Leclerc holds off Hamilton to take maiden F1 win

Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium

Belgian Grand Prix – Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc has claimed his maiden Formula 1 victory by holding off Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton in the closing stages.

Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc has won the Belgian Grand Prix. The polesitter held the lead through the opening lap and was able to bring his car home in the lead having only lost the lead briefly through the pitstop sequence.

With teammate Sebastian Vettel running P2 before the stops, an early stop on Lap 16 for Vettel meant he used the undercut advantage to inherit the lead as Leclerc, Hamilton and Bottas made their stops to swap to the Medium tyre. With Leclerc considerably faster than Vettel after the stops, Ferrari ordered the German driver aside as Hamilton was closing in on the pair of them.

Leclerc resumed the lead, while Vettel began battling with Hamilton as he defended P2. However, with his tyres six laps older than the Mercedes drivers; he was powerless to stop Hamilton passing him into Les Combes. He promptly pitted again for Soft tyres and fell down to P4.

Vettel’s stop elevated Bottas into P3. With Leclerc’s managing the gap back to Hamilton throughout the remaining laps of the race, he massaged his car home in the lead by just over a second from the Merc to take his first ever Formula 1 victory. Hamilton finished P2, with Bottas coming home 8 seconds behind his teammate.

Vettel’s pace on the Softs wasn’t stellar, and he finished the race in P4 and 11 seconds down on Bottas. Alex Albon finished P5 with a great maiden drive for Red Bull. Having started at the back, he worked his way up the field in the first stint on Mediums before changing to the Softs and making some great overtakes. He inherited P5 right at the end when Lando Norris was forced to retire in his McLaren.

Sergio Perez finished P6 for Racing Point, with Daniil Kvyat P7 for Toro Rosso. Nico Hulkenberg was P8 for Renault, with Pierre Gasly P9 for Toro Rosso in his first race on return to the team. The final points position went to Lance Stroll.

Max Verstappen was a high profile retirement, having been involved in a Lap 1 collision with Alfa Romeo’s Kimi Raikkonen.

Developing report. More to follow.

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Thomas Maher

Co-owner, Chief Editor and a journalist for FormulaSpy.com - Ireland's only accredited F1 & Formula E website. Enjoy my work - https://www.buymeacoffee.com/MidcHN8

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