Ferrari driver wins at Spa a day after death of childhood friend
‘We grew up together in karting, it is very difficult’
Charles Leclerc described his maiden Formula One victory as the realisation of a childhood dream but one that he would find difficult to enjoy after the death of his friend Anthoine Hubert. Having won with an admirable drive at the Belgian Grand Prix, Leclerc also acknowledged that racing would always include an element of danger that could not be removed.
Leclerc beat Lewis Hamilton to victory at Spa-Francorchamps but the 21-year-old spoke of how difficult it had been after Hubert died in the wake of a crash in an F2 race on Saturday.
Charles Leclerc wins F1 Belgian GP, Hamilton takes second – as it happened
“We have lost a friend first of all and it’s very difficult in these situations, so I would like to dedicate this win to him,” he said. “I can’t fully enjoy my first victory but it is a memory that will live with me forever.”
The pair had raced together since they were seven years old and remained good friends, sharing their ambition of making it to F1. “Since I was a child I’ve been looking up to Formula One,” Leclerc said. “Dreaming to be a Formula One driver.
“It’s a good day but on the other hand losing Anthoine brings me back to 2005, my first ever French championship. There was him, Esteban [Ocon], Pierre [Gasly] and myself. We were four kids that were dreaming of Formula One. We grew up in karting for many many years and to lose him yesterday was a big shock for me and obviously for everyone in motor sport it was a very sad day.”
Hubert’s accident at the top of Eau Rouge took place at approaching 150mph and was extremely violent, involving an impact into the barriers and then a second blow from another car.
Leclerc said: “It will always remain a dangerous sport. Once you are going at this speed, it is dangerous. Here Eau Rouge is quite dangerous because the wall is quite close. There will always be some corners which are challenging and more dangerous than others.”
Hamilton, who chased Leclerc to the flag, also acknowledged what a strong job the 21-year-old had done all season against his Ferrari teammate, Sebastian Vettel. “His results speak for him,” he said. “It is not easy for any driver to jump into a top team like Ferrari against a four-times world champion with God knows how much experience and then to continuously, race on race, outperform, out-qualify and out-drive him.”