CEO Bruno Michel looks back at an eventful seventh round of the 2020 season and picks out his key topics from Spa-Francorchamps.
He looks at PREMA’s strong weekend, the tightest of both the Teams’ and the Drivers’ Championships, and discusses the tributes paid to Anthoine Hubert on an emotional weekend.
PREMA ON TOP
What a weekend for the Italian team! They scored three podiums at Spa-Francorchamps, including a win, allowing them to overtake UNI-Virtuosi in the Standings. Mick Schumacher added two more rostrums. That’s six in total in 2020. He has scored more podiums than any other driver this season so far. As for Robert Shwartzman, the Russian has taken a third win in his rookie year. With it, he passed Callum Ilott in the Drivers’ Championship.
Virtuosi have had the pace all year and took third place in the Sprint Race with Guanyu Zhou. They are still very much a strong title contender. This should make this week’s round in Monza even more exciting.
NO ROOM FOR MISTAKES
Looking at the Drivers’ Standings, only 31 points cover the top five, from Shwartzman to Nikita Mazepin. More than ever, there is no room for mistakes, and consistency will play a major role in the final leg of the season. It was an unusual pointless weekend for Ilott who has been looking so collected so far. I fully expect him to bounce back in style this weekend on a track where he took a maiden F2 pole in 2019. Meanwhile, his closest rivals all scored podiums and wins in Spa which makes for a nail-biting competition. They should also look in their rear-view mirrors as a handful of talented drivers are ready to pounce and take advantage of the smallest of mistakes.
I mentioned Shwartzman earlier, but I was impressed by two other rookies last weekend who happen to be part of the Red Bull Junior programme, starting with Yuki Tsunoda. The Japanese from Carlin came to Spa with the goal to win for Anthoine. He started his weekend in a strong manner, claiming pole position – his second this season. He fought tooth and nail to reclaim P1 from Mazepin in the Feature Race and a late time penalty for the Russian handed Tsunoda the win. A total of 29 points moved him up to third in the Championship. I know F1 keep a close eye on him, and I understand why.
I also wanted to highlight newcomer Jüri Vips’ performance on his F2 debut. With no experience, he jumped in the DAMS car, subbing for the injured Sean Gelael. Starting from last position on Saturday following a difficult qualifying session, he managed to climb all the way up to 11th at the flag. On Sunday, after stalling on the grid and starting from the pitlane, he once more carved his way through the field to finish 11th again. Now that he has a bit more experience, I think he can deliver some strong results in Monza.
It was not easy to come back a year later to Spa-Francorchamps. Everyone was still thinking about what had happened last season. It was important to us to show Anthoine and his loved ones that he is still very much part of our family. The drivers all raced for him and we were very honoured that his mother and aunt were with us. I was also extremely happy that Juan Manuel Correa found the strength to come back to the paddock. It was very important for him to be present for Anthoine and pay his respect. He said that he wants to be back in a car next year and we would be extremely proud to welcome him back on the grid.