Sunday noticebook – Belgian Grand Prix

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F1 Grand Prix, GP Belgium, Circuit De Spa-Francorchampsbe

After an emotional Belgian Grand Prix, Sebastian Vettel admitted that he tried to help his team to secure the first victory in 2019 as he realized early in the race that he missed the necessary pace to be in contention for the win.

Perfect team work – After starting from the second place at the Belgian Grand Prix, Sebastian Vettel had to leave Spa, the venue of his last F1 victory to date with a fourth place. The German acknowledged that he “didn’t have the pace ultimately. I was struggling to stay on top of the tyres which normally is not a problem at all. So it was a tough race.“Obviously from some point onwards, from the first lap onwards, it was clear we won’t be in the fight. So all I could do by then was serve the team. I was struggling in the corners so that allowed him to get close and then I couldn’t hold him off for a very long time. I tried to obviously make him lose time in order to give Charles a cushion. In the end it was just enough, so did the job,” the quadruple world champion said.

No decision yet – Williams’ deputy team principal Claire Williams confirmed at Spa that her outfit is yet to make a decision about its driver line-up for the 2020 season. Fans’ favourite Robert Kubica has returned to Formula One with Williams this year, but he has struggled to get the best out of his car so far this season. Williams has been evaluating Formula 2 front-runner Nicolas Latifi who has taken part in three Friday practice sessions so far. Williams confirmed that there “is a handful of candidates. Robert has done a good job as well this year, it hasn’t been easy for him. The car isn’t what he would like it to be or what anyone would like it to be so it hasn’t been a good platform for him to indicate how strong he can be. It’s something that’s under consideration at the moment but I’m in no rush to make any decision,” she said.

First triumph in a sad moment – Charlec Leclerc fulfilled his childhood dream today by securing his first Formula One victory with Ferrari. However, the Monegasque could not fully enjoy his first ever F1 triumph after his friend Anthoine Hubert succumbed to his injuries he sustained in a serious crash during the feature Formula 2 race on Saturday. “On one hand I have got a dream I’ve had since being a child that has been realise. On the other hand it has been very a difficult weekend since yesterday. We have lost a friend first of all. It is very difficult in this situation. I would like to dedicate my first win to him. We have grown up together. My first ever race I did with Anthoine when we were younger, there was Esteban [Ocon], Pierre [Gasly].”

Correa in stable condition – After his horrific crash with reigning GP3 champion Anthoine Hubert, Juan-Manuel Correa is in stable condition after having undergone surgery. The 20-year-old driver suffered fractures to both of his legs as well as minor spinal injuries. He is currently resting in intensive care at the CHU Liege hospital after having been transferred there by helicopter following his huge accident.

Successful debut – After having been promoted from Toro Rosso to Red Bull, Alexander Albon delivered an impressive performance in today’s Belgian Grand Prix. The Thai-British driver finished fifth after starting from the back of the grid. Red Bull team principal Christian Horner was more than delighted with the youngster's performance. “I’ve been very impressed with Alex’s performance all weekend and he put in a great recovery drive from 17th on the grid to finish fifth in his first race with us. He was pretty cautious during the first half of the race as he felt his way into the Grand Prix, but things started to come alive for him on the softer compound tyre and he put in some great overtakes,” the Briton said.

Missed opportunity – Starting from the sixth place, Kimi Räikkönen rued his clash with Max Verstappen right at the start as he thought that his car was perfectly set-up for the race. “Unfortunately my race was already over in turn one. I had to slow down as Bottas was at the outside and the next thing I know I get hit and I’m on two wheels,” he said. Following the incident, the 2007 world champion continued to circle around the 7.004km Spa track, but his Alfa Romeo got heavily damaged after he tangled up with the Dutchman. “Afterwards it was nearly pointless to stay out as there was a lot of damage to the floor but you never know what’s gonna happen so we did the whole distance. Really a shame as we had a strong car today.”

Precaution – Formula One’s race director Michael Masi raised the topic of penalties for driving infringements in the drivers’ briefing at Spa on Friday. Since the issuing of some controversial penalties in 2019, the way FIA race stewards hand out penalties has been heavily criticised. Although FIA was reluctant to give away any information about the discussion with the drivers at Spa, Toro Rosso’s Pierre Gasly admitted that drivers would be sometimes warned about unsportsmanlike behaviour before being given a penalty. "The nuances of the rules were simply explained to us. It doesn’t mean you can do unacceptable moves and get off with a warning. But if the move is risky but not against the rules, the driver can be shown the warning flag. But if someone clearly violates the rules, the penalty will be applied exactly the same as in all previous cases,"