Charles Leclerc has held off Lewis Hamilton in an emotional maiden win at the Belgian Grand Prix. The Monacan converted pole into the lead and held on despite the strong fight with the five-time champion, and secure Ferrari’s first win of the season.
Hamilton tried to close down on the Ferrari, he got within a second in the closing stages of the race but could not get close enough to repeat his pass which allowed him to take victory like in Bahrain. Leclerc becomes the first Monegasque to win a world championship Grand Prix and the first winner of a Grand Prix since the 1949 French Grand Prix.
Leclerc decided Ferrari’s first win to Anthoine Hubert, the F2 driver and close friend who tragically passed away after crashing at Spa on Saturday. An emotional win added to by Hurbet’s death and his god-fathers Jules Bianchi’s fatal crash at the 2014 Japanese Grand Prix.
Leclerc made a brilliant start as the threat from teammate Sebastian Vettel never really materialised as he slipped back on the Kammel Straight into the Mercedes before the safety car. The Monacan then build an impressive early lead following the safety car.
Hamilton finished the race almost a second behind the Monacan, despite his best efforts could not close the gap to Leclerc and lead his teammate Valtteri Bottas by eleven seconds. The five-times champion was closing at a second a lap.
The pivotal moment at his stop, he tried to overcut Leclerc coming in later, but His rivals stayed out, and Vettel’s pace on the medium tyre meant he found himself in the lead once the top three stopped five laps later.
Leclerc said about the race, “I want to dedicate this win to Anthoine. We have grown up together and my first ever race I did when I was seven with Anthoine. So it is such a shame what happened yesterday. I can’t enjoy it fully, my first victory, but it is a memory that will live with me forever.”
“It has been a very difficult race, we have been struggling quite a bit with the tyres to the end but I managed the tyres better than in Budapest. Mercedes were very quick in the race and we expected that.”
“But it is a good weekend, pole position and first win. The end of the race was definitely not easy, he was catching pretty quickly. I had quite a bit of pressure but I kept him behind.
Hamilton, whose championship lead has extended to 65 points over Bottas, said: “I gave it absolutely everything that I had. A really difficult race. The Ferraris were just too quick on the straights. I got close at the end, maybe needed a few more laps but congratulations to Charles.”
Vettel slipped back from second to fourth, as he was forced to take an extra pit stop after struggling with his time.
The race started with drama as Max Verstappen crashed out of his home race, a slow start saw him make contact with Kimi Raikkonen and Sergio Perez. The Finn swept across to the apex of the corner, pitching the Alfa Romeo into the air – and the two made contact again on the exit of the corner.
As the race restarted, the safety car went back out after swept across to the apex of the corner, pitching the Alfa Romeo into the air, and the two aide contact again on the exit of the corner.
The teams’ race ended as it began, after Antonio Giovinazzi in ninth on the penultimate lap when he crashed into the wall at Pouhon, spoiling what would have been the best result of his difficult 2019 season.
On his début for Red Bull Alex Albon worked his way up from seventeenth to fifth, pulling out some brilliant overtakes, although his final move of Sergio Perez is under investigation.
Sergio Perez inherited sixth from Lando Norris on the final lap, following a sudden loss of power promoting Antonio Giovinazzi to eighth. However, more drama saw the Alfa Romeo driver crash out on the last lap, moving Nico Hulkenberg to eighth. Pierre Gasly was ninth on his return to Toro Rosso.
Racing Points Lance Stroll took the final point, while Norris finished eleventh after crossing the line to start the final lap. The Bristolian had a very strong race running as high as fifth and was on course for another good points finish
Haas had a difficult race, both Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean were twelfth and thirteenth. The team were struggling to find pace on the medium tyres, leaving them unable to defend from those around them. Daniel Ricciardo was fourteenth.
George Russell was fifteenth ahead of Raikkonen and teammate Robert Kubica, with Giovinazzi being the last classified finisher.
- BELGIAN GP – Charles Leclerc storms to pole by seventh tenths over Sebastian Vettel and Mercedes
- Notebook – Belgian Practice
- BELGIAN GP – Charles Leclerc six tenths faster than Sebastian Vettel in FP2
- BELGIAN GP – Sebastian Vettel fastest by two tenths over Charles Leclerc in FP1
- Prixview – Belgian Grand Prix