Lap 35/44: Albon earns a roaring applause down in the paddock after breezing beyond a sluggish Daniel Ricciardo, whose had had a torrid time. Red Bull do have something to cheer, after all. Verstappen retired on lap one.
Lap 33/44: Vettel re-pits. He has no intentions of getting into a squabble with Valtteri Bottas but now he has a chance to apply the hammer late on. Leclerc continues to lead Hamilton.
Lap 32/44: Hamilton pulls ahead of Vettel! Hamilton zooms into second and the Ferrari was powerless to prevent the Mercedes flying past him. Game on: Leclerc v Hamilton, who trails the race leader by 6.3secs. The Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff clenches his fist; he looks a very happy man back in the paddock.
Lap 31/44: Mercedes ask Bottas to help out his team-mate Hamilton. “Keep your tyres in good nick” is the message down the team radio. Hamilton must fancy his chances of toppling Vettel, who is wobbling, slowing on the track. They go wheel-to-wheel into turn 19 but Vettel prospers out of La Source.
Lap 30/44: Hamilton says his “rears are on fire” but Mercedes reassure him that Vettel’s tyres are overheating just as much. Leclerc leads Vettel by 4.8secs, and maybe they will try and keep the German out on track as long as possible to help the race leader open up a bigger lead. Hamilton is 0.4secs behind Vettel.
Lap 29/44: Vettel is cagey about Ferrari calling him back in. Hamilton’s renewed pace could yet eat up both of the Ferraris. Hamilton’s on the hunt, slowly shaving Vettel’s advantage.
Lap 28/44: Plan B for Vettel? The Ferrari driver is told his tyres will not last until the end and he’ll have to come in for another set of tyres. That’s good news for Mercedes and Hamilton, who has picked up the pace, as has Bottas.
Lap 27/44: Vettel is briefed to let Leclerc past him. Ferrari remain in control, with a new-look one-two. Vettel benefits from the DRS and things are looking good.
Lap 25/44: Vettel leads Leclerc by 2.1secs. Hamilton trails the Frenchman by 6.7secs. Vettel’s pace has killed Mercedes’ optimism.
Lap 24/44: Hamilton does not seem too happy about the Mercedes strategy here. He clearly feels they were too slow to react to Ferrari blinking first. Bottas’s stop is quick, which is handy as he comes out in fourth behind his team-mate. Charles Leclerc has just set a new fastest lap. Vettel leads.
Lap 23/44: Hamilton’s pit-stop is not Mercedes’ finest – it was a little sluggish, with Ferrari yielding a second or so on his car, owing to a problem with the left-rear. Down the team radio, Bottas is told to give it everything he’s got, to put the hammer down … but then box. How will Mercedes look after this? The mediums are on.
Lap 22/44: Lewis Hamilton is the new race leader. Leclerc nips out of the pits – and it was a lightning stop – in fourth, behind Sebastian Vettel. The Ferraris are on fresh medium tyres, while Mercedes remain on the softs. And now Hamilton is told to box …
Lap 21/44: The top three are yet to pit as we approach the halfway stage. But, hang on a minute, Leclerc is told to box down the team radio. Ferrari get ready to receive. Things are about to hot up …
Lap 20/44: Down in 13th, Nico Hülkenberg skips in front of Kevin Magnussen. Kubica is the back marker, Leclerc the race leader.
Lap 19/44: A fitting standing ovation and a round of applause on lap 19, in tribute to Anthoine Hubert, whose Arden car was the No 19. On the track, Vettel continues to boss things, dictating the pace from fourth as he racks up another fastest lap. Lando Norris, meanwhile, pits. Leclerc leads Hamilton by 4.3secs.
Lap 18/44: Mercedes are seemingly playing the long game. Hamilton remains out on track, four seconds behind race leader Charles Leclerc. Vettel is ripping it up.
Lap 17/44: Hamilton soldiers on for another lap. Vettel, on the mediums, is building his pace and passes Norris. The Ferrari is flying round Spa. Romain Grosjean is the latest to pit.
Lap 16/44: And now Vettel pits – he’s in and out in no time, stopping for just 2.5 secs – and the Ferrari sprints out into fifth, behind Lando Norris. Vettel blinks first, then, while Sergio Pérez soon follows. Leclerc leads Hamilton.
Lap 15/44: Albon’s Red Bull dives down the inside of Kevin Magnussen and he jumps into 10th. Gasly’s pit-stop has triggered more drivers to come in and seek attention, with Lance Stroll the latest to pop in for some fresh tyres.
Lap 13/44: Leclerc is ramping things up, with the Ferrari racking up a 1.49.917, a new fastest lap. Between Leclerc and Vettel, who now trails the race leader by more than three seconds, they are taking it in turns to step on the gas. Meanwhile, Gasly pits.
Lap 12/44: Eighteen drivers remain at Spa, with Sainz Jr retiring as a result of power-related problems and Max Verstappen clashing with Räikkönen at La Source on an eventful first lap. “It was a poor start, I don’t really know why,” says Verstappen. “From then onwards, I just braked maybe a little later than the two cars ahead of me and Kimi probably didn’t expect me to be there.”
Lap 11/44: No investigation necessary is the verdict from the FIA regarding that Leclerc error. The Ferrari leads Vettel by 2.6secs, with Hamilton in third followed by his Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas. Then it’s Lando Norris in fifth.
Lap 10/44: Hamilton says “Vettel’s struggling”. He smells blood in Vettel, who is still a second in front of the Englishman. Still, that is music to the ears of the Mercedes team back at the paddock. Meanwhile, the FIA say they have taken note of a turn 5 incident involving Charles Leclerc, who went off wide a moment ago. The Ferrari is unlikely to be penalised because he gained no advantage.
