The seventh round of the 2020 Formula 1 World Championship is just around the corner and the twenty drivers on the grid are ready to battle on the Spa-Francorchamps circuit, despite the missed summer break. The Grand Prix will in fact be held from 28 to 30 August 2020, two weeks after the last round in Spain which saw Lewis Hamilton new triumph. The Belgian circuit is the most famous and oldest racetrack of the country, home of the Grand Prix since 1925, the year in which Formula Grand Prix cars competed for the first time. After the Second World War, the Spa-Francorchamps circuit became a regular appointment of the newly created Formula 1 World Championship, with its iconic corners such as the Eau Rouge-Radillion, the Stavelot or the Blanchimont. In the 60s, however, the track experienced difficult moments due to several accidents, often fatal. Jackie Stewart, in fact, at the time head of the drivers' union, lobbied for the transfer of the race to safer circuits, first to Nivelles and then to Zolder. But since 1983, after the construction of a new track designed in such a way as to take advantage of some stretches differently from the previous one, Formula 1 returned permanently to Spa-Francorchamps. On the eve of the Grand Prix, to capture the attention is the Pact of Concord, finally renewed by all the teams. Ferrari has also signed, agreeing to remain in the Circus until 2025, receiving in exchange a higher percentage of earnings than its rivals for its status as a historic team. Liberty Media, the American owner of the Circus, has in fact recognized the leading role played by Ferrari in Formula 1, despite the difficult moment, and therefore will recognize thirty-eight percent of the revenue due to the teams. The team from Maranello, in fact, is the only one to have taken part in all editions of the world championship since 1950, having to its credit fifteen world drivers' championships, sixteen constructors' championships, 238 victories and at the next appointment in Mugello, 1000 Grands Prix disputed. Ferrari CEO, Louis Camilleri says he is pleased with this step, which is essential to ensure the stability needed for Formula 1 to continue to grow:
"We are pleased to have renewed what is known as the Pact of Concord, which will govern Formula 1 for the next five years. This is a fundamental step in ensuring the stability and growth of the sport. We are very confident that the collaboration with the FIA and Liberty Media can make Formula 1 even more attractive and spectacular, while preserving its characteristics of maximum technological challenge. Racing is in Ferrari's DNA, and it's no coincidence that the Scuderia is the only team that has participated in every edition of the world championship, becoming an integral and essential part of its success, today as in the past and, above all, in the future".
Jean Todt, president of the International Automobile Federation, is also pleased with Ferrari's renewed commitment, having him been part of the Maranello team in its most glorious moments:
"We are delighted that Ferrari is one of the first signatories of the new Pact of Concord, a tripartite agreement that will ensure a stable and prosperous future for the Formula 1 World Championship. This is the highest expression of motorsport and it is natural that Scuderia Ferrari, the most successful team in the history of the championship, has always been a protagonist and will continue to be so for many years to come".
Chase Carey, CEO of the Circus, also knows that it is fundamental for Formula 1 that Ferrari remains a protagonist, and he compliments the Maranello team for the positive attitude adopted during the negotiations:
"Scuderia Ferrari and Formula 1 have historically been linked to each other since 1950, and we are happy that this relationship can continue for a long time to come because it is part of the very DNA of this sport. In the path that has led to the definition of the new Pact of Concord, we have been able to appreciate Ferrari's constructive role, always aimed at making top-level motorsport competition stronger, fairer and more sustainable".
Despite an initial reluctance, Mercedes has also decided to sign the Pact of Concord and thus renew its commitment to the top motorsport category. Their team principal, Toto Wolff, had expressed his disappointment with the conditions presented in the Pact in the previous days, because, according to him, Mercedes would not be recognized for the great contribution made to the sport in recent years. Wolff would have wanted better economic conditions, taking Ferrari as a cue, which has always enjoyed a special status. The Austrian, however, had to give in and eventually signed the Pact together with all the other teams.
"The agreement will ensure a long-term sustainable future for Formula 1, and thanks to the new regulations, announced in October 2019 that will come into effect in 2022, will reduce financial and on-track disparities between teams, helping to level the competition, creating more hard-fought races as desired by fans around the world. It's a way to attract more fans to our sport, benefiting each team and continuing to increase the global growth of Formula 1. This agreement secures the long-term future of Formula 1 by helping to level the playing field, resulting in more balanced racing - what our fans want to see more of".
There is another piece of news that, just a few days before the seventh round of the season, takes everyone by surprise: Frank Williams has decided to sell his team to the private U.S. fund Dorilton Capital, while keeping the name and headquarters unchanged. After more than forty years in Motorsport as team principal, Sir Frank was forced to sell his creature that had been victim of economic struggles for years. The British team, in fact, did not have the necessary funds to compete with the giant opponents such as Ferrari, Mercedes and Red Bull, finishing in last place in the standings for several seasons. Dorilton Capital then concluded the purchase for 112.000.000 dollars, with the aim of restoring competitiveness to the team and bringing it back to the top standings. The team, formed by Sir Frank Williams and engineering genius Patrick Head in 1977, has gone through periods of total dominance in Formula 1. It won five of six championships from 1992 to 1997, and captured sixty percent of the total points possible in 1996 and fifty percent in 1993. For Claire Williams, team principal of Williams, the transaction was the best possible choice for the team, which can then hope to recapture the old glory of the Mansell and Prost era:
"A partner was found who shared the same passion and values, and recognized our potential, releasing it. In Dorilton there are people who understand the sport and know what it takes to succeed. People who respect the team's legacy and will do everything they can to ensure its success in the future. As a family we always put our team first. Making the team successful again and protecting our people has been at the core of this process from the beginning. This may be the end of an era for Williams as a family-owned team, but we know it is in good hands. The sale ensures the survival of the team, but more importantly it will provide a path to success".
For Matthew Savage, president of Dorilton Capital, the investment is also a great deal, opening up new possibilities for both partners:
"We are delighted to have invested in Williams and extremely excited about the prospects for the company. We believe we are the ideal partner because of our flexible and patient investment style, which will allow the team to focus on its goal of returning to the forefront. We look forward to working with the Williams team in conducting a detailed review of the business to determine where new investments should be directed. We also recognize Grove's world-class facilities and confirm that there are no plans to relocate".
