F1 Debrief: First corner mayhem, Vettel on top, Hamilton’s “tricks” jibe

Good morning. Welcome to the morning after a Belgian Grand Prix that started with a big bang for Nico Hulkenberg, Fernando Alonso and Charles Leclerc, and ended with Lewis Hamilton’s Ferrari “tricks” remark that rustled some feathers.

F1 Debrief: First corner mayhem, Vettel on top, Hamilton’s “tricks” jibe

If you missed any of the news or action from a wild weekend in Belgium, here is your F1 Debrief from all that happened. Plenty to talk about, so let’s go!

Chaos at La Source

Fernando Alonso, McLaren MCL33, crashes over Charles Leclerc, Sauber C37, after contact from Nico Hulkenberg, Renault Sport F1 Team R.S. 18, at the start

Fernando Alonso, McLaren MCL33, crashes over Charles Leclerc, Sauber C37, after contact from Nico Hulkenberg, Renault Sport F1 Team R.S. 18, at the start

Photo by: Glenn Dunbar / LAT Images

McLaren’s Fernando Alonso says he can’t understand how Nico Hulkenberg got his braking point so wrong for the opening corner at Spa, which caused a spectacular first corner crash.

Alonso's car was pitched into the back – and over the top – of Charles Leclerc's Sauber, after Hulkenberg hit him from behind when the Renault driver missed his braking point for the La Source hairpin.

See Also:

In an incident that reminded many people of the start crash that earned a race ban for Romain Grosjean in 2012, Alonso said he was baffled by what Hulkenberg did.

“Yet again a very big-time missed braking point,” complained Alonso. “Last time Romain had a race ban.”

Hulkenberg owned up to the shunt being his fault. This time, however, he escaped with a 10-place grid penalty for Monza and three points on his license.

The FIA reasoned that the penalty points system was created in the wake of the Grosjean ban, which is why the punishment didn’t go further this time.

Leclerc glad for halo protection

Halo detail of Charles Leclerc, Alfa Romeo Sauber C37, retires on the opening lap

Halo detail of Charles Leclerc, Alfa Romeo Sauber C37, retires on the opening lap

Photo by: Andrew Hone / LAT Images

Charles Leclerc said he felt “lucky” after seeing the damage to his Sauber’s halo caused by Alonso crashing down on top of his car.

The halo was introduced this season, to mixed opinion, to improve driver safety. Photos of the accident clearly show Alonso’s right-front tyre make contact with the device, leaving black marks along the right-hand side.

Leclerc said: “I don't know how it would have ended up without it, but looking at it, I'm happy it was there. I've been lucky on this one.

“Looking at the halo, it's not looking good.”

Vettel takes command and eclipses Prost

Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari celebrates with the champagne on the podium

Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari celebrates with the champagne on the podium

Photo by: Jerry Andre / Sutton Images

Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel took a much-needed victory in Spa, after he drafted past title rival and pole-man Lewis Hamilton on the Kemmel Straight on the opening lap.

He scored a dominant victory, despite the safety car for the first corner crash and Hamilton closing right up behind him after their pitstops.

Vettel’s 52nd victory now puts him third in the all-time winners list, and eclipsed Alain Prost’s tally – with whom he was previously tied.

After the race Vettel paid tribute to the new engine, that helped him out-power Hamilton as F1 hits its most power-dependant tracks.

He said: “Very happy with how the start went – Turn 1, which was crucial to set everything up – and then the timing was right and for sure we had a new engine this weekend, which gave us a little bit more power. And I’d like to think also a little bit more help and boost down the straight.”

Hamilton’s “tricks” remark raises eyebrows

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1

Photo by: Manuel Goria / Sutton Images

In contrast, Hamilton was anything but impressed with Vettel’s clear power advantage this weekend.

Speaking immediately after the race in parc ferme, Hamilton suggested Ferrari was aided by “a few trick things on the car”.

He went on to clarify his statement in the post-race press conference, stating he didn’t mean that anything untoward was going on, while the FIA’s Charlie Whiting said he was “amused” by the remark.

“We know quite a lot about the Ferrari car,” said Whiting. “And there is no way that Lewis would know anything about the Ferrari car.

“They're doing a good job at the moment, and Mercedes have got to try and counter that, haven't they?”

Force India’s amazing recovery

Esteban Ocon, Racing Point Force India VJM11, Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari SF71H, Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1 W09 and Sergio Perez, Racing Point Force India VJM11 battle on lap one

Esteban Ocon, Racing Point Force India VJM11, Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari SF71H, Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1 W09 and Sergio Perez, Racing Point Force India VJM11 battle on lap one

Photo by: Manuel Goria / Sutton Images

After almost vanishing from the Formula 1 grid, the renamed Racing Point Force India put on a show to be proud of in Spa. After a superb qualifying performance to lock out the second row in tricky weather conditions, Esteban Ocon almost led the race in the dramatic opening lap.

Ocon got an enormous double tow off Vettel and Hamilton on the Kemmel Straight, and drew alongside them into the braking zone at Les Combes, where he wisely bailed out.

Although this allowed teammate Sergio Perez to sweep past him, they went on to finish fifth and sixth respectively.

Having had the 'old' team’s constructors’ points wiped for 2018, the result meant the ‘new’ team leapfrogged Williams into ninth place at its first attempt.

Although everyone was pleased to see Force India survive, rival team principal Gunther Steiner of Haas F1 is still not happy about the prize money that the new entry will have access to on an immediate basis.

shares
comments
Whiting "amused" by Hamilton's Ferrari "tricks" comments

Previous article

Whiting "amused" by Hamilton's Ferrari "tricks" comments

Next article

How Vettel's victory exposed Mercedes' "many deficits"

How Vettel's victory exposed Mercedes' "many deficits"
Load comments
The 10 greatest drives of lost legend Jo Siffert Prime

The 10 greatest drives of lost legend Jo Siffert

It's 50 years since Jo Siffert was killed in his prime at Brands Hatch. The Swiss scored just two world championship wins in a Formula 1 career spent largely with privateer teams, but showed on numerous occasions in single-seaters and in sportscars with Porsche that he could beat any of the best drivers of his era given the right equipment.

Why a misunderstood Kimi Raikkonen will thrive in retirement Prime

Why a misunderstood Kimi Raikkonen will thrive in retirement

Three years on from Kimi Raikkonen's last Grand Prix victory at Austin, he is now six races away from ending the longest Formula 1 career in history. His friend and former Ice1 Racing rally team PR man Anthony Peacock explains why there’s nobody quite like the 2007 world champion and why F1 will miss him (but he won’t miss it).

How Verstappen has become F1 champion material Prime

How Verstappen has become F1 champion material

As Red Bull and Honda go all-out for victory in the Japanese engine manufacturer’s last season of its latest Formula 1 dalliance, Max Verstappen finds himself thrust into a compelling title fight with Lewis Hamilton. He told OLEG KARPOV about his evolution into a world championship contender and why Red Bull's no compromise ethos suits him down to the ground

Formula 1
Oct 23, 2021
Why long-run times should please Red Bull in Austin F1 battle Prime

Why long-run times should please Red Bull in Austin F1 battle

Mercedes has been on a roll of late in the ultra-tight fight to win the 2021 Formula 1 world championship. It started off well in practice at Austin for this weekend’s US Grand Prix, but Red Bull got closer as Friday unfolded and even seemed to find an edge in one critical area of what seems set to be set to be another close contest.

Formula 1
Oct 23, 2021
The six critical factors that could hand F1 2021 glory to Hamilton or Verstappen Prime

The six critical factors that could hand F1 2021 glory to Hamilton or Verstappen

The 2021 Formula 1 title battle is finely poised with six races remaining, as just six points separate championship leader Max Verstappen from seven-time champion Lewis Hamilton. In such a closely-fought season, the outcome could hinge on several small factors playing the way of Red Bull or Mercedes

Formula 1
Oct 22, 2021
Can Whitmarsh appointment help Aston succeed where its F1 rivals failed? Prime

Can Whitmarsh appointment help Aston succeed where its F1 rivals failed?

Aston Martin owner Lawrence Stroll is determined to make the group a billion-dollar business. MARK GALLAGHER analyses his latest play – bringing former McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh into the fold

Formula 1
Oct 22, 2021
Remembering Switzerland’s first F1 winner Prime

Remembering Switzerland’s first F1 winner

Stepping up to F1 in 1962, Jo Siffert shone with Rob Walker Racing Team and BRM before his career was abruptly ended in a fatal crash at Brands Hatch in 1971. Kevin Turner looks back at the life of Switzerland's first F1 winner on the 50th anniversary of his death

Formula 1
Oct 21, 2021
What Verstappen is risking with his current stance on 2021 F1 world title defeat Prime

What Verstappen is risking with his current stance on 2021 F1 world title defeat

OPINION: Max Verstappen is back in the lead of the 2021 Formula 1 drivers’ championship, with the season’s final flyaway events set to get underway in the USA this weekend. But a defensive stance he’s recently adopted could have a lasting impact for the Red Bull driver when it comes to his chances of defeating Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes

Formula 1
Oct 21, 2021