Grand Prix 2019 Belgian Grand Prix Practice, Qualifying & Race Discussion

If you say the word Spa to most women, the vast majority would probably think of a luxury place where they can get a massage, facial, manicure and pedicure or any number of other beauty treatments. Not me though, for me if you say the word Spa my eyes light up and I think of probably the best race track on the current F1 calendar. This is a track where over the years we've had a lot of exciting races full of thrills a spills. A track which if you ask the drivers to name their favourite circuits, it will most likely be in the top three they come up with. A drivers track, a track with history and a classic that seems to mean more when you finish first. Congratulations you’ve just won Spa!!

Spa has always been a challenge but even in the years I’ve been watching F1 it’s been sanitised to some degree. The Bus Stop when you almost used to stop and indicate to turn off onto a small side road before rejoining the track was always something I enjoyed, that is long since gone. Thankfully Eau Rogue is still something of a challenge but even that is not what it used to be. Most drivers will tell you that it’s still a hell of a corner but often these days they take it flat. Yet think back a few years and most people would look at you like you needed your head testing is you even suggested such a thing.

In 1998 Jacques Villeneuve tried taking Eau Rouge flat and crashed his Williams Mecachrome spectacularly, nothing that remarkable there, a lot of people have done so over the years. It was a pretty heavy crash but he was quickly out of the car and back to the pits again. Did he learn from it though? Did he hell?

Fast forward to 1999 and Jacques is with BAR, his team mate is a young Ricardo Zonta and the two drivers got talking. Apparently they came up with a bet or dare, call it what you will and the fans who watched qualifying that year were in for a sight they wouldn’t forget, I was one of them. As a Jacques Villneueve fan I was on the edge of my seat as he set off, I recalled all too clearly what had happened the year before.

Apparently Villeneuve dared Zonta to take Eau Rouge flat. As I say, these days it seems unremarkable, back then it almost seemed like a death wish. Villeneuve went out first and attempted to take the corner flat, just as he’d said. Much as in 1998 he tried and failed. His crash was worse than 1998, he was heard to comment afterwards ‘at least I rolled it’. His younger and much less experienced team mate then went out. Even after seeing what had happened to Villeneuve, Zonta stuck to his word and he too attempted to take the corner flat, his crash was even worse than Villeneuve’s. I do recall the look of total disbelief on Craig Pollock’s face at what his two drivers had done to his teams' cars. Both drivers thankfully walked away from their wrecked cars and a lesson was learnt, no, you couldn’t take Eau Rouge flat at that time, but it hadn’t stop them trying. You have to wonder why they tried it in the first place, bravado? Stupidity? That need to be on 'the edge' as Jacques himself used to say? The thrill of pushing man and car to the limit? It could be any or a combination of all of these things, I just remember it was both exciting and yet horrifying to watch them try it at the time.

Spa is also subject to the weather effect, catch your pitstop just right as it begins to rain and you’re a hero, miss that pit entry just as the heavens open and the likelihood is your race is ruined, mostly just due to the length of the track as it's the longest on the current calendar. By the time you've tiptoed all that way back around to the pits again, it's probably too late to save your race. That is part of the joy and agony of the Spa-Francorchamps circuit and what makes it still one of the races in the season that I, and most likely a lot of you, most look forward to, probably a lot of the drivers do too. It always offers up the chance of a brilliant race and thankfully it still sometimes produces one too.

Last year your pole sitter was Hamilton and the podium was as follows. 1st Vettel, 2nd Hamilton, 3rd Verstappen.
Who will be there this year? Would anyone bet against a Mercedes winning the race? Earlier in the season I'd have said no, but with Max Verstappen driving his socks off in a resurgent Red Bull, plus hopefully a threat from either of the Ferrari drivers, it's far from a foregone conclusion. That is just how we like it

Edited to add the banner, we used to have a banner at gp.com for each race, I thought I'd add one of them to this thread and then I forgot to do it, until now ;)

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The Artist.....

Champion Elect
I truly believed that after Ratzenberger had died, out of respect, they should have cancelled the rest of the weekend. ( and Italian law as well).

This is a little different, but I still am very uncomfortable with racing on this weekend.
 

RasputinLives

Leave me alone I'm on Smoko
Contributor
IMHO if someone is killed at a race track then no one should be racing in any form at that racetrack until an official investigation has been conducted to determine the reason why it happened. It might turn out to be a pure freak accident but it still needs to be done.

Of course it isn't because of money and they cover this up with the whole 'racing spirit' and 'show must go on crap'.
 

Angel

Race Winner
Contributor
I agree RasputinLives but I know it will go on because that is what F1 does. It shouldn't, but it does. They would argue that all those people are there and have paid to see F1 etc. etc. Does that make it right? No, of course it doesn't, but we all know how it will go on. We can't even blame it on Bernie anymore. It's about money and the sad reality is people's lives don't come close to mattering as much in the grand scheme of things.
 

