On This Day: 2020 Belgian Grand Prix

The 2020 Belgian Grand Prix will be the fifth Grand Prix to have been held on 30th August. While the Dutch Grand Prix was held on this day in 1981, the three most recent races held on this date have all taken place at Spa-Francorchamps.

The 1981 Dutch Grand Prix and the 1992, 1998 and 2009 Belgian Grands Prix are the four previous races to have been held on 30th August. A different team has taken pole position in all four races, and a different team have won at all four events. Two races held on this date – the 1992 and 1998 Belgian Grands Prix – have been held in wet conditions, while all three Belgian races held on this date have not been won from pole. All four races have featured at least one driver crashing out on the first lap – most notably in the 1998 Belgian Grand Prix which saw one of the biggest first lap pile-ups in F1 history.

The first Formula 1 race to be held on this date was the 1981 Dutch Grand Prix, at Zandvoort. Alain Prost was victorious in this event, finishing eight seconds ahead of Nelson Piquet. Meanwhile, with third place, Alan Jones recorded Williams’ 40th podium finish as well as the final fastest lap of his career.

At the 1992 Belgian Grand Prix, Michael Schumacher scored the first of his 91 victories. His win was also the last for a car with manual transmission. By this point in 1992, Nigel Mansell had already sealed the Drivers’ Championship, and he continued to pick up points by finishing as runner-up. In what was their 500th Grand Prix start, neither Ferrari driver scored a point. Until 2019, Schumacher remained the latest driver to have taken their maiden victory at Spa; but that was changed by Charles Leclerc.

There were iconic scenes at Spa on 30th August 1998, as David Coulthard started a domino effect which caused the most expensive accident in Formula 1 history. Almost the entire field was caught up in the commotion. Coulthard would be in the headlines again later, as Michael Schumacher crashed into the back of his car, forcing both out of the race. Mika Hakkinen’s retirement is the only DNF for a polestitter on this date. The chaotic race and mixed conditions saw Jordan score their first victory, with Damon Hill leading home a 1-2 finish for the team. They remain the only team to have scored a 1-2 finish on this date.

The most recent Formula 1 race held on 30th August is the 2009 Belgian Grand Prix. There was an unexpected polesitter in this race, as Giancarlo Fisichella took Force India’s only pole position. It was also the last pole of the Italian’s career. While the team scored their first ever points with a podium finish (which would be the final points and podium for Fisichella), no one could stop Kimi Raikkonen from scoring Ferrari’s 210th race victory. The Finn’s win from sixth on the grid is the furthest back that a race held on this date has been won from. On the other side of the Ferrari garage, Felipe Massa’s stand-in Luca Badoer made his final F1 appearance. He remains the driver to have made the most F1 outings without scoring a point.

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