It was a weekend for everyone in Spa. What should happen to be a yield in the month of summer holidays turned into a heartbreaking weekend where the youthful Formula 2 driver Anthoine Hubert was fatally injured in a accident on Saturday evening.
For Anthoine Hubert had been a star on the ladder to transplant 1. His Father Francois was a rally driver but Anthoine took on the race track instead, winning the French F4 title.
Drivers: We hurried for Hubert
The Frenchman won the GP3 Championship last season and was rewarded with a contract using the Driver Academy of the Renault F1 team. Anthoine impressed winning on home soil in France and at Monaco and graduated to F2, and has been in line to get a chair with a few of the greatest teams at the show for the following year.
I personally didn’t really know Anthoine – I had met him a couple of times from the paddock with some friends, but he had been a man. I interviewed Charles Leclerc after Qualifying at the Skypad when the incident occurred and neither of us knew how terrible it was or in fact that it turned out to be. You were told by the response from greats such as Lewis Hamilton and Alain Prost we are nowadays once we lose a driver.
There were lots of people in the paddock – in our Sky F1 group – and on social media who were wondering how motorists can carry on carrying the risks and driving at high speeds through the same corners. That ability to detach from the world when you place your helmet on, and concentrate is exactly what makes drivers unique.
Where someone has been killed, I have been fortunate that in a race, I 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 put my helmet on and my team-mate Brendon Hartley was coming into the pits to allow me to shift and get in the car. The simple fact that I had to push straight off and remain focused for another 22 hours meant that I and the rest of the drivers at the race – managed to carry on driving flat out we were carrying.
It is a defence mechanism that most drivers engage in their brain. That feeling ‘it won’t happen to people’ but every so often, tragically the sport reminds us of the dangers lurking around the corner.
If you speak with Sir Jackie Stewart concerning the era he raced in, he’ll tell you that losing friends and competitions almost on a monthly basis wasn’t uncommon and it’s thanks to people like him and the FIA that we have not lost as many drivers in recent times. There will be a full investigation of course and there will be lessons which everybody is able to learn but motor sport is dangerous and every motorist – Anthoine comprised – accepts every time we get into the cockpit of a racing car to the dangers.
In terms of the Grand Prix itself, it had been fantastic to see Charles Leclerc get the win he’d. He has driven all through this season and after the frustration of losing wins in Baku Bahrain and Austria, it was good to see him get one online. Charles was devastating in Qualifying, beating on his four-time World Champion team mate for its sixth Qualifying and this time with a enormous seven-tenths of a second.
At the race that he was able to split apart from Sebastian with both better pace and far much better tyre administration. It turned out to be a performance although it got a little tricky at the end when Hamilton began to shut the gap down.
Ferrari were not conducting more downforce compared to Mercedes and that of course made it hard for them to overtake. It meant that they and we had great speed and a cat and mouse game where one car was faster than the other at different areas of the 40, respectively.
There is not much more that Mercedes could have done – possibly a stop one lap earlier would have reduced the deficit by a few seconds into Leclerc but it is not a race which you can criticise them about too much.
Vettel appeared to endure with tyre degradation over his youthful team-mate and also I wonder if maybe Ferrari might have tried to run a bit more downforce just to help him in the twistier centre sector of their lap since the advantage they had about the entire power run during the very first sector was absolutely massive.
As soon as we go to Monza next weekend, then Ferrari should have more of an advantage. There are far fewer corners than we have only a couple of corners that’s the point where this Mercedes’ front end grip is a fantastic step better than the automobiles. They’d need to do something quite wrong to not deliver a victory in front of the tifosi next week!
Lando Norris was really unlucky to not find a result that is fantastic whereas Alex Albon inherited the location after a push from 17th on the grid in the conclusion. The Thai driver did a fantastic job on his first outing with the group – he had been three tenths slower than Max Verstappen in Qualifying before he aborted his lap in the end on account of the grid penalties which was a very good effort for his first semester in the car.
At the racehe bided his time on and then made solid progress in the second half to record a career best result.
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