Scuderia Ferrari's Charles Leclerc bagged his first-ever Formula 1 win in the Belgian Grand Prix, after a dramatic start to the race. The Ferrari rookie managed to convert his third pole start of the season into a victory amidst a competitive grid, beating Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton for the top spot. The victory also marks the team's first this season after a couple of close calls and podiums finishes in the first half of the year. Leclerc dedicated the win to his friend and Formula 2 racer, Anthoine Hubert, who passed after a tragic accident during the feature race at the Spa-Francorchamps on Saturday. Completing the podium were Mercedes duo Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas, while Ferrari's Vettel finished at P4.
The 2019 Belgian Grand Prix was dramatic right from the opening lap with Red Bull Racing's Max Verstappen crashing into Alfa Romeo driver Kimi Raikkonen. The contact damaged Verstappen's Red Bull's front left section, which forced him into the barrier at Eau Ruge. The incident brought out the yellow flags as Leclerc charged into the lead followed by Vettel. Verstappen's race ended immediately, while Raikkonen headed to the pits.
The race was set to resume by Lap 4 with the safety car set to return to the pitlane but McLaren's Carlos Sainz complained about loss of power on Lap 3, which ended the race for the driver. The safety car had to stay out for an additional lap till Sainz's car was recovered. The race finally resumed on Lap 5 and allowed Leclerc to immediately pull away after the second-running Vettel locked up at La Source. The young Ferrari driver though did lock up at Les Combes, almost giving up his lead. However, he managed to retain his position, and also escape investigation from the stewards since drivers had to obey specific instructions in case they ran wide on that corner.
Meanwhile, Hamilton was charging on Vettel for P2 and it wasn't until the German's first pitstop at Lap 15 that he had a chance to pass the driver. Leclerc, Hamilton and Bottas decided to stay out for longer. Leclerc finally pitted on Lap 21, and emerged with a 5-second gap behind his teammate. However, the fresh rubber allowed him to keep pace, which disappeared in the following laps. Leclerc was within DRS range with 18 laps to go, and team orders instructed Vettel to allow the driver to pass and take the lead.
With Leclerc back on top, Vettel was now in reach of the Mercedes cars that made it difficult for him to retain the second place with his medium tyres degrading fast. With little over 10 laps to go, Vettel decided to pit again for a fresh set of rubber, only to join a lonely fourth behidn the two W10s.
Leclerc, however, had a built a comfortable lead over Hamilton by 7.1s but the reigning world champion was closing in fast on the young racer. With five laps left at Spa, the gap between the racers was down to 4.7s, which reduced further to 3.9s as Leclerc approached traffic ahead. Hamilton had a good chance to pass the Ferrari and further cut down the gap to 1.6s on the penultimate lap. Leclerc managed to defend his position and crossed the chequered flag 0.9s clear of Hamilton to take the first of his career.
Coming in 12.585s clear of Leclerc was Bottas in third place, while Vettel finished a distant fourth with a gap of 26.422s. The surprise finish was Alex Albon however, in his first stint with Red Bull Racing, replacing Pierre Gasly, who was demoted to Torro Rosso. McLaren's Lando Norris suffered a loss in power on in the closing stages, handing P5 to Albon, in what is the best-ever result in his career. Racing Point's Sergio Perez finished sixth, followed by Torro Rosso driver Daniil Kvyat. Renault's Nico Hulkenberg finish at P8 ahead of Gasly, while Lance Stroll of Racing Point picked up the final point.
Norris managed to finished 11th after dropping the down the order, ahead of Haas drivers Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean. Renault's Daniel Ricciardo finished at P14 after struggling with his tyres while in the top 10 position. The final finishers were George Russell and Robert Kubica of Williams with Raikkonen in the middle. Apart from Verstappen Sainz, Antonio Giovinazzi of Alfa Romeo was the other DNF in the race crashing into the wall in the final stages.
The victory brings crucial points for Ferrari and a day to remember for Leclerc. The second place finish extends Hamilton's lead in the championship to 65 points over teammate Bottas.