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2019 Belgian GP: Leclerc claims maiden F1 victory

2nd Sep 2019 12:31 pm

Charles Leclerc was finally able to convert pole position to victory at the Belgian GP; Hamilton and Bottas finish on the podium.

After missing out on victory at the 2019 Bahrain GP and Austrian GP, Charles Leclerc was finally able to claim his first-ever F1 race win after successfully fending off Lewis Hamilton to win the 2019 Belgian GP. With this, Leclerc has also handed Ferrari its long-awaited first victory this season.

Right off the bat, Ferrari seemed to have the upper hand at Spa-Francorchamps; Leclerc topped two of the practice sessions and then went on to qualify in pole position. The first lap saw plenty of drama – Leclerc held on to his lead at the start, while behind him, his teammate Sebastian Vettel was passed by Hamilton. But Vettel quickly retook 2nd place, taking advantage of the slipstream to pass Hamilton on the Kemmel Straight. The safety car was brought out when Max Verstappen’s Red Bull car went into the barriers at Eau Rouge after making contact with Kimi Raikkonen.

Once racing resumed, Leclerc was again able to pull away out at front as Vettel locked up at La Source. Vettel then came under pressure from Hamilton, but was able to hold on to 2nd, thanks to the Ferrari’s superior straight-line speed. Ferrari then took a bold strategy decision and pitted Vettel on lap 15. This did temporarily hand Vettel an advantage as he took the lead once the remaining front runners pitted around six laps later. However, with Leclerc, Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas now on fresher tyres, they started closing in on Vettel.

With Vettel now on a two-stop strategy, he was instructed by the team to let Leclerc by. Vettel then spent the next few laps fending off Hamilton and buying Leclerc some additional time before being passed by both Hamilton and Bottas. Unable to finish the race on those same tyres, Vettel pitted once again and re-joined the track in 4th place, nearly 19sec off Bottas.

Out at front, Hamilton was able to close in on Leclerc in the final few laps, but he held on to take a lights-to-flag victory. With this, the 21-year-old from Monaco is also the third-youngest race winner in F1 history. Moments later, Leclerc dedicated his win to Anthoine Hubert, who lost his life after succumbing to injuries sustained in a high-speed collision in the F2 race over the weekend. “On one hand… a dream since being a child that has been realised,” said Leclerc in the post-race interview.

“On the other hand, it has been a very difficult weekend. We have lost a friend first of all. It’s very difficult in these situations so I would like to dedicate my first win to him.”

A 2nd place finish was enough for Hamilton to further extend his championship lead to 65 points from Bottas. Alexander Albon enjoyed a strong first race for Red Bull, climbing from 17th on the grid to finish 5th after successfully overtaking Sergio Perez on the very last lap. The last lap saw two drivers retire – Lando Norris was set to take his career-best finish when he suffered a sudden loss of power and had to pull over, while Antonio Giovinazzi crashed at Pouhon. This promoted Daniil Kvyat to 7th place, followed by Nico Hulkenberg, Pierre Gasly and Lance Stroll.

Results

POS

DRIVER

CAR

LAPS

GAP

1

Charles Leclerc

Ferrari

44

1h23m45.710s

2

Lewis Hamilton

Mercedes

44

0.981s

3

Valtteri Bottas

Mercedes

44

12.585s

4

Sebastian Vettel

Ferrari

44

26.422s

5

Alexander Albon

Red Bull/Honda

44

1m21.325s

6

Sergio Perez

Racing Point/Mercedes

44

1m24.448s

7

Daniil Kvyat

Toro Rosso/Honda

44

1m29.657s

8

Nico Hulkenberg

Renault

44

1m46.639s

9

Pierre Gasly

Toro Rosso/Honda

44

1m49.168s

10

Lance Stroll

Racing Point/Mercedes

44

1m49.838s

11

Lando Norris

McLaren/Renault

43

Not running

12

Kevin Magnussen

Haas/Ferrari

43

1 Lap

13

Romain Grosjean

Haas/Ferrari

43

1 Lap

14

Daniel Ricciardo

Renault

43

1 Lap

15

George Russell

Williams/Mercedes

43

1 Lap

16

Kimi Raikkonen

Alfa Romeo/Ferrari

43

1 Lap

17

Robert Kubica

Williams/Mercedes

43

1 Lap

18

Antonio Giovinazzi

Alfa Romeo/Ferrari

42

Spun off

-

Carlos Sainz Jr.

McLaren/Renault

1

Power Unit

-

Max Verstappen

Red Bull/Honda

0

Collision

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