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Belgian GP: Qualifying team notes - Pirelli

NEWS STORY
29/08/2020

Lewis Hamilton's pole time on soft was not only nearly 1.3 seconds faster than last year's pole, but the Mercedes driver also set a new track record at Spa four times during qualifying (including on the medium tyre) eclipsing the previous benchmark from 2018. The first seven cars in qualifying were all faster than last year's pole.

A lot is always said about variable conditions at Spa, but it's all true: weather will be the determining factor when it comes to strategy, especially with a considerable possibility of rain tomorrow. This will point teams towards a flexible strategy to allow them to take advantage of changing circumstances.

The top three cars - Lewis Hamilton, Valtteri Bottas and Max Verstappen - will all start the race on the P Zero Yellow medium tyre, having used it to set their best times in Q2, while the rest of the top 10 behind them will start on soft.

Both Renault cars have been quick all weekend, with Daniel Ricciardo qualifying fourth and Esteban Ocon sixth.

The optimal strategy for the 44-lap Belgian Grand Prix is on paper a one-stopper, but as usual the tactics in Belgium will be heavily influenced by the weather. Aside from the possibility of rain, estimated earlier at 80%, ambient and track temperatures will also play a part.

The fastest theoretical strategy is to start on the soft tyre for 18 laps and then complete the race on the medium. The exact opposite can work too.

Second-quickest is another one-stopper, with the soft for 16 laps and the hard for 28 laps, while a two-stopper is feasible as well: start on the soft for 14 laps, then medium for 16 laps, then soft for 14 laps.

Slower is a one-stopper using medium for 20 laps and hard for 24 laps - but all the strategies listed above are actually quite close, so it will come down to individual race circumstances when deciding the best solution.

Mario Isola: "There were only a few drops of rain seen earlier today, and on the P Zero Red soft tyres - one step softer than the softest compound we brought to Spa last year - Lewis Hamilton broke the all-time Spa lap record four times during qualifying, including once on the medium tyre. The fact that the top seven on the grid are all faster than last year's pole underlines the impressive evolution of the cars since last year. We've seen some divergence in strategies already, with the top three cars on the grid starting the race on the medium tyre tomorrow. This will make for a particularly interesting first stint: those on the medium should be able to go longer, but the drivers on soft will have a speed advantage that could be considerable in the early stages. While the teams will always be planning their strategies carefully, Spa is a race where tactics often have to react to changing circumstances, which could well be the case with uncertain weather predicted tomorrow."

Check out our Saturday gallery from Spa, here.

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