Leclerc de Ferrari wins the Belgian GP for victory in the first race
SPA-FRANCORCHAMPS (Belgium): Charles Leclerc just held on Lewis Hamilton to win the Belgian Grand Prix from pole position on Sunday, ensuring the first victory of his Formula One career and final Ferrari It is a long wait for a victory.
Hamilton was a second from Leclerc in the last lap, but the 21-year-old from Monaco remained nervous.
I was catching very fast, so I had a lot of pressure, Leclerc said after his victory.
He dedicated it to French rider Anthoine Hubert, who died Saturday after a major accident during an F2 race on the same track. The drivers paid their respects on Sunday.
Moments after winning, Leclerc pointed to the sky and then to the name of Hubert written on the side of his car.
Hamilton extended his championship lead because his Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas was third, finishing ahead of Ferrari 's Sebastian Vettel.
Ferrari had not won since former driver Kimi Raikkonen's victory at the United States GP last October.
Vettel has 21 races without a victory since the Belgian GP last season, as his miserable form continued.
Leclerc escaped cleanly, but Vettel was overtaken by Hamilton on the first turn before moving on to Hamilton again.
Max Verstappen, winner of two of the last four races and a narrow second behind Hamilton in the Hungarian GP, came out on lap 1.
Tens of thousands of orange-clad Dutch fans watched with disappointment as Verstappen slipped inside the barriers, got out of his car and walked back to the garage.
The left front wheel of his Red Bull was damaged after contact with Raikkonen's Alfa Romeo, who started a place behind him on the grid in sixth place. Verstappen finished in the top five of all other races this season and was his first retirement since the Hungarian GP in July last year.
Raikkonen was lucky to continue, as the left side of his car rose from the ground. But the Renault driver, Carlos Sainz Jr., had to leave after an early collision.
The incidents caused the safety car to come out for four laps, and when the race re-started Vettel maintained his lead but with Hamilton starting to close on Vettel's Ferrari.
Vettel is fighting, Hamilton said on the team's radio on lap 10.
Six laps later, Ferrari brought Vettel in for a tire change, pushing Hamilton up to second place.
Leclerc entered for his tire change exactly in the middle of the 44-lap race, putting Hamilton in front. But Mercedes called Hamilton on the next lap and made a slow 3.6-second stop, which could have finally cost him the victory.
Bottas came in one lap later as Ferrari regained the race lead with Vettel ahead of Leclerc.
Vettel obeyed the team's orders to let Leclerc pass him on lap 27, and then endured Hamilton twice before Hamilton passed him on lap 32 to take second place.
Hamilton was still seven seconds behind Leclerc, but he ate that advantage so much that Leclerc only had a 2-second lead with two laps remaining and lap markers ahead.
I gave him absolutely everything, said Hamilton. It was a difficult race. I was as close as I could, but maybe I needed another couple of laps.
On the last lap, Antonio Giovinazzi of Alfa Romeo crashed but Leclerc kept his focus.
He had that victory to come, Hamilton said of Leclerc, who had taken his third pole position of the season, with his teammate Vettel starting from second place on the grid ahead of Hamilton and Bottas.
Ferrari topped all three practice sessions and all three sections of qualifying, with Leclerc beating Vettel in five of them in sunny and warm conditions.
But as is often the case in Spa, which is located in the Ardennes forest, the weather can change rapidly and temperatures cool significantly, gray clouds roll over and raindrops fall before the race.
Two hours later, the sun came out and the 7-kilometer (4.3-mile) track, the longest in F1, was dry again.