Lap 9/44: Leclerc is beginning to stretch his legs. The Frenchman leads Sebastian Vettel by 2.2secs. Leclerc was guilty of locking up into a corner a moment ago and Hamilton is having a good go at closing the gap to Vettel out of La Source.
Lap 7/44: Leclerc leads Vettel, who has just set a new fastest lap of 1.49.459, by 1.9secs. Maybe Vettel is not as sluggish as Hamilton is making out. Down in seventh, Kevin Magnussen is doing a sterling job of batting away Pérez, with Gasly still close for company.
Lap 6/44: Magnussen, Sergio Pérez and Pierre Gasly are wrestling for seventh, with the former currently leading that pack. Down the radio, Lewis Hamilton seems pretty chirpy. “Vettel’s not that quick,” says the Mercedes driver. His team concur, admitting the Ferrari’s straight-line speeds are not too impressive.
Lap 5/44: Vettel locks up going into the La Source but gets away with it, although surely the Ferrari has ceded some ground on third-placed Lewis Hamilton. Leclerc is out in front by 1.8secs. Bottas trails Hamilton by around 4secs. A word on Lando Norris, who has climbed up to fifth from 11th after a lightning start.
Lap 4/44: The safety car is still plodding along out in front, followed by Charles Leclerc, Sebastian Vettel, Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas. Kimi Räikkönen has assumed the role of back marker following that early collision with Verstappen.
Lap 3/44: The safety car remains out on track, with Carlos Sainz Jr down and out having twice stalled. An unhappy 25th birthday for the Spaniard and McLaren. Verstappen’s race is also run, much to the disappointment of hundreds of orange-clad Dutch supporters who have popped over the border.
Lap 2/44: A nightmare start for Max Verstappen, whose race is over before it even began. Räikkönen plunges down the grid, popping into the pits but comes away unscathed. Meanwhile, Daniel Ricciardo has also pitted. There is not a lot of room for manoeuvre and Verstappen is an early victim of a helter-skelter start in Spa. Behind the safety car, Leclerc leads from Ferrari team-mate Sebastian Vettel. It has not been a dull few minutes.
Max Verstappen is out of the race and the safety car is deployed. Big audible groans from the home crowd in Spa, gutted at seeing their man bow out following a clash with Kimi Räikkönen. It was a messy start. Down at the front, Charles Leclerc leads Vettel, who is already under the cosh, with Lewis Hamilton breathing down his neck. Great start by Albon, but Sainz Jr stalls on the grid.
Three minutes until the off at Spa-Francorchamps! We are a formation lap or so away from the off at the Belgian GP.
Truly heartbreaking scenes at Spa; a very moving minute’s silence has been and gone, followed by a ripple of applause and the Belgian national anthem. “He was such a talented driver, it’s a shame for all of us,” says Lando Norris. “Everyone will tribute their race today to Anthoine, to his family and friends. It’s not a nice day.” Sergio Pérez, who starts from seventh, adds: “The last thing we wanted to do today was go out and race,” he says. “We are not in the best mood, the whole [racing] community but let’s go and do our best, because it’s what he deserves.”
A gentle reminder that Lewis Hamilton is way out in front in the drivers’ standings, ahead of Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas and the Red Bull of Max Verstappen. Ferrari remain winless this season but Charles Leclerc starts on pole and the young Monacan is alongside Sebastian Vettel on the front row of the grid. “I didn’t expect to have the year that I’ve had,” Hamilton says. “It’s been absolutely phenomenal and I’ve been enjoying it more than ever.”
The F1 family continue to pay tribute to Anthoine Hubert, with the liveries of all of the cars carrying special markers out of respect:
A poignant driver’s parade in Spa:
There will be a minute’s silence at Spa. It will be in remembrance of Anthoine Hubert, the 22-year-old who was tragically killed in a F2 crash on Saturday. It will take place before the Belgian national anthem that precedes the GP is played out. The FIA is providing support to the event organisers and the relevant authorities, and has commenced an investigation into the incident.
1 Leclerc 2 Vettel
3 Hamilton 4 Bottas
5 Verstappen 6 Räikkönen
7 Pérez 8 Magnussen
9 Grosjean 10 Ricciardo
11 Norris 12 Hülkenberg
13 Giovinazzi 14 Gasly
15 Russell 16 Sainz Jr
17 Stroll 18 Albon
19 Kvyat 20 Kubica
First thing’s first: all thoughts with the family and friends of Anthoine Hubert, who was killed in a crash at Spa-Francorchamps on Saturday. The Formula 2 driver died in Liege hospital, where he was taken following a collision at around 170mph with Juan-Manuel Correa, who remains in intensive care following surgery.
The mood around Spa will inevitably be sombre as F1 takes centre stage, with Charles Leclerc on pole after beating his Ferrari team-mate Sebastian Vettel in qualifying. Lewis Hamilton begins from third, with Max Verstappen in fourth. But the events that followed qualifying have understandably overshadowed the Belgian Grand Prix weekend. Fernando Alonso said: “I have no words. It hurts the heart. Rest in peace, champ.” In a message posted on Instagram, Hamilton said: “This is devastating. God rest your soul Anthoine. My prayers and thoughts are with you and your family today. If a single one of you watching and enjoying this sport think for a second what we do is safe your hugely mistaken. All these drivers put their life on the line when they hit the track and people need to appreciate that in a serious way because it is not appreciated enough. Not from the fans nor some of the people actually working in the sport. Anthoine is a hero as far as I’m concerned, for taking the risk he did to chase his dreams. I’m so sad that this has happened. Let’s left him up and remember him. Rest in peace.”
Lights out: 2.10pm (BST)