Anthoine Hubert was able to consolidate his position at the top of the GP3 Series standings after taking two podium finishes at Spa-Francorchamps, third in race one and second in race two.
The Renault Sport Academy-affiliated ART Grand Prix driver started on the front row for race one but suffered a lot of wheelspin at the start that compromised his run into La Source, but luckily it was not too damaging for him as he came out of the turn in fourth, before repassing Pedro Piquet just after Les Combes to reclaim his spot on the podium.
He maintained that position until the end, with the Trident duo of David Beckmann and Ryan Tveter just out of reach for the championship leader.
“I had a terrible start, but in the end my first corner was better than the start because it could have been much worse,” said Hubert in the post-race press conference on Saturday. “I think I even touched a bit with one of my teammates.
“It was really tough, I thought it would end badly because after Eau Rouge I was P4 after the three Tridents, so at this point I wasn’t proud of the beginning of the race! Luckily I made a good move on Pedro after Les Combes, so I was back in P3 and from there it was quite tough, I wasn’t confident as the track was quite damp.”
Hubert admitted it is a little more difficult to attack when there is a championship to win, and it was all about keeping his focus, although he felt with a little bit more risk he might have taken second away from Tveter.
“It’s difficult because of course, you have the title in your mind, and you don’t want to go out because you have big points in your hands,” said Hubert. “So I have to keep a good rhythm, try to get more points and catch them – so it was not easy.
“That’s why I was missing a bit of pace in the beginning of the race, maybe our setup wasn’t perfect at the time, but from after lap 10 we started to be really strong, and was setting quickest laps nearly every lap.
“Unfortunately I missed a bit of…I don’t know if I could have taken a bit more risk and passed Ryan, but he was really good today, he did a really good job and I don’t know if I’d have got him. But P3, fastest lap, it’s some really good points for the championship. It could have been better, but sometimes you need to be satisfied with P3. There was a lot to lose too.”
Hubert drove superbly in Sunday’s second race to move from sixth on the grid to finish second behind team-mate Nikita Mazepin, with the Frenchman making late race passes on the other two AT Grand Prix drivers, Jake Hughes and Callum Ilott.
“My start was much better than yesterday even though I didn’t gain any position,” said Hubert after Sunday’s race. “I was happy with my start and then I was being patient.
“I didn’t take too many risks. I overtook only when I was quite sure it was possible. I waited to use my DRS. I think I was quite good on that. My car was good. I am very happy for the guys because we finished 1-2-3-4.
“After one of our toughest weekends because Trident have been really strong this weekend. It’s really ideal to end the weekend with this result. It feels good when you are on the podium and you can only see your team standing below.
“It was a good weekend for me: I scored some good points.”