F1 – Charles Leclerc to take the lead at the GP of Belgium, Lance Stroll 18th


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            <p>SPA-FRANCORCHAMPS, Belgium - Charles Leclerc took his third career lead on Saturday, ahead of team-mate Sebastian Vettel in what has been a dominating weekend for Ferrari drivers at the Belgian Grand Prix.

Leclerc broke his own best time to overtake Vettel by 748 thousandths of a second, and Lewis Hamilton by 763 thousandths of a second. Valtteri Bottas was fourth, 0.896 seconds behind Leclerc.

Even though he is only in his second Formula 1 season, his first at Ferrari, Leclerc has a 3-1 advantage over Vettel, a four-time F1 world champion, in the top positions this season.

Hamilton, who holds the record in F1 with 87 top positions, praised the 21-year-old Monegasque driver.

"Charles did an outstanding job," said Hamilton. I hope we can fight with them (Sunday). "

After damaging his Mercedes car in the final practice session, Hamilton was almost the victim of another accident during qualifying when he narrowly avoided contact with Bottas, his teammate.

Ferrari took the top two positions in each of the three practice sessions and in all three qualifying segments. The Scuderia hopes to finally win a first race this season. The team's last triumph dates back to last fall, when Kimi Raikkonen won the US Grand Prix.

The last victory of Vettel goes back to the Belgian Grand Prix last year.

For its part, Quebec driver Lance Stroll has reached the Q2 for a second time this season. He finished 13th in qualifying, his best campaign performance. However, Stroll will have to move back to 18th position on the grid due to a penalty as the mechanics had to work on his engine on Friday.

His teammate at Racing Point, Sergio Perez, reached Q3 and took the ninth place.

In the morning, Hamilton apologized to members of the Mercedes team for a rare mistake that sent him into the wall during the final practice session.

The leader in the drivers standings lost control of his race car at the exit of the chicane of turns 13 and 14. He damaged the nose of his car by hitting a barrier of tires.

"It was a very bad session for me, especially when you think of all the work the team has to do to build the car," said Hamilton, "I wanted to redeem myself with a good qualifying session."

Hamilton then calmed the game about his mistake, saying "you dig a little too much analysis. I am simply human.

The mechanics repaired the front corners of the car, the suspension and assembly of the wheels, the nose and the floor. They were still at work when the qualifications started. They got a little more time than expected as the Q1 was interrupted when the back of Robert Kubica's car caught fire due to a problem with the engine.

"There is so much pressure on these guys," Hamilton said of his mechanics. They like the challenges and they did an exceptional job. "

The red flag came out a few seconds from the end of Q1 as Antonio Giovinazzi also saw his engine abandon him.

Starting grid

1st line:

Charles Leclerc (MON / Ferrari)

Sebastian Vettel (GER / Ferrari)

2nd line:

Lewis Hamilton (GBR / Mercedes)

Valtteri Bottas (FIN / Mercedes)

3rd line:

Max Verstappen (NED / Red Bull-Honda)

Kimi Raikkonen (FIN / Alfa Romeo Racing-Ferrari)

4th line:

Sergio Perez (MEX / Racing Point-Mercedes)

Kevin Magnussen (DEN / Haas-Ferrari)

5th line:

Romain Grosjean (FRA / Haas-Ferrari)

Lando Norris (GBR / McLaren-Renault)

6th line:

Daniel Ricciardo (AUS / Renault)

Nico Hülkenberg (GER / Renault)

7th line:

Antonio Giovinazzi (ITA / Alfa Romeo Racing-Ferrari)

Pierre Gasly (FRA / Toro Rosso-Honda)

8th line:

George Russell (GBR / Williams-Mercedes)

Robert Kubica (POL / Williams-Mercedes)

9th line:

Carlos Sainz Jr (ESP / McLaren-Renault)

Lance Stroll (CAN / Racing Point-Mercedes)

10th line:

Alexander Albon (THA / Red Bull-Honda)

Daniil Kvyat (RUS / Toro Rosso-Honda)

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