Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, Spa-Francorchamps, 2019

2019 Belgian Grand Prix Star Performers

2019 Belgian Grand Prix

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Charles Leclerc, Lando Norris and Alexander Albon were RaceFans’ Star Performers of the Belgian Grand Prix weekend. Here’s why.


Charles Leclerc

Charles Leclerc stamped his authority on the Belgian Grand Prix weekend from the word go. He dominated qualifying, edged clear at the start of the race, and kept his cool when Lewis Hamilton bore down on him. Aside from a brief off-track moment at Les Combes, which cost him little, this was a flawless performance which made his overdue first grand prix win a fully deserved one.

Lando Norris

McLaren weren’t as competitive as usual in qualifying. But Lando Norris made a superb start – previously one of his weaknesses – and dodged the first-lap incidents to emerge in fifth place. He held it until almost the end of the race, when a power unit failure robbed him of what would have been his highest F1 finish yet.

Alexander Albon

Benchmarking Red Bull’s new driver against his team mate in qualifying was rendered impossible by power unit penalties. But in the race he did exactly what his predecessor too often failed to – made the decisive moves which brought the car home in the position it deserved in spite of his compromised qualifying performance. His gutsy passes on Daniel Ricaciardo and Sergio Perez were highlights of the race.

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Lance Stroll

Not among the worst performances we’ve seen this year, but simply the least good on a weekend when few drivers were conspicuously poor. Still he was decisively out-paced by Perez, and wrecked Daniel Ricciardo’s race with a careless move at the start, one which he was fortunate to escape a penalty for.

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And the rest

Hamilton was a tad scruffy and a little unlucky in his pursuit of Leclerc, but he dispensed with Sebastian Vettel about as well as he could have. Valtteri Bottas’s title hopes continued to fade. The circumstances of qualifying exaggerated the gap between Vettel and Leclerc, but the real puzzle was why Vettel didn’t have his usual race day edge on tyre performance.

Pierre Gasly, Toro Rosso, Spa-Francorchamps, 2019
Gasly made way for Kvyat
Several drivers had hard luck stories. Max Verstappen had every right to be at the inside of La Source at the start, when Kimi Raikkonen turn in on him. Ricciardo’s race was ruined by Stroll at the same time, after the Renault driver had almost out-qualified Verstappen. Robert Kubica and Antonio Giovinazzi suffered engine failures in qualifying, though the latter threw away his chance of points with a late crash.

Among the points scorers, Perez took a good haul for Racing Point and both Toro Rosso drivers added to the team’s tally as well. Daniil Kvyat had a particularly strong run to seventh, though it was partly thanks to the team telling Pierre Gasly to let him through (not something Gasly did so readily last year when his team mate was Brendon Hartley). The pair were split by Nico Hulkenberg, who was held up by the first-lap incidents, but almost made it back to where he’d started.

The weekend was largely a waste for the Williams pair, who simply couldn’t compete on the long straights, and Carlos Sainz Jnr, who was unlucky in qualifying and had an engine problem at the start of the race. The same went for the Haas drivers, who endured the frustration of slipping back from their top 10 starting positions as the team remains baffled by its race stint performance problems.

Over to you

Vote for the driver who impressed you most last weekend and find out whether other RaceFans share your view here:

2019 Belgian Grand Prix

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Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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26 comments on “2019 Belgian Grand Prix Star Performers”

  1. Hm, sure Albon did make some good moves that will have felt as “proof” of making the right choice to Marko. In that sense he showed exactly that what Gasly was percieved to be lacking.

    But really, Kvyat does have a point saying that Albon did get stuck behind his STR with a clearly faster Red Bull and really only came alive on the soft tyres.

    So while he did show a skill for moving through the field, honestly we also saw Gasly moving far more determinedly than he had in the Red Bull this weekend. And Albon was lucky to not have the comparison with Verstappen. Also Max and later Norris dropping out ahead of him helped get into the top 6 in the first place.

    Overall, I wouldn’t have put him in the heroes category.

    1. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
      6th September 2019, 9:21

      I think he must be considered a star performer purely because he is new to the team. Kvyat looked quicker than him for most of the race. Given that they both gained the same number of positions and that Albon started ahead, I think given that Albon only got by 7 laps from the end could almost be considered poor given the cars difference. He only finished 8 seconds ahead.

      I would rate both as star performaers as in his 2nd stint, he really was going for it and he did look great then, but Kvyat looked great all race. But Albon should have finished way more than 8 seconds ahead of Kvyat given he started 2 places ahead. I don’t mind Albon being a star performer, but KVyat really should be too. He was more impressive than Norris. Noris was good that he took advantage at the start of all the madness, but i think the McLaren is clearly the 4th best car. Not close to the Red Bull or the other teams behind him, he did the race pretty much 100% unchallenged. It was a good, solid race but not really impressive. Kvyat had loads of really impressive overtakes so I would switch these two.

      1. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
        6th September 2019, 9:23

        When i say i think he must be a star performer, i mean i think he must have been considered a star performer. I personally don’t think he should be just because of these circumstances. He looked nothing special for a great deal of the race.

