Belgian GP: Anthoine Hubert’s death in Belgium reminds us that these drivers are gladiators. Let’s show them some respect

Anthoine Hubert’s death at the age of this weekend in that ill-fated F2 Belgian Feature race shocked the motorsport world.

Not since 2014 has a Formula One race weekend seen an accident that would claim a driver’s life when Jules Bianchi hit that tractor at Suzuka in awful conditions.

Not since Ayrton Senna in 1994 has a Formula One driver died at the circuit.

This weekend, a paddock lost a competitor. Drivers lost a friend. And a family are contemplating their son’s death.

The racing public and the wider world forget just what risks these men and women take for their thrill, and our entertainment.

Conveniently, we forget about the warning on the back of every single ticket to a motorsport event anywhere in the world about motorsport being dangerous.

“Well yeah it is, but there’s so many safety measures now, they’ll all be fine. There’s almost no risk.” That phrase is flippantly thrown out everywhere you go.

Wrong.

The sheer fact of the matter is, no matter how many measures you take, driver cars at speeds of well over 100 miles an hour will always be inherently dangerous.

Experts and the powers that be are always, and will always look to learn lessons from relatively minor accidents, to shunts such as Robert Wickens’ at Pocono last year in Indycars, right through to Billy Monger’s freak accident at Donington Park in British F4 in 2017 and Bianchi’s accident in Japan.

Charles Leclerc, a man who has now lost two close friends to racing-related accidents following Hubert’s passing, showed why Halo despite its aesthetic challenges is a necessity at last year’s Belgian Grand Prix.

A year on, Pierre Gasly told Leclerc to win a race for their fallen friend.

Lewis Hamilton, one of hundreds of racing figures to pay tribute to Hubert following Saturday’s tragic events, also outlined those foolhardy attitudes from many not sitting in the cockpit.

Hamilton also crashed in Free Practice on Saturday, to raucous cheers from the grandstand above.

Indeed, for a far from small minority, viewership of Formula One has no longer become about supporting their favourites, but about hoping their rival, the enemy, hits mechanical failures, or spins, or crashes.

There is among some a hope that Vettel/Hamilton etc do not complete the 190-odd miles that entails a Grand Prix distance.

It could be naivety stemming from the fact the drivers walk away from the heaviest of shunts nine times out of ten. It could be tribalism, as there is for some, nothing more important than the enemy suffering at the track in one shape or another. It’s likely a mixture of both.

It’s unlikely that much change of any form will come out of Hubert’s accident. It happened at a part of the circuit that is the fastest, the scenery around it is a forest and so the tyre wall cannot be moved further back to allow larger run-off area – indeed the gravel removed long ago would probably have helped matters.

The layout through Eau Rouge and Radillon will not change, and no changes to the cars are likely to have made much of a difference to this outcome. The powers that be will simply include this is another incident to note and examine.

While they are no longer sitting on the mobile bombs that those in the 1970s were driving, what Hubert’s death should highlight is that the driver across any forms of motorsport that risk their lives for the entertainment of the public are still modern-day heroes.

To be able to compartmentalise an event like this and go out to do it all over again not even on day after a horrifically sad event such as this puts them above mere mortals like you or I.

It is therefore time for certain sections of the viewing public to realise this, to remember and understand exactly what is unfolding before their eyes or on their screens, and show more respect to those gladiators.

Because that is what they are.

British F3 – Simmons races to victory ahead of Jewiss, Novalak closes in on the title

Ayrton Simmons beat a frustrated Kiern Jewiss to Race Three victory to complete a fine Sunday performance.

The Chris Dittmann Racing man was fourth in Race Two after charging through the field in wet conditions, and passed Jewiss off the line in Race Three where he was never more than mildly uncomfortable in the face of a fierce Jewiss challenge.

Neil Verhagen recovered from a tough run of form to take third place and underline his top-five championship credentials, while in a potentially key move regarding the destiny of the British F3 championship, series’ leader Clement Novalak took fourth ahead of second-placed Johnathan Hoggard.

Hoggard had started third on the grid but lost out in a battle with Ulysse De Pauw to lose ground early on lap one, and the man from Lincolnshire failed to recover from there.

Hampus Ericsson climbed to sixth to put a difficult weekend behind him ahead of Belgium’s De Pauw, with Lucas Petersson’s eighth place cemented this weekend as the Swede’s strongest of 2019 for Carlin Motorsport.

Another man who will be pleased with his pace this weekend is Josh Mason.

