Formula 1

2019 Belgium Grand Prix: T​he Rookie Report

4 Mins read
Credit:Octane Photographic Ltd.

On a weekend of high emotions, the F1 community rallied behind the late Anthoine Hubert to produce a scintillating race, full of drama, action and intrigue which culminated in a former friend of Hubert, Charles Leclerc to score a maiden Grand Prix victory at the third attempt from pole position.

As for the rookies, only Alexander Albon was able to bag points at the chequered flag with Lando Norris and Antonio Giovinazzi missing out on points just laps from the flag, whilst George Russell had to endure yet another tough day at the office for ROKIT Williams Racing.

Alexander Albon | Red Bull Racing

Qualified: Seventeenth | Finished: Fifth

Credit:Octane Photographic Ltd.

Considering he would go into his maiden Spa weekend with the handicap of a grid penalty and no testing time in the Red Bull, Alexander Albon did a sterling job to snatch fifth place, his best finish in F1 to date from the second to last row on the grid.

Albon had a quiet Friday as he prepared to save his engine for raceday, with Albon still managing fourth and tenth in both practice sessions.

Saturday would also prove to be low-key, as Albon made it through Q1, before setting a sluggish Q2 time, which would have been good enough for fourteenth before penalties applied.

At the start of the race, Albon made it through the first lap carnage unscathed, and while his teammate Max Verstappen was parking his car at the Eau Rouge barrier, Albon was up to thirteenth by the time the safety car pulled in to the pits.

Albon started to carve his way through the pack first getting past Kevin Magnussen on lap 15 at the bus stop and was running as high as eighth as most of the pack came in to switch medium tyres, whilst Albon who was already on them could stay out longer and put some daylight between himself and the midfield.

After Albon had pitted to put super softs on, the Brit-Thai driver decided to do something what very F1 drivers had ever done before and pass Daniel Ricciardo around the outside into turn 11 causing the Dutch fans who had been expected to cheer on Verstappen, to now cheer on Albon as he raced past them into eighth.

Albon was now picking cars off in front of him like if it was a whack a mole machine, before trying his bravest manoeuvre of the day using every bit of track and then some to pass Sergio Perez on the outside of the Kemmel straight to take fifth after the late retirement of Norris.

Lando Norris | McLaren F1 Team

Qualified: Eleventh | Finished: Eleventh

Credit:Octane Photographic Ltd.

It was a case of so close yet so far for Norris who was just one lap away from yet another top five finish in his debut season.

At a track where McLaren was set to struggle and teammate Carlos Sainz Jr. struggled for pace around Spa.

Qualifying saw Norris miss out on Q3 by 0.109 seconds in twelfth position, his worst qualifying since Germany, although that was moved up one spot to eleventh after penalties were applied.

On race day Norris made use of the chaos at La Source to make up six positions and into fifth place which the Brit stayed in despite a brief battle with Vettel after his pitstop. But with just a lap from the chequered flag, Norris’s Renault engine lost power causing him to stop on the start finish straight to retire from the race and be classified in eleventh.

George Russell | ROKIT Williams Racing

Qualified: Fourteenth | Finished: Fifteenth

Credit:Octane Photographic Ltd.

It was a tough weekend on and off the track for Russell, who mourned the loss of his ex-teammate Hubert in what was yet another tough weekend for the Brit.

With Russell and teammate Robert Kubica seemingly planted at the bottom of the timesheets, qualifying would be another tough one with Russell nineteenth ahead of Kubica who failed to set a time due to his Mercedes engine exploding like a hand grenade on the run-up to the bus stop.

Russell was moved up to fourteenth courtesy of penalties, but the weekend would be in vain has his Williams quickly fell behind the main body of the midfield.

Russell only picked up positions courtesy of car failures and late retirements to finish a lap down and in fifteenth ahead of both Alfa Romeos and Kubica.

Antonio Giovinazzi | Alfa Romeo Racing

Qualified: Eighteenth | Finished: Eighteenth

Credit:Octane Photographic Ltd.

Misfortunes come in threes, it seems for Antonio Giovinazzi who was one lap away from a second point finish this season, only for his car to snap into Pouhon causing him to spin and into the tyre barrier and out of the race on the last lap.

The first misfortune was Giovinazzi’s engine blowing up on the entry to Raidillon in Q1 whilst running eighth in the timesheets, the result of this meaning that the Italian’s hopes of getting into Q3 were dashed with his car finished for the day.

Giovinazzi suffered a second misfortune when courtesy of his earlier technical issues, received two different grid penalties where he was forced to start at the back of the grid due to exceeding his quota for power unit components, with the result being that Giovinazzi would now start eighteenth on the grid courtesy of six other drivers coping penalties.

Giovinazzi made a sluggish start to the race but by the time the safety car pulled in after the first lap melee the Italian was up to twelfth position.

Giovinazzi ran as high as seventh before his pitstop, where he fell to twelfth before rebounding to ninth spot and on course for his best finish in F1.

But on the last lap, the Italian would taste his third misfortune of the weekend after losing the backend of his Alfa Romeo, which left him on course to hit the tyre barrier at Pouhon ending his race just eight corners from the chequered flag, although luckily the Italian was uninjured.

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