The 2019 Belgian Grand prix will not be remembered as it should be for Charles Leclerc’s maiden F1 win, but the triadic death of Anthoine Hubert in the F2 race. For the Monacan his second friend to be killed due to accidents at Grand Prix weekend, and the death of his father Hevre ahead of the 2017 Azerbaijan Grand Prix.
Writing earlier this year, you felt after Bahrain and Austria those races should have been his. Like in both races, Leclerc built a huge lead at the front, but this time managed to maintain the lead and take the victory. Again, it was a weekend where he comfortably outpaced the former world champion in qualifying and outran him again in the race.
Ferrari’s clever strategy paid off finally, the use of team orders really I think signals a change from the ‘number one-two policy’ the team has had for two decades. We have been asking when do Ferrari change that policy and back Leclerc.
Although I believe nothing has changed in the long term, I mean when we get into 2020, but being out of the championship battle allows them to assess who to be the teams’ leader next year.
You have to feel for Leclerc, your first Grand Prix win should be one you remember with joy. But the death of Hubert must hurt, imagine in thirty years what he will remember ‘Spa 2019 my first win’ and ‘Herbert’s death’.
Leclerc has lost a lot, he was really close with Jules Bianchi, we believe the Frenchman was going to be Ferrari’s replacement for Kimi Raikkonen in 2016. But, then that dreadful accident at Suzuka in 2014 which took his life months later.
Leclerc rightly took his first win, where last year he was arguably saved from serious injury by the halo. Remember into La Source last season he had the McLaren of Fernando Alonso launched over him at the start of the race.
It is wrong at the moment to speculate about the death of Hurbert, we know there will be an inquiry by the FIA and the RACB into what happened and that will give us answers.
Sometimes I have questioned Sebastian Vettel’s mindset, but I think Spa proved that he does have issues with wheel to wheel racing and that he has been disturbed by the arrival of Leclerc. Ferrari and Vettel need to rebuild him, maybe he needs ‘to go away’ and find himself as Valtteri Bottas did over the 2018-19 break?
We know Ferrari don’t like us questioning the future of Vettel, but as a journalist and a fan, you need to as he is not delivering the results we expect of a four-time champion. They need him to step up, or his reputation could be in tatters.
We have all wanted these battles between Hamilton and Leclerc, although we only had the one at Spa. I think Leclerc showed maturity, and we saw that in his battle in recent races and in recent races.
Leclerc goes down as the first Monegasque to win a world championship Grand Prix, and the youngest winner for Ferrari. I think he is as he said he is ready to fight for the title, but the question is do Ferrari really begin to back him next season.
The other story of that race was Alex Albon, he made his debut for Red Bull, going into the weekend he had a very tough challenge starting from the back to finish third. Like Leclerc, he was also part of that group in karting.
You need to think that when we were in Abu Dhabi last year Albon wasn’t being mentioned as a Toro Rosso driver this season. Albon had a brilliant race considering he started at the back and had never driven the car until Friday.
I believe if he continues to deliver these results, he should be able to secure that seat for 2020. Red Bull, however, face Max Verstappen now taking an engine penalty at Monza. It’s tough, I thought think it is going to be tougher for them because of the nature of the straights and corners.