With the return of Formula 1 after its summer break, we know since yesterday that in 2020, Nico Hülkenberg will be replaced by Esteban Ocon at Renault and Valtteri Bottas will stay at Mercedes. Now we have the transfer news, let’s concentrate on the action on track for this first Grand Prix of the second half of the season.
Under a bright sun, the Belgian Grand Prix weekend kicked off this morning with Practice 1. As we did expect from Ferrari this weekend, the two red cars topped the timesheet with Sebastian Vettel followed by Charles Leclerc. In third position we found Max Verstappen nearly 1 second off Vettel, the Dutch man was followed by his new team mate Alex Albon. The two Mercedes only came 5th and 6th fastest in this morning session but their runs weren’t made on softs. Bottas finished in front of Hamilton who lost power on track during the session due to a throttle pedal problem. The “best of the rest” was Racing Point which often performs well here with Stroll being 7th despite his car losing a part of its engine cover early in the session. Daniel Ricciardo also performed well by posting the 8th fastest time of the session. The Racing Point of Pérez and the McLaren of Sainz closed the Top 10.
The Formula 1 action resumed this afternoon at 3pm for Practice 2. Again, two Ferraris at the top were found at the end of the session. This time, Leclerc was in front of Vettel. Bottas and Hamilton were 3rd and 4th, showing as expected a better performance than in the morning. Good surprise for Sergio Pérez finishing 5th in front of the Red Bull of Max Verstappen, he pulled his car to the side of the track at nearly the end of the session because of flames at the rear of his car. Alex Albon finished in 10th position. Kimi Räikkönen did a great performance by getting the 7th best time in front of Stroll and Ricciardo. A disappointing Friday for McLaren as they finished in 11th position (Sainz) and 15th position (Norris). Pierre Gasly back at Toro Rosso only finished in 17th position, 3 places behind his team mate.
Even if it’s not qualifying yet, it’s worth noting that Albon, Ricciardo, Hülkenberg, Sainz, Stroll & Kvyat will get post-qualifying grid penalties because of taking on new power unit elements.
For now, weekend’s looking good for Ferrari, will they keep this performance through the whole weekend ?