By The1nsider 3 weeks ago




What a weekend for de Vries. Edging Sergio Sette Camarâ to the top in Free Practice, de Vries’ pace was even more ominous in qualifying, and a monstrous middle sector – half a second better than anyone else’s – was the key to pole position. His win on Saturday was particularly special, charging into a strong lead at the start and building a gap over Sette Camarâ in the first half. He had some challenges to overcome, namely returning from the pits in traffic and watching his lead melt after a safety car, but de Vries kept his cool and – with the fastest lap already in his pocket – claimed the maximum 31 points available in the Feature Race.

His Sprint Race also oozed quality, and an amazing start allowed him to climb from eighth to third by the first corner. Rising as high as second, tyre degradation started to bite and the Dutchman had to concede podium placings to Lando Norris and Alexander Albon. But that doesn’t take the shine off of his stellar weekend.


Norris had a good time before the summer break at the Hungaroring, taking advantage of a poor weekend for championship leader George Russell to hack the gap in the standings down to 12 points. He needed more of the same in Spa, and the Brit did his best to keep Russell in his sights in the Feature Race to manage the championship gap as much as possible. It was the Sprint Race in which Norris really shone, and smartly picked his way through the field to rise up to second – passing de Vries on the final lap with Albon in tow. The faster of the two, Albon threw everything but the kitchen sink at Norris before the finish line, but the Carlin ace absorbed every bit of pressure and left Belgium just five points short of Russell in the title hunt.


It’s been a difficult year for Nicholas Latifi – hamstrung perhaps by missing the first pre-season test, the Canadian has put a lot of time in trying to get the hang of the new F2 2018 car. He got the result he needed in Spa after a trying season so far, putting in an assured drive in the Feature Race to clinch eighth place – and with it, reverse-grid pole for Sunday’s Sprint. Here, he was imperious; Latifi saw off a fast-starting Luca Ghiotto into the first corner and proceeded to sprint away from the field, crossing the line 10s ahead of Norris and Albon. He’ll be hoping that this is the turning point of his season.


It’s been a couple of disappointing weekends for Russell. The momentum was with the ART Grand Prix driver during the mid-season triple-header, but the round at the Hungaroring was a bit of a disaster – and he needed to find a return to form in Belgium. His drive to third place was a strong result, but clearly didn’t have the legs compared to de Vries or Sette Câmara over the race distance. He seemed out of sorts in the Sprint Race and, although he spent the early laps challenging Albon, the Thai driver pulled clear for a podium placing while Russell could only manage seventh – and now stands just five points ahead of Norris.


Impressive newcomers this season, Charouz were all at sea in Belgium – even though it all seemed to start so well. On the first lap of the Feature Race, Antonio Fuoco conducted a brilliant move around Albon and Ghiotto at Les Combes to rise to fifth, but was unable to make his alternate strategy work as he and teammate Louis Delétraz sunk down the order – and almost came to blows on the run to Blanchimont in the latter stages of the race. The pair were nowhere in the sprint, as Fuoco stalled trying to avoid the stranded Lorandi on the grid, meaning the Czech team logged their first non-scoring round since Bahrain.


  Issue 21
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