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Belgian GP driver ratings

A Spa weekend filled with emotional tributes was dominated by Hamilton - but who else impressed? Rating the field out of 10...

Qualified 1st, Finished 1st

The best car, yes. But Lewis Hamilton is operating on another level in F1 2020, as proved by another utter domination of team-mate Valtteri Bottas - more than half a second clear in qualifying and always comfortable in the race despite one of the trickiest race starts of the year, as well as a Safety Car restart with slip-streaming cars on his tail.

Hamilton hardly needs extra motivation to perform these days, but he said hearing the tragic news of actor Chadwick Boseman's passing meant he "broke down" on Saturday morning, and inspired him to be "perfect" for the rest of the weekend. He certainly paid a fitting tribute, not only with his performance on track but with a Wakanda salute after pole and his race win.

Now just two wins away from Michael Schumacher's all-time record, Hamilton is surely going to be a history-maker. We are witnessing something very, very special.
Rating out of 10: 10

Qualified 2nd, Finished 2nd

Often second on the Spa-Francorchamps grid can be as good, if not better, than pole position but it just did not work out that way for Valtteri Bottas this year. In truth, not much is working out in his attempt to get ahead of the sister Mercedes at the moment, with Lewis Hamilton a full 50 points clear of his team-mate in the championship standings.

At least Bottas was not beaten by Max Verstappen this time, with the Finn comfortable in second place all race despite the late worry of tyre vibrations probably causing a sense of foreboding after what happened at Silverstone when in the same position.
Rating out of 10: 8

Qualified 3rd, Finished 3rd

While Red Bull do not yet have a title-challenging car as hoped, Max Verstappen is holding up his end of the 2020 bargain with some brilliant drives. Long gone are the inconsistent days from Verstappen's teenage years, the Dutchman is now delivering the maximum on every weekend - with this his sixth straight podium, and the sixth straight race where he has provided Mercedes only threat.

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So fast was Verstappen, he only missed out on a front-row start by 15 thousandths of a second while also qualifying closer to pole than in the previous 2020 shootouts. If he had started second, he may have been able to at least challenge Hamilton - but as a sole threat in third it was always going to be difficult to affect the Silver Arrows ahead. As Hamilton said post-race, Verstappen could really do with some help from team-mate Alex Albon.
Rating out of 10: 9

Qualified 4th, Finished 4th

Cyril Abiteboul's tattoo will have to wait, but Daniel Ricciardo will certainly feel he now has his chance of winning his bet with his team boss this coming week at Monza after a very competitive run to fourth in Belgium. The Australian maximised the RS20's potential all weekend and finished just three seconds behind former team-mate Max Verstapen. Impressively, Ricciardo finished the race nearer the race winner (18s) than his team-mate one position behind him (22s).

Such was his in-the-zone confidence he even went for the fastest lap bonus point on the final tour - and got it, thanks to a 1.3s improvement on his previous tour. "Maybe it was better than my qualifying lap yesterday!" quipped a very happy Aussie.
Rating out of 10: 9.5

Qualifed 6th, Finished 5th

He may not quite have the pace of Ricciardo, but Esteban Ocon can certainly take encouragement from equalling his best F1 finish in just his seventh race in yellow. Ocon would have feared his good work to get ahead of Albon at the start was outdone after being jumped in the post-Safety Car pitstops, but the Frenchman remained patient, waiting until the very last lap to pounce as the Red Bull struggled on worn tyres.

"I always think about Antoine (Hubert)," said Ocon. "He would be pleased to see Renault up there today."
Rating out of 10: 8

Qualified 5th, Finished 6th

Lewis Hamilton's post-race remarks to Sky F1 about Max Verstappen being "on his own" in the fight against Mercedes will not do much for the external scrutiny on Alex Albon, even if Red Bull remain right behind their man. Qualifying was certainly better here for Alex, who was pleased to return to the grid's top five for the first time since the season-opener in Austria even if he did not quite maximise his final Q3 lap.

In between the Renaults at the start, Albon was behind both of them by the end of the first lap but Red Bull got him back ahead of Esteban Ocon at the stops. However, the medium tyre to the finish did not play out as hoped and Albon, who had to navigate the long-running Gasly, was repassed by the second Renault on the final lap. Sixth takes him into fourth in the Drivers' Championship, but Albon will be hoping for more from his race at Monza.
Rating out of 10: 6.5

Qualified 10th, Finished 7th

An impressive 'second' home race for the half-Belgian Lando Norris, who single-handedly ensured McLaren fought towards the front of the midfield after Carlos Sainz's pre-race retirement. Norris lost a position from ninth at the start - which has been a slightly alarming trend this year - but recovered well, before a storming late flourish. He overtook Lance Stroll with 10 laps remaining, and then was very close to snatching sixth off Albon - ruing a slight mistake into the final bus stop chicane. He slips to sixth in the standings, but Norris continues to shine.
Rating out of 10: 8

Qualified 12th, Finished 8th

Driver of the Day for the second time in F1, Pierre Gasly is certainly making a strong case to be considered among the drivers of the season too. His performance here was all the more commendable given the emotion attached to simply being at Spa, a year on from the death of his dear friend Anthoine Hubert.

