- Thursday proved to be a day of announcements as both Mercedes and Renault finalised their line-ups for the 2020 season. Mercedes confirmed Valtteri Bottas would be continuing for next year as Lewis Hamilton’s teammate, prompting Ocon to be snapped up by Renault in place of Nico Hulkenberg.

- Bottas’ confirmation ended an anxious wait for the Finn, who revealed the deal had been finalised in the final week of the summer break. However, it is a wait he is likely to repeat next year given Mercedes has only exercised the option in his contract, meaning he remains a free agent for 2021.

- Lewis Hamilton called it a “smart decision” for Mercedes to continue with Bottas for next year, talking up the rapport they have and the positive energy it gives the team. “

- Ocon’s confirmation at Renault means he will leave the Mercedes family at the end of the season after five years under its umbrella. Until then, he will continue to complete his simulator and reserve driver duties for the German marque before linking up with Renault.

- Ocon’s arrival also marks the departure for Nico Hulkenberg after three years with Renault. Hulkenberg said he felt some “hints” from Renault about a change coming up, but that there were “no hard feelings”.

- Hulkenberg’s most likely option for a seat in 2020 now lies with Haas. Ahead of Renault’s announcement, Gunther Steiner named Hulkenberg and Ocon as the only realistic alternatives to Romain Grosjean for next year, boiling the battle down to Hulkenberg and Grosjean after Ocon’s confirmation.

- Were Hulkenberg to join Haas, it would see him partner Kevin Magnussen – who famously told Hulkenberg to “suck my balls” after a spat in Hungary two years. But both drivers downplayed it as a possible problem, with Steiner saying it would have zero impact on Haas’ decision for next year.

- Romain Grosjean said he was “quite confident” of remaining on the F1 grid next year, but confirmed he is exploring options outside of the sport too. He talked up Formula E, calling it a “nice championship”, but ruled out IndyCar as he does not want to race on ovals.

- The other big driver news being talked about on Thursday at Spa was Red Bull’s decision to swap Alexander Albon and Pierre Gasly in their seats for the rest of the season. Both drivers only learned of the move on the morning it was announced, with Gasly saying he felt “shocked and disappointed” as it was “not what I had been told before after Budapest”, implying he was assured about his future.

- Max Verstappen revealed that he found out about the swap before either driver, learning the news while in the simulator at Red Bull prior to the summer shutdown.

- Albon is unlikely to repeat Verstappen’s feat of winning on debut for Red Bull as he will start from the back of the grid due to a penalty for an upgraded power unit. Honda confirmed on Thursday that Albon – now using Gasly’s previous element allocation – and Daniil Kvyat will both take the Spec 4 power unit for this weekend, triggering grid penalties. Gasly and Verstappen are likely to follow suit at Monza.

- Kvyat said he felt no disappointment at missing out on the seat to Albon: “I think my job doesn’t change, my year has been fantastic, so I look at that, rather than other things out of my control.” The Russian also joked: “Usually after [I am on] the podium always something surprising [happens]. I did a podium with Red Bull and something surprising might happen…”

- Gasly and Kvyat only spoke briefly on Thursday due to their busy schedules, but Gasly said he did not expect to receive any support or advice from Kvyat on how to adjust to the move back to Toro Rosso. Gasly will be working with Albon’s former Toro Rosso engineer, Pierre Hamelin.

- Haas chief Gunther Steiner said a decision on Rich Energy’s future with Haas would likely be taken between Monza and Singapore. Steiner met with the company’s investors on Wednesday, and said the ball was in their court whether or not to continue with the agreement.

- Kimi Raikkonen confirmed he sustained a pulled muscle in his left leg over the summer break while doing “sport”, prompting Alfa Romeo to put Marcus Ericsson on standby for the weekend. Ericsson will skip this weekend’s IndyCar at Portland in order to be in Belgium, and was at the track on Wednesday. Raikkonen moved to downplay the issue throughout his press briefing, joking that “drinking is probably safer” than doing sports. “Usually you don’t get injured, you just get hungover.”

- Another driver nursing an injury coming into the weekend was Lando Norris, who suffered an inflamed tendon in his left foot after running. Norris wore a protective boot on his left leg last week, but said he was now “all good and raring to go” for Spa with no concerns.

- Sergio Perez is “very close” to being able to confirm his plans for 2020, with a stay at Racing Point looking likely. “I am confident and I hope that soon we can announce it and just can get on with it,” he said.

- In the battle at the front of the pack, Sebastian Vettel downplayed Ferrari’s expected advantage at Spa this weekend, believing the team will still struggle through the middle sector at Spa. “We are not the favourites coming here,” Vettel said. “We got beaten quite badly in the last race in Hungary. I think we are still in the position where we need to make up a lot of ground and that is our main focus.”

- Race director Michael Masi confirmed the FIA stewards in Spa would be clamping down on track limits at Turn 4 – Raidillon, actually – as drivers crest over the hill. Times will be deleted in practice and qualifying, with a three-strike rule set to be used during the race.

- F1 teams are set to receive one extra MGU-K element next year to help deal with a 22-race calendar, up to three from two usages for the year in 2019.

- While the paddock will have to contend with a record-long calendar in 2020, there will be a cutback in testing. As well as the reduction to six days of pre-season running reported before the summer break, in-season testing is now set to be scrapped completely. The end-of-season test in Abu Dhabi will likely be extended from two to three days, though, to give teams an opportunity to run young drivers.

- On-track running at Spa begins at 11am on Friday with Free Practice 1.

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