RACE DEBRIEF

    After a 2019 that was sufficiently impressive for Ferrari to chose Carlos Sainz as a replacement for Sebastian Vettel, the going has been tougher for the Spaniard in 2020. But heading to Belgium this weekend, Sainz is hoping that a strong home race has signalled a turnaround in his fortunes this season.

    Prior to the Spanish Grand Prix, Sainz had found himself outscored at four out of five Grands Prix by McLaren team mate Lando Norris, with Sainz having failed to score at all at the pair of Silverstone races.

    But a chassis change at Barcelona, quickly followed by a total power unit swap that breathed “new life” into his McLaren MCL35 (in Sainz’s words), appeared to work wonders, as Sainz narrowly outqualified Norris before finishing the race in sixth – in front of a Ferrari (Sebastian Vettel’s), a Red Bull (Alex Albon’s) and his own team mate in P10.

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    “In general, we’ve performed well over the opening stint of races and I hope Barcelona was a turning point in my season,” said Sainz ahead of the Belgian Grand Prix. “We need to carry forward all the positive energy built in Spain because the constructors' championship is extremely tight and leaving points behind is not an option if we want to stay in the fight.”

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    A change of chassis and power unit meant that Sainz was happier in Spain

    Extremely tight is right, with Racing Point in third to Ferrari in fifth separated by just two points ahead of the Belgian Grand Prix, with McLaren in the middle in fourth.

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    And with his team sensing a real opportunity to take third in the constructors’ championship, in what would be their highest finishing position since 2012, McLaren Team Principal Andreas Seidl echoed Sainz’s words – while with pit stop issues having cost Sainz points this year, Seidl stressed the need for the operational side of the team to be just as polished as his drivers’ performances…

    “We know that we face a challenge in the constructors’ championship, with third to sixth place separated only by a small amount of points,” said Seidl. “Reliability, race operations and extracting maximum performance from the car are all critical to staying in this fight.”

    Meanwhile, Sainz’s slow start to the season compared to Norris – who scored his maiden F1 podium at the season opening race in Austria – means he sits in ninth place in the drivers’ standings on 23 points, compared to Norris in seventh on 39.

    2020

    Constructors' standings ahead of the Belgian GP

    POSITION POINTS
    1 Mercedes Mercedes Mercedes 221
    2 Red Bull Racing Red Bull Racing Red Bull Racing 135
    3 Racing Point Racing Point Racing Point 63
    4 McLaren McLaren McLaren 62
    5 Ferrari Ferrari Ferrari 61
    6 Renault Renault Renault 36
    7 AlphaTauri AlphaTauri AlphaTauri 16
    8 Alfa Romeo Racing Alfa Romeo Racing Alfa Romeo Racing 2
    9 Haas F1 Team Haas F1 Team Haas F1 Team 1
    10 Williams Williams Williams