Notwithstanding the importance of the news, as the Belgian Grand Prix approaches, our thoughts cannot help but run elsewhere: to a year earlier, to be precise, when Anthoine Hubert lost his life at Spa, during a Saturday Formula 2 race. The French driver's Arden ended up against the barriers and bounced off the center of the track on the Raidillon corner, after hitting Ralph Boschung who was slowing down to avoid Giuliano Alesi's Trident. Hubert was hit by Juan Manuel Correa, who was approaching at full speed.
Anthoine's hopes were immediately dashed, a sudden and brutal reminder of how the spectre of death is always lurking for those who, every day, choose to risk their lives by racing at 300 km/h.
There is room for memories at Spa, because even if they are painful, they are necessary to move forward. Juan Manuel Correa knows it well, who after that accident has seen his life change, in a year spent between coma, lung damage and several operations to rebuild his right leg, of which he wanted to avoid amputation. Correa for this weekend returns to Spa, invited by Formula 2 and with the idea of returning to the track soon, as early as next year:
"It's been a year since the accident. I felt this was a way for me to close that chapter, but above all to pay homage to Anthoine. Being here at Spa certainly brings many emotions, some positive and some negative: it will be a difficult weekend in this sense. Coming back to Europe has been amazing and it's a huge development of my rehabilitation progress towards my return to racing: now I'm finally able to travel and I'm able to train properly. My upper body is ready to drive, I have the level of strength needed to drive any car and it's just a matter of time to wait for my leg to improve a little more. We are confident that we can drive next season".
Pierre Gasly, too, can't help but think of the boy in the orange helmet, a brotherly friend and his great supporter:
"I still can't believe it, the images come back in my head and I can't get over it. We miss you, I miss you Anthoine. I hope we can make you proud from up there. You will forever be in our hearts".
It is also a special moment for Charles Leclerc, who on the day after the accident scored his first victory here, dedicating it to his late friend:
"My first thought is of Anthoine and not of anything else, it is always difficult to come back here. Last year it was a difficult Saturday, we knew that Anthoine had died and Pierre Gasly told me that I had to win for him. It was not easy. It was the first time I raced on the same circuit where a friend had died. But I was proud to succeed and to dedicate the victory to him".
Formula 2, a few days before the race, announces that the number 19, which belonged to Hubert, will be officially retired. Throughout the weekend, Formula 1, Formula 2 and Formula 3 drivers will race with a logo designed in honour of the Frenchman, while Pierre Gasly wears a special helmet, dedicated to his friend. Following the accident, the rubber barrier placed at the exit of the curve where Hubert crashed has been revised, enlarging and lengthening it. Now, in fact, instead of having only two rows of tires at the exit of the pit lane, there will be four rows as in the rest of the circuit. A few days before, on 18 August 2020, the International Automobile Federation banned testing on the tracks that will host races valid for the 2020 World Championship, not used in 2019, namely the Mugello, Nürburgring, Portimão and Imola circuits. Some teams had already planned training at the Portimão track. On August 24, 2020, it is announced that starting from the Italian Grand Prix, the possibility of modifying the power unit's output during qualifying and the race is prohibited. By limiting the use of the various mappings during the weekend, the Federation is now able to better control the regularity of the different power units at every moment of their operation. And the following day the FIA confirms the definitive calendar, which includes seventeen events. After nine years, the Turkish Grand Prix returns and two races are scheduled on the Manama circuit (in addition to the confirmation of the Bahrain Grand Prix, previously postponed, the second race is called the Sakhir Grand Prix, named after the location of the circuit). This Grand Prix will be run on a different configuration of the Manama circuit, called Outer Circuit, characterized by eleven corners and a length of 3,543 meters. The season ends with the confirmation of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, also previously postponed. The Chinese Grand Prix, which had been postponed in the previous months, is definitively cancelled.
Finally, on Thursday, August 27, 2020, the agreement is announced that foresees the Italian Grand Prix confirmed in the world calendar until the 2025 season, extending the contract already in place in 2019 by a further year. On the eve of the Grand Prix, the FIA establishes two zones where the DRS can be activated: the first is on the Kemmel straight, with the detection point before turn 2. The second zone is established on the pit straight, with detection point set before turn 18. Furthermore, the Federation establishes that drivers will not be allowed to cut, more than twice, the kerbs at turns 4 (Radillon), 9 and 19. At the third offense they will be shown the black and white flag. The change to the use of the track limits is due to the elimination of artificial grass at the edges of the track. Finally, former Formula 1 driver Johnny Herbert is appointed as assistant steward for the race. This is the first time the Briton has held this role on a race weekend. Originally the holding of the Grand Prix had been called into question by the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic. But the race was later confirmed, on its original date of August 30, 2020. However, the Grand Prix is still held behind closed doors, like all previous races, even following the Belgian government's ban on mass events, at least until August 31, 2020. The authorities have decided to allow the race to be held anyway, so the teams have been allowed to present their hospitality. In the usual press conference, the focus is on Lewis Hamilton and his contract renewal. No changes are expected inside the Mercedes box, but the Briton has not signed anything yet:
"On the last two occasions I was able to learn a lot during the negotiations, and every time I try to improve myself in this as well. First of all you have to understand if the values and objectives are aligned in the team, although there are no doubts about that. Then you get to the more challenging questions. Toto Wolff and I have known each other for years and have yet to sit down definitively to discuss these aspects. Then I'll offer him a tequila. In fact, I think it's better to offer it to him before we start discussing the contract".
Hamilton then moves on to discuss a topic that is very close to him: the American protests of the Black Lives Matter movement. After the stance taken by Formula 1 on the issue of racism, Lewis Hamilton comments on what is happening in America, where NBA players have decided to boycott their games to give relevance to the protests. The Briton rules out the possibility of this happening for the Belgian Grand Prix as well, however, repeating the importance of continuing to support the protests:
"I think it's incredible what's happening in the United States. There are so many people who are next to the players pushing for change. I'm proud of what American players and colleagues are doing, and I stand by them. I don't know if we're going to do something about the race, and if doing it here in Belgium would have the same effect, we're not going to boycott. We need to talk about it together, be aligned and support each other".
