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Lewis Hamilton will start the 2020 Formula One Belgian Grand Prix from pole ahead of Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas, while Aussie Daniel Ricciardo will line up fourth. Join The Roar for a live blog and race updates from 11:10pm (AEST).
The steam train that is the 2020 F1 season continues rolling along, with Belgium marking the start of another three consecutive weeks on the road for the championship.
Typically run as the first race after the summer break, this year it’s after only one weekend off that the series arrives at the seven-kilometre Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps, one of the most demanding on the calendar.
The race will be run over 44 laps with one of the sport’s most picturesque backdrops, the circuit scything its way through the lush Ardennes forest with plenty of undulation to challenge drivers and their cars.
Championship leader and three-time winner in Belgium Lewis Hamilton currently holds more than a race wins worth of points as an advantage over Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen and Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas.
If a credible challenge were to be mounted against the six-world champion, this would be the race for either Bottas or Verstappen to start making inroads lest they fall out of touch with the consistent Briton.
It’s perhaps a tall order for Verstappen. Despite being only around a tenth slower than the Mercedes car in race trim during Friday practice, his car still possesses an overall performance deficit to the championship leaders.
But with the prospect of rain on the forecast, anything might yet happen, even if the obvious is that Hamilton and Mercedes will outclass the competition in changeable conditions, as shown back in Hungary.
Hamilton claimed pole position by a comfortable half-second margin ahead of teammate Bottas, with Verstappen starting third at the head of the second row.
However, the real intrigue for this race sits behind the top three, with Daniel Ricciardo starting the race fourth ahead of Red Bull Racing’s Alexander Albon, both of whom are outside threats for the podium.
Even varying conditions won’t flatter Ferrari and its current predicament. After struggling through the entire weekend at the bottom of the field, the red cars only just scraped themselves out of Q1 to qualify 13th and 14th.
The SF1000 has an overall pace deficit, and it isn’t even entirely to do with the engine being down on power. A free choice of starting tyre may help them push for a top-ten finish, though it shouldn’t be counted on.
Another Hamilton masterclass in season 2020? The prospect seems as good as guaranteed.
Tune in on The Roar from 11:10pm (AEST) for live blog coverage of the Belgian Grand Prix.
Lights out: 11:10pm (AEST)
Venue: Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium
TV: Fox Sports
Online: Kayo Sports, Foxtel
2019 winner: Charles Leclerc (Ferrari)
1. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes), 2. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes)
3. Max Verstappen (Red Bull Racing), 4. Daniel Ricciardo (Renault)
5. Alexander Albon (Red Bull Racing), 6. Esteban Ocon (Renault)
7. Carlos Sainz (McLaren), 8. Sergio Perez (Racing Point)
9. Lance Stroll (Racing Point), 10. Lando Norris (McLaren)
11. Daniil Kvyat (AlphaTauri), 12. Pierre Gasly (AlphaTauri)
13. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari), 14. Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari)
15. George Russell (Williams), 16. Kimi Raikkonen (Alfa Romeo)
17. Romain Grosjean (Haas), 18. Antonio Giovinazzi (Alfa Romeo)
19. Nicholas Latifi (Williams), 20. Kevin Magnussen (Haas)