- Whatever Leclerc took during the summer break of the season seems to have worked as his blistering pace during the weekend was unmatched even by the most established drivers
- As Leclerc began to stretch the lead, Mercedes, like sharks, could ‘smell blood’ from the Ferrari and pounced
- This led to the odd outcome in which Vettel was told to let Leclerc through, while the Monegasque was told that his teammate would let him pass
It was not a matter of if Ferrari’s driver Charles Leclerc would win a Formula One race, but when, and on Sunday at the Belgian Grand Prix, the Monegasque did what had long been anticipated in scintillating fashion.
He led from the start and was in charge of the lead for the better part of it except for a few laps in which his teammate, Sebastian Vettel, stayed in front through what was ultimately an erroneous strategy that cost him a podium position.
Whatever Leclerc took during the summer break of the season seems to have worked as his blistering pace during the weekend was unmatched even by the most established drivers. Such was his dominance that between him and the next car behind after qualifying, that of his teammate, Vettel, was a gap of more than 0.7 seconds.
In qualifying, and especially if you are the ‘junior’ partner in the team with your teammate being a four-time world champion, that kind of a gap is unheard of. Vettel, for his part, was able to ensure a Ferrari front-row lockout by beating Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton by just 0.015 of a second. If there are tracks where Ferrari were expected to take charge this season, Spa is definitely one of them.
At the start, Leclerc got off brilliantly to get into Turn One without a challenge. It’s his teammate, Vettel, who came under pressure from Hamilton. The Mercedes driver boldly went for the inside and passed Vettel who made use of the run-off area in the process. The German, however, was in no mood to give away a position that easily and at the Kemmel Straight, he overtook the five-time world champion.
Red Bull driver Max Verstappen’s slow start from fifth was made worse when he made contact with Kimi Raikkonen’s Alfa Romeo in Turn One. The damage he sustained saw him crash into the barriers at Eau Rouge, ending his 21-race consecutive run of top five finishes. This brought out the Safety Car and once it went out, Vettel locked his tyres but Hamilton was unable to capitalise on this.
Instead, it was Hamilton who came under pressure from his teammate, Valtteri Bottas, on the Kemmel Straight but the Brit was able to defend.