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 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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I know Albon started on softs but I really though he'd be cutting past at least a few back markers to begin with. Still it was his first race with Red Bull, plus the Toro Rossos were pretty good here. Gasly looked like he was trying to prove something. If only he'd driven like that for Red Bull.
Not a bad race, it was a good thing for Leclerc that the race ended when it did, another lap and I'm not sure he'd have won.
Good race by Albon for his first one in the Red Bull I would say, I did feel bad for Lando Norris as his car died on him on the last lap, what a shame. He'd held on to 5th for so long and then ended up 11th, therefore out of the points.
during the first 20 laps of the race IMHO Gasly was driving much better than Albon, I don't know what happened next. Oh and Norris was doing a great job

maybe but you have to be judged over the whole race. like in Germany leclerc was driving brilliantly far better than vettel for 1st 25 laps. albon was on the harder tyre when everyone was stuck behind the haas's

Norris was fantastic. deserved so much more than he got
reading this interesting article on bbc sport. something i agree with some i dont

"Some people think F1 is too safe & too boring, But I would rather have boring F1 championships forever & bring Anthoine back" i see where Vettel is coming from, we all felt the loss of him in big way last saturday. but i dont want to seem callous but if we have seasons of french gps the sport will die very quickly, because if sport isnt entertaining it wont be watched

but i agreed with the other point from hulkenburg where they are talking about use of asphalt run-off areas. which has been questioned in the days following Hubert's crash, with some arguing that gravel traps would limit the risks drivers are prepared to take & also possibly prevent a car from bouncing back on track after a crash. "Some of it is true, the Tarmac run-off areas do invite us to keep pushing because it doesn't have an immediate consequence,"

because that was my opinion at the time that it was stopping the car bouncing back. is big issue & the "safer" tarmac runoff contributed because a gravel trap at eau rouge saves hubert life
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