Daniel Ricciardo, Renault, Spa-Francorchamps, 2020

2020 Belgian Grand Prix Star Performers

2020 Belgian Grand Prix

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Daniel Ricciardo, Lewis Hamilton, Pierre Gasly and Kimi Raikkonen were RaceFans’ Star Performers of the Belgian Grand Prix. Here’s why.


Daniel Ricciardo

This was Renault’s strongest showing so far this season. Ricciardo wrung the maximum from his RS20, planting it fourth on the grid despite a brake-by-wire problem in qualifying. He hounded Max Verstappen at the start, and had he not dropped behind Pierre Gasly and Sergio Perez during the Safety Car period we could have seen an exciting battle between the two former Red Bull team mates at the finish. Nonetheless, he bagged Renault’s first fastest lap for a decade.

Pierre Gasly

Another top-drawer weekend from the Red Bull outcast, despite the emotional strain of racing at the track where his childhood friend died last year. Gasly was pipped by team mate Daniil Kvyat in qualifying but reaped the benefit of starting on hard tyres and not pitting under the Safety Car in the race, climbing to eighth in the closing stages.

Kimi Raikkonen

Kimi Raikkonen, Alfa Romeo, Spa-Francorchamps, 2020
Raikkonen beat both the Ferrari drivers
Always one to watch at Spa, Raikkonen qualified ahead of his team mate and fought back quickly after losing ground at the start. When the race restarted he picked off the two Ferrari drivers (which must have been deeply satisfying) on his way to 12th place.

Lewis Hamilton

Hamilton’s wins may have started to look routine a while ago, but the scale of his margin over team mate Valtteri Bottas in qualifying was especially impressive this weekend. The two Mercedes were separated by more than half a second.

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Antonio Giovinazzi

Having been out-qualified by Kimi Raikkonen he got ahead at the start, but came under pressure from his team mate soon afterwards. A mistake at Fagnes meant his day ended in the barriers.

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And the rest

Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Spa-Francorchamps, 2020
Verstappen couldn’t get close enough to the Mercedes drivers
After being thumped by Hamilton in qualifying, Bottas couldn’t carry the necessary momentum through Eau Rouge to attack him at the start, and that condemned him to finish behind his team mate. As usual Verstappen was the quicker of the Red Bull drivers over a single lap, but couldn’t take the fight to Mercedes in the race. Alexander Albon’s switch to medium compound tyres backfired and helped Esteban Ocon passed him for fifth.

Carlos Sainz Jnr’s luckless start to 2020 continued as a power unit problem meant he couldn’t even start at Spa. Another unlucky driver – or lucky, depending on your point of view – was George Russell, who emerged unscathed after hitting a wheel which came off Giovinazzi’s car.

Lando Norris believes he hit some fluid dropped by his team mate’s car when he went off at Les Combes on lap one. After that his car came good in the second stint and he reckoned he was only a lap away from passing Albon for sixth.

Sergio Perez, Racing Point, Spa-Francorchamps, 2020
Racing Point weren’t the force they usually are at Spa
Racing Point had an indifferent weekend at a track which had previously been one of their strongest circuits. They admitted the decision to leave Sergio Perez out on soft tyres when the Safety Car came out was, in retrospect, a mistake. Nonetheless he finished the race right on Lance Stroll’s tail.

Daniil Kvyat felt he’d got the less favourable strategy at AlphaTauri and he finished the race outside the points. The only car behind him not powered by a Ferrari was Nicholas Latifi’s Williams in 16th, who ran behind Russell as usual before his team mate retired.

On an abject weekend for Ferrari, Charles Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel fought in vain to achieve anything with their SF-1000s. Both scraped into Q2, and Leclerc briefly had his car inside the top 10 before inevitably dropping back. They finished ahead of the Haas pair: Kevin Magnussen started and finished last after going off in qualifying, but did make one of the better starts of the race.

Over to you

Vote for the driver who impressed you most last weekend and find out whether other RaceFans share your view here:

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Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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37 comments on “2020 Belgian Grand Prix Star Performers”

  1. Verstappen’s podiums may have started to look routine a while ago, but the minimum deficit to Valtteri Bottas in qualifying was especially impressive this weekend. Verstappen and Bottas were separated by only 0.015s.

    1. You forget that Max is driving the superior Red Bull. He clearly should have been on pole to be a star performer.

      1. And Only if he won spa.

      2. @d0senbrot so, I presume from your comments you have seen the statements from Marko confirming that Verstappen is being given a different specification car to Albon then?

    2. I think that says more about Bottas performance than Max though…

      1. People criticize Albon’s deficit to Max, but Bottas is nearly as bad. The difference is Mercedes are happy to have him follow Lewis home as long as their car is good enough to beat Red Bull.

