• Ferrari is the most successful team around Spa.
• The team is unlikely to challenge for a win this weekend.
• Ferrari won the 2018 and 2019 editions of Belgian Grand Prix.
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Ferrari is the most successful team around the Spa-Francorchamps race track in Belgium. With 14 wins to their name at the circuit, they know how to maximise their opportunities and pull a rabbit out of the hat.
Over the last few decades, Ferrari drivers were regular faces on the Belgian podium and last year was a definite highlight when Charles Leclerc, the team’s new recruit, scored his first win at the track. It was massive for Ferrari because that win was their first of the 2019 season.
But is there any chance of Leclerc and team mate Sebastian Vettel scoring the team’s 15th win at Spa?
2020: One to forget
Towards the end of the 2019 season, the FIA, Formula 1’s governing body, investigated Ferrari for irregularities regarding their engines. The findings of the investigation were never made public, with the FIA only saying that the (complicated) matter is resolved. Although the details are still in the dark, it came to light that Ferrari managed to bypass specific engine regulations set by the FIA, which allowed them to generate more power from the engine.
Subsequently, Ferrari was told to not do it, which resulted in the car being underpowered for the remainder of 2019, as well as 2020. Yes, this year’s cars are powered by slightly modified 2019 engines. And Ferrari, with their backs against the wall, is suffering.
The challenges extend to the aerodynamics of the 2020 car, too. Both Vettel and Leclerc are struggling to extract the maximum from the performance and the results so far this year are nothing to write home about. Leclerc appeared on the podium twice in 2020 so far, but mainly because poor luck befell other drivers.
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Can they win?
Coming into the race, the only area where Ferrari could maximise their cars’ performance is to work on the aerodynamics. That’s why the team opted to run a smaller rear wing, which should allow them to achieve higher top speeds on the long straights. However, in the more technical second sector of the track, the car will lack downforce; leading to a lack of grip when the drivers go around the corners at speed.
Will it be enough for the team to fight their way onto the podium come the race on Sunday? Unfortunately, no. Ferrari, at best, can hope on a top-five finish this Sunday. The Mercedes-AMG F1 and Red Bull Racing teams are the cream of the crop, followed by Racing Point and McLaren. Ferrari is the fifth-fastest team this year and not in any position to challenge for the podium when every one of the ten teams is running without fault.
Vettel has won around Spa in 2011, 2013 and 2018, but he will be happy just to score points when the chequered flag drops. Leclerc, however, could challenge for the final podium position, provided something happens to Mercedes’ drivers Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas, and Red Bull’s Max Verstappen.