In an emotional weekend for motorsport. Charles Leclerc claimed the first victory of his Formula 1 career in front of a grieving Spa-Francorchamps mourning the tragic death of Formula 2 race-winner Anthoine Hubert.
While there were no real winners this weekend, MotorsportM8 looks at who prevailed – or failed – in their Belgian Grand Prix campaign.
This was a hard weekend for Charles Leclerc whose close friend Anthoine Hubert passed away after a horrific crash on Saturday at Spa. The Monégasque driver was visibly upset during the one-minute silence held for Hubert prior to the Formula 3 race on Sunday.
Delivering a stellar performance under extremely difficult circumstances, Leclerc started from pole and handed Scuderia Ferrari their first win of their 2019 campaign. The 21-year-old racer displayed the supreme pace he had in practice and all three segments of qualifying to claim the first win of his F1 career.
While he dedicated a bittersweet win to Hubert, he writes himself into the history books as Ferrari’s 39th winner and the first driver to win his maiden Grand Prix at Spa-Francorchamps since seven-time World Champion Michael Schumacher in 1992.
Remaining notably calm throughout the entire weekend, Red Bull Racing’s high-profile promotion of Alexander Albon paid off in his first start in the senior team at Spa.
Starting from the back of the grid after a series of grid penalties, the Thai driver made a solid opening to the race moving into P13 amidst the Max Verstappen Lap 1 carnage.
After a change to soft tyres in the second stint of the race, his RB15 came alive and Albon pulled off several impressive overtakes including a brilliant pass on Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo to enter the points.
A last-lap pass on Racing Point’s Sergio Pérez and the retirement of McLaren’s Lando Norris saw him bring home a career-best result with fifth place – not a bad first day at his new job.
Two top-ten finishes have been a rare occurrence for Racing Point this season, but the Silverstone team scored their second of the year at Spa.
Fastest of the midfield in Friday Practice at the Belgian Grand Prix, their pace reinforced the team’s history of success at Spa-Francorchamps.
Sergio Pérez had a faultless run, finishing sixth at the venue – his fourth top-six result in the last five years here – and his second top-six finish of the season.
Perez’ teammate Lance Stroll made it into the top ten in the closing stages, having started down in 16th, to claim his fifth points’ finish of the year and second in three races.
Their points haul also helped Racing Point jump up to seventh in the Constructors’ Championship standings, with the team now just three points adrift of Renault and only eight behind Scuderia Toro Rosso.
It’s not often that you see Max Verstappen’s name anywhere near a losers list, but the Belgian Grand Prix delivered the end to the Dutchman’s impressive statistic of a finishing in the top-five for past 21 races.
The orange-clad fan club that follows the 21-year-old Red Bull Racing driver around the globe didn’t even get to see him complete a racing lap after he collided with Kimi Räikkönen at Turn 1.
With broken steering, Verstappen tried to negotiate Eau Rouge but went straight into the barriers to end his race.
Although a point-free weekend for Verstappen, he has managed to retain third in the Drivers’ Championship standings, but loses pace with second-placed Valterri Bottas. Scuderia Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel is only 12 points away in fourth but we would guess that the Spa-Francorchamps weekend was merely a glitch for the Dutch star.
F1 rookie Lando Norris had his run of bad luck continue, which a late-race mechanical failure costing him a season’s best result.
The McLaren driver navigated the opening laps well rising from eleventh to fifth, behind the Ferrari / Mercedes quartet and had flawless performance until disaster struck on the final lap.
The British driver’s car lost power while exiting the final chicane seeing him crawling over the line before stopping on the side of the track. The engine problem saw six other cars pass him handing Norris 11th in the final classification. It was the fourth time he has failed to reach the chequered flag this season.
Sebastian Vettel has now ticked off more than 12 months without with a Formula 1 Grand Prix victory, reinforced by Scuderia moving Vettel aside to let his teammate Leclerc win the Belgian Grand Prix.
The German driver was outpaced in qualifying by Leclerc for the sixth consecutive race but played the team game by controlling his pace and keeping the faster Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton at bay for as long as he could to help the Monégasque driver’s chance of victory.
Vettel has a shrinking advantage of 12 points over Leclerc in the Drivers’ Championship standings with eight races still to go.
Images via Red Bull Racing, Racing Point, Scuderia Ferrari
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