        1. Dane, when you look objectively at the numbers, Bottas has been nowhere near as slow as Albon is in relation to Verstappen. For a start, Bottas has been able to out-qualify Hamilton at times – Albon has never managed to beat Verstappen in a single qualifying session where both cars have been operating normally.

          If we exclude the wet Styrian GP qualifying, since evolving track conditions played a fairly significant part, we can look at the difference between Bottas and Hamilton compared to Verstappen and Albon.

          Austrian GP:
          Hamilton: 0.012s slower
          Verstappen: 0.391s faster

          Hungarian GP – as Albon went out in Q2, the only option for him is to compare his Q2 times with Verstappen’s Q2 time. For Hamilton and Bottas, you can compare the Q3 times.
          Hamilton: 0.269s faster (Q3)
          Verstappen: 0.739s faster (Q2)

          British Grand Prix – now, again it is the same case of having to compare Verstappen’s and Albon’s Q2 times, with the Q3 time comparison for Hamilton and Bottas.
          Hamilton: 0.313s faster (Q3)
          Verstappen: 0.401s faster (Q2)

          70th Anniversary GP:
          Hamilton: 0.063s slower
          Verstappen: 0.493s faster

          Spanish Grand Prix.
          Hamilton: 0.059s faster
          Verstappen: 0.737s faster

          Belgian Grand Prix.
          Hamilton: 0.511s faster
          Verstappen: 0.468s faster

          Average difference in qualifying pace
          Hamilton: 0.180s faster
          Verstappen: 0.538s faster

          The gap between Bottas and Hamilton in Spa was the only time this season that the gap between them in qualifying has been comparable to the gap between Albon and Verstappen – the most extreme difference that there has been between Bottas and Hamilton this season is less than the average gap between Albon and Verstappen, such is the disparity in performance between the two.

      2. @slowmo Exactly. Don’t understand how this has not been factored in.

    3. I haven’t seen a big difference in the performance of Verstappen and Hamilton in most races (not all).
      The car helps Hamilton to be a race winner, whereas a similar performance ‘relegates’ Verstappen to fight with Bottas (or clean air) and miss the Star ranking.

      1. most of the time is hamilton who is missing the star ranking because he “only did his job”, whereas Verstappen was spetacular because he was the best of the rest. But being the best of the rest this year is the same thing, there’s no competition. Ferrari is a joke and Albon is his wingman.

        1. doesn’t he at least need to be able to see Max’s wingto be a called a wingman?

          1. @anunaki Well Albon apparently gets the rejected wings due to Red Bull not being able to have quality parts for both cars, so he would be a bit further behind yes.

  2. I agree, except with the bit on Kvyat. Yes Gasly was on a better strategy, he was the only with the hard tyre at the start, and that proved to be the best compound to start with (I would be surprised, but it is Pirelli after all), but he was hampered by the SC, it completly destroyed his strategy and effectevely put Kvyat on a better on at that point

    The fact that Gasly lost all the advanted that he managed to get on the start, to increase it again after the SC and still recover a pit stop on his teammate and other is mightly impressive, and just shows how off the pace Kvyat was during the race. So I would have chosen him to be a struggler too

  3. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
    3rd September 2020, 9:56

    I agree with all the star performers, but I just don’t see how Magnussen can’t be a struggler. On this site and most places actually, it seems Grosjean only needs to be slightly bad for people to see it as an awful race. But Magnussens’s weekend was terrible. He was already around half a seconds off Grosjean earlier on in Q1, and then he went off the track on his final attempt and that gap remained and he qualified last. His start was incredible, like it often is for him – but you can’t ignore that is was just a good start and it didn’t mean anythign given the direction he went. It didn’t benefit for him for long. Grosjean overtook him on track within 6 laps. Then in the 1st and 2nd stint when they pitted, both times Grosjean pulled a decent gap and Magnussen was complaining of struggling with overheating. And this was in his own words:

    “At the beginning of that stint I was very slow, just overheating the tires. I got that under control later on, then we pitted onto the C2 and it was a little bit like that again – just struggling a bit on the first part of the stint but getting better towards the end.”


    He even had to pit again due to how much he was struggling.

    How is he not a struggler? He qualified and finished last and admitted he had a poor race. By the definition of struggling, I’d say he found this race harder than Giovinazzi. Giovinazzi made a big mistake rather than struggled through out to be fair. But both should certainly be listed as a struggler.

  4. What happened to Max this season, very few stupid mistakes, which makes him actually finish the races in decent positions. To bad for Mr Bottas though, at least in the current standings.

    1. @maisch
      You clearly haven’t watched since Monaco 2018 else you wouldn’t ask such an ignorant question.

