What did we learn from the Belgian Grand Prix?

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

The 64th Formula One Belgian Grand Prix saw Ferrari's Charles Leclerc secure his maiden F1 victory. Following the tragic death of Formula 2 driver Anthoine Hubert, the Monegasque driver dedicated his first F1 success to his French friend.

Finally – Ferrari finally secured its first victory in the season thanks to Charles Leclerc’s flawless performance. The Scuderia added another victory in Belgium to its tally after having been victorious at Spa on 17 occasions. The Italians are the most successful outfit in the Belgian Grand Prix history with 18 wins, followed by McLaren with 14 wins and Lotus with 8 triumphs.

The best from Monaco – With his Belgian Grand Prix victory, Charles Leclerc has become the most successful Formula One driver from Monaco. The 21-year-old only needed 34 race entries to secure his first ever race victory. As far as the three Monegasque drivers of the Formula One history are concerned, Leclerc easily became the most successful. Completing a total of 19 grands prix, Louis Chiron was Monaco’s first Formula One driver. Although he was a very successful driver before the World War II, he failed to win in Formula One. His best result came with a third place on home soil, in the 1950 Monaco Grand Prix. The third driver from Monaco, Olivier Beretta completed only one single season at the pinnacle of motorsport, but he couldn’t achieve more than a seventh place in the 1994 German Grand Prix with the Tourtel Larrousse F1 team.

Mimicking Schumacher’s result – By delivering a marvellous performance, Charles Leclerc achieved not only Ferrari’s first victory of the season, but also his first career triumph. It is worth noting that the last driver who scored his maiden F1 win at Spa was Michael Schumacher. The German was victorious for Benetton in 1994 for the very first time of his Formula One career.

One-stopper – The sport’s sole tyre manufacturer Pirelli predicted a one-stop strategy for the 44-lap Belgian Grand Prix. Even if the track produced enormous tyre stress and huge lateral forces, Pirelli’s C2 and C3 tyres were robust and durable enough to enable drivers to complete the race with only one pit stop. Only Sebastian Vettel, Lance Stroll, Nico Hülkenberg and Kimi Räikkönen went for a one-stop strategy. However, it is worth noting that Ferrari could have left Vettel out on the track for a few more laps as the German’s tyre wear was far from critical at that point of the race and with several laps more he could have also gone for a one-stopper.

Critical pit stops – When it comes to the duration of the pit stop, it was Williams once again which excelled the most on Sunday. The Grove-based team fitted fresh tyre to George Russell’s car in 2.02 seconds, followed by Red Bull’s 2.19s, Mercedes’ 2.31s and Ferrari’s 2.48s tyres change.

Six – May it be the luck or something else, as on many occasions this years, six different squads managed to score points at the Belgian Grand Prix. Ferrari, Mercedes, Toro Rosso and Racing Point were in the top ten with both their cars while Red Bull and Renault scored points with one of their cars. Haas, McLaren and Williams were unable to leave Spa with fresh points in their bags.

Significant change – Even if teams knew about a possible significant weather change between Saturday and Sunday, it was not an easy task for the engineers to setup their cars in terms of cooling. While Saturday’s qualifying session saw ambient temperatures of 29.5 Celsius and track temperatures of 41.5 Celsius, it dropped to 17.7 and 28.8 Celsius respectively. However, the teams were given the permission to make alterations to the brake cooling system for the race as it is the case when the ambient temperatures changes by more then ten degrees.

The additionl point – Although Sebastian Vettel was unable to clinch a podium finish in yesterday’s Belgian Grand Prix, the German scored the additional championship point by setting the fastest race lap. The German’s 1m46.409 was not enough to beat the time of 1m46.286, Valtteri Bottas’s race lap record which the Finn recorded during last year’s Belgian Grand Prix, nevertheless the German was happy to gain a plus point. Vettel set his best time on lap 36, three laps after he pitted for fresh soft tyres.

Wow! – What a debut race! Next to Daniil Kvyat, Alexander Albon was the driver who improved the most compared to his starting position. The Thai-British ace only started from the 18th spot on the grid due to multiple power unit changes, but he was able to storm through the field and improve a whopping 12 position. The Russian achieved the same improvement over the 44-lap race. Third on this list was Lance Stroll who finished six positions higher up than his starting position.

On the right path – Despite failing to add another race victory to his name, Lewis Hamilton has managed to extend his lead in the Drivers’ Championship, almost putting an end to the battle for the crown. The Briton leads the Standings 65 points clear of his teammate Valtteri Bottas with Max Verstappen occupying the third spot 87 points behind the Briton. When it comes to the Constructors’ Championship, Ferrari left Belgium with the biggest point haul. However, the Italians still trail Mercedes by a whopping 145 points. Max Verstappen’s crash at the start was a huge blow to Red Bull’s aspiration to overtake Ferrari in the Standings after the gap increased to 72 points.