Another topic being talked about is the drivers who will be racing for Alfa Romeo next season. Asked about his future in Formula 1 during the pre-race press conference, Kimi Raikkone replies:
"I haven't decided yet. I don't know, first of all I have to decide what I'm going to do and then we'll see. Obviously at this moment whether to continue or not is the first thing to decide. In any case I don't think it would change anything if I race here or elsewhere until I decide whether to continue or not, those things are not really on my list. Obviously what team to race for makes a difference, I would much rather start in a better position and fight for points, but honestly you never know next year if everything is going to go right or wrong, I think the bigger picture is much more important to me: first of all comes family, and obviously my kids who are getting older. I've been able to be home more this year and it's been nice, and it's going to be that theme that will decide whether or not I continue to race. There will be a point where I decide I just want to stay home and do other things. Honestly my decision will just be based on what I feel is right for me, it's still early, we've only done six races, I just know I need to keep working, be consistent and competitive, and then I'll decide".
The Thursday of conferences and interviews thus draws to a close, while drivers and teams prepare to join the track the following day. For this race, Pirelli chose to bring C2, C3 and C4 compounds, with a fairly good weather forecast, which does not foresee rain. The teams, on the other hand, in order to prepare for a fast circuit like Spa, have brought low aerodynamic load packages as usual. On Friday 28 August 2020 at 11:00 a.m., the first free practice session begins, with Alex Albon joining the track with rakes mounted on his car to collect data on his Red Bull. Charles Leclerc is the first to set a time of 1'47"152 on Hard tires, which he will improve bringing the limit to 1'47"033. After a few minutes, the only ones not yet on track for the installation lap are Vettel, Verstappen and the two Mercedes, while all the other cars are back in the pits. About twenty minutes before the start of the session, Max Verstappen takes to the track and immediately leads the timesheet with a time of 1'45"886 on hard tires. Shortly after, Romain Grosjean radios that he is experiencing problems with the Ferrari power unit and decides to proceed very slowly. Valtteri Bottas, who turns thirty-one, launches into his first lap, complaining of understeer especially in fast corners. Norris also takes to the track, putting himself in second position. At the next attempt, however, the Englishman is unable to avoid a blockage of the right front tire at La Source. The two Ferraris and Hamilton join the group, all on hard tires. The Briton is in second place, half a second behind Verstappen, followed by Norris, Bottas, Perez, Kvyat, Ocon (who has a new power unit and a new gearbox) and Leclerc. The only ones who have not yet set any time at half an hour from the start of free practice are Magnussen, Grosjean and Giovinazzi. The problems with the Ferrari power unit seem to affect all three drivers, who are currently unable to get on track. In the meantime, Bottas improves, taking second place. Behind him is Sergio Perez on soft tires, bringing Lewis Hamilton in fourth position. For the two Ferraris, meanwhile, the results do not look great. Leclerc sees his first lap ruined because of a blockage at the Bus Stop, due to his tires being worn. The Monegasque, therefore, decides to go back to the pits and mount Soft tires. Mistake also for Lewis Hamilton, who however recovers quickly and takes the lead of the group with a time of 1'45"298.
The position is however stolen by Lando Norris who returns to the track on Soft tires: 1'45"274 for the Briton, who is soon replaced by Carlos Sainz, who improves by 52 thousandths on the same tires. But Alex Albon arrives to interrupt the McLaren domination: the Thai driver takes the lead with a time of 1'45"075. One hour before the start of the session, Haas officially announces that it is proceeding with a power unit change on both cars, thus decreeing the end of the first free practice session for Grosjean and Magnussen. Meanwhile Mercedes leads the group, with Bottas in front of everyone with a time of 1'44"493, followed by his teammate at 69 thousandths. Behind him we find Perez and Stroll, but Verstappen's time is still missing and he's in third place, just 81 thousandths behind Bottas. The two Ferraris remain quite far back in the pack, with Leclerc stationary in eleventh place, followed by his teammate, respectively 1.2 and 1.7 seconds behind Bottas. A comparison with 2019 notes that the Ferraris are one second slower than the previous year, on the same track. the Ferrari, in a very unloaded set-up, still pays 3 km/h to both Mercedes and Red Bull, and loses a lot in the corners due to lack of load. Mercedes now takes advantage of the last twenty minutes of free practice to test its aerodynamic load: Hamilton aims at a lower set up, recording higher speeds, but losing in the central sector. Bottas is a little bit behind him in terms of speed, but at the moment he holds the record in T2. After the classic qualifying simulations on soft tires, a relative calm falls on the circuit. Out of the pits there are only Bottas, Verstappen, Perez, Stroll, Albon, Sainz, Ricciardo, Norris and Gasly. The two Ferraris end up in fourteenth and fifteenth place, with Leclerc and Vettel respectively. At 12:30 a.m. the first free practice session of the Belgian Grand Prix ends, with Bottas, Hamilton and Verstappen in the first three places of the classification. In addition to a Ferrari in clear difficulty, and a dominant Mercedes, these first tests also show an extremely performing Racing Point, which throughout the morning maintains a time of 1'49"0. Speaking of the British team, Renault has officially announced its intention to withdraw its appeal, thus leaving Ferrari alone in the battle. A news that Toto Wolff, team principal Mercedes, comments as follows:
"I think this is part of the politics in Formula 1. It's pushing against Racing Point's performance, which has been exceptional this season, and it's not all about the brake lines".
