Lewis Hamilton went largely unchallenged during the Belgian Grand Prix as he claimed a fifth win of the 2020 Formula 1 season to move almost two wins clear in the points standings.
The Mercedes driver headed a 1-2 finish for the team as Valtteri Bottas finished eight-seconds down on his team-mate, with no answer for the Briton’s dominant pace.
The start promised so much with the long run down the Kemmel Straight expected to throw up a surprise race leader with a fast-starting Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo – both of which had superior straight-line speed compared to the Mercedes – but it failed to deliver as Hamilton controlled the start to lead into Les Combes.
He was followed in grid order by Bottas, Verstappen and Ricciardo, with the second Renault of Esteban Ocon fifth.
Further back positions did change with Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc gaining four positions to find himself in ninth before moving up to eighth, but that would be the high point of a very disappointing race for the Scuderia.
McLaren’s Carlos Sainz had been due to start from seventh but failed to even make the start after smoke was seen coming from the rear of his MCL35 during the lap to the grid.
The Spaniard returned to the garage instead of his grid slot and retired immediately as the team diagnose a power unit issue, which damaged the exhaust. With so little time to fix it, making the start would have been impossible.
McLaren did score points with Lando Norris though as the youngster finished seventh and was involved in a very close battle for fifth in the final laps of the race, with fifth to seventh covered by just three seconds as they crossed the line.
Renault on the Rise
Renault enjoyed their strongest race in recent seasons taking fourth and fifth – thanks to a last lap pass by Ocon on Red Bull’s Alexander Albon – to take a haul of 23-points, with Ricciardo scoring one extra for the fastest lap of the grand prix.
The Australian finished just three seconds down on Red Bull’s Verstappen and was catching quickly in the final few laps, but ran out of road in his pursuit of his former team-mate.
Pierre Gasly was eighth after he opted not to stop under the Safety Car (see below) and gained track position, with the Racing Point cars completing the points paying positions.
The race saw an early Safety Car on Lap 11 after Antonio Giovinazzi lost control of his car at Les Fagnes (Turn 13) and hit the barrier. A loose wheel crossed the track ahead of Williams’ George Russell, which the Briton couldn’t avoid.
Russell suffered damage and was forced into the wall, leaving a spread of debris littering the track. They were the only two race retirements.
Ferrari’s race couldn’t have been much worse as they failed to score at what they will hope is a bogey circuit.
Sebastian Vettel finished just ahead of Charles Leclerc in 13th and 14th, with the SF1000 struggling in the corners and on the straights, which meant they were sitting ducks on the long Spa straights as rivals breezed past.
Team management will be working long hours to try and remedy the issues ahead of next weekend’s home race at Monza, which is similar in layout to Spa with long straights and high-speed corners.