Spa-Franorchamps (dpa) – The grief goes with you. The images of the terrible Formula 2 crash with a fatal accident do not only come back to last year’s winner Charles Leclerc.
Formula 1 starts in a subdued mood on one of the favorite tracks of nearly all drivers in the next intensive three-pack racing in the Corona emergency season. “We lost our friend Anthoine there last year. It will be difficult to return to this circuit,” said Ferrari man Leclerc.
A year ago, on August 31, 2019, Frenchman and Leclerc buddy Anthoine Hubert died after the horror accident at the end of the legendary Eau Rouge – at the age of 22. Juan Manuel Correa, who was also involved in the accident, is working on his return after a serious leg injury.
Leclerc and his colleagues wore a mourning ribbon at the time and his victory on the podium – the first in the 22-year-old Monegasse’s career – was silent for Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas.
In terms of atmosphere, it will not be a cracker this time either – even at the Belgian Grand Prix in Corona times: no spectators allowed. Sporty you could almost think that the winner has already been determined. Who wants to stop this Hamilton? Four wins in the previous six races, 37 points ahead in the World Cup standings. The Briton won three times in his career on the roller coaster of the Ardennes at Spa-Francorchamps: 2010 in a McLaren, 2015 and 2017 in a Mercedes. In the past two years, however, Ferrari took victory at the 7,004 kilometer longest circuit on the racing calendar near the German border.
Leclerc’s German teammate Sebastian Vettel did not comment on the chances of success this year in the preview of his still-racing team. The 33-year-old Heppenheim resident won in 2011 and 2013 in the Red Bull, two years ago in the Ferrari. “All possible factors can influence the course of the race, it starts with the weather, which is usually quite changeable,” said Vettel simply.
The prospects for a promising warm-up of the red race cars for the ensuing Italian festival with the 999th Grand Prix of Scuderia (Monza) and the 1000th race (Mugello) in the traditional team’s history are rather poor.
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Especially since the so-called party mode with the extra power has yet to be allowed in the seventh race of this season, which gives industry leader Mercedes in particular an almost frightening superiority in qualifying: four times Hamilton, twice Bottas, a total of 100 posts ahead. Mercedes since 2014.
“They’re always trying to slow us down,” Hamilton emphasized in view of the impending ban on associated engine tuning. In fact, it should already be over with party fashion in Belgium, now it should only be in Monza. “But I don’t think they will get the result they want,” said Hamilton.
The Brit, who clearly leads the World Cup for Max Verstappen in the Red Bull and Bottas, will not have to worry about problems with the tires due to excessive heat. The temperatures in Spa-Francorchamps should be below 20 degrees. The biggest uncertainty factor during the Belgian weekend is probably rain again.
Otherwise, Hamilton could take the next step to the seventh title with the 89th victory of his career and set the records of Michael Schumacher (91 race wins, seven world titles), who won six times at Spa-Francorchamps.