Greenlantern101

Super Hero And All Round Good Guy
Contributor
Huge crash in the F3 race earlier this morning . Car went completely under the tyre wall. Halo saved another life for certain. With the F2 tragedy and F3 crash this morning, I've just got a bad feeling now. Hope the F1 goes smoothly.
 

Dartman

Podium Finisher
RasputinLives , money will always overrule sentiment and the accident was a combination of circumstances that lead to the fatality, if one cancelled the race subject to anlysis it would be years before the circuit would be used again due to all the disinterested parties shoving their oar in
 

F1Brits_90

Race Winner
RasputinLives i fully agree on imola point. starting the race is for debate. restarting the race isnt, that was very wrong. people know my very forthwrite thoughts on Jean todt

is this more getting back on horse quickly or is as you say
 

Ruslan

Podium Finisher
Well, decent race.

Leclerc: Good race, deserving win. Exited the track once, got tangled up in traffic at least once. Otherwise, clean.

Hamilton: Lost a second on pit stop and they may have been better served to take in him a lap or two earlier for his tire change. This might have been enough to get him on Leclerc's tail for the last two laps. Just wasn't quite close enough.

Bottas: A perfectly good #2 driver drive.

Vettel: One of his mysterious underperforming drives. Suspect he has given up on the season and is not motivated. Leclerc is good enough to be faster than an unmotivated Vettel. Is he good enough to be faster than a motivated Vettel? Suspect we won't know until early next season. He did get fastest lap.

Ferrari: Well, they have proven that on a good day on the right track, they are the fastest car out there, barely. I thought they might be in trouble when the temperature was 10 degrees cooler on Sunday, vice Saturday. Anyhow, too late the salvage the season that they threw away in the first half. Still wonder what the real problem was.

Albon: Good drive, great pass at the end. Certainly proved he belongs in Red Bull.

Perez: Another of his consistently good drives. Was in traffic for a lot of the race. Impressive to watch him deal with it. Not sure why people keep denigrating a driver who often ends a race as the leader of the "best of the rest"

Kvyat: Good drive. Continues to show why he probably should have been picked for Red Bull.

Hulkenberg: Good drive. Sadly, it looks like his career is in a slow permanent downward slide.

Gasly: Well, he looked good actually. It is almost like he deserves to be in a Red Bull. He ended up less than 10 seconds behind Kvyat, who is no slouch (and was not being beaten by Albon when they were teammates). So Gasly certainly showed why he was picked up by Red Bull to start with. Don't know why he didn't perform there.

Stroll: Looked fine. Probably not good enough of a driver to have earned his way in F1, but he does look good enough on some days.

Norris: Was voted driver of the day. Hard to fault his performance. Hard not to like this plucky kid.

Grosjean: There are times when Grosjean just looks like magic (like when he was running 6th)....but somehow things just slip away from him. Still, I would be hesitant to exchange him with Hulkenberg (although I suspect it is already a done deal).

Magnussen: The duel between him and Perez was good. Hard man to pass, although after Perez got by, it looks like he quite fighting (and looks like his tires gave up).

Giovinazzi: Ended the race with a boom. Nothing new there.

Verstappen: Looked a little bit more today like the old Max...as opposed to the new Max.

Pretty clean race with not a lot of drama.
 
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F1Brits_90

Race Winner
great victory for Leclerc, hard fought win but when lewis was coming for him. must have been thinking "not again" as every time he has a chance to win in Bahrain Austria & Germany something happens to snatch it away from him. if it happened a 4th time then it would've started to get in his head & you really wouldn't put it past him to make it 2 in a row in monza. also great fact that was the 1st time in F1 history the Monégasque national anthem was played on the podium. I assumed louis chiron had won in the 1950s but I was wrong only managed best of 3rd. you have to wonder what vettel is thinking, because he now gone a calendar year without a victory only threatened really in Canada, & he get comfortably beaten by his rookie teammate I think crofty yesterday that was 6th consecutive time he'd been outqualified. also Leclerc could've had 4 wins this season. is Leclerc that good, is this a vettel dip or was this vettel level but kimi inconsistent performances masked it

great from lewis, from where he was in FP3 to be a likely winner if spa was a 45 lap race, a 3 pt lead might have been small but its a big tipping point because Lewis increasing his lead to 65pts. now means that 8 races to go even if hypothetically Bottas wins with fastest lap all the last 8 in Mercedes 1-2 (which is unlikely with Monza, Singapore & Mexico). Lewis would still becomes world champ by a point. which means he now needs help from outside winning with a Ferrari or red bull beating him, which looks highly unlikely because no disrespect to Bottas but Hamilton is going to win another race or 2 of these 8, he is just that good & if Bottas is capable of winning a race. then you would assume that Lewis would be very close behind him. I assume it could be earliest mexico when he wraps up his 6th world title

on other matters ive probally changed my mind at the time I thought kimi should've given more room instead of chopping max off. but now im thinking maybe didnt see him. only saw perez. turned into a very unhappy birthday for sainz. seems as if the clutch gave up the ghost because the start was poor, pitstop anti stall didn't kick in & then they struggled to recover him once he retired. gutted for Norris, fantastic 1st lap taking the tight line avoiding the carnage & so close to a brilliant untroubled 5th. because he was in race of his own at that time

is it just me because i thought albon impressed me a lot, drove well kept in touch on mediums when he didn't have the advantage then made some great overtakes when he tyres came to him. loved the overtakes on Magnussen Riccardio & Perez got a great 5th doing least Red Bull ask finishing in A race when you have to come through the field which gasly rarely could. I thought gasly did ok as well in 1st race since demotion a lot like last season promising in patches

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Ruslan

Podium Finisher
on other matters ive probally changed my mind at the time I thought kimi should've given more room instead of chopping max off. but now im thinking maybe didnt see him.