While waiting for the second free practice session, the clouds above the circuit thicken and the rain begins to fall. At 3:00 p.m. the green light comes on and the second free practice session begins. After about ten minutes, the first to open the track is Antonio Giovinazzi on Medium tires, forced to skip the first free practice of the morning due to a problem with the power unit. The Italian set a time of 1'49"716, preceded however by his team mate on Medium tires, who took the lead with a time of 1'46"402. Lando Norris, while being on track, complains of a loss of power, proceeding very slowly along the circuit. Also Sebastian Vettel has some difficulties in the management of his car, with a lockout at the Source; in the meantime, Ocon sets a time of 1'45"455 and dictates the pace. After a few seconds, the rain stops and the track dries up, helping Alex Albon to make the fastest lap on Medium tires. The Thai driver is soon overtaken by Valtteri Bottas, who after several slow laps finally manages to set a good one. Hamilton is 482 thousandths behind him, followed by Stroll and Perez. Max Verstappen leads the group with a lap of 1'44"354 on Medium tires, followed by Hamilton at less than three tenths. Ferrari, meanwhile, continues the day as it began: in clear difficulty. With several blockages at the Source, the two Maranello cars are far behind, also put in difficulty by the cold track and low temperatures. Half an hour from the start, in the top ten are Verstappen, Hamilton, Bottas, Stroll, Perez, Albon, Norris, Ocon, Ricciardo and Sainz. The drivers now return to the pits, in order to mount Soft tires for the qualifying simulations. The first to go is Valtteri Bottas, who sets a time of 1'44"162. He is preceded by Hamilton, who sets a time of 1'43"840, followed at 29 thousandths of a second by Albon, and at 30 thousandths of a second by Perez. Verstappen, meanwhile, takes back the leadership, followed by Ricciardo in splendid form, just 48 thousandths of a second behind the Dutchman. The Ferraris are behind, in fourteenth and sixteenth position, with an SF1000 in clear difficulty, paying as much as nine tenths against the Alfa Romeos in the central sector of the track. Thirty minutes from the end of the second free practice session, it is now time for the long-run simulation on Soft tyres, except for Bottas who chooses Medium. Twenty minutes from the end Ricciardo stops on track as a precautionary measure, due to a loss of hydraulic pressure, leading to a momentary neutralization of the session, now under Virtual Safety Car. After less than two minutes practice resumed as normal, with Verstappen returning to the track on Medium tyres, posting a time of 1'49"200, followed by his teammate who is also on Medium tyres. The Dutchman confirmed his excellent performance, ending the session in second place. The race pace, however, does not seem to be up to the Mercedes, who have not yet given all their resources, leaving the game open for Saturday's qualifying. Excellent performance also for Renault and Racing Point, which are very competitive. At the end of these second free practice sessions, in fact, among the top ten we find Verstappen, Ricciardo, Hamilton, Albon, Perez, Bottas, Norris, Ocon, Sainz and Gasly. The day seems to be a nightmare for Ferrari, whose single-seaters did not show any sign of recovery. Compared to a year ago, Ferrari are the only ones to have lost speed (+1.317) on the same track, while an improvement has been registered from all the other teams, in particular Williams (-2.424). The drivers are well aware of the car's limits, and they know they can't expect miracles, as Charles Leclerc admits:
"Today was a really complicated day: we struggled a lot with the balance of the car. We tried a few configurations in the second session, including some particularly aggressive solutions in terms of downforce, but it didn't work. It's hard to expect miracles tomorrow. Our role as drivers requires us to always give our best, and that's what I'm trying to do. It has already happened in the past that we struggled a lot on Friday, and then we found a solution for Saturday. Let's hope that this will be the case tomorrow".
Sebastian Vettel, on the other hand, who is seventeenth in the standings, continues to struggle to find the right feeling with the car, compromising his sessions:
"It was definitely a difficult day. The car was unstable and difficult to drive, and we are not where we need to be as we also have balance problems. We will analyse all the data and look at the various options to try something different. I am confident we can do better tomorrow, although we will have to see what the weather conditions are. We've already had wet weather in Austria this season, and if it rains it certainly won't be an easy situation to handle. The most interesting thing about wet conditions is that they tend to mix things up a bit, so we'll see what happens".
Saturday morning opens with a cool day, with 14 °C atmospheric temperature and 19 °C asphalt temperature, and a shy sun that shines on the track. Rain, however, seems to be excluded, at least in the morning, while for qualifying in the afternoon the situation could change. At 12:00 a.m. on the dot the traffic light turns green and starts the third and last free practice session of the weekend. Immediately Kevin Magnussen, Lando Norris and Romain Grosjean take to the track. They are joined by Daniil Kvjat, Pierre Gasly and Carlos Sainz, all on Medium tires. Magnussen is the first to complete a lap, with a final time of 1'45"984. The Danish driver is followed at three tenths of a second by his teammate, both suffering from power unit difficulties on Friday. Norris, Sainz, Kvjat and Gasly return to the pits with no time, while the others are still waiting to get on track. The wait turns out to be a wise move, as a quarter of an hour before the start of free practice, the rain arrives to surprise the teams. However, the track does not seem to be particularly wet and so Norris, Albon, Sainz, Russel and Latifi take to the track on dry tires. All the other drivers follow, with the exception of Verstappen, Magnussen and Grosjean. Albon takes the lead with a time of 1'45"092 on Medium tires, while his teammate takes the track on Soft tires. However, the two Mercedes soon steal the top of the classification, with a time of 1'43"813 for Bottas and 1'44"422 for Hamilton. The Ferraris are also on track, with Vettel in eighth place on Medium tires, two seconds behind Bottas, and Leclerc in fourteenth place. Verstappen too finishes his lap, positioning himself as usual between the two Mercedes, behind Bottas but ahead of Hamilton. Right behind the Briton is Sergio Perez on Hard tires, who pays 793 thousandths to the leader of the ranking. At mid-session the top ten is composed of Bottas, Verstappen, Hamilton, Perez, Gasly, Ocon, Norris, Albon, Ricciardo and Stroll. In the last half an hour the classic simulations begin in view of the afternoon qualifying, with the two Ferraris starting immediately with new Soft tires. In the meantime, the rain peeps out again on the circuit, bothering the drivers especially in turn 5. For about twenty minutes, silence falls on the track, with the teams waiting for the rain to end in order to continue with the simulations. In the last ten minutes the wish is fulfilled and all the drivers go back on track with Soft tires, except Magnussen who remains in the pits. Ocon takes the lead with a time of 1'43"485, followed by Norris. Hamilton, however, takes the leadership with 1'43"255, while Bottas finishes fifth. The session ends disastrously for the two Ferraris, with Leclerc seventeenth and Vettel even last.