Gasly promised to do his countryman proud and he certainly delivered on race day, turning his first qualifying loss to team-mate Daniil Kvyat this year into a stirring drive to eighth place. His overtake on Sergio Perez on lap two into Eau Rouge was as brave as it was thrilling.
Rating out of 10: 9

Qualified 9th, Finished 9th

Lance Stroll described his Belgian GP as "challenging" - not just because Racing Point did not have the podium-challening pace as hoped, but also because he appeared to suffer the effects of tyre wear more than most at the end of the race. That meant he was passed by Norris and Gasly in the closing stages, and only just finishing ahead of his team-mate at the end. "It was difficult to manage," he admitted.
Rating out of 10: 7.5

Qualified 8th, Finished 10th

Rather more was expected from Racing Point at Spa but, given the difficulties of the weekend, Sergio Perez was at least satisfied to claim a point in the end - which extends his personal top-10 run to 11 races now either side of the elongated off-season.

The team's decision not to pit him under the Safety Car when on soft tyres raised eyebrows but the Mexican at least had the pace to come back through in the closing stages to keep that run going.
Rating out of 10: 7.5

Out of the points

With speculation mounting about his AlphaTauri and F1 future, Daniil Kvyat chose a good time to out-qualify his team-mate for the first time this season. Unfortunately, he did not have the pace of Gasly in the race - and was ruing the team's split tyre strategy. "Unfortunately, I was on the wrong side of the strategy call," said Kvyat. "It's very hard to keep cars behind on old tyres."
Rating out of 10: 7.5

The top Ferrari-powered finisher in Belgium? The old Spa master himself, Kimi Raikkonen, although it is saying something about the state of the Scuderia's engine that even this accolade did not even earn him a single point. But that is not Kimi's fault and this was another good race from the Iceman, who was even able to overtake his old mate Sebastian Vettel. Alfa Romeo do seem to be improving slowly, so a first point of 2020 may not be too far away for the 2007 champion.
Rating out of 10: 8

Spa days are supposed to be relaxing, but this was anything but for Sebastian Vettel and Ferrari. A combination of poor straight-line speed, being beaten by Raikkonen, and strategy as he hung on for a one-stop were all sources of annoyance for Seb, who - while unhappy back in May when it was confirmed he would be leaving the team at the end of the 2020 - must now be counting down the days.
Rating out of 10: 6

The toughest of reversals for Charles Leclerc in the space of 12 months around Spa. Last year he was impressively holding off Lewis Hamilton for his first of two consecutive wins in F1, this time he never had a car to finish in the top 10 and even spent five laps mid-way through the race at the very back of the field. No wonder he was frustrated, both over team radio and in his post-race interviews, but he at least gave it a go with some decent attacking moves in the race's early stages. Sadly, it was all downhill from there.
Rating out of 10: 6

Romain Grosjean would certainly have taken battling with the Ferraris if told earlier this year - but unfortunately that is now a scrap for 15th. He nearly held Leclerc off, too, only for a small lock-up to cost him that position on the last lap. Still, a decent weekend for the Frenchman.
Rating out of 10: 7

A great first lap - when he went from last to 15th - was probably the highlight of Kevin Magnussen's weekend. Sadly for the Dane, his stay even that high in the field did not last long and he finished last of the runners in 17th after a two-stop race. "We needed something to help us today, weather or something, but we didn't get any," admitted Magnussen.
Rating out of 10: 6

Finishing within five seconds of Ferrari and between the two Haas cars was a reasonable showing for Nicholas Latifi, even if he found his Williams car a little unbalanced all race. He felt yellow flags at the end of Q1 on Saturday had cost him joining George Russell in the second stage, which would have opened his opportunities on race day.
Rating out of 10: 6.5

Did Not Finish

Just the 10 laps for Antonio Giovinazzi, who made an unforced error when trying to stay in DRS range of Vettel's Ferrari, smashing into the barriers at Les Fagnes. "I was on the limit and when you're there, sometimes mistakes can happen," said Giovinazzi - who had got ahead of Raikkonen at the start.
Rating out of 10: 6

George Russell was the unlucky party in that Giovinazzi crash, avoiding the Alfa Romeo but not the rear wheel that had rolled off the stricken car. As Sky F1's Anthony Davidson said: "There's nothing he could have done."

But another great Saturday for George, who made it into Q2 yet again.
Rating out of 10: 7

Did Not Start

"If anything could go wrong for Carlos Sainz, it is going wrong," summised Sky F1's Martin Brundle about Sainz's 2020, which has been plagued by misfortune. A race retirement before even lining up on the grid has takes the biscuit.
Rating out of 10: N/A

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