This review of the 2019 Belgian Grand Prix was written by Nick van der Meulen
Charles Leclerc finally converted his promise into victory, with a flawless performance throughout the weekend of the Belgian Grand Prix. The sweetness of his maiden victory was soured by the passing of his childhood friend, Anthoine Hubert in the F2 feature race held after F1 qualifying on Saturday afternoon. He was only 22 years old. What should have been a joyous occasion for the Monegasque Ferrari driver was muted by grief…
Verstappen’s boisterous move
The Grand Prix itself was action packed, with Max Verstappen (Red Bull Racing Honda) fluffing his start from fifth on the grid and trying to recover ground on the brakes to La Source hairpin. After scything past Sergio Perez (Racing Point Mercedes) on the run to La Source, he was unsighted by Kimi Raikkonen (Alfa Romeo) who took the fastest line to the corner. Verstappen was extremely late on the brakes and the two made contact, Raikkonen being bounced into the air. The Dutchman’s font suspension was terminally damaged, snapping at the entrance to Eau Rouge and veering the Red Bull racer into the tyre barrier. Raikkonen tried valiantly to recover and post a decent result, but the damage to his machine was too great and he finished at the tail of the field, just ahead of Robert Kubica’s Williams-Mercedes.
Ferrari comeback after the Hungarian GP
Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari) was chasing his young team mate all weekend. He tried valiantly to close the gap by stopping earlier than Leclerc, but he damaged his tyres in the early stages of his stint while posting blistering laps. As a result, he fell victim to the Mercedes duo of world champion Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas and had to stop again for fresh tyres late in the race. He finished fourth, but had the small consolation of posting the fastest lap of the race.
The champ was never far behind
Hamilton, on the other hand, had excellent race pace despite the Ferraris clear straight-line speed advantage and closed down Leclerc in the closing stages of the race. Fans were biting their nails on the edge of their seats going into the final lap, but the young Leclerc kept his head and kept the charging Englishman at bay. Bottas, who also had his turn of speed on race day, chased them home to finish third.
But that’s not all
The final lap of the race also saw a couple of incidents. The first was Antonio GIovinazzi losing the tail end of his Alfa Romeo and careen into the tyre wall, while the other saw Lando Norris (McLaren-Renault) who was on the verge of claiming a fifth place finish, grind to a halt on the main straight with a suspected hydraulic failure.
Alexander Albon (Red Bull Racing Honda) charged from the tail of the field to claim a fine fifth place, taking it away from a forcefully defensive Perez on the final lap. Daniil Kyvat (Toro Rosso Honda) finished a fine 7th, ahead of Nico Hulkenberg (Renault), who will take some satisfaction beating his team mate after recently learning he lost his seat to Esteban Ocon for 2020. Pierre Gasly earned points on his return to Toro Rosso, finishing 9th ahead of Lance Stroll (Racing Point-Mercedes).
Onward to the Italian temple of speed
The next Grand Prix is less than a week away at the home of Ferrari. The Tifosi will flock to Monza in their droves to see whether Ferrari can keep up their momentum following the team’s first victory of the season.
You can watch the race highlights at this link