Among the top ten Hamilton, Ocon, Norris, Albon, Bottas, Verstappen, Ricciardo, Stroll, Sainz and Perez confirm their competitiveness ahead of the qualifying. The rest of the morning passes quietly as the teams prepare for afternoon qualifying. The weather is still uncertain, with 17 °C atmospheric temperature, 24 °C asphalt and a good forty percent chance that rain will come and disturb the session. At 3:00 p.m. everything is ready for the first round of qualifying, at the end of which we will know the names of the first five excluded from Q2. The first to hit the track are Magnussen and Grosjean, both on Soft tires. The Frenchman sets the fastest time, 1'45"073, while all the other drivers take to the track on Soft tires. Verstappen takes the lead with a time of 1'43"408, followed by Gasly and Norris. However, Ricciardo and Sainz quickly overtake him, with the Australian taking the first position with a time of 1'43"309. However, when the Mercedes cars join the track, there's nothing left for anyone: Lewis Hamilton on soft tires takes the leadership with a time of 1'42"323, two tenths ahead of his teammate. So far a very bad session for the two Ferraris, with Leclerc fourteenth and Vettel eighteenth, therefore at risk of elimination. In the meantime, Max Verstappen improves, moving up to third place, behind the two Mercedes with a gap of eight seconds from the leader. Before the start of the second and last attempt of this first round of qualifying, the provisional exclusions from Q2 are Latifi, Magnussen, Raikkonen, Vettel and Grosjean. All drivers now launch except Verstappen, Ricciardo, Sainz, Albon and Ocon, who choose to stay in the pits instead. At 3:18 p.m. the first checkered flag waves, and after a few more seconds the names of the first five excluded from this Q1 arrive: Raikkonen, Grosjean, Giovinazzi, Latifi and Magnussen. Sebastian Vettel saves himself in extremis, taking thirteenth place. At 3:25 p.m. qualifying restarts with the second session, and the two Mercedes immediately join the track wearing Medium tires. They are followed by Verstappen, Stroll and Perez, also on Medium tires, while the rest of the grid opted for Soft tires. Hamilton proves to be the fastest, with a time of 1'42"014, followed by Bottas at 112 thousandths and Norris at 0.8 seconds. The young Briton is soon replaced by Verstappen, who moves up to third position at 0.4 seconds from Hamilton. Ferrari continues to struggle, with Vettel thirteenth and Leclerc fourteenth, and surprisingly also the two Racing Points seem to have little luck, being in tenth and eleventh position.
Six minutes from the end of the session, those excluded from Q3 are Stroll, Perez, Vettel, Leclerc and Russell. They all return to the track for the second attempt on new Soft tires, with the exception of Ricciardo who remains in the pits. At 3:40 p.m. the second qualifying session ends and the five remaining excluded are Kvyat, Gasly, Leclerc, Vettel and Russell. At 14:48 the last qualifying session starts again, with two Mercedes, two Red Bull, two McLaren, two Renault and two Racing Point drivers competing for the first five rows of the grid. They all go on track with new Softs, except for Lando Norris who uses a set already used before. Lewis Hamilton takes the provisional pole position, also setting the new track record: 1'41"451 for the British driver, who beats his teammate by half a second. At mid-session the provisional ranking sees Hamilton in the lead, followed by Bottas, Ricciardo, Verstappen, Albon, Sainz, Ocon, Perez, Stroll and Norris. At 4:00 p.m. the last checkered flag of the day waves, while all the single-seaters are on track to complete one last attempt. A few seconds of waiting gives us the poleman of the day, which is always Lewis Hamilton: the Mercedes driver not only conquers his 93th pole, but further lowers the track record, bringing it to 1'41"252. Behind him Bottas at half a second, while starting from the second row are Verstappen and Ricciardo, then Albon, Ocon, Sainz, Perez, Stroll and Norris. The qualifying of the Belgian Grand Prix delivered a Lewis Hamilton fiercer than ever, who continues to collect records and successes on the road to the seventh world title. The rest of the group is watching him from afar, including his teammate, more than half a second behind. Hamilton is set to match the achievements of the great Michael Schumacher, but the Briton's thoughts are with Chadwick Boseman, star of the Marvel Colossal Black Panther and the first African-American superhero to make his big-screen debut:
"Very clean session today. Each lap got better and better. Today is an important pole for me because I woke up reading the saddest news I could imagine with Chadwick's passing. This has been a really tough year for all of us and this news really hit me hard. It was not easy to find focus with this news weighing on my heart. I tried to work perfectly here as well, I did it for our people and for him, for what he did with superheroes, showing so many young people what is possible. He was a bright light that we will never forget. I studied what I could do. In the past we looked for trails but that led to confusing sessions. It's not easy to find the right level of wing here. We are not the strongest in the first and third sector but we are very strong in the middle sector and I chose to have a set-up that would allow me to drive with a clean area, without worrying about who is in front of me or behind me, to find the right slipstream...because you can find the slipstream even if you are six or seven seconds ahead and I didn't want anyone to get in my way. The car was incredible, it's not easy to exploit the car on this track to the maximum. Sometimes you take off the gas too much and you focus on the exit of the curve, instead here it is important to find the balance. I think I didn't make any mistakes, in all the three sessions. The first lap of Q3 was super, I didn't think I could beat it. I also did well in Turn 1 which was my Achilles heel in the past years. In the second one I saw that I had gained more in Turn 1 and I continued on that line".
Valtteri Bottas is calm, despite the gap from his teammate. Whether it is true or not, the Finn is now preparing for tomorrow, preferring to look ahead:
"Turn 1 was erratic for me. We had a good car, obviously, but in Turn 1 I was not warming up the tires well. In the second lap I improved a little bit more, I don't know where this big gap from Lewis comes from but it doesn't bother me too much. Second position here at the start is still good. It should also be interesting to try something at the start. Definitely it will be important to be there. It's not over until it's over. First lap will be important, but good races always come out here. I already know that I will have opportunities".
Behind him is Max Verstappen, relentless in his pursuit of the Mercedes. The Dutchman defends himself well from the attacks of the rest of the group, but there is no competition with the two Silver Arrows:
"So far very positive weekend. Coming here we thought it would be complicated. Actually the third place so close to Valtteri is good. We are half a second behind Lewis but I am satisfied. The lap was good, it's lacked maybe a little bit of energy, I finished it too early but it's hard to manage it for the whole lap. Third position leaves opportunities for tomorrow. Rain? I don't think we will be able to catch up on Lewis, but you never know, also the weather here can be a factor and make things more difficult, making the race more fun. If there is confusion it is more fun".
There is a feeling of satisfaction also for Renault, with Daniel Ricciardo fourth at 0.8 seconds from Hamilton, and Ocon sixth. In the middle we find Alex Albon, who is getting closer to his teammate. For the two Ferraris instead, there seems to be no hope. Expectations were certainly low, given the difficulties in free practice, but never so black. Charles Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel tried to fight but had to give up in Q2, as it has not happened since Valencia 2012, when the two cars of Alonso and Massa were out of Q3. There’s no space for improvement for Ferrari, which rather falls further and further down and does so at Spa, where the previous year Leclerc triumphed for the first time in his career. Admits Sebastian Vettel:
"This is a realistic picture; this is what this car can do on this track. There was something very wrong with the set-up from day one, which didn't allow us to play our cards right. This is the car we have now and what we can do so far. Is it useful to continue the season like this? Well, it's my job and I like it, of course it's not exciting to risk going out in Q1 and doing the 13th and 14th time, but we always have to try to put it all together. This morning it looked like we couldn't even get into Q2 and in the end we made it with both cars. It's not what we want, but it's the current situation. We'll see what happens tomorrow".
