The Formula 1 circus made a stop at the famous Spa-Francorchamp track for the Belgian Grand Prix on Sunday. The end result was exactly as expected as Lewis Hamilton stormed to victory. Starting in pole position, the Brit put in an almost flawless performance to cruise to his 89th career victory. That’s just two off of F1 legend Schumacher’s record number. Having blown the “competition” out of the water during qualifying, the untouchable driver dedicated his pole position to the recently passed away actor Chadwick Boseman and paid his respects again after he did what he does best on a race Sunday.
Merc teammate Valtteri Bottas finished in a not so close second place, having kept the dangerous Red Bull of Max Verstappen at bay. Having started in fourth, the smiley Australian Daniel Ricciardo kept the pace of his Renault up to finish fourth too, while winning ‘driver of the day’ on the way and bagging Renault their first ‘Fastest Lap’ in a decade. Behind Ricciardo was a brutal midfield battle between Esteban Ocon, Alex Albon, and Lando Norris. Frenchman Ocon managed to manoeuvre his French formula around Albon in the last of the 44 laps.
Alpha Tauri’s Pierre Gasly and the Racing Points of Lance Stroll and Sergio Perez completed the top 10 but a great deal of attention was on Gasly as he drove his heart out for his close friend Anthoine Hubert who tragically lost his life on the same track during an F2 race in 2019. The Frenchman went on to be voted as the fan favourite of the day.
Notice how not a single Italian stallion has been mentioned thus far. That’s right, both Ferraris finished outside the top ten and then some, as Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc took home a less than ideal 13th and 14th place respectively. Leclerc did well to climb to eighth place mid-race. However, the car simply lacked straight line speed and as a result the young Monegasque was being picked off on the long lines of Spa.
To put it into perspective, this was the worst Ferrari result in a decade and, unsurprisingly, team boss Mattia Binotto said that the team was left feeling “disappointed and angry” thereafter. Leclerc commented that “It was extremely frustrating, as it has been a very difficult weekend for us”. Teammate Vettel hopes that the issues were “Spa-specific” but the pressure will be on for the iconic team as they head to Italy for two consecutive home Grand Prix, at Monza and Mugello next month.
The fossil-fuelled action will resume on Saturday, September 6 at another historically significant track. Let’s hope the Monegasque finds some good fortune at Monza.