A year earlier, you’ve probably never heard of Charles LeClerc. Even Ferrari’s massive media hype will not deter F1 fans from 4-time Champion Sebastien Vettel.
Last Sunday at the spectacular Spa-Francorchamps Circuit, fans finally got to know the rookie LeClerc as he scored his first ever win. The kid from Monaco managed the 44 lap race to perfection; he’s also the first from Monaco to take an F1 win. The two Mercedes were right there as well with Lewis Hamilton second and Valtteri Bottas third. LeClerc’s illustrious team mate Vettel was fourth to complete an all Ferrari and Mercedes white wash. LeClerc becomes only the third winner this season, after Hamilton and Max Verstappen.
The race was LeClerc’s all the way. He got away well from pole to keep the lead. Behind him, Vettel was overtaken at the first corner by Hamilton but retook the place getting by again at the end of the Kemmel straight.
After a restart, LeClerc managed to pull away from the group, running at a consistent pace. He would soon relinquish the lead for a bit when he had to pit for new shods. Vettel took the lead but had to give the lead back to his team mate on lap 27.
At the halfway mark, Vettel and Hamilton got into a scrap for few laps. Once he had lost the place, the team changed his strategy, bringing him in for another set of soft tyres to run for the final ten laps of the race. Vettel would drop another position to Bottas in the process.
LeClerc had no issues in the front, though the Mercedes cars tried to inch closer. He also hit the fastest lap of the race for an extra point.
In the final stage, there was a nail biting moment, as LeClerc fought off a hard-charging Hamilton, who never got quite close enough to use the DRS. But, that was it…Hamilton couldn’t do it and it was LeClerc’s win, less than a second ahead of the reigning champion.
Ferrari got their 236th win, while LeClerc becamethe youngest driver to take pole and the win at Spa-Francorchamps. He is also the youngest ever driver to win a Grand Prix at the wheel of a Ferrari.
The series is back on track right from next week in Monza for the Italian Grand Prix.
LeClerc commented in post-race, “It is difficult to enjoy a first victory on a weekend like this. The race itself was good and nothing would have been possible without the amazing car the team gave me. We made good improvements in terms of race pace and tyre management this weekend. The last few laps weren’t easy. I saw Lewis coming closer and closer in the mirror, so I put my head down and tried to focus on the work I had to do in the car. At the end, I managed to cross the line in first place!”
2019 F1 Belgian GP results
1 Charles Leclerc FERRARI 1:23:45.710
2 Lewis Hamilton MERCEDES +0.981s
3 Valtteri Bottas MERCEDES +12.585s
4 Sebastian Vettel FERRARI +26.422s
5 Alexander Albon RED BULL RACING +81.325s
6 Sergio Perez RACING POINT BWT +84.448s
7 Daniil Kvyat SCUDERIA TORO ROSSO +89.657s
8 Nico Hulkenberg RENAULT +106.639s
9 Pierre Gasly SCUDERIA TORO ROSSO +109.168s
10 Lance Stroll RACING POINT BWT +109.838s
1 Lewis Hamilton GBR MERCEDES 268
2 Valtteri Bottas FIN MERCEDES 203
3 Max Verstappen NED RED BULL RACING HONDA 181
4 Sebastian Vettel GER FERRARI 169
5 Charles Leclerc MON FERRARI 157
6 Pierre Gasly FRA SCUDERIA TORO ROSSO HONDA 65
7 Carlos Sainz ESP MCLAREN RENAULT 58
8 Daniil Kvyat RUS SCUDERIA TORO ROSSO HONDA 33
9 Kimi Räikkönen FIN ALFA ROMEO RACING FERRARI 31
10 Alexander Albon THA RED BULL RACING HONDA 26
1 MERCEDES 471
2 FERRARI 326
3 RED BULL RACING HONDA 254
4 MCLAREN RENAULT 82
5 SCUDERIA TORO ROSSO HONDA 51
6 RENAULT 43
7 RACING POINT BWT MERCEDES 40
8 ALFA ROMEO RACING FERRARI 32
9 HAAS FERRARI 26
10 WILLIAMS MERCEDES 1