It was a difficult weekend for everybody at Spa. What should have been a joyous and stimulating yield in the month of summer vacations turned into a weekend at which the Formula 2 driver Anthoine Hubert was injured in a accident on Saturday evening.
If you didn’t know him, Anthoine Hubert was also a rising star on the ladder to Formula 1. His Father Francois had been a rally driver but Anthoine took to the race track winning the French F4 name.
Drivers: ” We raced for Hubert
The Frenchman won the GP3 Championship last year and was rewarded with a contract using the Driver Academy of the Renault F1 team. Anthoine graduated to F2 this season and impressed winning on home soil in France and Monaco, and was in line for a chair with one of the best teams at the series for second year.
I didn’t know Anthoine – I had just met him a couple of occasions in the paddock with a few friends, but he had been a popular and lovely young guy. I was interviewing Charles Leclerc after Qualifying in the Skypad neither of us understood how terrible it was and when the accident happened or in fact that it turned out to be. The reaction from greats like Alain Prost and Lewis Hamilton advised you we are nowadays when we lose a motorist.
There were lots of people of the paddock – in our Sky F1 group – and on media who were wondering how drivers can carry on carrying the risks and driving at high speeds through the very corners. That ability to disconnect from the outside world when you put your helmet on and focus is exactly what makes racing drivers unique.
In which somebody has been killed, I have been fortunate that in a race, I’ve only once been involved in 18 decades of driving race cars. This was Allan Simonsen at Le Mans in 2013 and I remember hearing about it as I’d set my helmet and put in the car and my team-mate Brendon Hartley was coming back to change . Perhaps the fact that remain focussed to the next 22 hours and I had to drive off meant I and all the drivers in the race – were able to continue driving flat out we were taking.
It’s a mechanism that all drivers engage in their mind. That feeling ‘it will not happen to us’ but every so often, tragically the sport reminds us of the dangers lurking around the corner.
If you talk with Sir Jackie Stewart in regards to the era he hurried in, he’ll tell you that losing friends and rivals almost on a monthly basis was not uncommon and it is thanks to folks like him and the FIA that we have not lost as many drivers in recent times. There’ll be a full evaluation of course and there’ll be lessons that all people can learn but motor sport is dangerous and also every motorist – Anthoine included – takes the risks every time we get into the cockpit of a racing car.
In terms of the Grand Prix it was great to see Charles Leclerc finally get the win he deserved. He has driven through this year and after the chance of losing possible wins in Bahrain, Baku and Austria, it was good to see him get one online. Charles was devastating in Qualifying, beating his World Champion team partner by a huge seven-tenths of a moment for the sixth Qualifying and this time.
At the race he was able to split with both better pace and tyre administration away from Sebastian. It was a performance when Hamilton started to shut the gap down, but it got a little tricky at the end.
Mercedes were running more downforce compared to Ferrari and of course made it hard for them to overtake. It also meant so we had a cat and mouse game in which one car was clearly quicker than the other that they had very good speed from the sector of their lap.
There is not a lot more that Mercedes could have done – maybe a fresh stop would have decreased the deficit with a couple of seconds to Leclerc but it’s not a race that you’re able to criticise them around too much.
Vettel seemed to suffer from tyre degradation over his youthful team-mate and I wonder if perhaps Ferrari would have attempted to run a bit more downforce merely to help him at the twistier centre sector of their lap because the advantage they had about the complete power run during the first industry was absolutely massive.
When we go to Monza weekend that is next, Ferrari must have more of an edge. There are far fewer corners than we have at Spa and much more to the point, only a couple of corners that’s the point where this Mercedes’ front end grip is a step that is good better than the cars. They’d have to do following 21, something quite wrong to not produce a victory in front of the adoring tifosi!
Lando Norris was unlucky not to get a good outcome in 5th while the location was inherited by Alex Albon after a drive from 17th on the grid at the conclusion. The Thai driver did a good job on his very first outing with the team – he was three tenths slower than Max Verstappen in Qualifying before he donned his lap at the end because of the grid penalties which turned out to be a very good effort for his first semester in the auto.
At the racehe bided his time on and then made progress in the second half to record a career best outcome.
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