Charles Leclerc wins to shine a light on dark Belgian GP weekend

It was a challenging weekend for everyone at Spa. What should happen to be a exciting and joyous return from a few summer vacations turned into a heartbreaking weekend where the young Formula 2 driver Anthoine Hubert was hurt in an accident on Saturday.
If you did not know him, Anthoine Hubert had been also a star on the ladder to Formula 1. Anthoine took to the race track instead, winning the F4 name although his Father Francois was a rally driver.
F1 drivers: ” We hurried for Hubert
The Frenchman won the GP3 Championship last season and has been rewarded with a contract using the Driver Academy of the Renault F1 team. Anthoine impressed winning on home soil in France and Monaco and graduated to F2, and was in line to get a chair with a few of the best teams in the series for following year.
I didn’t really know Anthoine – I had only met him a few occasions from the paddock with some mutual friends, but by most accounts he was a popular and lovely young guy. I was interviewing Charles Leclerc after Qualifying at the Skypad neither of us understood how awful it was and as soon as the incident happened in fact that it turned out to be a friend of his that was involved. The response from greats such as Alain Prost and Lewis Hamilton advised you we are these days once we shed a driver.
There were a lot of people of the paddock – in our Sky F1 group – and on societal media who had been wondering how drivers can continue driving at high speeds through the very corners and accepting the risks. This ability to detach from the world when you put your helmet on, and focus is what makes racing drivers special.
I have been fortunate that in 18 years of race cars, I been engaged in a race in which someone has been killed. That was Allan Simonsen at Le Mans in 2013 and that I recall hearing about it as I’d set my helmet and put in the car and my team-mate Brendon Hartley was coming to change over. The fact that stay focussed to another 22 hours and I had to drive away meant that I – and all the other drivers at the race – were able to carry on driving flat out we were carrying.
It’s a mechanism which their mind is engaged in by drivers. That feeling of’it won’t occur to people’ but every so often the game reminds us of the hazards lurking around the corner.
If you talk with Sir Jackie Stewart about the era he hurried in, he will tell you losing friends and rivals almost on a monthly basis was not uncommon and it is thanks to people like the FIA that we have not lost as many motorists recently. There’ll be a complete investigation of course and there will be lessons which all people can learn but regrettably motor sport is dangerous and also each and every motorist – Anthoine comprised – accepts the dangers every time we get in the cockpit of a racing car.
As for the Grand Prix it had been great to see Charles Leclerc get the win he deserved. He’s driven during this season and following the frustration of losing wins in Baku Bahrain and Austria, it was great to see him get one online. Charles was catastrophic in Qualifying, beating his World Champion team mate with a enormous seven-tenths of a moment for this time and the sixth Qualifying.
In the race he was able to split with better pace and better tyre management apart from Sebastian. When Hamilton began to shut down the gap, although it got a bit tricky at the end it turned out to be a powerful performance.
Ferrari were not running more downforce compared to Mercedes and that of course made it hard for them to overtake. It meant that they had very great speed from the center sector of their lap and so we had a cat and mouse game where a single car was clearly faster than the other.
There’s not much more that Mercedes might have achieved – maybe a stop would have reduced the deficit to Leclerc but it’s not really a race which they can be criticised by you about a great deal.
Vettel appeared to endure from tyre degradation more than his youthful team-mate and I wonder if maybe Ferrari could have tried to run somewhat more downforce merely to assist him in the twistier centre sector of the lap because the benefit they had about the entire power run during the very first sector was absolutely enormous.
Ferrari should have more of an edge As soon as we go to Monza next weekend. There are corners than we have at Spa and much more to the point, just a couple of corners which is the point where this Mercedes’ front end grasp is really a step that is good greater than the red cars. They’d need to do week something quite wrong not to deliver a victory before the adoring tifosi!
Lando Norris was very unlucky to not find a outcome that is fantastic while Alex Albon inherited the place at the end. The Thai driver did a good job on his first outing with the team – he was less than three tenths slower than Max Verstappen at Qualifying until he aborted his lap in the conclusion on account of the grid penalties which turned out to be a very good attempt for his first semester in the car.
At the racehe bided his time early on and then made solid improvement in the second half to record a result.
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