Leclerc finally claims his maiden win
After victory got snatched away from him at Bahrain and Austria, it was third time lucky for the 21-year-old at Spa yesterday; albeit under sad circumstances following the death of his friend on the previous day.
Leclerc topped FP2, FP3 and each segment of qualifying to deservedly take his third pole position of the year. To put 0.7s on the rest of the field in Q3 was something very special from the Monegasque pilot.
In the race, he managed his tyres and race perfectly. With Vettel holding Hamilton up for a crucial few laps in the second stint, Charles just held off the faster Mercedes. To put all the emotion and pain to one side to deliver that performance shows his mental strength and the amazing talent he has.
It was a well-deserved win; the first of many, all being well. Let’s hope his next one will come in much happier circumstances.
Albon and Kvyat’s superb drives
Two of the potential candidates for the second Red Bull seat alongside Max Verstappen next year produced exceptional performances on Sunday. Due to grid penalties from component changes, both of them were forced to start from near the back.
From 17th on the grid, Albon avoided the incidents that happened at T1 to find himself up in P13 before the Safety Car was deployed. He struggled to make any progress on the medium tyre in the first stint as he couldn’t pass Giovinazzi in the Alfa Romeo.
However, when he switched to the soft tyre, he came alive. The Thai rejoined in 14th place and went on a passing spree. He overtook Stroll, Hulkenberg, Gasly, Grosjean, Ricciardo, Kvyat and Perez to finish an excellent P5 on his Red Bull debut. It was a standout drive and the aggression he showed will have impressed Marko and Horner.
Daniil Kvyat was also in sensational form on Sunday. After starting 19th, Kvyat made up an amazing EIGHT places on the opening lap to find himself in P11 on the medium tyres. With most of the runners in front of him pitting early, the Russian found himself up in P6 before his only stop.
He dropped to 13th following a change of tyres – but just like Albon, he charged through the pack. Kvyat overtook Stroll, Hulkenberg, Gasly, Grosjean and Ricciardo to finish a brilliant P7.
Both drivers made up 12 places in the race. Statements made.
Late race disappointment for Norris and Giovinazzi
It pales into comparison considering what happened in the Formula 2 on Saturday, but there was massive frustration for both Lando Norris and Antonio Giovinazzi on the penultimate lap (for them) as both drivers retired – but for very different reasons.
After a brilliant opening lap – with some help from incidents – Norris moved up to 5th from 11th on the grid. The young Brit had a quiet, solid race from there and looked set to finish P5 to achieve his best result in Formula 1 so far. However, his car broke down with two laps to go and was denied.
Norris is having an impressive rookie season, but several problems have cost him quite a few points.
AsteriskAsteriskAsteriskAsterisk! pic.twitter.com/nu1QKaPdcA— Lando Norris (@LandoNorris) September 2, 2019
On a day where Raikkonen’s race was pretty much done at turn 1, it was an opportunity for Antonio Giovinazzi to prove this worth to Alfa Romeo. He did that, but only for 99% of the race.
Just like Kvyat and Albon, he started on the mediums and came through in the second stint on softs. The Italian looked set for an excellent P9 (which would have been eventually P8 thanks to Norris’ problems), but a crash at Pouhon after going a fraction wide saw him throw it away.
Yesterday’s mistake could be extremely costly to his chances of keeping the seat for 2020. The pressure continues to mount.
Verstappen’s amazing streak comes to an end
Max Verstappen’s astonishing run of 21 successive races finishing in the top 5 came to an end on Sunday.
Not for the first time in 2019, he had a shocking start; this time, it proved extremely costly.
Kimi Raikkonen got the jump on him at the start and the Dutchman tried to make amends of his poor getaway by sending it up the inside of the Alfa Romeo into T1. However, the Finn didn’t see him and the pair made contact.
A broken steering rack saw Verstappen end up in the barriers at Eau Rouge and his day was done. A phenomenal record ended. While the Dutchman’s turn 1 move was far from reckless, a little bit more caution would have been the best option with the whole race still to run.
Nevertheless, expect him to bounce back and collect some more wins before the year is over. The 2019 Max Verstappen will learn from the incident at Spa.
The tragic loss of Anthoine Hubert
The racing community was plunged into a state of shock and sadness as Anthoine Hubert tragically lost his life during the Formula 2 feature race on Saturday afternoon at Spa.
22-year-old Hubert had been having a great season with Arden until his life was cruelly taken at the weekend. He won two races at Monaco and in front of his home fans at Paul Ricard. The young Frenchman was 8th in the standings and looked set to join one of the bigger F2 teams in 2020 to challenge for the championship.
Hubert was in the Renault driver program and the 2018 GP3 Champion could well have made it to Formula 1 someday. Sadly, we’ll never find out.
While safety has improved immeasurably in recent times, the danger will always be there. Anthoine left us way too soon, but he’ll never be forgotten and we’ll always carry him in our hearts and minds. RIP.
Spare a thought for Juan Manuel Correa, too. He faces a long road in making a full recovery.
Humble, vibrant, intelligent and passionate…— Formula 2 (@FIA_F2) September 1, 2019
The Frenchman will be deeply missed pic.twitter.com/odygVN14XM