  2. When Albon is a Star Performer, why isn´t Kyvat one?

    1. Circumstances.
      Star performer Carlos Sainz jr for somehow seeing his teammate yet again fail to translate his better pace into results. Max verstappen unjustely taken out by himself in an identical la source start crash

      1. You somehow manage to vent your frustrations at Sainz even when he’s barely mentioned and Norris is a Star Performer

  3. Stars: LEC, ALB, PER, KVY, and NOR.
    Strugglers: BOT, VET, RIC, and Haas.

    1. Explain RIC? Dominated his team mate in qualifying. Had his race destroyed by Stroll in the first corner, I guess he qualifies as a struggler because half his floor was missing?

    2. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
      6th September 2019, 9:12

      Why is Bottas a struggler? He was slower than Hamilton but not by all that much. The bigger drop off near the end was due to the fact he turned down the engine because he decided to take advantage of saving it while there was a large gap behind him and he knew he couldn’t challenge Hamilton. He got a realistic position and really wasn’t bad.

      Ricciardo also got his car damaged by Stroll so really shouldn’t be on this struggler’s list. Swap him with Stroll.

  4. Brilliant weekend from Leclerc & great to see it not undone by Ferrari.

    I don’t agree that Max had every right to be where he was, it was a ridiculous move, there was no way he would’ve been able to turn the corner without pushing out into the traffic, on the first lap he was always going to end up running into someone or causing others to collide. He panicked after a bad start.

    1. I still don’t understand why VER is defended so much on this site.

  5. Kimi turning in on Max, is probably the worst description of that incident that I’ve seen so far

    1. It’s exactly what happened. You might think it’s Max’s fault but he did steer into him.

      1. In my opinion, this was clearly Max mistake, to be that inside and brake late at La Source on first lap and expect not to make contact with other cars was naive at best. For me it was a rookie mistake. He’s been really great all season, and I really like his recent maturity over last races, but in this one he has only himself to blame, totally avoidable crash. Kimi just did his line. History shows that this was the worst place to be, inside at la Source, braking deep = crash.

        1. Though if you check the footage it was not braking late or a crash that inflicted damage…
          Verstappens front wing was in front of Kimi’s cockpit about 15-20 meters before the corner, they both had similar pace going into the corner, though Kimi overlooked him and ran over Verstappens front wheel.

          Kimi admitted focusing on Bottas and steering in while another driver was already more than a half car along side is what cause the incident. We could all argue if it was wise putting the car there, but it wasn’t wrong and he did it quite meassured. I truly can’t believe one driver overlooking the other is getting defended by fans.

    2. I have to agree with you @johnmilk. The description of the incident as a racing incident was being pretty lenient on Verstappen. For example, if Grosjean had put his car where Verstappen did alongside another midfield runner, there would have been people calling for penalties…

    3. I do think that looking at the rules @johnmilk, @geemac, it’s Kimi turning in on a car that is substantially beside him was wrong, so he has to have a good part of blame, if any is to be assigned; that he didn’t see Max is likely, but to have not expected him (of all drivers) to try going for Kimi’s inside at that turn seems strangely optimistic; having said that, Max’ move was probably too ambitious, fuelled by a bad start once again, and maybe his legion of followers at his home track, and he’d have been wiser to stick it just behind Kimi, and have a race.

      1. @bosyber I think that Max had the better view out of the situation, he was behind Perez approaching the corner, he should expect the concertina effect that happens at the start in that corner. Regardless he was the last one to brake. Kimi shouldn’t be expecting anything if I’m honest, he made the turn as tight and at the speed that the other cars around him allowed him to, especially Bottas, that way Max made that much terrain on him. And Max places the front of his car, theoretically, out of the track

        I accept the race incident scenario, but if someone was able to avoid it, that driver would be Max considering he had the whole picture right in front of him

        And as @geemac said, imagine if it was Grosjean

    4. @johnmilk
      I mean, it’s technically correct …

      Ahem, apologies.

      Then again, this article also states Albon was a star performer of the weekend. What do we say to caring about what it says? Not today.


        sorry, it catches on

  6. Given everything that was thrown at him I would have put Gasly as a star.

  7. Strugglers McLaren, Haas, Williams.

  8. I absolutely don’t agree with albon star performer! I’m not a hamilton fan, in fact I think he’s won more than his skill deserved thanks to the car but he was sublime in this race, how you can put albon as a star and not hamilton or kvyat is beyond me.

  9. Can only think not putting Lewis as a star is to appease your readership because that Mercedes had no right to apply as much pressure to the Ferrari’s as he did given their ridiculous straightline advantage…. a measly 5mph delta WITH DRS.

    Baffling assessment Keith.

  10. I think:
    Hamilton continued his star performances, beating his teammate and harassing the leader. This time it didn’t pay off with a victory, although without the safety car it might have. He still extended his lead in the WDC while his rivals continue to fight for 2nd and 3rd.

    Verstappen was a struggler. He had a bad start, then made up for it by attempting a hopeless pass at turn 1. He rode his damaged Red Bull into the barriers, and was fortunate to not create another serious crash.

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