It was an emotional weekend last weekend at Spa-Francorchamps, the first-ever win in Formula One for Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc, but it was a weekend marred by tragedy, and the death of Formula Two driver Anthoine Hubert, who was killed in an accident on the second lap of the Formula Two Feature Race just beyond Turn Four, an accident which also resulted in serious injuries to Juan Manuel Correa.
I would like to send my deepest condolences to Anthoine’s family and friends at this difficult time, and wish Juan Manuel Correa all the very best in his recovery and rehabilitation after such a shocking accident, and I hope the Formula Two grid can come together, and race in honour of Anthoine Hubert this weekend at Monza.
This is also where Round 14 of the 2019 FIA Formula One World Championship will be taking place, with the 2019 Italian Grand Prix set to be a battle between Mercedes and Ferrari.
Lewis Hamilton (268 points) leads the championship by 65 points over his Mercedes’ teammate Valtteri Bottas (203 points) after finishing a close second behind Leclerc in Belgium, and is really in complete control of the 2019 world championship over Bottas, who has been re-signed by Mercedes after great debate over whether he deserved to keep his spot in the team alongside Hamilton, while their test driver Esteban Ocon will be off to Renault in 2020 to be teammates with Australian Daniel Ricciardo.
Max Verstappen (181 points) is still third in the championship for Red Bull Racing-Honda despite crashing out of the Belgian Grand Prix at relatively low speed at Raidillon after suffering damage to his car after colliding with Alfa Romeo Racing-Ferrari driver Kimi Räikkönen at Turn One on the opening lap of the race. To add insult to injury, Verstappen is set to take a grid penalty at Monza for using excessive power unit components.
Sebastian Vettel (169 points) is fourth, but just 12 points behind Verstappen after finishing a disappointing fourth last weekend behind third-placed Bottas, while his Ferrari teammate Leclerc (157 points) is closing in on the four-time world champion after his first race victory in Formula One, a victory tinged in sadness, with Leclerc dedicating his first win in Formula One to his long-time friend Anthoine Hubert.
Behind the Top Five in the standings, Pierre Gasly (65 points) is still sixth in the world championship after finishing ninth on his return to Scuderia Toro Rosso-Honda, remaining ahead of McLaren-Renault’s Carlos Sainz Jr. (58 points), who retired from the race after a power-unit failure on Lap Two.
Gasly’s new teammate at Scuderia Toro Rosso-Honda Daniil Kvyat (33 points), Räikkönen (31 points), and the man who replaced Gasly at Red Bull Racing-Honda Alexander Albon (26 points) complete the Top 10 in the championship, with Albon finishing fifth from 17th on the grid in his first race with the senior Red Bull team.
In terms of the Constructors’ Championship, Mercedes (471 points) have had their sizeable lead cut by four points to 145 points over Ferrari (326 points), while Red Bull Racing-Honda (254 points) have lost ground to Ferrari, now trailing the Prancing Horse by 72 points.
Behind the Top Three, McLaren-Renault (82 points) remain in a comfortable fourth, while Scuderia Toro Rosso-Honda (51 points) are in a battle for fifth with Renault (43 points) and Racing Point-BWT Mercedes (40 points), while Alfa Romeo Racing-Ferrari (32 points) and Haas-Ferrari (26 points) aren’t too far behind with Williams-Mercedes (one point) in last.
So, who will win the 2019 Italian Grand Prix?
Firstly, Formula One and the Automobile Club d’Italia (ACI) have agreed to a new deal that will see Formula One and the Italian Grand Prix remain at Monza until the end of 2024, which is great news for the sport.
Secondly, it is going to be a battle between Ferrari and Mercedes, and given the form Ferrari showed at the Belgian Grand Prix, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see either Sebastian Vettel or Charles Leclerc win this weekend, and are really odds-on favourites to claim pole position and the front row for the 2019 Italian Grand Prix, but you cannot rule out Mercedes, given their almost-always brilliant race pace.
The long mid-season break is over, and the second half, or more accurately, the final nine races of the season is about to get underway as the Formula One grid heads to the historic Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium for the 2019 Belgian Grand Prix, Round 13 of the 2019 FIA Formula One World Championship, and there has been a big change at Red Bull Racing-Honda for the rest of the season.
Red Bull Racing-Honda have decided to drop Pierre Gasly (63 points), who is currently a distant sixth in the championship, back to Scuderia Toro Rosso-Honda, and have promoted Alexander Albon (16 points), who is currently 15th in the standings, up to the main Red Bull team to partner Max Verstappen (181 points), who sits currently in third in the world championship behind the two Mercedes drivers in Lewis Hamilton (250 points), and Valtteri Bottas (188 points).
Verstappen arguably has been the best driver in 2019, and is the only non-Mercedes driver to win races (two) this season, and has been performing to a level that is out of this world, seemingly out-performing his car race in, race out in comparison to Gasly, so it is going to be interesting to see if Albon is freakishly good, like Verstappen is, or whether his performance level is similar to Gasly’s, or whether Albon’s level is somewhere in-between over the course of the final nine races of 2019.
Talking about Hamilton, it was an amazing performance by him, and his team at the Hungaroring to defeat Verstappen and Red Bull in what a blisteringly great performance by both Hamilton and Verstappen, with Hamilton taking his 81st career victory, and now has a 62 point lead ahead of his teammate Bottas, whose future is still up in the air as to whether he stays at Mercedes, or whether he will need to search for greener pastures for the 2020 season.
Meanwhile at Ferrari, it hasn’t been a good season for them so far after so much promise before the start of the season, but it hasn’t been returned in equal measure with Sebastian Vettel (156 points) and Charles Leclerc (132 points) fourth and fifth in the world championship with no wins, and only really performing on circuits that have allowed their straight-line speed to shine.
Ferrari will be looking to utilise that strength over the next two races in Belgium and Italy to hopefully get a race victory or two before the end of the season.
Behind the Top Six in the championship, Carlos Sainz Jr. (58 points) is just five points behind Gasly in seventh for McLaren-Renault, while Kimi Räikkönen (31 points) for Alfa Romeo Racing-Ferrari, Daniil Kvyat (27 points) for Scuderia Toro Rosso-Honda, and Lando Norris (24 points) for McLaren-Renault complete the Top 10 in the standings.
In terms of the Constructors’ Championship, Mercedes (438 points) leads by a dominant 150 points over Ferrari (288 points), while Red Bull Racing-Honda (244 points) are 44 points behind Ferrari in third.
Behind the Top Three, McLaren-Renault (82 points) look to have fourth position under lock and key, while Scuderia Toro Rosso-Honda (43 points) and Renault (39 points) battling for fifth, with Alfa Romeo Racing-Ferrari (32 points), Racing Point-BWT Mercedes (31 points), and Haas-Ferrari (26 points) looking to join that battle before the end of the season, while Williams-Mercedes (one point) is last.
So, who is going to win the 2019 Belgian Grand Prix?
You feel that this is Ferrari’s best chance (or at least one of their best chances) to claim a race victory in 2019, and you feel like that they will be favourites to claim pole position this weekend, but throughout most of the 2019 season, Mercedes have generally had the best race pace out of the entire field on a consistent basis, so should at worst be on the podium, but I think Sebastian Vettel is the one to beat this weekend!