Belgian F1 Grand Prix 2019 Results: Charles Leclerc Grabs Maiden Win

Gianni Verschueren@ReverschPassFeatured ColumnistSeptember 1, 2019

Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain, left, and Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel of Germany, right, steer their cars into the first corner during the Belgian Formula One Grand Prix in Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, Sunday, Sept. 1, 2019. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)
Francisco Seco/Associated Press

Ferrari's Charles Leclerc won his first ever Formula 1 race on Sunday, leading the bulk of the 2019 Belgian Grand Prix.

The 21-year-old started from pole position and only briefly fell out of the top spot during the pit window. Lewis Hamilton made up plenty of ground late on, but key work from fourth-placed Sebastian Vettel meant the defending world champion fell just short in his comeback attempt.

Valtteri Bottas took third place, and Alex Albon finished in sixth in his first race for Red Bull. Max Verstappen crashed out during the opening lap.

Here are the race results:

Formula 1 @F1

🏁 CLASSIFICATION 🏁 Confirmation of Charles Leclerc's first career F1 win as he claims victory at Spa #F1 #BelgianGP 🇧🇪 https://t.co/HV5LM4SG3F

Before the start of the race, several tributes were held in honour of Anthoine Hubert, who died after sustaining injuries in a crash during a Formula 2 race on Saturday. One of these tributes included a minute of silence:

Formula 1 @F1

Thank you to all fans at Spa and around the world who joined us in a minute of silence to honour Anthoine Hubert #F1 #BelgianGP 🇧🇪 https://t.co/lf3c87KmQ7

Leclerc would later dedicate his win to Hubert:

Formula 1 @F1

LEC: "On the one a hand a dream I've had since I was a child has been realised, but on the other it has been a very difficult weekend. I grew up with Anthoine and I want to dedicate my win to him" #F1 #BelgianGP 🇧🇪 https://t.co/NWBM5rtDWY

Once the race got underway, Leclerc held on to his pole position, while Hamilton initially passed Vettel into second place but couldn't hold the position.

Further back, Verstappen made contact with Kimi Raikkonen and damaged his steering, resulting in a crash near the famous Eau Rouge corner. To the dismay of the many Dutch fans who had traveled to Belgium, the Red Bull man's race came to an abrupt end:

Formula 1 @F1

LAP 1/44 - SAFETY CAR Several collisions through Turn 1 Max Verstappen ends up in the barriers and his race is over on the opening lap The Dutchman is out of the car and is fine #F1 #BelgianGP 🇧🇪 https://t.co/7jdB7zlOQh

The incident also resulted in damage for Daniel Ricciardo, who had to pit, while Lando Norris took full advantage to take fifth place. Team-mate Carlos Sainz had a problem with his engine, keeping the safety car out even longer.

Leclerc made the best start once the safety car came in, while Vettel had a lock-up that put Hamilton on his tail. The Mercedes man had to keep an eye on team-mate Bottas, however, and couldn't put full pressure on the German as a result.

Things didn't change at the front until Vettel pitted first, trying to cover the undercut. He quickly passed Norris once he came back out on the medium tyres, putting him in a position to stay in front of the Silver Arrows when they pitted.

Vettel also posted the fastest lap of the race on his new rubber, fully vindicating the decision to pit early:

Raja Sen @RajaSen

Steaming hot lap from Vettel on new tyres! All the lads must be itching to stop now. #Spa #BelgianGP #F1 https://t.co/LUIXqVFfRB

His pace was so good, he passed Leclerc when he pitted, even though the Monegasque had a fine stop. Hamilton wasn't so lucky, spending more than 3.5 seconds stationary and coming back on track in fourth place.

While Vettel had the lead, Leclerc was much faster on fresher rubber, quickly gaining on his team-mate. The German let Leclerc pass when he caught up to him, maintaining the Ferrari one-two without losing time to the surging Hamilton.

The world champion was flying on the medium compound, but got caught behind Vettel, who did a good job blocking for Leclerc. He eventually got the pass, but found himself over six seconds behind the leader, with time running out.

Vettel made a second stop, dropping him to fourth, and he opened the hunt for Bottas on his fresh tyres. 

While the German fell well short, the battle at the front got exciting late. Leclerc's tyres failed him in the final laps, and Hamilton closed the distance to under two seconds during a hectic finale. Leclerc did just enough to survive and claim his first win, however.

The next race will be on Sunday, September 8, at the iconic Monza circuit in Italy.