Jake Dennis worked his way from 13th to second but title contender Alexander Albon could only achieve ninth place.
Perhaps the drivers were a bit race rusty from the summer break as there was a messy incident on the exit of La Source on the opening lap which turned out to shape the race for most of the drivers in the grid.
Jake Hughes made a slow start from the front row front and came together with Arjun Maini and Matt Parry as they tried to go around him.
The rest of the pack took evasive action in avoidance, with Jake Dennis one of those who gained most out of the carnage as he chose the correct side of the track and instantly went from 13th to fourth behind the ART cars of Leclerc and Nyck de Vries and Trident’s Antonio Fuoco.
A long safety car period then ensued in order to clear the damaged cars from the hill down to Eau Rouge.
After the safety car period Leclerc was able to ease away from de Vries after some early pressure.
Some of the teams had been concerned about high tyre wear in the hot temperatures and de Vries’ pace certainly showed signs of this in the closing stages.
But Dennis seemed to have judged his tyre life to perfection, as he still had performance to spare in the final laps and was able to catch and overtake Fuoco then de Vries before cutting Leclerc’s lead from five to just over 2 seconds at the chequered flag. Maybe another couple of laps could have seen him on the top step.
De Vries remained in third from Fuoco, who came under pressure towards the end from Dennis’s Arden team-mate Jack Aitken.
Aitken had not done so well in the first-corner incident and had to battle through a busy midfield to reach the top five.
Steijn Schothorst and Santino Ferrucci put up the best of his battles on the way through as they finished sixth and seventh respectively.
Albon struggled to get off the line and ended up 15th after the 1st lap crash. He mirrored Aitken’s progress through the field but could not keep up the same pace late on and had to settle for a few points in ninth behind Matevos Isaakyan.
Giuliano Alesi rounded out the top ten to score his first ever GP3 points as he jumped from 19th to eighth on the opening lap and just losing 2 spots throughout.
Written by Mark Beastall (@markbeastall)
Photo credit: Motorsport.com