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LECLERC TAKES HIS MAIDEN VICTORY AT THE BELGIUM F1 GRAND PRIX


The spoils went to Charles Leclerc and Ferrari at this weekend's Formula 1 Belgium Grand Prix at Spa-Francorchamps, giving him his maiden victory and Ferrari's first of the season, albeit a small win after losing his friend, Anthoine Hubert, in an F2 race just 24-hours earlier.

Leclerc was on fire all weekend, taking two of the three practice sessions, then nailing all three qualifying runs to secure pole for the third time.

After the race, the 21-year-old from Monaco dedicated his win to his friend, Anthoine Hubert, who lost his life after a horrific crash during Saturday's Formula 2 race, that left Juan Manuel Correa in a stable condition after being treated at the CHU de Liège hospital.

Sunday's F1 race may have started under a dark cloud, with a moments silence from everyone for the young Hubert, but Leclerc was determined to honour his friend and led from pole position until the first round of pit stops where teammate, Sebastien Vettel took the lead.

Soon, Ferrari instructed Vettel to allow the faster Leclerc through, allowing the Monagalese to lead reasonably comfortably until the end when Lewis Hamilton chased him to the finish.

His cool head in the last minutes of the race clinched the victory and made him the third-youngest winner in F1 history and makes Monaco the 23rd nation to win an F1 race. It was Ferrari's first win since the United States Grand Prix last year where Kimi Raikkonen won and will surely give them a boost for the rest of the season.

Vettel, who was in second place at the end of the first lap, but pitted early after lighting up his tyres holding off a charging Hamilton. On his new medium compound Pirelli's, he managed to be two-seconds faster than anyone else on the track and managed to claim first place when Leclerc, Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas pitted.

It was not to last though, as he struggled with grip later in the race and allowed his teammate to pass and race to the chequered flag. He pitted once again after losing second place to Hamilton but the gap was too large for him to catch the Brit and Bottas who passed him during his stop, leaving him to settle with fourth overall.

Hamilton extended his championship lead with his second place, with Bottas taking third.

Looking to claim his best result of the season, McLaren’s Lando Norris saw his fifth-place finish disappear as he retired on the final lap with suspected engine failure. In his first drive with Red Bull, Alexander Albon, driving from 17th on the grid, claimed fifth after passing Sergio Perez via the grass on the final lap. Perez, who took sixth for Racing Point and equaling his best result so far, found himself under investigation for forcing Albon off the track.

Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kvyat seventh and Renault's Nico Hulkenberg crossed the line eighth after Antonio Giovinazzi, looking for his best result so far, crashed at Pouhon on the final lap, but managed to avoid injury.

An emotional Pierre Gasly, who was good friends with Hubert, took ninth in his first race back with Toro Rosso, while Racing Point's Lance Stroll managed to claim 10th place, meaning that both of the teams' cars took home points.

For the first time in over a year, Red Bull’s Max Verstappen failed to finish in the top five after colliding with Kimi Raikkonen at Turn 1 on the opening lap and then crashing out.

The 19th lap of the race saw fans on their feet to applaud the memory of Hubert, who sported the number 19 on his F2 car.

 

Check out the race highlights here.


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