F1 2019: Leclerc takes maiden win at Spa for the Belgian Grand Prix

Charles Leclerc has taken his first Formula One Grand Prix win at Spa-Francorchamps for the 2019 Belgian GP.

By: | Updated: September 1, 2019 8:37 PM

Charles Leclerc drove a race of near perfection for Ferrari to take his first F1 race win at the 2019 Belgian Grand Prix. At a very emotional weekend at Spa-Francorchamps, Leclerc dedicated his first win to Anthoine Hubert, the Formula 2 driver who tragically passed away on Saturday after a multi-car incident during the F2 race at turn 4. Lewis Hamilton finished second with his Mercedes-AMG teammate, Valtteri Bottas finishing on the final step of the podium.

With the lights going out on a sombre note following the death of the F2 driver earlier this weekend, carnage at the start began as Max Verstappen in the Red Bull crashed into the Alfa Romeo of Kimi Raikkonen, who started sixth, into La Source. Verstappen suffered broken steering and crashed out at Raidillon to end his weekend. Raikkonen suffered damage to his floor allowing the field to be neutralised with the safety car. Raikkonen pitted twice under Safety Car and was at the back of the pack eventually finishing a lap down in 16th place.

Erstwhile, the battle at the front saw Leclerc lead the pack, while Vettel being challenged by Hamilton. But the Ferrari seemed superior on a straight line. The Ferraris were leading at the earlier stages of the race.

Vettel pitted on Lap 16, while Leclerc pitted for a set of medium tyres on Lap 22 and comes out in fourth behind Vettel on fresher tyres. Hamilton pitted on the following lap for medium tyres and came out behind Leclerc. With the Mercedes cars too far back to attack, Leclerc closed the gap to Vettel and Ferrari swapped their cars around with Vettel allowing Leclerc of fresher tyres through to take the lead of the race.

With Vettel’s tyres being older, Hamilton was on his tail very soon but with the superior straight-line speed of the low-downforce Ferrari, it seemed more difficult for the Silver Arrows to get past. Eventually, aided by DRS, Hamilton got passed Vettel on lap 33 to move up. Ferrari were, in fact, using Vettel to slow the two Mercedes cars down to allow Leclerc a comfortable lead. After Bottas got passed with ten laps to go, Vettel pitted for a set of soft tyres to try and climb back the order with fresh tyres and claim the extra point for the fastest lap of the race.

However, Vettel was too far back to close the gap, however, he did manage to claim the fastest lap of the race. In the final stages of the race, Hamilton began closing the gap to Leclerc. On the final lap of the race, Hamilton was just over a tenth behind Leclerc but Leclerc managed to hold on to the lead despite the pressure from the multiple world champion to win the race.

Sebastian Vettel settled for fourth place. Alex Albon, who was promoted to Red Bull after Pierre Gasly was swapped to the junior Torro Rosso team. Albon claimed his best-ever finish of fifth on his Red bull debut ahead of Sergio Perez, Daniil Kvyat, Nico Hulkenberg, Pierre Gasly and Lance Stroll who were the top 10 finishers of the day.

On the final lap, Antonio Giovinazzi, who was driving well throughout the race for Alfa Romeo, lost it going flat-out through Blanchimont and collided into the barriers. Giovinazzi confirmed over the radio that he was fine. One more heartbreak occurred when the McLaren of Lando Norris who was good to finishing fifth, had to pull over on the start-finish straight while starting his final lap. Norris was classified 11th.

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