An horrific accident on Saturday in the F2 feature race tragically took the life of 22 year old Anthoine Hubert. The 2019 Belgian Grand Prix weekend will be forever remembered for that incident. And rightly so.
Many things have written about Anthoine and the incident that so cruelly cut short his life – much of it beautiful and eloquent – and so rather than regurgitate what’s already been said, I’ll point you in the direction of Andrew Benson’s touching piece from Saturday evening.
To discuss strategies and overtakes from the Grand Prix that followed a day later seems frivolous in comparison. But discuss it we will because the sport Anthoine Hubert loved and to which he devoted his life doesn’t stop with his passing. Nor would he want it to.
In the build up to the Belgian Grand Prix, Williams were keen to temper expectations of a car that seemed on a steep performance curve since recent updates at the German and Hungarian Grand Prix, but that was unlikely to take well to the characteristics of the Spa-Francorchamps circuit.
And so when competition began on Friday, Williams found themselves once again rooted to the bottom of the time sheets.
None of their three drivers (Nicholas Latifi took George Russell’s car for FP1) were able to make any kind of impression on the cars around them.
This continued into qualifying and then the race despite a plethora of grid penalties allowing George to line up 15th. Kubica started from the pitlane after an engine penalty of his own for a rare Mercedes malfunction in Q1.
Contact at La Source on lap 1 and the resulting safety car allowed Kubica to join the back of the pack, and damaged Kimi Raikkonen’s Alfa Romeo sufficiently that he was consigned to a race long scrap with George Russell for second last place, Kubica bringing up the rear.
Russell prevailed and after stopping on lap 30 (Kubica pitting a lap later), he brought his Williams FW42 home in 15th position, two places ahead of his team-mate in 17th.
On an afternoon where the priority was for everyone to come back safe a double finish was a relief for everyone at Williams, even if the classification wasn’t much cause for celebration.
We go next to Monza – a circuit that is likely to expose Williams’ weaknesses every bit as much as Spa.
But with rain a possibility, as the German Grand Prix demonstrated, absolutely anything is possible. But Williams need to go bold on strategy. A calculated risk here and there and a boatload of luck and who knows what might happen.