19-year-old Bent Viscaal experienced a weekend of mixed fortunes in the 2019 FIA Formula 3 Championship at the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps, with the sixth round of competition overshadowed by the devastating loss of Formula Two driver, Anthoine Hubert, following a fatal crash in Saturday’s FIA Formula 2 Feature Race.
Despite there being many positive aspects to Bent’s race weekend on track, the whole motorsport paddock was left heartbroken by the loss of 2018 GP3 champion Anthoine Hubert, after he was involved in a crash on the straight after Raidillon. As Bent’s team HWA RACELAB is a partner of BWT Arden, Bent’s #10 cars sported a sticker on his halo on Sunday which paid tribute to the Frenchman.
The proceedings in Spa got off to a positive start for Bent. The Dutch racing driver set a fantastic last effort in Friday’s free practice session to put him seventh fastest with a time of 2:06.895s at the Belgian track.
Qualifying later that day also proved to be significantly more positive compared to the previous two rounds of Hungary and Silverstone. Building on the strong momentum from practice, Bent’s qualifying time was over half a second quicker than his previous best effort of the day. With 10 laps completed in the session, Bent’s time of 2:06.289s meant that he would start the first race of the weekend from 16th on the grid.
Bent delivered a fighting performance throughout race one of the weekend. In the opening laps he dropped one position to put him 17th. Unperturbed by this, Bent set about getting the place back and did so shortly, while also performing another overtake to take 15th. Unfortunately, as the race played out and Bent battled an illness, he dropped down the order and crossed the line in 21st position. Whilst it was a tough race result, Bent demonstrated fighting spirit throughout the duration.
Fortunately, the Dutchman fared better in the second race. In 25th position after a challenging start, Bent set about doing what he knows best: overtaking. On a mission to make up lost ground, Bent applied the pressure to those in front and was running in 20th on lap three.
With a safety car brought out after a competitor went into the barriers, Bent’s charge was put on hold for several laps. When the racing was given the green flag once again, Bent quickly moved up to 16th place before overtaking another two cars to cross the line in 14th - with a staggering 11 positions gained during the race.
“This weekend has been incredibly tough for the whole motorsport paddock and community. Firstly, I would like to express condolences to all of Anthoine’s family and friends. He will be missed a lot.
“The race on Sunday got off to a hard start. I almost stalled the engine and unfortunately dropped down into 25th place. Then the race was very eventful, I ended up moving up the field into 14th place. So, if I hadn’t had the problems at the start, I could have moved further up the field. That’s why I’m happy with how the race went and my performance on Sunday, I’m just a little bit annoyed about the start.”
Bent will return to the track action this weekend (7-8th September) as Formula 1 and its support series head to Monza for the Italian Grand Prix.