Mattia Binotto, team principal of Ferrari, asks for patience from the team and the fans, while trying to understand what is not working properly:
"A difficult situation there is no doubt, I can't be happy, none of us are as none of our fans can be. It's a matter of understanding in order to be able to look ahead, already yesterday in free practice we had a lot of difficulties with the car, we never managed to get the tires to work, the drivers didn't have the confidence, they didn't feel the car, so it was a weekend that started off uphill. We modified the car in all sorts of ways for today, both in terms of balance and setup, and also in terms of the timing of the exit, using the tires differently in order to exploit them more on the dry lap. We didn't get where we were, there's something we're missing, I expect our engineers will figure it out. We are two tenths from Q1, the situation compared to yesterday has improved but not enough to stay ahead of our direct rivals. There is something we didn't understand this weekend, not in general. On how to make the car work, because at the end of the day it's the same car of the last races that was fighting with the direct rivals, so with the same cars everyone there is something that didn't work, we expected to be further ahead than where we are".
He then continues:
"We also made a choice of higher load thinking about tomorrow's race that could be wet, trying to do something different from what others have done, this was a bit 'penalizing in qualifying, it was seen in the straights of the first and third sector, I think for us the most important thing is the disappointment of the team, we must try to understand, certainly the situation yesterday has compromised the qualifying today. To get out of this period we need patience, we are looking to the future, we are building for the future and we are focused on 2021 and especially 2022 development trying to do better than this season".
"In doing this we still have a minimum goal that we certainly know, races like today's do not help, there are other races like those in Italy where we would like to do well, having said that the race is tomorrow and we do not give up a millimeter, we focus on the Grand Prix because that is where the points will be awarded. Tomorrow the conditions will be different and the race is long, usually on Sunday we have a better pace than in the qualifying, there is also the engine mode that certainly on a track like today make a difference, I think that tomorrow we can fight with those in front, I expect a good race, here you can overcome, if we find the right balance the race is still to be written".
Charles Leclerc, on the other hand, is not able to deal with this situation:
"It is very difficult to find an explanation for being in this position. It is a big step backwards compared to the others. We have to find the problem and deal with it. This is how it is now, we have to keep working. I understand the disappointment of the fans; we will try to do the best race possible but we cannot expect miracles".
On Sunday, August 30, 2020 the track is illuminated by a pale sun; there are 19° atmospheric temperature and 30 °C track temperature, which seem to ward off the risk of rain. However, it must be said that in Belgium the weather conditions can change quickly, and that forty percent of rain predicted by FOM could turn into reality. As far as the tire situation is concerned, Pirelli as usual gave indications to the teams on which strategy could be more effective. The best tactic would seem to be to start with Softs and finish with Mediums. Also the Soft-Hard strategy could be functional, while it seems less advantageous the choice of starting with the Medium and then fitting the Hard, a strategy that will probably be used by Hamilton, Bottas and Verstappen, the only ones to start with the Medium. Just before the race, in addition to the usual moment of recollection to honour the fight against racism, the drivers and teams gather around the image of a smiling Anthoine Hubert, to remember the French driver who died on this track in 2019. Immediately afterwards, the line-up lap begins, which however turns out to be disastrous for Carlos Sainz Jr: the Spaniard, in fact, suffers a broken exhaust of his MCL35 and is therefore forced to retire from the race. At 3:10 p.m. everything is ready to start with the formation lap, where we can know the tire situation. Half of the grid has chosen to start on Medium, while Ricciardo, Albon, Ocon, Perez, Stroll, Norris and Leclerc have chosen Soft. Gasly closes the list, who will instead start on Hard. At 3:13 p.m. the lights go out, officially starting the 2020 Belgian Grand Prix. It is a good start for Lewis Hamilton, with Valtteri Bottas behind him.
Then follows Max Verstappen, who tried to overtake Bottas on the Kemmel straight, but without success as he had to defend himself from Daniel Ricciardo's attack. Charles Leclerc, on the other hand, managed to overtake Perez at the Bus Stop corner, thus moving to eighth position, while Vettel is thirteenth. The German's position, however, is justified: his Softs, in fact, are not new and therefore in this first phase he must not push too hard, in order not to compromise the tires before the planned stop later on. Leclerc is, however, easily overtaken by Pierre Gasly, who with his Alpha Tauri seems to be unstoppable. The Monegasque struggles to keep up the pace and is also overtaken by Perez, thus moving up to tenth position, after an excellent recovery. In the first places we find Hamilton, Bottas, Verstappen, Ricciardo and Ocon, with the leader already ten seconds ahead of the French Renault driver. Next is Albon, who tries to stay attached to the Renault after an undertone start, then a wild Gasly, who is now attacking Stroll for seventh position. In the meantime, Leclerc is also overtaken by Lando Norris. The Monegasque driver is the second slowest on track, after Kevin Magnussen who is eighteenth, to the point that he is also overtaken by Danil Kvyat, slipping to twelfth place. At the front of the pack, Hamilton increases his lead to 1.7 seconds over his teammate, who is three seconds ahead of Verstappen.
Bottas then opens the radio to ask his engineers if he can start pushing, hoping to reduce the gap with the British driver. Arriving at the ninth lap out of forty-four total, Leclerc shows signs of recovery, setting quite interesting times and gaining three tenths on his teammate. In the meantime, surprisingly Max Verstappen begins to suffer from tire degradation, complaining on the radio and indicating that he has no grip. During the ninth lap Antonio Giovinazzi and George Russel have an accident at Stavelot corner, from which they both come out fortunately unharmed. Giovinazzi, in fact, loses control of his car coming out of the Fagnes chicane, ending up against the wall and bouncing back onto the track, involving the innocent Russell. A lot of bad luck for the British driver, involved in the accident because of the wheel of Giovinazzi's Alfa Romeo. The Safety Car enters, as the track is littered with fragments of the single-seaters scattered all over the accident area. The rest of the cars are forced to pass very slowly to avoid punctures, taking advantage of the situation to make a stop. After the first series of pit stops the classification sees Hamilton always in the lead, followed by Bottas and Verstappen, then Gasly, Perez, Ricciardo, Albon, Ocon, Stroll and Norris. On lap 15 the race resumes, and Hamilton immediately tries to distance himself from the rest of the group. Behind them, Gasly and Perez challenge for fourth position, while Charles Leclerc does not mask a polemic note towards his engineers, who have not yet informed him whether to proceed with plan B or plan C. Two options that are inevitably different from each other, with the confusion of the moment increasing the frustration of the Monegasque, already in difficulty. Even at Mercedes there seems to be some problems, with Lewis Hamilton warning via radio that he has lost power. From the box they tell him that they have to manage the battery, confirming the British driver's impression. Sebastian Vettel, meanwhile, is overtaken by Kimi Raikkonen who takes the twelfth position, making the situation more and more dramatic for Ferrari. Further ahead we find Ricciardo attacking Perez for fifth position, overtaking him and then going after Gasly, in fourth position. Also Albon overtakes Perez, thanks to a great manoeuvre outside the Bus Stop, moving up to sixth place. On lap 21 there is a tussle for the two Ferrari, with Leclerc opening the DRS on the Kemmel straight and trying to overtake Vettel, but without success.
