Lewis Hamilton won a largely uneventful Belgian Grand Prix, to take his
tally of wins at Spa-Francorchamps up to four. A dominant pole position from the
Mercedes driver turned into a dominant performance in the race, as he came
home ahead of his teammate Valtteri Bottas in second and Max Verstappen in
third for Red Bull. The usual suspects on the podium!
Daniel Ricciardo picked up Renault’s best finish of the season so far with
fourth, with teammate Esteban Ocon passing the second Red Bull of Alex Albon
for fifth on the final lap. Ricciardo also picked up the fastest lap of the race on the
final tour of the circuit, earning him and Renault and an extra point. Albon held on for
sixth and crossed the line ahead of McLaren’s Lando Norris in seventh. Pierre
Gasly finished in eighth after an impressive display and some great overtaking
moves, which also earned the Frenchman the Driver of the Day award. Ninth and
tenth were taken by the Racing Point duo of Lance Stroll and Sergio Perez
DONT MISS MONDAY'S LIVE SHOW
Following on from a dull and tedious Spanish Grand Prix, I really hoped I
would have a great race to report on this week, especially seeing as Belgium is
my favourite track and it usually throws up excitement, drama and unpredictable
weather. But, it wasn’t to be.
It was a dull race for the most part. The only excitement came from some
good overtaking moves on the Kemmel straight by Pierre Gasly and other drivers,
and a nasty accident on lap 11 involving Alfa Romeo’s Antonio Giovinazzi and the
Williams of George Russell. Giovinazzi lost control of his Alfa and thumped into
the barriers, and it was a case of wrong place, wrong time for Russell, as his car
was struck by a loose wheel from the Alfa, tearing off one of his own wheels and
sending the Williams into the barriers and bringing out the safety car. Luckily, both
drivers emerged from the accident unscathed, as it was a heavy impact for both
drivers. There was debris all over the track, which made it surprising that the race
wasn’t red-flagged. Another disappointing weekend for George Russell, following
another good qualifying session, getting his Williams into Q2 again.
The safety car came out following the crash, and most drivers pitted for
Hard tyres to get them to the end of the race. That had a negative effect on the
race, as there would be no battle for strategy and would just be a case of trying to
get the tyres to the end.
Once again, I find myself massively disappointed in Bottas. Half a second
slower than Lewis in qualifying, and as soon as the drivers reached turn 4 and
Hamilton was still ahead, I knew Bottas would settle back in second and offer little
challenge. To be fair to him, when the team told him not to push his teammate, he
replied with “I never heard of that”, and I thought we would be in for some good
racing. But Hamilton came under no real pressure from Bottas and eventually
cruised away as Bottas kept an eye on Verstappen behind him. The championship
is slipping away from Bottas now following his win in the first race of the season
and he seems to be doing very little to take the fight to Hamilton. I miss the days
of Hamilton and Rosberg, where we would see a feisty battle for the lead. Think of
Bahrain in 2014, Belgium in 2014 where the drivers made contact and of course
Spain in 2016 when they took each other out of the race completely. Bottas
seems happy to just sit behind and play rear gunner while Hamilton races away. In
previous years, before Rosberg retired, we knew that the Mercedes cars would
race away, but at least we would get a fight between them. Now, however, the
Mercedes drivers disappear into the distance, but we don’t have the battle for the
lead between them to make it interesting.
Bottas earned himself another year at Mercedes for 2021 and to be
honest, I was quite disappointed in that decision. I can see why Mercedes offered
him another year; he’s calm, relaxed, does his job well and doesn’t upset the
apple cart, but it’ll be another year of Bottas playing second fiddle unless
something drastic changes and he decides to ignore team orders and actually
fight, but I doubt he will do that. He seems to chill and doesn’t have that fire in
his belly that and F1 driver needs. He’s a nice guy, but that can be a drivers
downfall in F1. Being nice will only get you so far, but there comes a time when
you need to get your elbows out and challenge. You won’t win a title by being just
a nice guy.
He is still third in the championship, 50 points behind Hamilton. That’s
two race wins. If Hamilton fails to score in the next two races and Bottas wins
both, they will be back on equal points. But let’s face it, that’s unlikely.
What Happened to Ferrari?
Wait a minute, where were the Ferraris? Oh, dear. A torrid weekend for
the Scuderia saw both cars drop out in Q2, and they finished in 13th and 14th,
with Sebastian Vettel leading home teammate Charles LeClerc. A weekend to
forget for the Italian team, who seem to be making no progress with their car and
after this race, are in danger of being jumped by Renault into fifth in the
constructors championship. The car has been uncompetitive all season, and they
are lucky to have picked up a couple of podiums courtesy of LeClerc.
This was the first time neither Ferrari had failed to make it into Q3 since
2014, and they spent their time fighting with the likes of Alfa Romeo, Haas and
Alfa Tauri. Both drivers looked understandably dejected after the race, and it won’t
get any easier any time soon. The Ferrari has a distinct lack of power and seems
to be quite draggy, so the next race in Monza, Ferrari’s home Grand Prix, being a
track that favours high powered and low drag cars, will most likely be another
weekend to forget for the Scarlet team.
I really hope Ferrari can turn it around for 2021, but with the current
management in place, I doubt it. The team is crying out for a leader, like back in
the days when they had Ross Brawn and Jean Todt at the helm, but Mattia Binotto
doesn’t seem to be the leader they need. It’s going to be a painful time for
Ferrari and their devoted fans over the next couple of seasons. Carlos Sainz, who
is moving from McLaren to Ferrari for 2021, must be wondering if the ink of his
contract is dry yet, and whether or not he can revoke it!
One Year On, F1 Remembers Anthoine Hubert
At the Belgian GP in 2019, the world of motorsport sadly lost young F2
driver Anthoine Hubert, who tragically died when he was involved in a serious
crash. The young Frenchman was only 22 and this weekend, F1 and everyone at
the circuit remembered the talented young driver, laying flowers beside the track
and holding a minutes silence before the race, with drivers and personnel
gathered around a big portrait of Anthoine on the grid. A lovely tribute for an
incredibly talented driver, and one the world of motorsport will remember forever.
His car number, #19, was retired in his honour.
How Is The Championship Looking Now?
Predictable, really. Lewis Hamilton extended his lead at the top of the
table and now sits on 157 points. Max Verstappen is still his nearest challenger on
110, with Bottas third on 107. Albon moves up to fourth, ahead of Charles
LeClerc. The only four drivers yet to score a point this season are Kimi Raikkonen
for Alfa Romeo, Romain Grosjean for Haas and the Williams pair of George
Russell and Nicholas Latifi.
Where Are We Heading Next?
Monza, Italy! Another one of my favourite tracks, but I get the feeling it’ll
be a carbon copy of this weekend. Mercedes will run away again, Red Bull will be
best of the rest and Ferrari will struggle. I really hope I’m wrong, but this season
has once again become very predictable following that exciting opening race in
Austria. The race weekend is the 4th to 6th of September, so there’s not a lot of
time at all before the next race and hopefully, it’ll be one worth looking forward to!
As always, take care, stay safe, and let’s hope for a more exciting race this