Verstappen in his post-race interview was very calm and neutral about it. He was no longer blaming the other guy (which is unusual) and I think he mentioned that Kimi may not have seen him.

With two cars behind him, Kimi might have been wise not to go all the way to the apex (I think one of the commentators mentioned this), because you know....you never know who is going to stick their nose in there at the last moment. On the other hand, if you stick your nose someplace it doesn't belong......

is it just me because i thought albon impressed me a lot, drove well kept in touch on mediums when he didn't have the advantage then made some great overtakes when he tyres came to him.

I debated back in forth in my post whether to credit him with a "great drive" or "good drive." In the end went with "good drive" because he was in the superior car. If he had passed a Ferrari or a Mercedes......

Still, it was a very good race for him (and good races also for Kvyat and for Gasly). We will have to see how things develop, but he has been impressing me all season.

Side note: Maybe it is just my false impression from watching 30 second interviews on TV, but this new crop of rookies (Albon, Norris, Russell, Leclerc) seem a lot less arrogant and full of themselves than some of the other drivers we have seen in the past. They actually all seem like nice likable guys and get along with each other.....as opposed to some of the self-absorbed and arrogant behavior we have seen. Maybe this is just a false impression and their real nature will show up later.
 
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220

Banned
I didnt think Albon did much at all apart from stay out of trouble. Ricciardo on the same tires had no trouble staying with him until Albon pitted for new softs. Had Ricciardo had a set of softs available and followed the same strategy who knows but when on the same age and compound Albon wasnt any quicker than the Renault. Still he did stay out of trouble and made it to the finish which is always a good start with a new team.
 
I didn't manage to watch the race in full, only the first 30 minutes or so. I'm glad that Leclerc got his maiden win. I'm quite surprised that Verstappen made that mistake, he knew that Kimi was bound to turn in, shame as I think that Max could have done well.

I have noticed a lot of posts on whether racing should have been stoppen out of respect for poor Tonio Hubert: personally I think that racing was a form of respect for the guy, he was a racer and his fellow racers (and personal friends) did what bound them together: racing. People die on track every week end, if racing had to stop every time a life was lost there would be no racing, danger is part of the game and if someone tells you that the thrill of danger is not one of the reasons why a young guy pursues a career in motorsport then he or she is lying.

Please also consider that after a nasty accident any driver wants only one thing: to get out there and nail it to prove to himself that he still can do it and to taste the joys of racing. If you guys take some time to check the timing of events when there was a serious accident you'll notice that almost the entire field went faster after the event was restarted, I know that it can look bad but danger sharpens your senses. I have never though that should anything happen to me the others should have gone home.
 

F1Brits_90

Race Winner
I debated back in forth in my post whether to credit him with a "great drive" or "good drive." In the end went with "good drive" because he was in the superior car. If he had passed a Ferrari or a Mercedes......

Still, it was a very good race for him (and good races also for Kvyat and for Gasly). We will have to see how things develop, but he has been impressing me all season.

yeah well for me it was more a feeling I was getting, that I felt more positive about albon performance than I did gasly
 

BradMan

Rookie
I didn't manage to watch the race in full, only the first 30 minutes or so. I'm glad that Leclerc got his maiden win. I'm quite surprised that Verstappen made that mistake, he knew that Kimi was bound to turn in, shame as I think that Max could have done well.

I have noticed a lot of posts on whether racing should have been stoppen out of respect for poor Tonio Hubert: personally I think that racing was a form of respect for the guy, he was a racer and his fellow racers (and personal friends) did what bound them together: racing. People die on track every week end, if racing had to stop every time a life was lost there would be no racing, danger is part of the game and if someone tells you that the thrill of danger is not one of the reasons why a young guy pursues a career in motorsport then he or she is lying.

Please also consider that after a nasty accident any driver wants only one thing: to get out there and nail it to prove to himself that he still can do it and to taste the joys of racing. If you guys take some time to check the timing of events when there was a serious accident you'll notice that almost the entire field went faster after the event was restarted, I know that it can look bad but danger sharpens your senses. I have never though that should anything happen to me the others should have gone home.
Not only that, i think Kimi cud have given the Merc's a run for the money, maybe even compete for podium, as he goes great at Spa.
 
yes, and had Verstappen or Kimi managed to be a threat for the Mercs I think that the race, even for the lead, could have been very different. Having said that I'm glad that Leclerc won, he deserves it and it was good that afriend of Hubert took the win
 
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