After a brief wheel-to-wheel duel, the German maintains his position. Hamilton, in the meantime, has found a solution to the previous engine difficulties and is now three seconds behind his teammate. In third position there is always Verstappen, who after the pit stop in which he mounted Hard tires is now more competitive. At mid-race Hamilton continues to lead the classification, followed by Bottas, Verstappen, Ricciardo, Gasly, Albon, Ocon, Stroll, Norris and Kvyat. Albon approaches Gasly trying to overtake, but the Frenchman manages to resist even though both will have to stop; so the situation could still change. A couple of laps later, in fact, thanks to fresher Medium tires, Albon takes the position with a nice overtaking move on the Kemmel straight, and goes in pursuit of Ricciardo. On lap 24 Leclerc comes in for his second pit stop, fitting new Medium tires after only fourteen laps on Hard tires. A peculiar choice by Ferrari, which the Monegasque complains about over the radio. During the stop, air is injected into the Monegasque driver's engine, a sign that something is wrong with the engine. In the meantime, Gasly, who has been going on with his Hard tires for twenty-five laps, begins to have some difficulties and is overtaken by Ocon. The Frenchman pits on the next lap, returning to the track in sixteenth position. With ten laps to go Hamilton continues to extend his lead over his rivals: Bottas has in fact a gap of 4.4 over his teammate, who now leads a race of his own. The Finnish driver has a problem of no small importance, as he radioed that he had lost feeling in his left leg, used for braking. In the meantime, Vettel, who is in clear difficulty, asks for a second pit stop to try to overtake his rivals. Behind him, in fact, Perez has just passed him, and now Gasly is chasing him as well. Ferrari, however, is firm on the idea of not making a further stop, warning the German that if he stopped he would come back last. Gasly is unstoppable, and despite Vettel's resistance, he takes twelfth position from the German. Just ahead of the French driver, Perez overtakes Daniil Kvyat, taking ninth place on lap 36, while Lando Norris takes eighth place on the Kemmel straight on lap 37. Leclerc, meanwhile, gains a second every lap compared to his teammate, confirming Vetttel's difficulties and therefore the need for a double stop. At the front of the pack, Lewis Hamilton makes a small mistake, going long at the exit of the Bus Stop, and immediately afterwards the Briton warns his engineers that he can't feel his tires anymore.
Five laps from the end of the race Ricciardo proceeds with an excellent pace, on par with the Mercedes' times. Ocon meanwhile is attacking Albon for fifth position, while Gasly surprises Perez and gains ninth position. Bottas is warned by radio to avoid the kerbs, but despite this he's slower and slower. A couple of laps from the end, in fact, the Finn slides to eight seconds from his teammate, who seems to be able to better manage the worn tires. Behind them Albon is attacked on two fronts, both by Ocon and Norris, but he manages to defend himself. At the last lap, however, the Thai driver gives up and Ocon takes the fifth place. Ricciardo, behind Verstappen, pushes as hard as he can to catch up with him, but the eight second gap between the two drivers continues to grow. At the waving of the chequered flag the victory goes once again to the king of Formula 1, Lewis Hamilton, who earns the 89th victory of his career. Behind him Bottas and Verstappen, while the fastest lap is recorded by Daniel Ricciardo, who ends the race in fourth position. In fifth position comes Ocon, while Albon, Norris, Gasly, Stroll and Perez close the top ten. It’s a bad result for the two Ferraris, with Leclerc in fourteenth position and Vettel ahead of him. An improvised strategy and an objective confusion of the engineers in the pits have certainly not helped, but the truth is that the car should be completely revised: it confirms to be too slow in a straight line and not very stable in the corners. Today's winner, Lewis Hamilton, can only be happy with the result achieved, which brings him to minus two career victories from the one who collected the most, Michael Schumacher:
"It wasn't as easy a race as it looked. I had a couple of blockages at Turn 5 that brought vibrations. At the last corner another one and eventually the tire temperatures dropped, even though I was managing the pace. I kept losing temperature and struggled. But it was a perfect day for us. They were fearing Silverstone type scenario towards the end, but we were able to get the tires to work until the end. I know it's not necessarily what everyone would like to see with Mercedes dominating all the races, but we beyond the success we get always keep our heads down. Now it's back to the office and no one will be there to celebrate because they will all be thinking about winning the next race. This is an incredible environment to work in. We continue to develop the car and figure out how to improve, weekend after weekend. I think I'm almost 36 years old but I feel better than ever. I'm grateful to everyone who works on this team. The start is a bit of a nightmare because even if you start well the stretch up to Curve-5 is really long. But the situation that was created worked in my favor. At the top of the corner it was quite manageable because even Valtteri had to look back. At that point there the race was won".
Behind him, Valtteri Bottas tries, but he can't keep up with the British driver. Hamilton seems to fly on his single-seater, leading a race all his own:
"At the start I thought I had opportunities but Lewis handled the situation very well. He didn't go out too fast in Turn 1 and so I didn't have enough slipstream. Also in Turn 5 the same. Then we had the same car and Lewis drove very well. We had a few moments of difficulty but we handled it well. Instruction from the pits? I don't remember what I said. Lewis didn't make any mistakes today and he was faster than me yesterday as well. He brings home more points, but for me it was a positive weekend without any big problems. I would have liked to win, of course, it's one less opportunity for me, but there's another one next week".
