Charles Leclerc Pulls Out First Formula One Grand Prix Victory

Photo: AP Photo/Francisco Seco

Benefitting from a first-place start, Verstappen’s early retirement, his teammate holding up Hamilton and a top speed advantage, Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc secured his first Formula One victory at the Belgian Grand Prix. After months of strategy problems and team dynamics getting in his way, Leclerc finally took pole.

His teammate, Sebastian Vettel, started in second place. An early tire change left Seb vulnerable late in the race, which allowed Hamilton to make the pass. Even still, Vettel was able to hold back Hamilton’s pace to give Leclerc some breathing room.

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After Hamilton passed, Vettel went in to swap his shot tires. He ended up in fourth, behind Valtteri Bottas. Hamilton was able to chip away at Leclerc’s lead, shortening the gap from around sevens seconds to less than one second. But Leclerc successfully fended him off, protecting his lead.

This is the second year in a row that Ferrari has secured a victory at Spa-Francorchamps, a track that emphasizes the top speed advantage Ferrari has over Mercedes.

And while Red Bull’s star driver Max Verstappen crashed out early, the team’s new driver Alex Albon had a heroic performance. On his debut race for Red Bull, Albon fought hard from 17th place to end up in fifth. It’s a promising start to his career with the team.

Alfa Romeo driver Antonio Giovinazzi crashed out on the last lap, while mechanical problems pushed Lando Norris into early retirement out of fifth place. McLaren driver Carlos Sainz also bowed out, retiring early in the race after a mechanical failure. With Verstappen’s crash, that makes four drivers that didn’t finish this year’s Belgian Grand Prix.

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Leclerc dedicated his win to Formula 2 Driver Anthoine Hubert, who was killed yesterday as a result of a crash during the F2 race. The two drivers had crossed paths multiple times throughout their careers.

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Mack Hogan

Mack Hogan is Jalopnik's Weekend Editor, but you may know him from his role as CNBC's car critic or his brave (and maligned) takes on Twitter. Most people agree that you shouldn't listen to him.