    2. No competition behind him? And I think he has finally (hopefully) decided its time to take control of RB and get rid of the Horner/Marko comfort blanket that he doesn’t need. He should be finishing at least 3rd every race, challenging the less talented Bottas regularly; and putting pressure on Hamilton when Ham occasionally has a bad day. He doesnt need to be praised by Horner every second of the post race lap and told how wonderful he is no matter where he finishes. Or need to go to the pit wall for a serious cuddle every time he DNF’s. He’s a 5 year veteran who happen’s to be one of the two most talented drivers on the grid. The only RB guy who seems to know how handle Max is his engineer; whose basic message seems to be ‘well get on with it then’.

    3. With 5 seasons or 100 GPs of experience most of the drivers entered their prime historically. It would be hard to tell how good Max is exactly without having a strong teammate like Ricciardo again. Gasly now looks much better than at previous season, but Verstappen might swallow him again. Despite of this if Tsunoda continues to show this form, and RB family will have a Verstappen, Gasly, Albon, Tsunoda roster, then that’s a very decent roster considering their almost “empty” academy ranks of previous years. Now it seems they got away luckily with it as Tsunoda really proved his worthiness to be promoted to F2 after 1 years of F3 (actually he drove in 2 series using F3 machinery in 2019, that’s 31 races including the Macau GP, but it looks very good because at 2018 he was driving in Japanese F4).

      It’s hard to judge how good Verstappen is, because Ferrari not challenges RB now, and Mercedes has so much reliability that they barely had PU related DNFs in the last few years. Mercedes can introduce a quite agressive engine mode as the only one to be used if they want, one or two DNF or grid penalty is nothing compared to unrivalled raw speed if needed (they can trade some of that 100-200 points gap to the runner up for some speed if needed, also the cost of 1 additional PU is small compared to their yearly operational cost). And having a really good or better machinery gets no one into deep trouble even with slightly worsening qualifying results, slightly lesser machineries are just eaten with DRS most of the time. This is what I hate about DRS most: there is basically no way to resist against DRS with a slightly slower car, it’s similar to new set of tyres vs quite worn ones. On the other hand, I feel DRS a bit less powerful than in the first seasons when it got introudced. Maybe it’s due to the fact that these cars got more sensitive to turbulencies as the aero elements got more and more complex and evolved, so using DRS is a bit less comfortable now. Despite of it if DRS has to stay, I would reduce the size of the opening on the wing to reduce the speed advantage of it, and look for other directions to make F1 better.

      Still I can’t rate Ricciardo much less than Verstappen, he might have left RB to simply punish them, for example because RB slightly favorized a younger driver at Ricciardo’s prime. Imo Ricciardo is still one of the bests at current F1 and that was true by that time too. Maybe that RB’s attitude was not going well with a high level of self esteem, and having too much of that is not what most of the people publicly admits about themselves. I’m sure there are a lot of people who can’t be bought, not even with the promise of money or success if they are feeling a bit or a bit more mistreated. And on the other hand Renault offered him a lot of money :P

      Of course I consider Verstappen one of the bests too, and he’s only out of the star performers for this race, because these performances are usual from him now, even if these are very good performances. Had he closely followed Hamilton for most of the race distance, or some small extra and I’m sure he would be included this list.

      1. I forgot to ask the following question:
        How does the Ricciardo – RB leaders relationship look like nowadays? Are they getting along, or it looks worse than that? I don’t have too much info on it.

    4. @maisch Verstappen is a superb driver and still improving. But that said, he hasn’t really been in situations where he has needed to ‘get racey’ and so increase the chance of mistakes (stupid or otherwise). The last team we saw him in a heated battle was probably with Leclerc last season, which didn’t actually produce mistakes as such, just aggressive driving from both. With Ferrari down the field, it’s just too calm up front to tell. Verstappen is kind of driving round in a ‘neutral’ zone on his own between the Mercedes and the rest.

      1. Oconomo, i watched many races last years and saw alot of overaggressive moves, but of course it was always someone elses fault.

        1. @Maisch
          Name those races and tell us why it was Max his fault.

          1. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
            3rd September 2020, 14:54

            Well many say Verstappen completely recovered after Monaco 2018, but he still did have a few mistakes that were his fault. I think his only main weakness is making up after a bad start or being out of position on the first lap. There have been a few times more recently where he hasn’t been the cleanest after this. Italy and Spa last year for example. In Spa he just had a bad start which he couldn’t help – but then he basically tried to make up for it by breaking late and then he basically ended his race. In Italy he had a grid penalty and seemed desperate to get past even the really slow cars that he misjudged that you have break earlier when many cars are ahead of you and literally hit the back of one of them. This wasn’t the only time he was trying to recover from a grid penalty in italy either. He also hit Massa in 2017 and gave himself a puncture. There was obviously the endless list of mistakes in early 2018, but he has reduced them since.

            But this year other than his crash on the way to the grid (which was pretty poor to be honest and was incredibly lucky to race – only 6 seconds to spare), he has been practically flawless.

