FIA]

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

Johnny Herbert is a race steward this weekend, so the drivers have been joking about how it could be chaotic in the stewards’ room 🙂
The chaos may actually come from rain – the forecast is 40% chance of rain during the race

Pit lane is open; cars can now head out to the dummy grid
SAI returns to the pit lane – there were some puffs of smoke from his McLaren
Oh no! McLaren just tweeted to say SAI won’t start the race due to an exhaust failure [FIA]
That must also raise questions for NOR – could he have the same problem?

BOT: “I think for many drivers it is going to be a one-stop, in terms of strategy it will be quite crucial when we stop as we expect the Red Bulls to be strong today.”
Radio from VER concerned about the engine “doesn’t feel smooth” at low RPM

Time for everyone to start clearing the grid
End Racism, a minute’s silence for Anthoine Hubert, then the national anthem and fly past – time for the drivers to focus on the race now
Last-minute reminder for BOT to use DAS (their controversial push-pull steering wheel that changes the front wheels’ camber) on the formation lap

HAM leads everyone away on the formation lap – of course it’s a 21-car grid now due to SAI’s engine problem (he would have been P7 so instead there’ll be an empty grid slot)
HAM, BOT and VER starting on medium compound tyres; RIC on softs, as are the rest of the top 10
The rest of the grid are on mediums except GAS (P12) on hard tyres and LEC (P13) on softs
HAM slows as he reaches the main straight, trying to bunch up the field, but it’s still a long hold

01/44: Front runners hold their positions through Turn 1
ALB looking at OCO
RIC alongside VER
LEC up to P9
GAS has taken P11 from teammate KVY

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

03: BOT fastest lap 1:50.116 but he’s over 1sec behind HAM
PER squeezing GAS against the pit wall as they go into Eau Rouge – that’s dangerous
GAS takes P8 from LEC
Radio from LAT concerned about a loose wheel

04: PER takes P9 from LEC
Radio from LEC, “we’re struggling so much on the straights”

05/44: HAM, BOT, VER, RIC, OCO, ALB, STR, GAS, PER, LEC, NOR, KVY, VET, GIO, RAI, MAG, RUS, GRO, LAT
RUS takes P16 from MAG

06: LEC locks up into La Source (Turn 1)
NOR takes P10 from LEC
Radio from BOT asking if he can push; told “we agreed not to do that against each other”; BOT claims “I never heard that”

07: KVY takes P11 from LEC
The Ferrari pair are now P12 and P13

10/44: HAM, BOT, VER, RIC, OCO, ALB, STR, GAS, PER, NOR, KVY, LEC, VET, GIO, RAI, RUS, GRO, MAG, LAT; out: SAI
Radio from VER complaining he has no grip
Forecast pit window is only a few laps away
Yellow flags in Sector 3
Oh, that looks like a big one!
Safety Car deployed

11[SC]: Good to see RUS and GIO walk away from their cars
There’s a huge amount of debris on track
Replay shows GIO lose the tail of his Alfa, spins into the right-hand tyre wall
One of GIO’s wheels hit RUS’ front right, causing him to hit the other tyre wall
Radio from HAM reporting “There’s a lot of debris out there”

12[SC]: Almost everyone’s now pitted under the SC; most moved to hard tyres; ALB on mediums, PER and GAS haven’t stopped yet
On-board replays – RUS was so lucky that GIO’s wheel hit RUS’ wheel and didn’t come into the cockpit

13[SC]: Marshals are clearing the track, lifting GIO and RUS’ cars away
RUS is already back at the Williams garage

14[SC]: Radio for LEC telling him they’re looking at Plan C and Plan B; LEC says he needs to know because they’re very different
SC in at the end of this lap
HAM slows them down so he can control when to bolt for the restart line

15/44: HAM, BOT, VER, GAS, PER, RIC, ALB, OCO, STR, NOR, KVY, VET, RAI, LEC, GRO, MAG, LAT; out: GIO, RUS, SAI
VER pushes but BOT keeps P2

16: HAM f/lap 1:48.325
Radio from HAM, “loss of power!”
Not sure what HAM means – he’s opening his lead over BOT
Radio for HAM, “Nothing to worry about, it was energy management; should be back to normal now”
RAI inside VET to steal P12

17: BOT f/lap 1:48.156
BOT is closing on HAM now, but HAM picks up his pace
RIC takes P5 from PER
LEC has been summoned to the stewards after the race for driving unnecessarily slowly during the SC lap

18: ALB inside PER for P6

19: PER pits; hard tyres go on; rejoins P17
LEC attacks teammate VET for P13
VET defends; they tap wheels; VET keeps P13
Radio for BOT telling him “this will be a long stint”

20/44: HAM, BOT, VER, GAS, RIC, ALB, OCO, STR, NOR, KVY, RAI, VET, LEC, GRO, MAG, LAT, PER; out: GIO, RUS, SAI
Radio for HAM telling him it’s going ok but “might be tricky at the end”

21: RIC breezes past GAS for P4

22 = half distance: HAM, BOT, VER, RIC, GAS, ALB, OCO, STR, NOR, KVY

24: ALB closing on GAS
DRS helps ALB take P5
Radio for HAM telling him it’s clouding over and track temps will drop

25/44: HAM, BOT, VER, RIC, ALB, GAS, OCO, STR, NOR, KVY, RAI, VET, LEC, GRO, PER, MAG, LAT
HAM f/lap 1:48.183
LEC pits from P13; mediums; rejoins P17
Radio from LEC asking why he had to stop; told “we’ll tell you later”
Replay of LEC’s stop shows they were topping up his pneumatic system

26: OCO takes P6 from GAS

27: HAM leads by 4sec over BOT; VER is a further 2sec back
GAS pits from P6; mediums go on; rejoins P16, ahead of LEC
Radio from RAI, “there’s a lot of water on my right foot”
LEC f/lap

28: Radio for BOT, “Everything you’ve got” – is he switching to a 2-stop?

29: HAM f/lap 1:47.758
Radio from VET, “I’m happy to box”; “Understood”; “I’m not gonna pass these guys in front”
PER closing on VET; closes up the Kemmel Straight and slips inside to take P11
GRO past GAS for P13

30/44: HAM, BOT, VER, RIC, ALB, OCO, STR, NOR, KVY, RAI, PER, VET, GRO, GAS, MAG, LAT, LEC
Has HAM broken part of his front wing?

31: Radio for RIC saying his tyres look good, ask how they feel; “Phase 2”

33: Radio from VET “Nothing of these tyres left”; “Understood”

34: GAS closing on teammate RAI; takes P11

35/44: HAM, BOT, VER, RIC, ALB, OCO, STR, NOR, KVY, PER, GAS, RAI, VET, GRO, MAG, LEC, LAT; out: GIO, RUS, SAI
Radio from BOT complaining of numbness in his left leg when he brakes!
LEC sweeps place MAG for P15

36: MAG pits
PER makes a late move on KVY to take P9

37: KVY lets teammate GAS through for P10
Radio for NOR telling him “On the previous lap we’ve had a warning…” and interrupts his engineer to say “I don’t care”
NOR has passed STR for P7 – was that what the warning was about or was it for exceeding track limits?

38: HAM seems to be struggling for rear grip
HAM locks up through the final chicane

39: Radio for BOT warning him to avoid the kerbs
BOT locks up through the final chicane

40/44: HAM, BOT, VER, RIC, ALB, OCO, NOR, STR, PER, GAS, KVY, RAI, VET, GRO, LEC, LAT, MAG
GAS takes P9 from PER
Radio from HAM, “I don’t like the feeling in my front tyre”

41: So I guess we won’t see rain during the race

42: OCO locks up as he closes on ALB; NOR has caught them too
OCO attacks again but ALB defends P5

43: ALB on mediums but low downforce, so he can pull away on the straights
OCO not close enough to attack this time
GAS takes P8 from STR

44/44: Radio for BOT warning him about kerbs again
OCO makes the pass stick to take P5 from ALB

HAM takes the chequered flag
BOT P2
VER P3
RIC P4 and f/lap 1:37.483 on that last lap
OCO P5
ALB just ahead of NOR

That’s 89 wins for HAM, just 2 shy of Michael Schumacher’s record

Interviews:
HAM: “Yeah it wasn’t the easiest of races, I had a lock-up into Turn 5, the tyre temperatures were slowly dropping. It was a bit of a struggle, I was a bit nervous that we might have a scenario like Silverstone”; “I’m 35, nearly 36, but I feel better than ever”
BOT: “I just couldn’t catch him on the straights. With the same car and Lewis driving pretty much mistake-free. I think Lewis was faultless today and yesterday.”
VER: “It was pretty boring, not much to do. I couldn’t keep up with them, and then I ran out of tyres at the end. I think I was very close to a puncture, not more was possible today.”

Provisional result: HAM, BOT, VER, RIC*, OCO, ALB, NOR, GAS, STR, PER; KVY, RAI, VET, LEC, GRO, LAT, MAG
*RIC fastest lap
DNF: GIO, RUS
DNS: SAI

[2020 calendar] [2020 line-up]