RACE DEBRIEF

    Twenty-four hours after losing a driver he called his closest friend in racing, Pierre Gasly raced in honour of Anthoine Hubert to ninth in the Belgian Grand Prix to claim points on his return to Toro Rosso.

    The Frenchman, demoted from Red Bull during the summer break after struggling to get on terms with the team’s RB15, had looked set to come home 11th, having been passed in the late stages for the final points position by Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg.

    READ MORE: Leclerc dedicates first F1 win to friend Hubert

    But retirements for Antonio Giovinazzi and Lando Norris in the final two laps meant that Gasly came home P9, two places behind team mate Daniil Kvyat to cap Toro Rosso’s third double-score of the year, with the Frenchman having enjoyed some intense battles, most notably with Haas’s Kevin Magnussen.

    “The second part of the race it was difficult to keep the other guys with the softer compound behind, but I gave everything I had,” said Gasly, who’d started on the softs himself before pitting for mediums relatively early on Lap 13. “We knew it would be difficult to fight. I gave everything I had, it was good, close racing and we managed to score two important points.”

    Formula One World Championship

    You are not ready at 22, 23 to lose one of your best mates

    Pierre Gasly

    Racing, Gasly admitted, had been hard enough anyway, following the death of close friend Hubert in Saturday’s Formula 2 Feature Race, with the Formula 1 drivers having observed a minute’s silence before the Grand Prix.

    “I think it was for sure the most emotional pre-race I ever had because you are not ready at 22, 23 to live this kind of moment to lose one of your best mates,” he said. “I’ve grown up with this guy since I was seven in karting, we’ve been room mates, we’ve lived in the same apartment in the same room for six years, we’ve been classmates.

    “I told Charles [Leclerc] before the race ‘please win this race for Anthoine’ because we started racing in the same year, Charles, Anthoine and myself,” Gasly added. “Unfortunately there was this thing that happened to remind everybody that it’s a really dangerous sport and for me I’m really sad that it was my closest friend in racing.”

    Gasly and Kvyat’s efforts, on a day when McLaren failed to score, sees Toro Rosso consolidate their fifth place in the constructors’s standings, the team now 31-points adrift of their Woking rivals.

    READ MORE: Tributes pour in for Anthoine Hubert from racing world

    2019

    Constructors's standings post-Spa

    POSITION POINTS
    1 Mercedes Mercedes Mercedes 471
    2 Ferrari Ferrari Ferrari 326
    3 Red Bull Racing Red Bull Racing Red Bull Racing 254
    4 McLaren McLaren McLaren 82
    5 Toro Rosso Toro Rosso Toro Rosso 51
    6 Renault Renault Renault 43
    7 Racing Point Racing Point Racing Point 40
    8 Alfa Romeo Racing Alfa Romeo Racing Alfa Romeo Racing 32
    9 Haas F1 Team Haas F1 Team Haas F1 Team 26
    10 Williams Williams Williams 1