Max Verstappen conquers the third position, but he is not happy with the good result achieved in a race that he defines boring:
"Boring race today. I couldn't do much more. I tried to push at the start, but then I was almost out of tires at the end and I started to manage to save the front tire. It wasn't a very fun race. With the Mediun tires I had no grip and with the hard tires I was struggling to put pressure on Valtteri. I tried but then they accelerated and I couldn't keep up with their pace. A lonely day. New tires? I don't know if I would have ever been able to overtake them. We feared a puncture at the end, but we couldn't do more than third. We chose to manage and bring it home like that. Better than nothing. Ricciardo? I'm not sure how he managed to set a fast lap at the end, we didn't have any tires. It was a positive weekend for him and he made the most of it. Monza? We will try again".
Further down, instead, Ferrari seems unable to raise its head in any way. A really disappointing race, despite a sprint start by Leclerc, who managed to recover five positions in just one lap, on a track where the room for manoeuvre is very limited. But then the enthusiasm vanished just as it arrived, and the race continued to be very tight, with the engineers not very decisive in their strategy and the two drivers in great difficulty, as admitted by the Ferrari team principal, Mattia Binotto:
"I think it is wrong to say that we are in crisis. Definitely a very bad result that is part of a very difficult season, we knew and we had already seen at the winter tests, with what happened after with Covid and the freeze that prevents us from being able to develop, we know that we have to keep our teeth clenched, that we have to build for the future. We are in the middle of the storm, there is no doubt, but this does not mean that we are in crisis, we know our course and we must try to keep it looking forward, but it is clear that today's result is very disappointing, we finished in the same places where we started, yesterday's result already showed our obvious difficulties on a track that requires power and aerodynamic efficiency, it is useless to hide behind a finger, at this time we lack both. We are primarily Ferrari fans, as well as professionals, so we understand our fans well and we feel sorry for them above all. We have a car that has lost power compared to last year, all the manufacturers but us more than the others, last year the car partly covered its limits with a superior engine, this is no longer the case, and the limits of the car are emerging, on this we have to improve, we know. We all take responsibility, I take it first as team principal, but every single employee in Maranello takes it, but it is a team that despite the difficulties and the storms is very united, we are working together, there is no crisis, there is no tension, there is certainly bitterness and frustration, but we must transform all this into determination. The responsibilities are there, it's a difficult period, we need to be able to look at what has been done but above all at what we want and need to do. Surely after a race like today's, it will be difficult to improve in a week's time. This, like Monza, is a powerful track, it won't be trivial. There will be a new technical directive and I'm curious to see how the balance will change in qualifying, also we will have our specific package, but it is useless to delude ourselves. At this stage we must try to get the best out of what the car has to offer. Here in Belgium for one reason or another we were too far behind, I think that struggling with who we fought in this race is not justified in any way".
Leclerc even ends up under investigation for being too slow in the reconnaissance lap towards the grid, and he lets slip, a bit naively, a rather polemic team radio. The Monegasque, however, apologizes, clarifying that he does not blame anyone in particular for today's performance and commenting on this black weekend:
"It's bad and honestly I don't even know what to say. We have to do something... Frustration in my radio teams? Yes, but it doesn't change what I did in the car for the whole race, which is to try to give my best in every lap. Today it was difficult to do better, there were two slow pit stops for small problems and then we could not overtake even with DRS. Monza? Very complicated... Maybe, if we talk about Mugello or Imola there can be hope to get back to where we were before this weekend, but for Monza I think it is very hard".
Sebastian Vettel is also candid about the disappointing performance of the single-seater, but tries to remain optimistic:
"Problem with this track? Yes and no, because it is sensitive for the power we don't have, but we were behind even cars like Alfa and Haas. There is something that is not right. But we have to stay focused and united, and maintain optimism even if the positives are not many. I tried in my driving to limit the limits of the car, but it was difficult to have a decent pace. We learned a lot of things, we have to keep calm and not get caught up in frustration that never brings great solutions. Spa is one of the most sensitive tracks for power and we are struggling this year, so it was normal to lose ground. But we were also behind cars that are usually behind us, so I guess there was something specific that did not work on this circuit. We have to work, learn the lesson and stay united in view of the important races in the coming weeks. Of course, we also have to be realistic because the package is what it is, but we have to keep optimistic and see the positives, even if they are not many. I tried a lot of things in terms of driving to get around the problems, but we weren't fast and this was a track where you can't work miracles. However, you have to stay calm and not get caught up in frustration, because it usually doesn't get you anywhere. Monza? I have good memories, twelve years ago my first win. Yes, I have to look back, but it's true that we've also had great memories in recent years. It's a Grand Prix that has great meaning for the team, we will have to keep fighting".
The next appointment will be the Italian Grand Prix, on the track of Monza. Then will be the turn of Mugello, and a similar performance to that of today would be terrible. Today the Spa circuit asked for an engine that Ferrari does not have, also because of the secret agreement reached with the FIA that has depowered the power unit of fifty horses after the limitations imposed on the use of the flow meter. Monza, however, will not be outdone, on a track that, not surprisingly, is nicknamed the time of speed. For 2022, Mattia Binotto assures that Scuderia Ferrari is already at work, even if the development of the cars will be limited. The Maranello team is currently fifth among constructors, with 61 points to its credit. The risk, however - and now it's very real - is to finish even lower and not be able to climb back up, at least for this season. In the post race, even the opponents have expressed themselves on the bad performance of Ferrari, such as Toto Wolff, according to which someone in the team has chosen other priorities, or Christian Horner, who accuses the team of Maranello:
"The whole thing has left a rather bitter taste, you can draw your own conclusions from Ferrari's current performance, but, yes, there are races that we probably should have won in 2019 if they had run with an engine that seems to be very different from the one they had last year. It's obviously very tough for them, but I think their focus has obviously been in the wrong areas in previous years. That's why they're struggling, regardless of what was in that agreement with the FIA".
At the end of the race, Racing Point received another reprimand from the stewards, as already happened in the previous four Grands Prix, as the same brake air intakes used in the last five races were fitted to the British team's cars. Before the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix, the ruling in which the FIA had clarified that the contested parts are regular according to technical regulations and illegal according to sporting ones was published. On the other hand, no action is taken against Charles Leclerc for driving too slowly before lining up on his grid position. It is in this climate of defeat for Ferrari that the seventh round of the 2020 World Championship closes, with the Circus ready to move to Italy, where fans hope to see some signs of recovery from the Maranello team and where it is expected that with the new regulations regarding the blocking of mappings, Max Verstappen's Red Bull can get closer to the Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas.