After the summer break, it's time for Formula 1 to come back and complete the path of the World Championship of 2019. The thirteenth race will take place in Belgium on the circuit of Spa - Francorchamps. Last month the team could add new upgrades and work on the vehicle. This prospect has opened new possibilities in the second part of the season, even though the driver market has never been busier. On Thursday 29 August 2019, Valtteri Bottas renews his contract with Mercedes for the 2020 season and Esteban Ocon, former Racing Point driver, stuck in favour of Sergio Perez in 2019, announced his return to the circus from 2020 with Renault. Following the words of Valterri Bottas :
"I am very happy and proud to be part of the team for the fourth season, and I would like to thank all the team members and the Mercedes Board of Directors for their confidence in me. My performance has improved every year and this is a great way to start the second half of 2019. My overall goal is to become a Formula 1 World Champion. I think about the results, and from my experience with the team, Mercedes is the best option for me to achieve this goal in 2020. We still have nine races to play this season and I am determined to improve my performance. Now, all my thoughts are about Spa and I count on being competitive this weekend".
Even Toto Wolff declare himself satisfied :
"For 2019, we had the challenge in Valtteri to see him stronger than he was in the first part of 2018 and he succeeded with some really impressive performances, which led him to his best first part of the championship. The results we achieved together with Valtteri are not a coincidence: it has been an integral part of our success in the last two seasons: His work with Lewis was exemplary and showed real strength of character in the way he responded to setbacks as well. I’m glad he’s staying with us for at least one more season".
This, instead, is Esteban Ocon’s thought :
"I am very proud to join Renault. I grew up in Enstone, which in 2010 was the headquarters of Lotus before the first-person return of Renault. I am very attached to this team and to all those who work there, they are the people who have opened the doors of high-level motorsport to me. I am proud that a team with great ambitions allowed me to demonstrate, once again, my abilities at the highest level in Formula 1. It is a responsibility that I take very seriously, the confidence that I have confirmed to help the growth of the team is positive pressure, and I can’t wait to give my best".
Meanwhile, the team principal of Renault, Cyril Abiteboul, proclaims:
"We are very happy to have Esteban with us in the next two seasons. During his Formula 1 career, Esteban has experienced the ups and downs of this sport and has fully understood the need to seize all possible opportunities. In addition to supervising his natural talent, Esteban will be called to optimize his energy and guidance and he will be able to count on the support of the entire team. He proved to be able to get points for the team, he has great professionalism on and off the track, and his recent experience, as a reserve driver for the world champion team, will be a valuable resource for the development of our entire team".
Nico Hulkenberg still waits for seats available.
"I would like to thank Nico for his great involvement and massive contribution to our progress over the past three seasons. When he decided to join us the team was ninth in the Constructors' standings, and he took us to fourth place last year, confirming himself seventh in the drivers' standings. The extinction of his contract made this decision difficult because Nico has been a milestone in our progress over the last three years. The first part of this season was very challenging, but I know we can count on him to get the most in the second half of the World Championship".
On Friday, August 30, 2019, Sergio Perez also renews his contract with Racing Point for another three years:
"I am very happy to have the possibility to extend my collaboration with the team for the next three years. I have been working in this group for a long time, and these people have become my second family. We have achieved great goals together, moreover, we share the same passion for racing. I was impressed by the very positive direction the team has taken over the past twelve months, and that gives me confidence in the future. I believe the best times are yet to come and I look forward to celebrating many podiums in the years to come".
Otmar Szafnauer is also satisfied, who in the press conference of the team principals held before FP2 of the Belgian Grand Prix answers a question about the possibility of confirming Perez with: maybe we confirm it today.
"We know Sergio very well and it’s great for us to have been able to sign a long-term agreement. Over the past six years, we have seen him become a very complete driver, with excellent qualifying speed and exceptional race vision. Sergio believes in our project, and being able to count on his contribution until the end of 2022 allows us to better plan for the future. The team continues to grow and develop, and it is important to have a driver with Sergio’s level of experience, particularly thinking about the new technical regulations that will come in 2021".
The most plausible assumptions for the continuation of Nico Hulkenberg's career, at the moment, remain the Haas and Alfa Romeo teams. Meanwhile, the German driver expresses himself on Twitter, writing:
"It's a pity that the journey with Renault will end after the season, especially as we haven't been able to reach our goals yet. We had hoped to take another step forward this season, but unfortunately, we haven't managed that so far. It is well known that the choice of drivers is not only about performance, it is a whole bundle of factors. But that's the way it is. Surely we would all have liked to see it differently. Nevertheless, I'll keep my focus and try to reach the maximum success for our team in the remaining races. Concerning 2020, I am confident I to find a good solution, but there is nothing to announce at the moment".
Another news concerns the number of races on the calendar: in 2020 we aim to reach twenty-two races. Despite this, the hottest topic in the paddock is the much-discussed second Red Bull seat, which seems not yet to have found the right replacement for Daniel Ricciardo. A press release by Red Bull Racing on Monday, August 12, 2019, states:
"Red Bull has a distinct position having four Formula 1 talent under the contract that can be rotated between the team and Toro Rosso. The team will use the next nine races to examine Alex’s performance and then decide on the driver who will join Max in 2020".
So, as happened to Russian driver Daniil Kvyat in 2016, it’s now Pierre Gasly’s turn, who is relegated to the Faenza team and gives his place to the rookie, Alex Albon.
"Surreal to have been given this massive opportunity Red Bull Racing! Can’t thank you enough for believing in me and making this possible. It’s a big jump into the deep end, but I’ve got my swimming shorts on! Thanks to all the guys at Toro Rosso, especially Franz Tost for the massive opportunity in F1 and never-ending support throughout my first year! Now to focus on my first race with the team in Spa".
Helmut Marko was disappointed with the Frenchman, according to him the RB15 is a car capable of fighting against Ferrari, but the results are not consistent enough and Max Verstappen is the only one able to guarantee the team points for the constructors' standings. Pierre Gasly’s poor performance also influenced the teamwork by not providing for the Austrian team’s protégé support during qualifying and competition, the two of them have raced in different championships for the past twelve races (63 points for Pierre Gasly against Max Verstappen's 181) and this led Helmut Marko to proceed with the replacement. The demands are not few, the purpose of Red Bull Racing is to find a suitable companion for Max Verstappen, someone who can finish the races without an excessive gap, anyway what is not taken are the complexities of the car itself and the time to adapt to it, a very unusual, but decisive decision. Helmut Marko says:
"We have been observing Albon since last year. Red Bull has two teams in Formula 1 with Toro Rosso. Let's try to give space to young people, it's part of our philosophy".
Conditions are clear: Alex Albon must prove he is fast enough to keep up with Max Verstappen. In this case, he will also have the seat guaranteed for 2020. The Briton, who runs under the Thai flag in honour of his maternal origins, finished third in the F2 championship of the 2018 season, behind Lando Norris and George Russell, and landed in the top category by only twelve races, proving to be talented and gaining the attention of the Anglo-Austrian top team. His relationship with Red Bull had ups and downs, as in 2012 he was dumped from the Austrian team; it was a difficult year for the Thai, who found himself without sponsors. As is well known, the racing world comes at a price and this is a barrier for many emerging talents. Fortunately, Alex Albon found support in his home country and thanks to Thai sponsors he was able to continue his journey. After about two years the results returned to being satisfactory, until in 2018, after the F2 championship, the call came from Toro Rosso.
"It’s surreal that I’ve been given this great opportunity. I can’t thank my team enough for believing in me and making this possible. Thanks especially to Franz Tost".
The Thai driver’s comment, during Thursday’s press conference leading up to the Belgian Grand Prix, is meaningful :
"On the first day of the summer break came the news of the promotion to Red Bull, on Monday I was finally able to talk about it. It was great. This weekend? We will try to make small steps forward, understand how the machine works, and learn from Max. The emotion, certainly at most, at 10".
Expectations for this driver are high, it will be necessary to finish his first race in the official team in a good position and keep on with the same trend, it will not be a simple task. The jump from a Formula 2 car to a Formula 1 car is already important and the adaptation time changes from driver to driver, although it is even more difficult to get used to a car and then change it immediately only mid-season and more importantly, it is not just any car but a Red Bull, known for its difficulty in driving. The challenges faced by this driver are many and these will depend on his career, which lasts for just twelve races. Expectations that will have to satisfy also Honda, which collaborates with Milton Keynes’s team and the Faenza’s one, from which the team principal of Toro Rosso, Franz Tost, on Saturday 17, August 2019, affirms:
"Having two teams to supply like Red Bull and Toro Rosso is one of the positive aspects that allowed Honda to achieve these results in such a short time. After solving the main reliability problems, now the focus of Japanese engineers is all on performance research. It would be necessary to focus mostly on the qualifying mode (what in slang is known as party mode), but at Honda, they already know it and are on the right track for development. There are still many aspects to improve, but I am sure they will have a successful future in Formula 1 because they have confirmed to be able to design good engines".
Attending the Belgian Grand Prix, Mercedes also worked to improve its power unit. According to Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff:
"Most of our Brackley colleagues had the chance to recharge their batteries for the second half of the season, while other team members have taken over their witness in recent weeks. Our working group in Brixworth worked hard during the F1 summer break to improve the performance and reliability of our power unit. In Brackley, we used these quiet days for some factory work. It is great to come back knowing that part of our team has still pushed hard and we are grateful to our colleagues who kept our focus up when we were not at work. In recent years we have seen teams put on track very important performances after the summer break, so we need to keep pushing. Therefore we will approach the second part of 2019 as if it were the beginning of a new season and once again we will try not to make mistakes, keeping on raising the bar. The next stop takes us to Spa, one of the most iconic circuits on the calendar. Finding the right set-up is very challenging because the track is a mix of long straights, high-speed curves and considerable changes in altitude. The weather can be unpredictable in the Ardennes and this can make the sessions quite interesting. We look forward to returning to battle".
Expectations are also very high against Ferrari, which we had left in pursuit of the first win of the season. The circuit of Spa is one of the tracks more favourable to the SF90. In this view, Scuderia Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto comments:
"We were away for a few days, just enough time to recharge the batteries and get back on track ready once again to give battle. We are more motivated than ever to do well in the second half of the season and we want to try already at the beginning of this weekend. The spa is a circuit with very high average speeds: the first and the last sector is characterized by long straights that reward the higher speed, but also in the central part, which is full of curves that require a good balance of the car and a greater aerodynamic load, which often you can make a difference in which we will have to find the best compromise of set-up".
The circuit is admired by the drivers. Sebast Vettel aims to continue his trail of podiums - two in the last two races - and a first win :
"Spa-Francorchamps is a legendary track, which is indeed among my favourites. When you discover this circuit you can only love it. It is a very special track that is characterized by ups and downs and by the fact of snaking for a good part basically in the woods. This circuit has changed a lot over time, as are the cars we drive. I remember the first time I raced here in Formula 1 and compared to those times some corners became easier to deal with because there’s a more aerodynamic load on our cars. The climbs in the shape of S in Eau Rouge, which today we can ride in full acceleration, remain something unique but also curves like Pouhon and Blanchimont are spectacular. From Eau Rouge, you have to go out without mistakes to bring as much speed to the braking of Les Combes, a point where you can overtake thanks to the slipstream and a perfect car in the gearbox relations. From Python onwards, the track is all beautiful, a throttle sprint that takes you to the Bus Stop, another point where it is likely to attempt an attack".
Speaking of the summer break, the German driver admits:
"During this break, I didn't do anything, this is what you should do on vacation: nothing at all. We are travelling all year around the world, so it's very important to use your free time to recharge your batteries. And it worked pretty well".
For Charles Leclerc, there are many emotions to deal with:
"Spa-Francorchamps is a legendary track in the world of motorsport and one of the most beautiful included in the calendar of the Formula 1 championship. It is therefore particularly pleased to return to this circuit to track activity after the summer break. It's incredible to realize what speed the cars of the current generation of Formula 1 can develop in corners and I believe that on a few tracks like this the knowledge is so clear. I’m referring to the climb in the shape of an S set in Eau Rouge: The first time you arrive here and watch it, it strikes you for how narrow and steep it is. In the dry, we can do it fully, despite the compression and other aspects that make it particularly demanding for the body, especially in the first laps. Step by step the neck adapts, your brain assimilates it and becomes a curve like the others, to be played in full depending on the rest of the turn, but it remains a unique sequence. It's not just the fact you are in Spa-Francorchamps, actually, for this reason, it's very important to don’t do anything wrong on the key points to maximise performance on the first attempt in qualifying. Moreover, because the ride is particularly long and having to abort one means blowing up the time estimation you have planned".
Vettel shows himself to journalists expressing all his regret at the absence of the German Grand Prix in 2020:
"What catches the attention in the calendar is the absence of the German Grand Prix. I hope this can change in the future. I believe that F1 needs Germany, in the last couple of years we had a fantastic atmosphere, with exciting races in Hockenheim. I find it an absurdity to give up Germany. I believe that we should solidify our presence in countries where we have a strong automotive tradition, like the United Kingdom, Italy and Germany. It would already be a reason enough to run World Championship races. I’m not sure that the new races can maintain the same number of spectators as the traditional ones. Twenty-two Grands Prix will be difficult for the team because they are already on the limit today. I don't decide on this sport, but I guess more racing means more profit. I would like to return to the sixteen Gran Prix a year, as was done in the past. In this way, even the driver could have the possibility to drive in other races".
As a consequence, on Tuesday, August 27, 2019, the Spanish Grand Prix questioned the previous months about a possible race dispute in 2020, which is also confirmed on the calendar for the following season, as admitted by Formula 1 president and CEO, Chase Carey:
"We are very happy to confirm that the Spanish Grand Prix will be on the 2020 Formula 1 calendar. The decision to continue to have a Spanish race of the largest open-wheel series of motorsport is part of our strategy to keep Formula 1 in Europe, in the historical tracks, but also to expand into new territories".
two days later, on Thursday 29 August 2019, the draft of the calendar for the 2020 season is drawn up, whose main changes are the inclusion of the Vietnam Grand Prix and the return of the Dutch Grand Prix, respectively in April and May, the move of the Azerbaijan Grand Prix from April to June and the reversal between the Mexican Grand Prix (Renamed Mexico City Grand Prix for the contribution made by local authorities to the renewal of the contract to host the race until the 2022 season) and the United States Grand Prix. Chase Carey, on Thursday, August 8, 2019, remarks :
"We are pleased to have renewed our partnership with Mexico City, which will host the Mexican Formula 1 Grand Prix for at least until 2022. Since the race returned to the Formula 1 calendar in 2015, this event has proven to be incredibly popular, not just in Mexico, but all around the world. As a confirmation, the promoter of the race was awarded the FIA prize for the best event for four consecutive years".
It stays excluded, as mentioned, from the German Grand Prix. Still proclaims Chase Carey:
"It's with great pleasure that we publish the draft of the 2020 calendar when Formula 1 will celebrate its 70th anniversary, and for the very first time, we will have twenty-two Grand Prix. It is significant for our sport and confirms our long-term strategy. In 2017 we started working in this sport, there has always been the will to bring new events to expand the charm of Formula 1, at the same time we want to consolidate our presence in Europe which remains the traditional home of this sport. The World Championship with twenty-two Grands Prix received collective support from the FIA and all teams, and demonstrates the confidence that exists in the future of our sport".
Vettel also finds time to express a thought for fellow compatriot, Nico Hulkenberg, officially out of Renault, who could relaunch with the Haas team:
"Nico didn't deserve Renault’s failure to reconfirm. But I don't know what is behind this decision, I hope he can find another car for next year. A driver of his level deserves a place on the starting grid".
His teammate, Charles Leclerc, who drives for Scuderia Ferrari for mid-year and with the end of the summer break hid second half begins. The Monegasque driver tells how his lifestyle has changed since he made the shift to a team of this level, what he has learned in these two years in Formula 1 and from his four-time World Champion teammate. Sebastian Vettel confesses that he didn't do anything during the summer break. Charles Leclerc, on the other hand, how did you take advantage of your time?
"I turn off everything. I went on vacation in Greece, Mykonos, with my Italian girlfriend, Giada, and with some friends. Then I want to Los Angeles, a city I discovered two years ago and I enjoyed".
Very different from Monaco.
"Mine is like a small country. We all know each other and I maintain to live my life as always".
Has nothing changed despite your fame constantly rising?
"Now that I'm at Ferrari I have a nice car, a 488 Pista, obviously red. Until last year I was driving an Alfa Romeo Stelvio. In Monaco, we are used to having drivers and people know, what has changed is that I take a few more selfies, that many stop me to congratulate and wish me good luck".
Is that what you’ve missed so far?
"Also, but especially the ability to eliminate mistakes when there are opportunities. What I learned so far I will cherish forever. I don't like to give myself grades, but if I have to say a 6.8 out of 10. For the rest of the season, I want a 10. It will be difficult but I always prefer to aim high".
Strikes again the mental strength of the Monegasque driver, despite his young age.
"It’s not something I have natural, as a child the head and emotions were more of a weakness than a value. But I have worked a lot on it, since I was 12 years old I went to Formula Medicine to train in the structure of Dr Riccardo Ceccarelli and then continue my path in the Ferrari Academy in Maranello. My age is beautiful, I'm almost afraid of getting older, I would stop this moment forever".
Leclerc never spares himself: not even in self-criticism.
"I have always been like this, I only work if I am strict and demanding with myself. I always wanted to learn, to be the best driver I can become".
And inside, who has become Charles Leclerc now?
"I’m more mature than last year, in formula 1 you grow fast. I also made improvements on driving and race experience".
You always said to don't feel the pressure, was it always true?
"Absolutely. Only in one moment, I was tense: at the start in Bahrain after my first pole position. I had Vettel and Hamilton behind me: when you have names like that behind you it always makes a certain feeling on you".
Do you consider Vettel as your chief?
"Yes, because there is a certain age difference between us, but in the end when I wear the helmet Seb is a competitor like any other, I want to beat him. I am aware that I can learn a lot from him but this can’t be an excuse to be defeated by him. A gap between us was right at the start, it was quite clear but now I have the opportunity to demonstrate the best of me: This is very important, that's what a driver looks for in a team and in this team, I feel in my place".
"Baku and Hungary, unacceptable mistakes. I also thought back to Montecarlo: but I have no regrets about the risks I took, I started sixteenth after the team's mistake in qualifying, and I couldn't help but try. It's always difficult in the home’s Grand Prix, there are always so many people who come to see you, I wanted to do well. It didn't go as I wanted, but since Monday I reset. I can’t imagine what will happen in Monza".
A riot, especially with a victory
"In general, I don’t think so much about winning, I prefer to reach my level 100%. I think the consequences come as a result".
Hamilton has often complimented Leclerc. What did he say?
"Nothing special, but I was pleased. His five world titles show that he is a special driver, complete, he has everything it takes to stay at the top. There are fast drivers and those who know how to do a fast lap, he knows how to do everything".
What is Leclerc still missing?
"Experience certainly helps, now I’m still in my training, I learn something more from time to time. I believe to have shown speed in the last Grand Prix, I’ve improved in qualifying where I had struggled at the beginning, even in the race I think I've grown up and I guess in the future, I'll be able to manage better the tyres and the whole weekend. The other things are already there".
Is Formula 1 a sport for polite young boys or fighters?
"It’s a sport to fight with respect. After my battle with Max in Austria, maybe something has changed: there have been much more beautiful races with so many battles, which is what we and the fans want".
After the summer break, Formula 1 is ready to give to spectators pure adrenaline, competing in the two fastest circuits on the calendar in a back to back: first Spa and then Monza. As well as two of the most beautiful and beloved tracks. On the occasion of these two challenging Grands Prix, Renault had affirmed, at the beginning of August, the possibility of bringing updates to the Spec C engine to the track, a choice that takes into account the consequent penalties for grid drivers, as admitted by the principal team of the French team, Cyril Abiteboul:
"We should attend penalties after the break, we knew that. Unfortunately, this has been planned in Bahrain, and Melbourne also for Carlos Sainz, since he had that problem with the MGU-K, which caused the loss of the entire engine as a result of the fire. We know we are behind and that we will have to swallow some penalties. They will be synchronized with a new engine specification that will be the final one, Specification C. I don’t want to confirm when and for whom it will arrive, but that will mean penalties and even some extra power. I don't want to confirm that, because it's not even confirmed with McLaren and the engines are still under construction as we speak. So, first of all, we need to make sure those engines are built and approved correctly, however it could be a plan. It’s the normal thing to do. And if all goes according to the plan, those will be the last penalties of the season".
For Renault it was a difficult start to the season from the first race in Australia, so the Belgian Grand Prix is a fresh restart and the drivers are ready to turn the page. Nico Hulkenberg, in this regard, declares:
"Spa is one of my favourite Formula 1 circuits. Everything in this place is so special: the scenery in the forest, the unpredictable weather, and the impressive combination of curves contribute to creating a great atmosphere. Spa is known for its directional gearboxes and fast corners, so it’s really exciting when you drive a ride and cross Eau Rouge, Pouhon and Blanchimont at high speed. I think Spa fits my driving style and with Renault, we want to have a solid performance this weekend to start this second half of the season on the right way. The ride is long and many things need to be done well. It can be difficult to find the right balance, you need a high downforce in some of the corners, but make sure you don’t stop having a great straight speed. The weather conditions at Spa are a great unknown, as one part of the circuit can be dry and the other wet, so anything can happen and we must be able to grab every opportunity. The break came at the right time for us after a disappointing July. We know that this season we have been below our expectations so far and it is up to us to make sure we recover for the rest of the year. I relaxed a bit and recharged my batteries on a ship in Croatia, but now it’s time to get back in the ring, and I’m ready for this challenge. These two consecutive races are decisive for our season".
Daniel Ricciardo, on the other hand, explains :
"I think most drivers want to race at Spa. It's such a beautiful place and a track with so much history. I got good results there: A victory in 2014 and podiums in 2016 and 2017. The ride is long, the longest of the year, so if you make a mistake, you know you can recover. You have to make a lot of turns. Naturally, we all love making the Eau Rouge, it’s a fascinating turn, but I also like the second sector and its changes of direction. The Pouhon is fast and is probably one of the corners I like most about the calendar. You have to be brave enough, going to 280 kilometres per hour in seventh. It's a good feeling, especially in qualifying. This season has been a challenge, we can't hide it. He had positive and negative things, so the summer break was needed. It was nice to have some free time, I spend the holidays in Los Angeles and didn't think too much about the races. Both the team and I come back from these holidays more motivated than ever. Our goal is to have a good second part of the season to recover ground with our rivals. I know we can do it, we just need to get good results".
Belgium is also a second home for Max Verstappen. Spa is moreover famous for the orange wave that this driver carries with him. Unfortunately, the layout of the track does not make the game easy for Red Bull, and in this regard, Max Verstappen comments:
"I will be more competitive at other circuits, here and at Monza, I expect to be in more difficulties, but updates can also be very important. I don't think it's possible for the title, but I'll give my best every weekend".
Meanwhile, the great interest is directed toward young people, as well as the future of this sport, veterans are still present on the track struggling with the first signs of old age. Marcus Ericsson is summoned to Alfa Romeo, who must be ready to replace Kimi Raikkonen as soon as necessary, and for this reason, he had to give up his race in Portland with IndyCar. Finland’s participation in the Grand Prix is uncertain due to a muscle tear. Kimi Raikkonen himself clarifies his current health situation:
"It will happen. We had to think about alternative plans, it would have been stupid not to have our third driver here in case I couldn't drive. There is a reason why the team has a third driver in case of problems, I think it's normal. It was a difficult situation for him, also because he had to give up a race. But that’s how it works. If you want to say that I am not 100%, enter the number you want. I've been to the simulator, but that doesn't say much. We'll see what my reaction is in the car".
Journalists press Kimi who remains reserved about his situation and begins a hilarious sketch. Do you have a problem with your left or right leg?
"One of the two... (and laughs). On the left. You are trying to make a great story of it. It's still better to have a brake’s problem than with the accelerator...".
But what happened?
"I told you: playing sports. It’s dangerous. I have always said that it is more dangerous to play sports. Drinking is probably safer. You don't usually get hurt, you only have hangovers...".
Lando Norris also returns from the holidays unexpectedly. To reveal the adversity, during a live stream on Monday, August 26, 2019, the same British driver, showed his left leg closed with a special orthopaedic boot. However, the McLaren team comforts its fans about the young driver’s condition:
"Lando slightly inflamed a tendon of his left foot while running, during the holidays. If it were someone else he wouldn't wear a boot, which he will instead use for a couple of days to insulate his foot while recovering. It’s precautionary. It looks a lot more dramatic than it is".
Finally, it's Valtteri Bottas' turn, who talks to the media about different topics, starting with his permanency at Mercedes also for the 2020 season:
"When you have reconfirmation for the following year it’s always good news. This is what I wanted. I think the team will certainly be strong for the rest of the season, but also next year. I can’t see any reason why this should not happen and clearly, I am very happy to have had this communication and finally managed to finalize everything. Last weekend we signed, and all the documents were drafted. It was a long wait for me, but the break was still nice. Lewis Hamilton texted me when the news was given. So far we have been a good team and I believe we will be in the future. Now that everything is over, I'm very happy. Honestly, when the summer break comes, you know that if you haven't signed yet everything can happen: the decision depends on the team, not the driver. There are several factors that the team needs to investigate and that can make the difference between one choice and another. There have been very open discussions about the situation between me and Esteban. It was a choice between the two of us and I had to wait until last weekend. I had also thought of other options, in case I hadn't been confirmed, because in this sport you never want to be ‘fooled’ between two chairs. I had tried to instruct myself with an alternative program but things then went the right way and I realized that the best thing was to confirm my commitment to Mercedes. I am happy to know what my future will be, I don’t longer have to worry about this, I can fully focus on my work and unlike the last two races I want to have a great result here and end the year in the best way".
Regarding other possible negotiations with other teams, the Finnish admits:
"I can’t say much. These are private and confidential things, I can't name team names because I want to maintain the trust these people have trusted in me. As mentioned, however, I used to wait for Mercedes' decision, still knowing that I had other possible roads".
This renewal is certainly due also thanks to the good performance of the first half of the season:
"At the time of the break, you always analyze everything and re-examine the various things. Together with the team before going on vacation, we took stock of the situation. We try to improve and learn from each episode. I could have done better and we could have done better as a team, there is nothing new about this. Overall I think my level since the beginning of the year has been high and I don't think I've dropped during the championship. There was good evidence and there were also mistakes that were my fault, which maybe I hadn’t made in the beginning. My goal for the second half of the season is to be as strong as possible and try to reach my best level. I know what I can do if I get there, but the hard thing is to get to that level in this sport. But that’s the goal and I’m convinced I can be strong for the rest of the season".
Speaking about the possible favourites of the Belgian Grand Prix, Valtteri Bottas says:
"For this circuit full of straight speed, Ferrari is favoured. Red Bull Is also improving on all types of circuits, so it won't be an easy weekend for us. We must be on the guard, we won't be inactive. We bring new parts, we have an updated engine, so it will be interesting to see what the car will feel and what the new engine will look like".
Speaking of his birthday party, he admits:
"Yes, my birthday was yesterday, even though I celebrated it the day before. We had a nice party, with nice people around me. It only happens once in a lifetime to be 30, so it was a good excuse to celebrate. At that moment I already knew about the contract, it was all done and I was able to celebrate with the people close to me. That's another nice excuse for celebrating too".
For this race, Pirelli brings the compounds called C1, C2 and C3, which are the three hardest in the range. The previous year the Milanese house had opted for softer covers. Mario Isola, Pirelli Motorsport Director, explains:
"Spa-Francorchamps is a very challenging circuit for drivers and is just as challenging for tyres, subjected to some of the highest loads of the season. For this race, we have nominated the three hardest compounds in the range, a slightly different choice than 2018, that should allow drivers to push hard in each stint and minimize the need for race pace management. With the same toughest nomination, this year we saw a very close battle at Silverstone with Lewis Hamilton who set the new all-time race record on used hard C1 tyres for thirty-two laps. Spa is a track we know well, thanks also to our experience as unique 24 Hours suppliers. The race, held last month, was interrupted for several hours due to rain. Last year's Grand Prix qualifying was also held in the wet, underscoring the variability of the weather, an important factor to consider. This circuit favours overtaking, so in certain circumstances, you can opt for aggressive strategies".
For the Belgian Grand Prix, the FIA establishes two zones where DRS can be activated: the first is on the Kemmel straight, with a point for determining the gap between drivers placed before the second corner. The second zone is established on the straight of the boxes, and the detection point is fixed before Turn 18. In addition, former Formula 1 driver Emanuele Pirro is appointed as Deputy Commissioner for the race. The Italian comes back to perform after the contested Canadian Grand Prix. Honda presents the fourth evolution of its power unit. The new unit is fitted to Daniil Kvjat’s Toro Rosso and Alexander Albon’s Red Bull Racing. Both drivers are penalized on the starting grid, for replacing several components of the power unit. Daniil Kvjat is also penalized by five positions, for replacing the gearbox. Mercedes, as mentioned, brings an evolution of its engine, the third of the season, also assembled immediately by Racing Point and Williams too. The only driver penalized on the grid, due to the assembly of new components, is Lance Stroll. Renault brings the third evolution of its power unit. The new unit is fitted to cars by Daniel Ricciardo and Nico Hülkenberg and Carlos Sainz Jr.’s McLaren. All three drivers are penalized by five positions on the starting grid, for replacing the internal combustion engine.
Scuderia Ferrari brings the third evolution of its power unit: this, however, is mounted only on customer cars, such as Haas and Alfa Romeo. The only driver who is not provided with evolution is Kimi Räikkönen, to avoid suffering a grid penalty on a track usually favourable to him. In addition to the heat engine, the other three drivers were also fitted with a new MGU-H, which is the second of the season for everyone, without incurring penalties. Nevertheless, it is Scuderia Ferrari that brought back the second half of the season in the best possible way. The two drivers of the Maranello team inaugurate the weekend by occupying the top two positions in Friday's free practice swapping positions: Sebastian Vettel is 0.2 seconds faster in the morning, while Charles Leclerc is at the end of FP2 with 0.6 seconds ahead of his teammate. This circuit is one of the most promising to Scuderia Ferrari and is immediately followed by Monza, another Maranello team trump card. Spa has reconfirmed the strong speed of the SF90 on the straights, but also the great difficulty, in the long run, a problem that has dragged along since the beginning of the season. Sebastian Vettel, however, downplays the results seen during FP1 and FP2 on Friday, August 30, 2019:
"It’s Friday and we’ve already seen the same situation we had on other Fridays. The most important thing is to put the right shoes on our Ferrari for Sunday. Mercedes will be able to fight for the pole in qualifying. As I said, this is not the first time Ferrari has been competitive. Saturday morning will probably be just as good and then we'll see what happens on Saturday afternoon. I don’t take anything for granted".
Meanwhile, Charles Leclerc admits:
"Starting again like this after the holidays is great. The qualifying simulation was good, while on the race pace we have to work ahead of Sunday's race. Overall, it was a good Friday for us".
The Monegasque driver doesn’t believe Mercedes is that far away and expects to fight with Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas tomorrow in qualifying:
"They are very fast in the second sector, tomorrow they will push the engine with more aggressive mappings so they won’t be so far behind us in the first and third sectors".
Max Verstappen finished third in FP1 with a delay of 0.9 seconds on Sebastian Vettel. In fourth place, to everyone's surprise, is the new Red Bull Racing driver, Alex Albon, just 0.1 seconds behind the Dutch driver.
"We lapped without pushing in a specific way, tomorrow we should earn something, but it will be difficult to stay close to the Ferraris because they are very fast and we will try to do everything possible to make the most of the package we have available. Changes to the balance of the car? We are all already drained, we could take off the wing directly, but it doesn't seem like a good idea to me".
The first Mercedes is in the fifth position and it is Valtteri Bottas’s one, while Lewis Hamilton is sixth, due to some problems with the accelerator pedal. However, both of them only tried Medium tires. The top ten is closed by Lance Stroll in seventh place, despite the accident involving him on the Kemmel straight, in which the right side of the engine cover of his car exploded, followed by Daniel Ricciardo, Sergio Perez and Carlos Sainz Jr. At the end of FP2 Charles Leclerc, at the top of the standings, stops the clock at 1'44"123, followed by Sebastian Vettel. Mercedes are still distant despite having fitted soft tyres: Valtteri Bottas third at 0.8 seconds, Lewis Hamilton fourth a few thousandths of a second away from his teammate. The fifth place is occupied by Sergio Perez, who remained on hold at the end of the session due to a power unit problem; in any case, the Mexican places ahead of Max Verstappen's Red Bull, sixth, and Alex Albon, tenth. Among the two are Kimi Raikkonen, Lance Stroll and Daniel Ricciardo. As Ferrari fans start dreaming, the Dutches are a little disappointed by this Red Bull, which ranks only sixth, more than a second behind Charles Leclerc. But Milton Keynes’ team it's satisfied with the newcomer. In both sessions, Alex Albon laps a few tenths behind his teammate, 0.077 seconds at the end of FP1 and 0.4 seconds at the end of FP2. A great result for the Thai rookie, struggling with the RB15. Albon impressions :
"Not bad as the first day, it's hard to say how it went, I'm trying to understand the car, it's very different from Toro Rosso, I have to find out the bright sides. I wasn't impressed by anything specific, but I have to adapt my driving style, reset my brain and start from scratch. I must forget about STR14. We worked on the race pace. We pointed in particular on the long run, there is still a lot to do and I have to make progress".
And he also takes Horner's compliments:
"I think promoting Albon was the most logical move. The situation with Pierre was getting worse and after Hungary, we took a break to reflect on what to do. We are in a privileged position because if we have problems with some drivers, we can make a rotation between them within our two teams. Alex is an intelligent, methodical guy and is making good use of the little experience he has with us. I think it's difficult to adapt to Red Bull right away: Overall, the only part shared with Toro Rosso is the engine. But he has already shown a spirit of adaptation".
The 190 million euros spent by Red Bull on the training of young talents from 2001 to 2019, 82 million in total, may seem quite high, but it is not such if we consider the investment reduced in eighteen years and the annual budget of the Formula 1 team, more than double for a single season. Surprisingly, Red Bull’s most paid driver was Carlos Sainz, over 9 million euros, a talented driver who has never been able to wear the colours of the factory team and currently races for McLaren. Followed by the Russian Mikhail Aleshin, unable to reach Formula 1, then Alexander Albon and Pierre Gasly, who stand at 8 million euros. Additionally, 4.8 million euros were spent on Sebastian Vettel and 5.9 million euros on Daniel Ricciardo. A different conversation is made for Max Verstappen, supported in European F3 in 2014 and immediately put on Toro Rosso the following year. Speaking of the recent relegation that hit Pierre Gasly, Australian driver Daniel Ricciardo expresses his opinion:
"To be honest, I don’t think it’s unfair. They had to do something I have nothing against Pierre, I like him as a person. I'm not happy to see him coming back to Toro Rosso, but I think the reality is that Red Bull gave him six months. I don't think there were many signs of progression or increase and, with Max who won and showed that the car can get on the podium at least, I think Red Bull expected to see him higher at this point in the season. It's something that, as a Red Bull driver, I experienced in the program. I am like that, It's no surprise that they expect certain performances from you and, if that doesn't happen, they go on. I don't mean it was unexpected. I'm sure Pierre probably had some suspicion that maybe something could change. It's just the reality of their program. It's a shame for him, but I think Red Bull had to do something, so now it's Albon who has an opportunity. We'll see how it goes. I don't think they expected Pierre to beat Max, but sometimes the gap was too big. I think if it had been a tenth, two tenths or maybe even three times, the situation would have been better. I don't know maybe I'm just assuming, I don't know what Red Bull expected of him. They probably didn't expect him to beat Verstappen but at least he would be closer and get more points in the standings. Verstappen got two wins and some podiums, I guess they expected at least one podium from Pierre too. It's not the first time they've done it, so it's not a shock".
Nico Hulkenberg is who will probably have to leave Formula 1, returns to talk about the non-renewal of the contract with Renault:
"I had some signs already during the summer break. The situation was different, there was some change in the dynamics of things the week following the Hungarian Grand Prix. I could understand that something was happening, that there could have been a change in sight".
Nevertheless, speaking of the future, the German driver is confident in finding another solution:
"There’s time, it’s not too late, there are still a few paces open and several options out there, it’s just a matter of what I want and getting a good solution. There is nothing done, we are working on it. Discussions are going on but it will take a while longer. I understand the situation and it's not too difficult for me to deal with it. I feel comfortable, I know there is interest from other teams, so I'm fine".
Many drivers show solidarity with the German driver. Carlos Sainz Jr., his teammate in 2018 at Renault, declares himself surprised by his failure to renew:
"With the leadership he had, Nico did a lot for Renault, he took them where they are now from where they started in 2016. Ocon and Renault liked each other and it was clear that sooner or later it would happen".
It's rumoured that one of Nico Hulkenberg's destinations could be Haas. In this regard, the Haas principal team, Guenther Steiner, declares:
"There aren’t so many good drivers out there; we’ve always said that as a young team we want experienced drivers and Nico is one of them. I'll spend time with Gene Haas here at Spa and again in Monza and it won't be long before we announce something".
Many indicate the nationality of Esteban Ocon as a reason for the non-renewal of the German driver's contract. However, the main cause of his departure is due to Hulkenberg's requests for the duration of the contract. Alain Prost, CEO of Renault Sport F1, reveals it.
"The fact that Ocon is French is good, but it would not have been logical if this had been the decisive factor. On the contrary, what was decisive is the fact that we offered Hulkenberg a one-year contract with an option for 2021, but he wanted a two-year contract. Without going into detail, he did an excellent job for Renault but, after three years, he saw that our chassis is not progressing as we hoped. We needed some freshness and enthusiasm. Ocon brings a whole new dynamic to the team. Being a French driver in a French team is not always easy, I know why I've been there. It's not easy at all".
Over the hours, surprisingly shows up also an unlikely and fascinating possibility of an engagement of Nico Hulkenberg in Red Bull. If on the one hand, Helmut Marko plays back that the choice will be made inside the Red Bull Racing nursery, Christian Horner declares:
"It is unlikely that we will hire a driver outside the team, but we are still observing the market. If we understand that none of ours is suitable, we will act. It's always easy to be conservative, sometimes you have to take risks. Young drivers like Alex are a risk, but in the past, we have shown both Sebastian Vettel and Verstappen that certain risks can pay off very well. We are monitoring the situation outside, which is the way we hired Mark Webber. But we remain focussed mainly on our program".
During FP1, Canadian driver Nicholas Latifi takes the place of George Russell at Williams, while Kimi Raikkonen shows the media and himself that he can compete for the rest of the Belgian weekend. The Finnish driver, between the two free practice sessions, also lives a small misadventure in the paddock, which fortunately doesn't affect his day. But what happened?
"I don’t know, a guy who seemed to be a little drunk came in front of me waving his hands and lifting my sunglasses. So I asked him what he was doing. He was crazy".
Marcus Ericsson describes his mood related to the failure to replace the Finnish driver:
"Of course, it hurts. I run to find a new contract for next year and, every time you race it's an opportunity to show them what pasta you're made of. So, of course, it's not optimal, but I had a real chance to race this weekend and decided to be here in Belgium. Both Kimi and the team agreed that he wasn't sure he would be able to run. It's not the optimal situation, but sometimes it is so".
On the Saturday morning of August 31, 2019, Ferrari is again the fastest also in the session preceding qualifying. Leclerc stops the time trial at 1'44"206, followed by Sebastian Vettel with a delay of 0.4 seconds. Once again it’s Valtteri Bottas who sets the best time for Mercedes, going up the standings and positioning himself in the third position, while Lewis Hamilton is unusually seventh, the Englishman is also the creator of an accident that sees him involved in the end of FP3, luckily without serious repercussions. Behind the Finn are Daniel Ricciardo, Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez. Kimi Raikkonen, Antonio Giovinazzi and Pierre Gasly close the top ten. Lewis Hamilton's accident puts a strain on Mercedes mechanics, who have to work on the car up to a few minutes before qualifying starts. Hamilton's car replaces the front suspension, the nose, the bargeboards and even the bottom.
But for the English driver, there is no penalty, unlike many of his colleagues: Alex Albon, Daniil Kvyat and Lance Stroll will start from the bottom of the grid following the replacement of the power unit, while Carlos Sainz Jr., Nico Hulkenberg and Daniel Ricciardo will have to serve five penalty positions. Qualifying for the Belgian Grand Prix starts at 3:00 p.m. But after just five minutes the session is immediately interrupted due to Robert Kubica's Williams releasing smoke and oil along the track, preventing the Polish driver from continuing qualifying. It's the second Mercedes engine that gives way after Sergio Perez's during FP2. After the neutralisation by the red flag, Q1 restarts. Both Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen complain about the problems with their cars; the Englishman is not happy with the setting, while the Dutch proceeds slowly alarming all his fans.
The Dutchman comes back to the pits without having scored any time, while Charles Leclerc dictates the pace with a time of 1'23"587, followed by Sebastian Vettel, Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton. Six minutes after the finish, the riders in the elimination zone are Carlos Sainz Jr., Daniil Kvyat, George Russell, Max Verstappen and Robert Kubica. The Dutchman finally returns to the track with only one lap available, looking for a good time to pass Q1. The Red Bull Racing driver is accompanied by the roar of the Dutch presence in the stands and crosses the finish line just in time to take the third position and save himself from the display of the second red flag, this time caused by Antonio Giovinazzi's Alfa Romeo. A big smoke rises from the Italian single-seater, which puts an end to the first qualifying session that sees Pierre Gasly, Carlos Sainz Jr., Daniil Kvyat and the two Williams drivers, George Russell and Robert Kubica eliminated.
The inconvenience of Antonio Giovinazzi's car brings a feeling of alarm to Maranello, as the Italian driver mounted the third specification of the Ferrari power unit. At the same time, the Mercedes team confirms that the problem with the Williams engine in Kubica is related to ICE, leading it to elimination from the beginning of Q1. Q2 starts with the best time of Kimi Raikkonen, soon surpassed by Charles Leclerc who precedes his teammate, Sebastian Vettel, Mercedes drivers Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas, and Max Verstappen, with the latter just 0.008 seconds ahead of the Alfa Romeo driven by the Finnish. Waiting for the last sprint, in the Red Bull Racing pits, Alex Albon gets off the car: for him, qualifying end here, being aware that he has to start from the bottom of the grid because of the replacement of the power unit. For the rookie of the Anglo-Austrian team, it will be an all-uphill race. Romain Grosjean, Lando Norris, Lance Stroll and Antonio Giovinazzi also did not go to Q3.
The last session sees the two Ferrari drivers prepare for the exit of the pit lane, followed by those of Mercedes, Renault, Max Verstappen, Kimi Raikkonen, Sergio Perez and Kevin Magnussen. Among the participants in Q3, Daniel Ricciardo and Nico Hulkenberg will have to serve five penalty positions on the starting grid. The first to take to the track is again Kimi Raikkonen, who landed in Q3 mocking that much-feared muscle stretch. The other drivers also launch, while Lewis Hamilton set a time of 1'43"282. Meanwhile, Sebastian Vettel makes a mistake on his first attempt and queues up with the driver. Charles Leclerc is perfect, who improves the time of Lewis Hamilton and takes the provisional pole position, being 0.6 seconds faster than the British driver. In the second and final timed lap, Charles Leclerc is one of the few who improves and takes strength in his third pole position in his career, thanks to a time of 1'42"519.
The first row is won by Ferrari drivers Charles Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel, followed by the two Mercedes drivers, Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas, while Daniel Ricciardo and Nico Hulkenberg climb to eleventh and twelfth position due to the penalty, and give the sixth position to Kimi Raikkonen, who will start on the third row with Max Verstappen, Kevin Magnussen, Romain Grosjean and Lando Norris close the top ten. Pierre Gasly, after being relegated to Toro Rosso, finishes his thirteenth qualifying and will start alongside George Russell. From the fifteenth position onwards all the penalised drivers of this Grand Prix will start Carlos Sainz Jr., Lance Stroll, Alex Albon, Antonio Giovinazzi and Daniil Kvyat for replacing the power unit, and finally, Robert Kubica who will start from the pit lane following the problem encountered during Q1 to the ICE unit of the Mercedes engine.
So far the Belgian Grand Prix has given great emotions to the fans of Scuderia Ferrari, between the best times set in free practice and finally Charles Leclerc's pole position in qualifying. For the Monegasque, this is the third pole in his career, after winning the first in Bahrain, where he couldn’t turn into a success due to a reliability problem, and the second in Austria. Also on this second occasion, the Scuderia Ferrari driver touched the victory, then conquered by Max Verstappen at the end of a duel that lasted until the last lap. Two missed victories, without considering the defeat of the Canadian Grand Prix with Sebastian Vettel. The Spa circuit could be the perfect setting for the first victory of the season of the Maranello team, there are two Ferraris in the front row and a double would perfectly crown this weekend already monopolised by the cars painted red. At the end of qualifying, Charles Leclerc comments on his lap that assured him to start from pole position:
"It was very complicated, especially in Q3, I struggled a lot. The start of the lap has always been very chaotic because there was a lot of traffic with all the single-seaters on the track, but in the end, I managed to do the whole lap without errors and I'm very happy. I didn't expect to be so far ahead, I'm very happy with my lap. At first, in the first attempt in Q3, I looked for the perfect trail, but then I felt that the tyres weren’t ready for turn 1 and I lost time. So, on the second attempt, I asked the team to send me to the track as soon as the car was ready, to be alone and try to make time without slipstream. In my opinion, it was better to have the tyres in the right window than to have the wake, so we went out as soon as possible, but we still found cars in front. I think we've been fast since FP1, but when we did the race simulations in FP2 we weren't as fast. I guess it won't be easy tomorrow. We will try to give everything, the gap today is quite large, but it doesn't mean it will be like that tomorrow too. I analysed the Budapest race a lot, maybe it seemed worse than it was, but there is certainly work to be done on this. Tomorrow we'll see if this will pay off: I changed some things, very small, but the details always make a difference at this level. We'll see if tomorrow will be better".
Exactly one year after his last success, in Spa, Sebastian Vettel starts from the same position as in 2018, the second, and is a candidate for victory in Sunday's race. Despite getting the front row, the German driver complains about the great traffic encountered during Q3, which caused him a delay of almost 0.8 seconds from his teammate:
"Starting from the front row is good, but the traffic compromised my performance. But I don't want to make excuses: I stay focussed on tomorrow's race to try to reverse the direction. The temperature should drop at night and this should have positive implications for the competitiveness of our car. I'm confident: today we were doing better than yesterday and we hope to continue on this step".
Lewis Hamilton isn’t completely satisfied too with his performance. The British driver was the author of a big mistake in FP3, which put a strain on Mercedes mechanics and then almost involved in a rear-end collision with his teammate, during Q3, while he was looking for the use of the slipstream:
"Ferrari did a great job. Charles Leclerc was exceptional, we hope to give him a hard time. I have to thank the great work of my mechanics, I had a terrible day, with Bottas it was ridiculous because we were all looking for a wake, in this Ferrari's work was fantastic, so in the race, I will have to give the 110 per 100".
Kevin Magnussen will start from the eighth position, who at the end of the tests comments:
"After yesterday we didn’t expect to have any kind of pace today, but on the other side of having in mind that things can tip over. Tires are the same for everyone, but it's very difficult for us. We don't seem able to make the tyres work in the right way. I don't think it's a lack of knowledge, also because I don't think anyone fully understands these tyres. This makes all the rest of the work we do irrelevant because it fails to reverse the situation and you have different results in each session. This is a bit frustrating, but today qualifying tenths and then shooting tomorrow's eighths for the various penalties aren’t too bad. Tomorrow? God knows what we need".
While his teammate, Romain Grosjean, will start ninth:
"Today we got the best out of the car with both drivers, so it's fantastic. Since the beginning of the weekend, we have never felt comfortable with the car. I think this weekend showed some of the weaknesses we have, but it's still good since we could have a clear vision of what to change for the future. On the negative side, we don't have a race pace, so I'm a little worried about tomorrow. We have a problem with tyre wear: we know they have limits, but when you don't have the necessary aerodynamic force, things get worse Let's hope that the change of weather can bring us some advantage".
The French driver will be followed by Lando Norris:
"I’m happy with qualifying, satisfied with my performance and what we could do as a team. We struggled a bit to find a good direction for the car yesterday and today. I think we made a good pace in qualifying after PL3. It was difficult to understand how it would go, but we seemed more competitive in qualifying because so far we were behind everyone else. We made some progress, but not enough to get into Q3. I'm happy with my lap and how it went, but the position of the grid from which we will start is not as good as we wanted".
While the teammate of the British driver, Carlos Sainz Jr, will be forced to start from the sixteenth position:
"Disappointing day. Another red flag on Saturday was that didn't give us the chance to show our rhythm. At the end of Q1, we had time in the barrel. We did the first lap with a used tire and when we put on the new set of tyres and went up in mode with the engine for the second attempt we had to stop, due to a red flag. Having the penalty for the engine made the day frustrating, but I can't help it. I prefer to look forward and focus completely on tomorrow's race. We will fight to the checkered flag as always".
To precede the Spanish driver will be Pierre Gasly, fourteenth with Toro Rosso, following the recent retreat in the Faenza team:
"It would have been difficult to overtake Q1 with the old engine. Surely the red flag didn't help us, we still had some pace. I tried to do my best with what we had, but fortunately, it wasn't enough. I'm still learning a lot about the car I think it was a positive Saturday, with a good pace in PL3. I just think we could have better managed the traffic, which was not ideal, but it was the same for everyone. There will be many things to learn tomorrow during the race, both with the team and with the car. We'll see what we can do, we'll push hard. The penalties will start me a little further, and we'll give our best".
Daniil Kvyat didn't do better, forced from 19th position:
"I didn’t have the chance to have a good lap today, because in the PL3 we found traffic and we had small problems with the car. Then we couldn't solve these inconveniences for qualifying and unfortunately, there was something completely wrong with the car. I'm happy with my tour, but I don't know what my potential is today. I wish I had at least one clean ride but we had problems with the suspension and this ruined our day. For tomorrow we'll see if we can solve the problem and do something about it because there's something wrong with the car".
George Russell, who marked the nineteenth time, but will start in the fifteenth place, declares:
"They were very bizarre qualifying, with two red flags and everything else. We finally qualified as we expected. Penalty for going up on the grid? Yes, we will try to be there again in the battle, but I think it will be difficult with these long straights and our top speed. But we’ll see".
And finally, Robert Kubica, twentieth, having remained timeless, admits:
“The engine problem? Yes, when I was on the opposite straight I felt a sudden lack of power. But there was no strange noise. I initially thought it was a distribution problem because you normally hear a noise from the engine if it is a mechanical problem. When I realised that there was smoke from the back it was already too late. It went like that, too bad because other cars will take penalties on the grid and we could have started later. Now, however, it is important to understand what happened. I don't think there are any problems with the new evolutions of the Mercedes engine. I saw the breakup of Perez, but these power units are so complicated that you can't know if it's the same problem. Mercedes guys will evaluate what happened. They know how to do their job and I'm sure it will be fine".
Unfortunately, as this sport has taught many times in the past, the motorsport world includes not only euphoria and fun but also sacrifice and danger. Very often and willingly we forget about it, we cry out for innovation, we want more and more action and less boredom and we forget that behind the helmets there are drivers, but even before people who share this passion of ours, but who unlike us put their lives at risk for the achievement of a dream. In a completely modern Formula 1, with safety taken to extreme levels, death is just a distant and forgotten memory of the sport. The last fatal accident in Formula 1 dates back to 2015, also totally shocking and unexpected, so much so that the last tragedy dates back to 1994 with Ayrton Senna.
During the post-qualification of the Belgian Grand Prix, while the drivers are busy with the various interviews, the Formula 2 race is held. Unfortunately, during the second lap of the feature race, the French driver Anthoine Hubert tragically loses his life following an accident originating from an exit from Giuliano Alesi's Trident track. With Alesi's car remaining in the trajectory, Ralph Boschung slows down abruptly to dodge him but is hit by Hubert. Losing control of his Arden and heading towards the protective wall, the French driver impacts the outer barriers of the Raidillon curve but bounces again towards the track where Juan Manuel Correa arrives at full speed. The American driver bangs transversely against the left side of Hubert's car, which breaks in two due to the violence of the impact.
The French driver is transported to the hospital in Liège, where he dies at 6:35 p.m., at the age of 22. Juan Manuel Correa reports a fracture of both legs and a cracked vertebra; rescued quickly and remained conscious all the time, he is taken to the hospital in Liège where he will undergo surgery. His condition will be stable. Transported to a private clinic in London, he will be diagnosed with acute respiratory distress syndrome: this injury will cause Correa to fall into acute respiratory failure. Transferred to an intensive care unit specialising in respiratory injuries, unconscious and under the support of ECMO, his condition will be critical but stable. Correa will wake up from a coma on Saturday 21 September 2019, and will no longer be assisted by the ECMO. A week later, Saturday, September 28, 2019, the transport to another London hospital will be announced; conscious, Correa will refuse the amputation of her right foot and opt for reconstruction.
Meanwhile, silence falls on the Spa circuit. The international television director doesn't broadcast the images related to the accident, while the ambulances go up the straight that leads to La Source to reach the place of the impact at the Raidillion. The harshness of the accident is immediately understandable, even if the drivers of this new generation of Formula 1 are no longer used to the loss of a colleague. The fear is the same, and it becomes more real over time. Hubert won the GP 3 championship in 2018 and was currently racing for the English theme Arden in F2. He was one of the stars of Renault, and he had won two victories in the current F2 season, in Monaco and Le Castellet. French like Jules Bianchi, Hubert was a great childhood friend of Charles Leclerc and Pierre Gasly. Jean Alesi, visibly shaken, comments:
"It’s scary, losing a child like that, it’s just scary. It hurts, my son was in that row too. I’m speechless Anthoine knew him well, an extraordinary boy, very academic, his family isn't rich and to make him run he always made many sacrifices and compromises".
The race is immediately suspended and, following the official communication about the death of Anthoine Hubert, who arrives only in the late afternoon, Sunday's F2 race is cancelled. It's a tragedy that shakes the whole world of motorsport. Antonio Giovinazzi bitterly confesses:
"We are guys who chase their dreams with great sacrifice. But we are first of all professionals. Anthoine was all this, but above all, he was one of us. At this terrible moment, my thought is for his family and for all the people who love him".
The atmosphere on the Spa circuit changes, and it is full of doubts about how right it is to compete. Anthoine Hubert lost his life doing what he loved, and to honour him you can only go ahead and run for him and for that dream he pursued. Formula 1 will compete in the Belgian Grand Prix in his honour, so the Racing for Anthoine dedication will be present on each car, and drivers of all categories, together with mechanics, family members and team principals, gather on the track to dedicate a minute of silence to the unfortunate young French boy.
When the traffic lights go out, Charles Leclerc is the creator of a perfect start, maintaining his position and distancing himself from the rest of the group very quickly, perfectly, dominating the race with a single goal: victory. Lewis Hamilton surpasses Sebastian Vettel and immediately gives him overtaking on the straight and takes back the second position. Max Verstappen starts very badly and remains closed between the barrier of Turn 1 and Kimi Raikkonen's car. The Dutch driver pierces the front left tyre and slams outside the Eau Rouge, ending his race. The race is neutralised and Kimi Raikkonen (who on the radio had exclaimed: "Some fucking idiot completely hit me! Fucking dick!") stops at the pits to change the nose of the car. The return to the pits of the Safety Car is further delayed due to a second retirement: Carlos Sainz Jr.'s single-seater stops on the track, fortunately near an escape route.
The race resumes on lap five, with Sebastian Vettel risking being overcome a second time due to a lock that brings Lewis Hamilton in the wake but is saved thanks to the power of the Ferrari engine. Valtteri Bottas attacks his teammate outside, but he closes the door. The first four quickly create a certain detachment from the rest of the group led by Lando Norris. Lewis Hamilton comes back under Sebastian Vettel and prepares for an overtaking. In the rear Pierre Gasly, more motivated than ever overtake Lance Stroll and Kevin Magnussen and takes himself to eighth position, while his Red Buy Racing replacement, Alex Albon, who started seventeenth is already twelfth. The ranking doesn't change, for the first positions, until the tenth lap, when Sergio Pérez passes Kevin Magnussen, for seventh place. The Danish car, however, is not competitive, so much so that Magnussen loses several positions in the following laps. On lap fourteen Pierre Gasly, who is eighth, returns to the pits to change the tyres. Ferrari makes a difference in the first and third sectors, where the engine counts, while Mercedes is superior in the centre sector.
The fastest on track is Charles Leclerc, who has an advantage of 3.7 seconds over Sebastian Vettel, and 4.8 seconds over the British. On lap fourteen Sebastian Vettel anticipates the pit stop and moves on to the use of Medium compounds, returning to the race in fifth place, behind Lando Norris. Sergio Perez also changes tires at the same time. With the new tyres, Sebastian Vettel gains over a second per lap on both teammates Lewis Hamilton. During the nineteenth lap, the FIA decided to remember the Formula 2 driver Anthoine Hubert, who passed away the day before, who ran with the number 19: all the audience present pays homage to the French driver with long applause. On lap 20, Lando Norris changed the tyres, he was fifth and maintained the position thanks to an overtaking on Daniil Kvjat. During the twenty-first lap, Charles Leclerc is also recalled to the pits, who, as expected, after mounting the Medium tyres, returned behind Sebastian Vettel, however, has strained the tyres a lot.
The ranking sees Lewis Hamilton in the lead, followed by Valtteri Bottas, Sebastian Vettel, Charles Leclerc, Daniil Kvyat, Antonio Giovinazzi, Lando Norris, and Alex Albon, Daniel Ricciardo and Romain Grosjean. During the twenty-third lap, Lewis Hamilton is also recalled to the pits, who on his return to the track joins the two Ferrari drivers, Mercedes also recalls Valtteri Bottas, who comes back to the pits during the twenty-fourth lap. Meanwhile, Charles Leclerc complains about the strategy and asks his track engineer why his stop came so late compared to his teammate. Despite this, Sebastian Vettel seems already in crisis with the use of tyres and loses pace, so much so that the Monegasque driver reduces the distance to a rate of one second per lap, the two do not have to fight, otherwise, they would only lose time and give Lewis Hamilton an advantage. Meanwhile, Alex Albon stops at the pits and for him, the race resumes from the fifteenth position, with still many laps available to prove to Helmut Marko that he has made the right choice.
On lap twenty-seventh comes the team order: Sebastian Vettel must pass Charles Leclerc. As soon as the position is given up, the Monegasque driver already detaches two seconds in a very short time. The early pit stop put the German driver in crisis, as his tyres soon began to give way. Vettel finds himself in a short time having to defend himself from the arrival of Lewis Hamilton: the victory is no longer contemplated. The real team game begins for the German driver, in trying to slow down Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas' Mercedes as much as possible. Lewis Hamilton comes in the wake of Sebastian Vettel and joins him in Turn 18: the two accompany each other, but the Ferrari driver remains inside the chicane without passing his rival and then launches himself into the straight. For now, the German driver manages to defend himself with pure acceleration and with higher top speed, but it is visible that Mercedes has much more competitiveness.
The British driver immediately testified at the first corner and this time completes overtaking on the long straight, during the thirty-second lap. The Mercedes driver now has 6.5 seconds to recover to hope to win the race. As Leclerc and Hamilton begin their battle, Alex Albon arrives in the fight with Pierre Gasly for the tenth position and passes it without difficulty, then launching himself in pursuit of his former teammate, Daniil Kvyat. The situation during the thirty-third lap sees Charles Leclerc leading the race, seven seconds ahead of Lewis Hamilton. The two are followed by Sebastian Vettel and Valtteri Bottas. Driving the midfield is Lando Norris, creator of one of his most beautiful races in Formula 1. The rookie is currently 34 seconds behind Valtteri Bottas but enjoys a 17-second lead over Sergio Perez.
Followed by Daniel Ricciardo, Romain Grosjean, Daniil Kvyat, Alex Albon, Pierre Gasly, Antonio Giovinazzi, Nico Hulkenberg, Lance Stroll, Kevin Magnussen, George Russell, Robert Kubica and Kimi Raikkonen. A few laps already late Sebastian Vettel is forced to make a second stop, which forces him to slip into the fourth position, while the tires of Charles Leclerc's car show the first signs of failure. We are approaching the last laps of the race. Alex Albon passes both Romain Grosjean, Daniel Ricciardo, and Daniil Kvyat, and after the thirty-eighth lap, he can start aiming for reaching the sixth position held by Sergio Perez, who can rant a 5-second advantage over Thailand’s driver.
When there are three laps left, Lewis Hamilton's gap from the top drops to 3 seconds. Two laps before the end of the race to both pursuers - Hamilton and Albon- there are only 2.5 seconds left to recover on their competitors. Charles Leclerc finds a little more luck thanks to Sergio Perez, who unwittingly slows down Lewis Hamilton during the overtake. Even Alex Albon takes advantage and now is 1.3 seconds from the Racing point, driven by the Mexican driver. In the last lap, Alex Albon comes into the DRS zone, meanwhile, Lewis Hamilton leads 1.5 seconds behind Charles Leclerc. The Monegasque driver keeps his calm and without mistakes made his way to the last metres that separate him from the finish line, the victory. La sources, Eau Rouge, the long straight, Les Combes: the finish line is closer.
Charles Leclerc crosses the last corners, reaches the chicane and crosses the finish line, winning his first Formula 1 Grand Prix. The Monegasque driver, in a calm tone, dedicates his victory to his friend Anthoine Hubert. Alex Albon passes Sergio Perez and ends his race in the fifth position, at the end of a comeback that saw him rise from the seventeenth position. The race is not yet over, in the S2 the yellow flag is waved. The camera frames Antonio Giovinazzi and his car inside the barriers, While Lando Norris stops his McLaren right on the finish straight, at the end of the forty-third lap, ending his best race until so far disputed. The final classification, therefore, sees the triumph of Charles Leclerc, followed by the second place of Lewis Hamilton, Valtteri’s third, then Sebastian Vettel, Alex Albon, Sergio Perez, Daniil Kvyat, Nico Hulkenberg, Pierre Gasly, Lance Stroll, Kevin Magnussen, Romain Grosjean, Daniel Ricciardo, George Russell, Kimi Raikkonen and Robert Kubica.
Scuderia Ferrari's first success in this 2019 and first Victory Absolute of Charles Leclerc, who becomes The youngest pilot ever in To win with the Maranello team, Taking away this privilege from Jacky Ickx, Winner of the French Grand Prix Of 1968, in Rouen, at only 23 years old, 6 Months and 6 days. The Monegasque closes a dominated weekend starting from free practice.
"On the one hand, a dream I had since I was a child came true today, on the other hand, it was a very difficult weekend. I lost a friend Anthoine Hubert, and I want to dedicate my first victory to him because we are Grownup Together. For this reason, I can’t enjoy the victory but I will always keep it in my heart. It was a difficult race I struggled with tyres Towards the end. I'm very happy on my part about how I handled the tyres. Mercedes were fast in the race, but it was a good weekend in terms of performance, with the pole position and the victory. Beat Lewis in the race wasn’t simple, it put pressure on me Towards the end and I'm glad to have it Kept behind".
Then he continues:
"It's very difficult today. I can't fully enjoy this first victory to be honest, with everything that happened yesterday. I struggle with it With Antoine we started karting in 2005, and we did our first race together with Pierre (Gasly) and Esteban (Ocon). We were a group of friends who started together. It’s very difficult, I'm happy on the one hand to win on such a day to remember it even more. Yes, this victory is for him, as I said in the car. Without Seb and without what he did it would have been very difficult, if not impossible to keep Lewis behind because he was too fast. Thanks to Seb for keeping Lewis behind a few laps. The next weekend will be even more important for me and the team. We want to do well in Monza, in front of our Tifosi. With what we have, we think it's a positive track for us because of the top speed, where our car seems to be the strongest and in Monza, we’re gonna have to need it, so we hope for a good result there".
The Monegasque’s driver receives appreciation from Lewis Hamilton:
"I gave absolutely everything I had, the race was very difficult, the Ferraris were too fast during the straight, It was too much difficult to catch them. The 44 is my lucky number, like the laps here, but with a couple more laps I would have made it. Congratulations to Charles, he deserved it for a long time and I'm happy for him".
Valterri Bottas, third-place finisher with Mercedes, declares:
"The pace was better, how we expected. The Ferraris were fastest in the straight, we were recovering in the rest of the circuit. My race was pretty good in terms of strategy and gave me the opportunity of a podium. Then I preserved the engine and gearbox for the next races".
Ferrari couldn't bring home the one-two but Sebastian Vettel is the best demonstration of how a teammate should behave. After realising that the third place was unthinkable due to the degradation of the tyres, the German driver has accepted the orders to slow down as much as possible. Lewis Hamilton with excellent feedback:
"I just had to hold back the two Mercedes as much as I could, I didn't have the pace and I didn't feel comfortable with the car, I was consuming the tyres too much quickly. It wasn't a good day for me but it was for the team. You always have to look out for yourself, but today I played as a team. After the first lap, I realised that I was not able to manage the tyres as I would have liked and from that point on I was on track just to help the team, which I did successfully".
The German driver will be able to redeem himself in the long-awaited home race, the Grand Prix Of Italy scheduled at Monza in seven days.
“We should be fine. It's a very important weekend for us, we have a good pace on that kind of track. We'll see what we can do next week".
Sebastian Vettel moreover explains his decision to return to the box for a change of tyres already on lap 15:
"Obviously, to stand in front of Lewis. It was too early, but at that point, I was trying to cover the first car and even after it was quite clear that with the tyres I had at that point I would not be able to keep the second place".
Even the team principal of Scuderia Ferrari, Mattia Binotto, thanks, Sebastian Vettel:
"Sebastian was the author of a good race and showed a good pace in the first stint, but we anticipated his first stop to protect the position. This meant that his tyres were very degraded towards the end of the race. He helped his teammate and prove once again that you can play teamwork. We saw in Belgium that to win we have to be perfect in everything and our commitment is to do the same thing in Monza. There will be no place for mistakes".
Gives, moreover, appointments to the fans, who will be present in Monza, as part of the Grand Prix of Italy:
"Monza? The best way to prepare is to win more races than just Spa. After that, we know we can be competitive in Monza. It’s important for our fans, to win we will still have to be perfect at every step of the weekend. Show ourselves at the home’s Grand Prix after the win in Spa-Francorchamps is, without doubt, the best way to get to Monza, especially to thank the fans who have supported us so much in this season, but so far not been the easiest. And a victory is good for the spirit, Wednesday we celebrate in Milan the 90 years of Ferrari and it will be beautiful to motivate this moment. Then there's Monza, another track full of straights, of engines, maybe more than the last one. We’ll bring our third power unit, but it must be reliable, this will be our concern. Here It was a long, hard race, we suffered but the important thing was to win it. I'm happy with how the race was managed, Vettel must be credited for how he fought for the team. He also wants to win, even today he pushed and there will be an opportunity for him too. Charles went well all weekend, today he was very fast and deserved everything. I'm happy for him, for the team and the fans. Charles earned everything, he wanted it also for his friend Hubert, who used to race together".