The Lanan Racing driver took ninth place in Race Three at the circuit where he won last year after showing solid midfield pace all weekend, while Kaylen Frederick will best remember this weekend for an overtake around the outside of Race Two winner Manuel Maldonado to finish tenth.

Nazim Azman was twelfth behind Maldonado, with Nico Varrone 13th and Pavan Ravishankar a disappointing 14th place. Kris Wright and Ben Pedersen were 15th and 16th after receiving penalties, and Sassakorn Chaimongkol was 17th after a collision with Pedersen on the opening lap.

NEWS: Manuel Maldonado dominates BRDC British F3 reverse grid Race Two

Fortec Motorsport’s Manuel Maldonado took a lights to flag victory from pole position on Sunday’s Race Two reverse grid race.

The Venezuelan recovered from a difficult Saturday where he took damage and finished 16th in Race One to take an easy victory in changeable Silverstone conditions.

Maldonado led home Nico Varrone, second on his return to the to series, with Clement Novalak climbing up to third after starting ninth as championship rival Johnathan Hoggard toiled to finish in 14th.

Kris Wright put in his best performance of the year so far to finish fifth behind a hard-charging Ayrton Simmons, who was at times 2s per lap faster than anyone else.

Ulysse De Pauw was a strong sixth for Douglas Motorsport ahead of a somewhat resurgent Pavan Ravishankar in seventh.

Kiern Jewiss was eighth after starting fifteenth following a second-placed finish on Saturday afternoon ahead of Race One winner Sasakorn Chaimongkol.

Benjamin Pedersen completed the top ten ahead of Lucas Petersson and Nazim Azman, with Kaylen Frederick dropping to thirteenth from eighth after a starting infringement dropped him back 10s.

 

British F3 – Chaimongkol take memorable first BRDC British F3 victory

Sassakorn Chaimongkol took a memorable first ever BRDC British F3 victory in the first of three races this weekend at Silverstone.

The Fortec driver squeezed past polesitter Kiern Jewiss at the start of the race and despite intense pressure for twenty minutes, never looked likely to crack under intense pressure from Jewiss and Johnathan Hoggard.

Ayrton Simmons recovered to fourth after a poor start dropped him from third to sixth, despite finishing behind Neil Verhagen on track. Verhagen dropped to tenth after being penalised for a jump start.

Ulysse De Pauw came home fifth to continue his recent strong form ahead of Kaylen Frederick in sixth.

Championship leader Clement Novalak could only manage seventh on a disappointing Saturday for the Carlin driver, who risks seeing his lead at the top erode this weekend with Hoggard towards the front of the grid.

Lucas Petersson put in one of his strongest showings of the season to take eighth ahead of fellow Swede Hampus Ericsson, who recovered well after a slow start dropped him to twelfth.

Last year’s Silverstone Race Two winner Josh Mason was eleventh on Saturday afternoon after to gain two places over the course of the race, with Pavan Ravishankar a solid twelfth.

Nico Varrone bested Kris Wright for thirteenth with Nazim Azman last of the main pack on his eighteenth birthday, with Benjamin Pedersen retiring and Manuel Maldonado lapped after losing his front wing.

British F3 – Last-gasp Jewiss snatches Silverstone double-pole

Douglas Motorsport’s Kiern Jewiss backed up his impressive Brands Hatch form with a double-pole position on Saturday morning at Silverstone.

In a hotly contested qualifying session that saw Jewiss, Sassakorn Chaimongkol and Ayrton Simmons take turns at the top of the timesheets, the 17-year-old nicked pole from Chaimongkol with his last lap of the session when it looked like the Thai driver was destined to take his first ever British F3 pole position.

Jewiss, who at one point was 0.007s off the pace in third, took Race One pole by just over a tenth of a second, and will also line up pole for Race Three after setting the fastest second-best lap.

Johnathan Hoggard will start from fourth and hope to kick-start his championship challenge for Fortect ahead of a rejuvenated Ulysse De Pauw.

Double R Racing’s Neil Verhagen beat fellow American Kaylen Frederick to seventh ahead of an improved performance from Benjamin Pedersen.

Championship leader Clement Novalak, who could win the series this weekend, will start from ninth with work to do after struggling with the balance of his Carlin machine. He heads Double R Racing’s Hampus Ericsson.

Lucas Petersson will start from 11th ahead of last year’s Race Two Silverstone winner Josh Mason, while Manuel Maldonado will be disappointed to start thirteenth.

Pavan Ravishankar will be looking for an improvement to a weekend from hell at Brands Hatch from 14th on the grid ahead of the returning Nicolas Varrone.

On his 18th birthday, Nazim Azman will be looking for happier returns than 16th on the grid in Race One ahead of Kris Wright, who brings up the rear in 17th.

