Tuesday 17 September 2019

Leclerc dedicates first F1 win to tragic friend Hubert

Formula 1

Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc. Photo: Francisco Seco/AP Photo
Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc. Photo: Francisco Seco/AP Photo

Independent.ie Sportsdesk

Charles Leclerc claimed a bittersweet first Formula One win yesterday, the Monegasque's joy at fulfilling a long-held dream tempered by the death of racer Anthoine Hubert.

Leclerc crossed the line 0.9 seconds ahead of a hard-charging Lewis Hamilton, who still extended his overall championship lead to 65 points over Mercedes team mate Valtteri Bottas who finished third.

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Hubert (22) lost his life on Saturday after sustaining injuries in a high-speed accident during a Formula Two race at the same Spa-Francorchamps track that hosts Formula One.

The first driver fatality at a Formula One race weekend since Ayrton Senna and Roland Ratzenberger were killed at Imola in 1994 plunged the sport into mourning. Formula One held a minute's silence in memory of the French racer on the grid before the race and a sombre mood hung over the paddock.

Leclerc, who raced with Hubert early in his career, was among those most affected and dedicated the win to him. "My first race I did it with Anthoine, Esteban (Ocon), Pierre (Gasly)," said the Ferrari driver, who looked up to the sky when he got out of his car, after scoring the Italian team's first win of the season. I can't fully enjoy my first victory, but it will definitely be a memory I will keep forever."

Leclerc began well, leading unchallenged into the tight La Source hairpin. Team mate Sebastian Vettel, second on the grid, went wheel to wheel with Hamilton who was third.

Hamilton finally got past Vettel on the 32nd lap, with the German a sitting duck on fading tyres, and set off in pursuit of Leclerc, who managed to soak up the pressure.

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