        2. alot of overaggressive moves

          That’s where the issue is, though, defining and regulating the difference between aggressive and overaggressive. Leclerc responded to Verstappen by being just as aggressive with him. The stewards let it go both times with an explicit ‘let them race policy’. Leclerc then shoved Hamilton off track at Monza. Again allowed. Hamilton said ‘cool, so we can do that now? Fine by me.’ He then dived into a gap left by Albon in Brazil and got penalized. So, as usual, FIA stewards make it up as they go along. Usually to Ferrari’s benefit, but what’s a few good decisions going your way between kith and kin, hey Jean? But I digress. The point is Verstappen hasn’t been in any sense an exceptionally aggressive driver for 2+ seasons now, I think the start of 2018 was when he was still pushing too far for his own good. And let’s face it, we all want to see some aggresssion. It’s Bottas’s lack of it that’s killing any championship competition now.

    5. @maisch Broke his front win in Styria (costing him P2). Drove into the wall even before the race started in Hungary. Seems rather stupid though?

      Also that he was unable to find a working setup in Hungary even though that should have been their race to fight for the win. Instead they were well off the pace. Apart from the mechanics marvel, also lucky that Bottas messed up the start and overtaking is impossible there. Also a lackluster race in Spain fighting his own team and ruining his tyres.

  5. So the guy in the fastest car, who beats his teammate is a stardriver, some other guy in de 2nd fastest car who also beats his teammate, all the time, is not?

    1. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
      3rd September 2020, 13:02

      I have to say the reasoning given for Hamilton being a star performer seems to be just based on qualifying and mentioned nothing about Sunday at all. I think Bottas was reasonable in the race but Hamilton was quick enough that he didn’t really need to put much effort in. his qualifying was mighty though. But his speed in the race was still impressive. You could say the same about verstappen though I think Albon is a lot worse than Bottas and I don’t think verstappen was quite as impressive as Hamilton this weekend.

      I think the stars and strugglers are correct, but Magnussen should be added to the strugglers list.

    2. i can’t believe these guys are unhappy because Verstappen didn’g got a star performer this time. What did he do? Started 3rd, finished 3rd without any attempt at something better, destroyed his tyres and got saved by the bell in the end. Hardly star performance stuff.

      1. And what did Lewis do?
        They literally drove the exact same quali and race. Only difference is Lewis his car is a P1 car and Max his car is a P3 car.
        In school, after doing the test, both would get a 10 for not making a single misstake. Oops, Lewis would get a 9,5 for locking up and going wide and Max would get a 10 for not making a single misstake……..
        And his tyres: What was it with his tyres? Looks more like he managed the gap to Daniel to perfection, like Lewis did to Bottas.

        1. Hamilton had two bizarrely good Q3 laps. Even a otherwise good qualifier like Bottas was put at half a second back.

          Instead Verstappen gets compared to a driver who is struggling to keep the car on the road and the tyres at the right temperature.

      2. Jelle van der Meer (@)
        3rd September 2020, 14:34

        Max is more outperforming the Red Bull than Hamilton is outperforming the Mercedes. So far Hamilton was called a star 4 times and Max only once.
        * Lewis won 5 races in by far the best car of the field and his teammate usually finishes closely behind him.
        * Max has beaten a Mercedes 4 times this year in the 2nd best car and his teammate is nowhere near.

        Winning in a superior car is not an achievement – it should not get you an automatic “Star Performance” unless the margin is really big like Spain.

        1. And being the best of the rest with a way better car than the rest and a way subpar team mate should be star performance then?

          1. Jelle van der Meer (@)
            3rd September 2020, 17:57

            If Hamilton got it for Spa so should Max. In my opinion neither deserved it for Spa, only the first 3 mentioned deserved it.

            For the 4 times he beat Bottas he should have gotten more than once a Star performance rating.

            Hamilton should not have 4 and Max should have more than 1.

        2. @jelle-van-der-meer How is Verstappen outperforming the car? He was driving rather poorly in Spa really. Even Ricciardo almost had him.

  6. Stars: HAM, and RIC.
    Strugglers: STR, and Ferrari.

    1. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
      3rd September 2020, 15:03

      Stroll beat his team mate for what is strictly speaking the 5th weekend in a row. Even in Styria he was only a fraction of a second off beating Perez again. Regarding this race, Perez did do well to recover from where he dropped back to, but he fell several places behind Stroll to begin with which was his own fault. And while we did see Perez recover, he still didn’t beat Stroll and we can’t confirm he will have got by had he pitted at the same time. I don’t see how Stroll was any worse than Perez this weekend. IMO Stroll has actually overall looked better than perez this year which is pretty impressive.

  7. Stars: RIC,RAI,GAS
    Strugglers: Ferrari and Magnussen

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