British F3 – Jewiss takes overdue first win

Douglas Motorsport’s Kiern Jewiss took his first British F3 win of the season and became the 11th man to win a race this season.

Johnathan Hoggard was second after losing out to Jewiss at the start of the race, which proved decisive as a clearly quicker Hoggard couldn’t land a blow.

Ulysse De Pauw made it a 1-3 with his second podium of the year in third place ahead of championship leader Clement Novalak and Carlin teammate Kaylen Frederick, who held off Chris Dittmann Racing’s Ayrton Simmons in fifth.

Neil Verhagen was seventh ahead of Sassakorn Chaimongkol and Lucas Petersson in the final Carlin in ninth.

Hampus Ericsson rose to tenth from 15th, paying for a difficult Saturday ahead of a solid eleventh place from Josh Mason and Race Two winner Nazim Azman. Kris Wright and Ben Pedersen rounded out the finishers, while PAvan Ravishankar was lapped and Manuel Maldonado retired.

The race was settled at the start as Brands Hatch once again proved to be difficult to overtake at as Jewiss jumped Hoggard and made it stick at Paddock Hill Bend, while De Pauw repeated the trick on Novalak behind.

Jewiss was rarely more than three tenths clear of Hoggard, who at times feigned a move to attempt to set up the leader for a move that never came.

The result means that Hoggard is now just 40 points behind Novalak in the title race, with six races remaining at Silverstone and at Donington Park.

 

IMAGE: Jakob Ebrey

British GT: Adam/Davidson get their Championship back on track, Dorlin and Smith finally take a GT4 win

Jonny Adam and Graham Davidson took their second British GT victory of the season at Brands Hatch to give themselves a chance of winning the championship at the final round of the season.

Adam and Davidson move into second in the British GT Championship at the expense of former leaders Jonny Cocker and Sam De Haan of Barwell Motorsport, who dropped from fourth to eighth on the final lap.

Rob Bell and Shaun Balfe were second having started from pole position, with Jack Mitchell and Angus Fender picking up Century Motorsport’s best GT3 result of the season with third.

Phil Keen and Adam Balon in the other Barwell were fourth, Keen passing Cocker on the last lap to set off a chain reaction that saw Dennis Lind, Tom Onslow-Cole and Nicki Thiim also better the Lamborghini.

Polesitter Balfe initially struggled at the start as the Aston Martins of Ollie Wilkinson and Davidson mugged the McLaren at the start.

Wilkinson was gapping at over half a second a lap, but was caught out by traffic to lose the advantage before spinning at Paddock Hill to drop to fourth.

The race was interrupted for over fifteen minutes midway through the first hour as Glynn Geddie’s #7 GT3 Bentley attempted lap the #61 Aston Martin of Ben Hurst at Westfield, with contact sending the Bentley into the wall at high-speed to completely ruin the front of the car.

After the restart, Davidson gained four seconds ahead of the stops as a result of kind traffic and his ability to put GT4 cars between, Balfe and Angus Fender, who lost out badly.

Once Adam climbed into the TF Sport Vantage, the Scot made no mistake to stroke it home for a victory.

In GT4, the race was affected by a Safety Car in the middle of the race after polesitter Callum Pointon was earlier passed by Jordan Smith and Ash Hand to slip to third, while Scott Maxwell climbed to 4th in class during the early staging of the race.

Alex Toth Jones and Moore given a stop go penalty for a starting infringement, but emerged seventh and profited from a well-timed Safety Car to take a big lead in GT4 for the second half of the two-hour race.

Bad luck was never far away though and Moore, with a comfortable lead, spun at Druids to cede their best chance of victory this season and cap a miserable season so far for Academy Motorsport in GT4.

It was left t

o James Dorlin, with the help of Jordan Collard in the other Tolman McLaren, to bring the car home ahead Dean MacDonald in the HHC McLaren, with Seb Priaulx for Multimatic Ford in third.

Martin Plowman and Kelvin Fletcher took GT4 Pro/Am honours ahead of Mark Murfitt and Michael Broadhurst, with debutants Richard Meaden and Jack Roush third in class.

 

Images: Inked Hand Images

British F3 – Azman leads home Simmons in Chris Dittman One-Two at Brands Hatch

Malaysia’s Nazim Azman claimed his first ever victory in British F3’s reverse grid Race Two at Brands Hatch.

He led home Ayrton Simmons, who was never more than half a second behind his teammate during an intriguing race interrupted by an early Safety Car.

