Charles Leclerc took his third European Formula 3 win of the season in an exhilarating opening race at Spa, taking advantage of contact between Felix Rosenqvist and Antonio Giovinazzi.
It was the Italian who led at the start after a lightning getaway from third on the grid allowed him to overhaul Rosenqvist and Jake Dennis on the run down to La Source.
But Giovinazzi’s lead proved short-lived, as Rosenqvist was able to slipstream his way back into the top spot along the Kemmel straight on the second lap.
Two laps later, Leclerc had passed Dennis for third position, the lead battle soon becoming a three-way affair between the Monegasque rookie, Rosenqvist and Giovinazzi, who found his way back into the lead with a breathtaking outside pass on the Swede at Les Combes just short of half-distance.
With three laps to go, the top three were split by just a second, Rosenqvist going on the attack once more at Les Combes. But as the Prema driver looked to the outside for an opening, he was edged out wide by Giovinazzi, light contact being made between the pair.
As Rosenqvist was forced down the escape road, rejoining behind Leclerc, Giovinazzi ground to a halt shortly after having sustained a left-rear puncture.
That left Leclerc with a clear road ahead to secure his third win of the season, and take the lead of the championship away from a dejected Giovinazzi in the process, with Rosenqvist moving within four points of the Carlin driver in the battle for second.
Giovinazzi’s demise meant the final spot on the podium was filled by Alex Albon, who from seventh on the grid quickly moved up to fifth with clean passes on Pietro Fittipaldi and Brandon Maisano before catching and overtaking Dennis in the closing stages.
The Brit also found himself demoted by Santino Ferrucci shortly after, the American equalling his best result of the year in fourth, with Dennis holding on for fifth ahead of compatriot George Russell, race two polesitter Mikkel Jensen and Fittipaldi.
Fabian Schiller and Alessio Lorandi, who made up two places on the final lap, completed the top 10, with Maisano, despite running as high as fifth early on, struggling for pace and slipping down to 15th by the chequered flag.
It was also a race to forget for Lance Stroll, who was brought in for a drive-through penalty after forcing another driver off the road on the opening lap and was then made to serve a 10-second stop-and-go for tagging Tatiana Calderon into a spin at Rivage.
|1||Charles Leclerc||Van Amersfoort Racing||35'35.057|
|2||Felix Rosenqvist||Prema Powerteam||1.511|
|4||Santino Ferrucci||Mucke Motorsport||3.938|
|5||Jake Dennis||Prema Powerteam||6.460|
|7||Mikkel Jensen||Mucke Motorsport||15.550|
|10||Alessio Lorandi||Van Amersfoort Racing||22.600|
|13||Maximilian Gunther||Mucke Motorsport||24.220|
|15||Brandon Maisano||Prema Powerteam||30.735|
|16||Sergio Sette Camara||Motopark||33.597|
|17||Arjun Maini||Van Amersfoort Racing||34.095|
|21||Michele Beretta||Mucke Motorsport||44.009|
|26||Kang Ling||Mucke Motorsport||50.846|
|27||Nicolas Pohler||Double R Racing||53.833|
|31||Lance Stroll||Prema Powerteam||1'31.946|
|Ret||Matthew Solomon||Double R Racing||-|