Ferrari's Charles Leclerc wins maiden GP, dedicates it to crash-victim Hubert

Updated: Sep 02, 2019, 12:33 IST | Abhishek Takle |

Charles Leclerc's win brought the curtain down on a dark weekend for the sport, with after French racer Hubert losing his life after sustaining injuries in a high-speed crash

Ferrari's Charles Leclerc celebrates winning the Belgian GP at Spa yesterday. Pic/Getty Images
Ferrari's Charles Leclerc celebrates winning the Belgian GP at Spa yesterday. Pic/Getty Images

Charles Leclerc raced to his first Formula One win in the Belgian Grand Prix yesterday but any celebrations were muted after the death on Saturday of French Formula Two racer Anthoine Hubert.

Leclerc, who had started from pole, crossed the line just 0.9 seconds ahead of a hard charging Lewis Hamilton.

His Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas was third.

Leclerc's win brought the curtain down on a dark weekend for the sport, with after French racer Hubert losing his life after sustaining injuries in a high-speed crash during a Formula Two race on Saturday at the same Spa-Francorchamps circuit that F1 races on.

As a result, despite finally clinching his maiden win after engine trouble had denied him at the second race of the season in Bahrain, Leclerc was left with mixed feelings.

"One hand I've got a dream since being a child that has been realised, on the other hand it has been a very difficult weekend since yesterday," said Leclerc, who dedicated his win to Hubert, after the race.

"We grew up together, my first ever race I did it with Anthoine, Esteban (Ocon), Pierre (Gasly).

"I can't fully enjoy my first victory, but it will definitely be a memory I will keep forever," added Leclerc." Formula One held a minute of silence in memory of Hubert on the grid ahead of yesterday's race.

Leclerc kept the lead off the line when the lights went out.

His team-mate Vettel, who had started alongside him in second, went wheel to wheel with a fast-starting Hamilton who was third on the grid.

The Mercedes briefly got ahead but Vettel used the superior speed of his Ferrari to rocket back past.

Leclerc was in control at the front.

An early pitstop for Vettel allowed the German to jump into the lead. But any benefit was soon lost with the four-time champion beginning to struggle for grip.

Ferrari ordered him to let Leclerc back past on the 27th lap.

Five laps later Hamilton retook second from him with Vettel eventually finishing fourth after pitting for a second time.

Charles Leclerc
Charles Leclerc sympathises with the mother of late French driver Anthoine Hubert yesterday

Hamilton may have finished second. But with Bottas third, it was enough to allow the Briton to extend his overall championship lead over this team-mate to 65 points.

"A really difficult race today," said the five-time champion.

"The Ferraris were just too fast on the straights and very hard to keep up to keep up with them.

"Nonetheless, congratulations to Charles, his first win.

"He's had it coming all year so I'm really happy for him." 
Alexander Albon was an impressive fifth on his Red Bull debut.

The Thai rookie, promoted from Toro Rosso to the former champions in a swap with Frenchman Pierre Gasly, had started 17th due to an engine-related grid penalty.

He was the only Red Bull to make it to the finish, with Max Verstappen crashing on the opening lap in an incident that brought out the safety car.

Sergio Perez was sixth for the Racing Point team ahead of Toro Rosso's Daniil Kvyat.

Nico Hulkenberg was eight for Renault while Gasly scored points on his return to Toro Rosso in ninth.

Lance Stroll in the other Racing Point rounded out the top ten.

Also Read: Para athlete Sundar Gurjar picks Paris Grand Prix over Arjuna ceremony

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