That was brought about on lap one after a slow-starting Kris Wright made contact with Pavan Ravishankar at Paddock Hill bend on the opening lap – Singaporean driver had passed the American from the start-line.

Lanan’s Josh Mason was third to make it three straight Race Two podium positions, with Double R’s Neil Verhagen fourth having started from ninth on the grid.

Hampus Ericsson was fifth to recover from a difficult Saturday and having taken evasive action from the incident at the start, with Benjamin Pedersen sixth.

Ulysse De Pauw and Manuel Maldonado were next after better races on Saturday, with Lucas Petersson another to have lost out early on to finish in ninth place.

Clement Novalak was the first of the usual front runners but could only finish tenth on what has proven to be a difficult track overtake on, but he did manage to usurp Sassakorn Chaimongkol – the Thai driver taking 11th.

Kiern Jewiss and Johnathan Hoggard, yesterday’s top two, were 12th and 13th as both men were happy to take pain in Race Two rather than risk their cars.

Kaylen Frederick ended his race four laps early, in the gravel at Paddock Hill bend.

 

IMAGE – Jakob Ebrey

British GT qualifying – Balfe Motorsport take GT3 honours with Bell/Balfe, HHC return to form with Pointon MacDonald in GT4

Shaun Balfe and Rob Bell continued the impressive form of Balfe Motorsport in British GT GT3 to take an impressive pole position at Brands Hatch.

The will start tomorrow’s two-hour race at Brands Hatch ahead of the Optimum Motorsport duo of Ollie Wilkinson and Bradley Ellis.

Jonny Cocker and Sam De Haan, who have a very small chance of winning the British GT title this weekend, start third ahead of TF Sport’s Scottish duo of Jonny Adam and Graham Davidson in the Aston Martin.

Jack Mitchell and the impressive Angus Fender will line up fifth tomorrow in Century Motorsport’s best showing in Gt3 this year with the BMW M6 ahead of Seb Morris and Rick Parfitt Junior in the Bentley, with Ben Green and Dominic Paul eighth.

Pointon and MacDonald were top of both GT4 sessions by the smallest of margins for HHC Motorsport in their McLaren 570S.

The headed Spa winners Tom Canning and Ash Hand in the TF Sport Aston V8 Vantage and the top Pro/Am duo of Martin Plowman and Kelvin Fletcher in the Beechdean Aston Martin.

Josh Smith and James Dorling will start fourth for Tolman Motorsport in their McLaren, just ahead of the Mercedes AMG Pro/Am duo of Nick Jones and Scott Malvern.

Patrick Matthiesen and Mike Robinson complete the top six in the third Aston MArtin on the GT4 grid, while Sennan Fielding and Richard Williams in the #29 Audi R8 took an impressive seventh ahead of Patrick Kibble and Josh Price.

 

IMAGES: Inked Hand Images

 

British F3 – Hoggard wins comfortably in Race One

Johnathan Hoggard took his first win of the weekend at Brands Hatch to reignite his charge for the British F3 Championship.

Kiern Jewiss took second after closing on Hoggard towards the end of the race while Clement Novalak couldn’t land a blow on the Douglas Motorsport man to complete the podium in third.

Sassakorn Chaimongkol backed up his improving mid-season form to take fourth ahead of Kaylen Frederick, with Manuel Maldonado and Ulysse De Pauw next ahead of Double R’s leading driver Neil Verhagen.

Ayrton Simmons failed to climb from 11th as he came home behind Lucas Petersson and Benjamin Pedersen, while Hampus Ericsson’s three overtakes on the first lap to climb to twelfth accounted for three-quarters of the overtaking action during a tense opening race of the weekend.

Ericsson should have started last after an off in qualifying, but Pavan Ravishankar started from the back after ignoring red flags in qualifying.

Hoggard, who earlier took a commanding pole position in Saturday morning qualifying,  cleared off early in the race as Jewiss was left to fend off Novalak and the improving Chaimongkol.

Chaimongkol had to keep the fast-starting Frederick behind him at Paddock Hill bend on the opening lap, but once the American was dealt with the Thai driver was seldom troubled as the meat in what was to be a Carlin Motorsport sandwich.

Hoggard got his lead up to 2.5s midway through the race, before the tide began to turn for Jewiss, who until this point had had a frustrating season for Douglas Motorsport.

Second was to be as good as it got for Jewiss, who still took him his best result of the season.

Meanwhile it was a desperate Saturday for Ayrton Simmons, whose championship aspirations took a major blow. A finish of 11th after a disappointing qualifying has left the Chris Dittman Racing driver with a mountain to climb over the next eight rounds.