Double Points Finish for Racing Point at Tragic Weekend in Spa
Monday, 2 September 2019 | Ravenol Marketing
Our F1 Technical Partners SportPesa Racing Point got another double points finish at the Belgian Grand Prix, made all amazing considering Lance Stroll took a penalty for changing an engine and started from 16th.
Despite this achievement, the whole race was overshadowed by the loss off up and coming Renault development driver Antoine Hubert, who drove for another of our motorsport partners, Arden, at F2 level. The F1 drivers held a minute’s silence for him before the start of the race, gathered by one of his helmets whilst a video honouring the French driver was played for the onlooking fans. The F1 cars also had “Racing for Antoine” stickers on the chassis and steering wheels.
Both Racing Point drivers made it into Q3 in qualifying and Lance’s teammate Sergio “Checo” Perez started from 7th. Ahead there was a Ferrari lockout of the front row ahead of the two Mercedes, as the prancing horse finally brought an end to Mercedes show of dominance this season. Once the lights went out, Sebastian Vettel did initially lose a place to Lewis Hamilton at the first corner, but managed to surge past the Mercedes up the hill to retake 2nd, behind his team mate Charles Leclerc.
Checo also conceded a place off the start, but further back, Lance got a great getaway and made up several places up to P10, whilst narrowly avoided an incident between Alfa Romeo’s Kimi Raikkonen and Red Bull’s Max Verstappen. Verstappen was squeezed out and into the barriers, ending his race, and Raikkonen’s car was bounced up and across the track. Raikkonen made it back to the pits for a new nose code, whist the safety car was called out whilst the marshals retrieved Verstappen’s car.
There was another strange incident for birthday boy Carlos Sainz, but no happy surprises – after stalling in the pits, he rejoined the race but soon had to pull over. The safety car, which had been called back in, had to stay out for another lap whilst Sainz’s McLaren was retrieved.
A few laps after the restart it was clear that Kevin Magnusson’s Haas saw considerably slower than the cars behind and a gap was opening up between him and teammate Romain Grosjean. Despite the Haas driver’s best efforts, he was unable to stop Checo getting past and was then followed by Pierre Gasly in the Torro Rosso, ahead of Lance. When Gasly then stopped for an early pit stop, that brought the two Racing Points up to 7th and 8th place.
Lance pitted a lap later and came out at the back in 18th place, behind Gasly. This seemed to confirm to other teams that the undercut would work, so others started coming in for pitstops, including Ferrari with Vettel. But Mercedes left Hamilton out to chase down Leclerc, who was still sitting comfortably out in front.
Checo pitted a few laps later and came out in P13, quickly ending up in a three-way bettle with Raikkonen and Gasly. Checo came out on top, getting back up to P12, then found himself back behind the slow moving Haas of Magnusson. He managed to get past him and move up to 11th, as Lance came up behind Raikkonon, and joined in the battle with Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg.
Pierre Gasly, however, let his frustrations get the better of him when passing Magnusson and literally bumped him off the track and into the run off area. This allowed Hulkenberg to get past too, and then Lance was also soon past him under DRS.
Race leader Leclerc pitted and came out behind his teammate Vettel, but was soon allowed past. The slower Vettel then had the unenviable job of holding back the Mercedes of Hamilton, with Bottas also closing fast. By the time Hamilton got past, Leclerc was 6 seconds clear but was starting to slow and the faster Mercedes started hunting him down in a race against the clock.
Checo meanwhile had been very busy, getting past Grosjean’s Haas and Daniel Ricciardo’s Renault to take 7th place. But new Red Bull driver Alexander Albon was also coming up through the grid and started reeling him in. Behind him, Lance was in traffic behind Grosjean and the two Renaults. He had moved up into 14th as other cars ahead had putted, then he managed to get Grosjean, and was soon past the slower Ricciardo too, who hadn’t changed his tyres since the Lap 1 incident.
Up front, the charging Silver Arrow of Lewis Hamilton was now only 2 seconds behind Charles Leclerc, but the Ferrari driver was putting up a massive fight to protect his first win. Further back there was no drama lost either with Antonio Giovinazzi crashing his Alfa Romeo into the barriers. But the heartbreak of the season goes to Lando Norris, whose McLaren suffered from engine failure on the final lap. He was stranded by the side of the track as Leclerc flashed past, just ahead of Lewis Hamilton, to take his maiden F1 victory.
Checo held onto a consolidated 7th, whilst the two retirements ahead brought Lance up into the points positions in 10th. So a great day at the races for the Men in Pink, with some welcome points to add to the tally. Racing Point are now in 7th but only 3 points behind Renault.
So we will remember the loss of a talented young driver Antoine Hubert from our partners Arden, the first victory of potential future world Champion, Charles Leclerc, and a great restart to the season for SportPesa Racing Point. We’ll join you in a week’s time Monza for the Italian Grand Prix!