The team principal confirms the introduction - starting from the Italian Grand Prix - of the power unit named Evo3:
"We are facing a circuit with very high averages characterized by long straights and violent braking, on which a package with low downforce is used. At the end of this week, we plan to introduce our third power unit".
In the end, he declares:
"Our tactics have always been, from the beginning of the championship, to do a strategy to maximize the result of the team. It’s not easy because clearly, the drivers want race for their result. Our drivers were on two different strategies and in the end, it paid off, but we were also ready to stretch Vettel’s first stint. We looked closely at what was happening on the track with Mercedes. We don't have yet an explanation for the difference in pitch on the medium tyres between Vettel and Leclerc. Today on soft tyres we were very strong, but with the middle tyres, we suffered. As has already happened to us, it is difficult to manage the tires with our car. The First Ferrari win as team principal? I don’t think it’s important. We work as one team".
Concluded the race, the team principal of Alfa Romeo Fredric Vasseur, while speaking about the accident that involved Max Verstappen and Kimi Raikkonen at the start of the race, attacks the Dutch driver:
"I don't know what happened with Verstappen. He came from nowhere, he was even behind Perez before braking. He tried to overcome two cars at the first corner and that's stupid because in Spa you can overtake and have space to do something. We aren't in Budapest or Montecarlo. The car was completely damaged, and half of the posterior was missing".
Despite the anger of Alfa Romeo, the stewards did not intervene in the episode. And in this regard, the Race Director Michael Masi admits:
"We examined it. it was determined that it was an accident from before the corner of the first lap. So no further action".
For his part, Max Verstappen implies that the bad start of Kimi Raikkonen and the accident were due to an engine problem:
"We are struggling this year to keep the sliding of the rear wheels constant. Even changes from the engine, so it’s always a mystery whether it will be okay or not. This season has gone bad several times, so we know what we need to work on. We were the second-best team at the start of last year and also the previous year. I do not think it is possible that suddenly we aren't more able to make a good departure. What we don't know is how the engine will handle our inputs. We can do a lot of analyses during the tests and Honda is already working on these aspects. They can see that it's not going to get better m, but it needs time to improve because It has to deal with some specific characteristics of the engine".
It went so much better with Alex Albon, author of an exemplary comeback that saw him recover ground until he conquered the fifth place:
"I enjoyed the race a lot, it was fun. I struggled a little at the beginning, I didn't feel very well and comfortable. When we put on the Soft tyres, the car became fast and the various battles were very fun. I liked overtaking Ricciardo, but his tyres were finished. The last laps were also very nice, I fought with Perez on the last lap and taking fifth place was very positive".
Former Red Bull Racing driver, Pierre Gasly congratulates Charles Leclerc for the victory obtained in Belgian Grand Prix:
"Before the race, I said to Charles to win this race for Anthoine. We started racing in the same year, Charles, Anthoine and I. We have been driving together for so many years and we all knew each other. Between Jules (Bianchi), a couple of years ago, and now Anthoine, I think it's terrible news for French motorsport. They were two fantastic characters, it's hard to realize. I think it was the most exciting pre-race I've ever had, to live these kinds of moments at 23. I lose one of my best friends, I grew up karting with these guys since I was seven years old, we were roommates, and we lived in the same room and same apartment for six years. I’m still shocked and I’ve already planned to see all my friends who know Anthoine tomorrow because none of us understands what happened yesterday".
Nico Hulkenberg, eighth-ranked, collects 4 points for himself and the Renault team. At the end of the race the German driver comments:
"It was a tough race from the start. I had to manoeuvre around the corner 1 to avoid collisions and we lost some positions. The centre group was very close today, which means catching up has been difficult. We changed tires late to fit the Soft again and this has paid off. We were a little lucky in those last laps, but it’s the races. It was nice to get some points, especially after the news of yesterday. The morning was difficult, but once you put on the helmet, the adrenaline rises, and you have to work. In the end, bringing home points was amazing".
Meanwhile, his teammate, Daniel Ricciardo finishes fourteenth place, one lap from the winner:
"Our race depended on the first lap due to an accident. I got hit from behind that caused also big damage to the bottom. We had to make a pit- I thought we had to retire the car- but we put the middle tyres and the car was quite handy. We continued, we kept our place in the top ten and I even thought we could collect some points. I was proud to resist long and I know we couldn’t do it anymore. I’m glad it’s over today: yesterday’s news was hard to catch. yesterday’s news was hard to catch. It was hard to be here and show a brave face, but I am glad to have given the best".
Daniil Kvyat finished in seventh place with his Toro Rosso. At the end of the race, the Russian driver, left nineteenth, declares:
"I’m very happy. It was a fantastic race and we did well with the strategy and the overtakes. The car was great today and I’m really happy with the result. Now we can fight with any other team, we don’t have fear of straightaways. The thing we lack is the rhythm of Saturday on the dry lap. On Sunday the pace was very good and hopefully, Honda will continue to improve, bringing a little more power".
It did not go as hoped the race of Kevin Magnussen, twelfth at the finish line:
"The first stint on the C3 tyres was terrible, there was no grip. We were just crashing into the standings and they overtook us all the time. I made the wrong call asking to stay a little longer on that tire. I did it because I felt hopeless, so we could hope for a Safety Car or something. I felt it would be my only chance to get back up. Then, when we finally made the pit by mounting the yellow rubber C2, the car came back to life and the normal, the feeling was again very good. And so unpredictable that you know what to expect".
As well as the race of his teammate, Romain Grosjean:
"We had a great start, the car was acting very good at first. I was really glad that the car filled this gap. Then we fitted the medium tires and to my surprise, the car was even better. So, I was hoping it would be a really good afternoon. We arrived behind Ricciardo’s Renault and we had no chance of passing him. We had too much drag and not enough speed maximum. It was not a choice, it is that we had to work tires, but it’s so hard. I’ve been happy with my driving style and car, but it is so hard to think of being sixth and then finishing thirteenth. It's a bad feeling not to be able to do anything".
George Russell can smile instead, regardless he only finished fifteenth:
"I started fourteenth, but I didn’t have a great start. When Kimi’s accident happened I ended up outside, there was a lot of debris and I lost all the positions. Then I went after Kimi for most of the race, I assume had the car damaged. Then I stood behind him, there’s no much more to say. Terrible weekend? Yes, absolutely. It’s been a difficult day for everyone. The news [of Hubert] has been devastating. I can’t imagine what the family’s going through, he was a really good guy".
Robert Kubica comments on his race, admitting:
"We had to start from the pitlane and had to compromise with the car because of yesterday. Could have been an advantage starting from the pitlane with the cool, since you have temperatures of much better tires, but because we couldn’t get anything out of the safety car. The pace wasn't too bad, although I had some degradation with the medium tires in the first part of the race, then it settled and I managed to resume the pace. We put the soft compound for the last part of the race and I was managing to keep Raikkonen behind, but I was a little unlucky with Vettel dubbing. I ended up in the DRS zone, with the Alpha being almost 20 km/h faster than us on the straights, is been easy for him to overtake me".
Belgium’s weekend ends with the rebirth of Scuderia Ferrari in an atmosphere of loss and pain. The Motorsport world has coloured another page of black after so many years. Congratulations go to all the drivers who have had the strength to return to run into such a complicated situation. The death of a young boy, a driver, has strong repercussions on who must continue to race and this has been seen in the various facets of the drivers on the grid. During the post-race, Daniel Ricciardo - after releasing the usual declarations relating to the Grand Award - he lets himself go to an outbreak and a reflection on what he has characterized this weekend:
"I’m glad the race is over. I know, unfortunately, that the best way to honour him was to run today, I want to do it. I speak for myself, but I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels that way. It was difficult, it was certainly difficult for everyone to be here and to have made a thoughtful face. I know that many people have been sick since yesterday. I think we’re all relieved to have finished this race and to be able to get out of here. Let’s hope this is the last time these things happen. I thought about it at night. Do you wonder: is it worth it? Yes, it’s our work, our profession and our passion but let’s not forget that they’re just cars running around in circles. To be honest, seeing his family here is what gave me more strength than anything. The way they stayed after what happened... Taking my hat off in front of them would not do justice. I don’t know what to say, I felt like they were stronger than any of us drivers".
We speak of passion but also work. People who put their own life in balance to chase a feeling and to give this same feeling, but very often the beholder forgets the risk. Lewis Hamilton makes a statement that has the appearance of a real complaint to these people who laugh and get big behind a screen with their fingers pointed at the drivers, underestimating the real danger they face in every race:
"My prayers and thoughts are with you and your family. If any of you who watches and enjoys practising this sport, thinks for just one second that what we do is safe, is in big mistake. All these drivers put their lives to the limit when they take to the track and the people must appreciate it so more serious because unfortunately it is not quite appreciated. Not by some fans and not by some people who work in this sport. Anthoine is a hero for what concerns me, for having run the risk of chasing their dreams. That’s how sad that all this has happened we will always remember".
There are also criticisms and reflections from Jackie Stewart to those who are exalted by the accidents and drama of racing. Stewart himself led a campaign for the security in the past and fears its own that sport can take a step in this respect, the accidents are getting more and more and this tragedy has been the destabilizing direction for a generation of drivers who know the dangers this sport is dragged along, but not knew the feeling of death:
"In my opinion, there were too many accidents in the last 24 or 36 months because there has never been a hard penalty to pay. We have seen broken wings, and single-seaters going up in the air. It happened also on Sunday when Max Verstappen crashed with Kimi Raikkonen on the first lap. Drivers may now be ready to recognize that they will have to take less freedom because you should never start to think that you are bulletproof. You cannot think that you will always succeed. This could be an alarm clock. The shock and pain that was very noticeable at Spa are something new for this generation. All of the sudden, everyone is aware that if you commit a mistake it could arise a tragedy. There had not been a disaster for so long. It can happen to another one and all this shakes everyone".
These words must make the future reflect.