Subdued Leclerc beats Lewis for bittersweet maiden F1 win

SPA-FRANCORCHAMPS, Belgium -- Charles Leclerc claimed an emotional first Formula One victory at the Belgium Grand Prix just a day after the death of his friend Anthoine Hubert.

Leclerc drove a flawless race and held off a late charge from championship leader Lewis Hamilton, crossing the line 0.9 seconds ahead for the victory. The Monaco native celebrated the victory but was subdued, following the death of Hubert during Saturday's Formula 2 race.

Leclerc dedicated the win to Hubert after crossing the line.

"First win ... this one is for Antoine," Leclerc said on the radio as he pulled into the pit lane. "Feels good, but ... difficult to enjoy a weekend like this. Thanks for everything, guys. You're the best."

Leclerc looked emotional on the grid before the race, where a minute's silence and tribute to Hubert took place before the drivers climbed into their cars. Leclerc explained that he competed against Hubert in his first race in karts.

The victory means Leclerc has finally claimed the win that eluded him at other points this year. An engine failure robbed him at the Bahrain Grand Prix, and a crash in qualifying for the Azerbaijan Grand Prix saw a golden opportunity slip through his fingers. In June, he was barged out of the lead of the Austrian Grand Prix by Max Verstappen on the final lap.

As Hamilton said afterward, "it's been a long time coming".

Charles Coates/Getty Images

Valtteri Bottas finished third in the other Mercedes, which means he is 65 points behind teammate Hamilton with eight races to run.

Sebastian Vettel finished fourth and was left to rue a strategy call that saw him called into the pits earlier than anticipated. He was one of the only runners to pit twice, though there was some consolation that he was able to use the tyre advantage to claim the extra point awarded to fastest lap.

Lando Norris looked on course for a brilliant, fifth-place finish, but he lost power at the beginning of the final lap. Alexander Albon, who started the race from 18th on the grid, inherited the position on his debut race for Red Bull after seizing an opportunity to pass Sergio Perez on the grass that runs alongside the Kemmel Straight on the final lap. Albon's race included a super overtake on Renault's Daniel Ricciardo in a performance that likely encouraged Red Bull bosses that they made the right decision in promoting him in August.

Albon's former team, Toro Rosso, managed to finish with both drivers in the points. Daniil Kvyat was seventh ahead of Renault's Nico Hulkenberg, with Pierre Gasly finishing ninth in the first race since he was demoted to Albon's old seat over the summer break. 

Red Bull's premier driver, Max Verstappen, suffered the first blip in what has otherwise been an exemplary 2019. The Dutchman collided with Alfa Romeo's Kimi Raikkonen on the inside of Turn 1 and then appeared to have a damaged steering rod as he came through Eau Rouge, so he ended up in the wall.

Antonio Giovinazzi had been running ninth on the penultimate lap when he crashed into the wall at Pouhon, spoiling what would have been the best result of his difficult 2019 season.

Lance Stroll claimed the final point on offer for Racing Point. Norris finished the race classified in 11th ahead of Haas drivers Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean, who each endured a stint of being the slowest man on the track when their respective cars were fitted with the medium tyre. In both instances, the black and gold car was unable to fend off any other car as soon as it had the DRS opened down the Kemmel Straight.