Formula 1 Wolrd Championship leader Lewis Hamilton heads to Sunday´s Belgian Grand Prix in the form of his life and favourite to keep the party going for champions Mercedes.
The Briton, who leads Red Bull’s Max Verstappen by 37 points, has won four of six races so far and is fast approaching a seventh title and Michael Schumacher’s record 91 wins. Hamilton has 88 victories so far.
A decision to ban engine power unit ‘party’ modes in qualifying has been delayed until the next race in Monza in a further boost for his chances at Spa-Francorchamps.
“I´m always talking about perfect races and that was one of them,” said Hamilton after winning the previous round in Spain. “I think it just felt like I was at a high. I think I´m just in my highest form.”
Sunday´s race marks the start of the third `triple-header´ run of three consecutive races after a weekend off.
Verstappen will be doing all he can to slow his Mercedes rival´s charge at a race that counts as home territory after the Dutch Grand Prix was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The high-speed track may not play to his car’s strengths but after a surprise win at the 70th Anniversary race in Silverstone, the 22-year-old Dutch driver is not ruling anything out in a race held without spectators like all the others.
“We don´t expect this race will be our favourite this year in terms of the layout suiting our package, but we will be pushing hard as we have done at every race,” said the only non-Mercedes winner so far this season.
Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc faces a difficult weekend on more than one level.
The Monegasque took his first F1 win at Spa last year while mourning the death of his friend Anthoine Hubert, who was killed in a Formula 2 race on the Saturday.
“It will be difficult to return to this track and he will be in our thoughts all weekend,” said the 22-year-old, whose hopes may well rest on the capricious Spa weather.
“In terms of expectations, it will be tougher for us in terms of performance this time around as we do not have the same level of competitiveness as we did in 2019.”
Williams, the only team yet to score points this year, will also be in the spotlight after announcing their sale to U.S.-based Dorilton Capital last week.
Facts & Stats for the 2020 Belgian Grand Prix
- Lap distance: 7.004km. Total distance: 308.052km (44 laps)
- 2019 pole position: Charles Leclerc (Monaco) Ferrari one minute 42.519 seconds.
- 2019 race winner: Leclerc
- Race lap record: 1:46.286, Valtteri Bottas (Finland) Mercedes, 2018.
- Start time: 1310 GMT (1510 local)
Belgian Grand Prix
- This year’s race will be the 53rd Belgian Grand Prix at Spa. Nine of the last 18 have been won from pole position.
- Spa is the longest lap of the season and one of the fastest, with an average speed of around 230kph. Cars are flat out for about 70% of the time.
- Five current drivers have won at Spa: Kimi Raikkonen (2004, 2005, 2007 and 2009), Hamilton (2010, 2015, 2017), Vettel (2011, 2013, 2018), Daniel Ricciardo (2014) and Charles Leclerc (2019).
- Michael Schumacher won a record six times at Spa, including from 16th on the grid in a wet 1995 race.
- Last year’s race was overshadowed by the death of Formula Two driver Anthoine Hubert in a high-speed crash on the Saturday.
- Ferrari have won the last two Belgian Grands Prix.
- Hamilton has 88 victories from 256 starts and is three short of Ferrari great Michael Schumacher’s record 91. Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel is the next closest active driver on 53.
- Hamilton has won four of the six races so far in 2020.
- Ferrari have won 238 races since 1950, McLaren 182, Williams 114, Mercedes 107 and Red Bull 63. Former champions McLaren and Williams have not won since 2012.
- Hamilton has a record 92 career poles.
- Mercedes have started every race on pole this season.
- Hamilton now has 156 career podiums, an outright record.
- Bottas has 50 podiums, one short of compatriot and double world champion Mika Hakkinen’s career total.
- Hamilton has a record 39 successive points finishes. He is now two short of Nick Heidfeld’s record for finishes.
- The Briton leads Red Bull’s Max Verstappen by 37 points.
- All of the 10 teams except Williams have scored points this season.
- Alfa Romeo’s Kimi Raikkonen Raikkonen is now the driver with the most mileage in Formula One history, breaking Fernando Alonso’s previous record of 83,846km.
- Spain marked the first time Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc had suffered a mechanical retirement in his F1 career.