Published: Tue, September 03, 2019
Sport | By Kayla Schwartz

Hamilton sees ‘more greatness to come’ in Leclerc

Hamilton sees ‘more greatness to come’ in Leclerc

If things do not improve quickly, the 32-year-old is in danger of becoming yesterday's man in a series packed with emerging talent.

"On one hand a childhood dream has been realised", Leclerc said.

Vettel's contract with Ferrari expires in 2020 and at this point it is not clear whether he or the team would seek to extend their partnership. On cold tyres and brakes, Vettel locked up at La Source and allowed Leclerc to scurry away at the restart on Lap 5, though the Ferrari's considerable grunt protected him from Hamilton on this occasion. "It's not easy for any driver to jump into a top team like Ferrari against a four-time world champion, with much more experience, and then to continuously out-perform, out-qualify and out-drive (him)".

Aside from taking Ferrari's first win of the year, Leclerc has three pole positions to Vettel's one and has qualified ahead of the German for the last six races.

If last season ultimately proved a failure, the present campaign has been much worse, with Vettel unable to offer any meaningful challenge to a dominant Mercedes outfit.

Leclerc won a tense Belgian Grand Prix by 0.9 seconds as Lewis Hamilton finished second, less than 24 hours after news of Hubert's death was confirmed by the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA). "We grew up together", said Leclerc as he reflected on their friendship. "But to finish only nine-tenths behind him, I'm pretty happy with that". I tried to stay on the inside into Turn 1 but I think Kimi expected to be fully ahead of me and just followed his line.

On Sunday (Monday NZT), he just held off Hamilton by just.981 seconds.

Hamilton rates Leclerc extremely highly.

"I was trying to keep up with him but he was very strong".

He dedicated it to French driver Anthoine Hubert, who died Saturday following a heavy crash during an F2 race held on the same track.

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There was a minute's silence before the Formula 3 and Formula 1 races on Sunday to pay tribute to Hubert.

Leclerk looked back to his karting days with Hubert in France. There was him, Esteban [Ocon], Pierre [Gasly] and myself.

"We raced for so many years and knew each other".

Moments after winning, the Monegasque pointed to the sky and then to Hubert's name on a sticker on the side of his vehicle.

Hamilton dragged Leclerc down the Kemmel Straight and closed onto his gearbox through the middle sector, but the Ferrari's powerful engine kept him at arm's length on the run to the final chicane, extinguishing the final passing opportunity and guaranteeing Charles his first F1 victory.

"On the one hand, it's the realization of a childhood dream, but it's been a hard weekend", said the Monegasque of his win.

A ninth win of the season and 82nd overall eluded Hamilton.

Teammate Valtteri Bottas was third, finishing ahead of Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel with Thai driver Alexander Albon fifth on his Red Bull debut having been promoted to the team from Toro Rosso.

His feelings echoed those of the paddock that has gasped in horror as America's Juan-Manuel Correa ploughed through the middle of Hubert's vehicle at 160mph on Saturday afternoon.

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