Charles Leclerc takes victory in thrilling Spa opener

Charles Leclerc took his third victory of his rookie European Formula 3 Championship season after a thrilling battle for the lead at Spa-Francorchamps.

The Van Amersfoort Racing driver took advantage of a late tangle between his championship rivals Felix Rosenqvist and Antonio Giovinazzi to take the lead after the three drivers had fought a near-race-long battle for top spot.

Giovinazzi and pole sitter Rosenqvist both had turns in the lead, with Leclerc also getting involved in the battle, passing and being re-passed by Rosenqvist just after half-distance.

Leclerc eventually won the sixteen-lap race by 1.511s ahead of Rosenqvist after the Prema Powerteam driver was hit by Jagonya Ayam with Carlin’s Giovinazzi at the end of the Kemmel Straight with just a couple of laps to go, with the Italian championship leader retiring from the race due to a puncture.

Alexander Albon drove a strong race for Signature to take third place for his team’s first podium in European Formula 3 since they returned to the series, catching and passing Jake Dennis of Prema Powerteam for fourth and then inheriting third with Giovinazzi’s retirement.

Santino Ferrucci of Mücke Motorsport also passed Dennis to take fourth, with the British Racing Steps Foundation-backed driver being forced to settle for fifth at the chequered flag, just ahead of fellow Briton George Russell of Carlin.

Mikkel Jensen was seventh for Mücke Motorsport ahead of Pietro Fittipaldi of Fortec Motorsports, while Fabian Schiller took his first points of the season in ninth for Team West-Tec F3 ahead of Alessio Lorandi of Van Amersfoort Racing.

After the troubles of Monza three weeks ago with regards to driving standards, it was a much cleaner race in Belgium, with the only penalties seemingly falling to Lance Stroll of Prema Powerteam, who took an early drive-through penalty for making contact with a rival before taking a ten-second stop-go penalty for tagging Tatiana Calderon into spin.

Spa-Francorchamps Race 1 Result

17Charles LeclercMONVan Amersfoort Racing35m35.057s
21Felix RosenqvistSWEPrema Powerteam+1.511s
321Alexander AlbonTHASignature+2.651s
45Santino FerrucciUSAMucke Motorsport+3.938s
52Jake DennisGBRPrema Powerteam+6.460s
610George RussellGBRCarlin+7.388s
727Mikkel JensenDENMucke Motorsport+15.550s
812Pietro FittipaldiBRZFortec Motorsports+18.333s
911Fabian SchillerGERTeam West-Tec F3+20.096s
108Alessio LorandiITAVan Amersfoort Racing+22.600s
1126Ryan TveterUSAJagonya Ayam with Carlin+23.133s
1236Sam MacLeodGBRMotopark+23.667s
1328Maximilian GuntherGERMucke Motorsport+24.220s
1430Callum IlottGBRCarlin+30.581s
1524Brandon MaisanoFRAPrema Powerteam+30.735s
1623Sergio Sette CamaraBRZMotopark+33.597s
1729Arjun MainiINDVan Amersfoort Racing+34.095s
1820Dorian BoccolacciFRASignature+34.417s
1934Markus PommerGERMotopark+38.648s
2031Hongwei CaoCHNFortec Motorsports+43.779s
216Michele BerettaITAMucke Motorsport+44.009s
224Gustavo MenezesUSAJagonya Ayam with Carlin+45.230s
2314Matt RaoGBRFortec Motorsports+47.351s
2422Nabil JeffriMAYMotopark+49.410s
259Tatiana CalderonCOLCarlin+49.958s
2635Kang LingCHNMucke Motorsport+50.846s
2718Nicolas PohlerGERDouble R Racing+53.833s
2817Julio MorenoECUThreebond with T-Sport+54.500s
2933Mahaveer RaghunathanINDMotopark+1m21.234s
3038Raoul HymanRSATeam West-Tec F3+1m25.728s
3125Lance StrollCANPrema Powerteam+1m31.946s
RET3Antonio GiovinazziITAJagonya Ayam with CarlinRetired
RET19Matt SolomonHKGDouble R RacingRetired