Charles Leclerc dedicates first F1 win to Anthoine Hubert
"I can't fully enjoy my first victory," says Leclerc as he mourns the loss of his long-time friend and racing colleague
By James Galloway at Spa-Francorchamps
Last Updated: 02/09/19 8:27am
Charles Leclerc admitted it would be a while before he could fully appreciate his first Formula 1 victory after the death of his long-time friend Anthoine Hubert in the F2 race at Spa on Saturday.
Leclerc impressively outperformed team-mate Sebastian Vettel, and then held off world champion Lewis Hamilton in the closing laps, at the Belgian GP to deliver his maiden win at the top level and Ferrari's first victory of 2019.
But the long-awaited career achievement was tinged with sadness and sorrow for Leclerc, who had known and raced against the 22-year-old Hubert from childhood. He dedicated his success to the Frenchman.
"On the one hand, I have a dream since I was a child that has been realised, and on the other hand, it has been a very difficult weekend since yesterday," Leclerc said. "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.
"We have grown up together and my first ever race I did when I was seven with Anthoine, so it's such a shame what happened yesterday.
"I can't fully enjoy my first victory but it is a memory that will live with me forever."
Speaking to Sky Sports F1, Leclerc explained: "Anthoine and I, and Pierre (Gasly) and Esteban (Ocon), all started together at the same racing in karting back in 2005. I think for the start of the race Anthoine was first, I was second and then there was Esteban and Pierre, so it brings back memories.
"I can't enjoy the win fully today. I will probably realise in a few weeks once everything will calm down, but at the moment everything is so fresh it's difficult."
Leclerc later added: "I start to realise though that I've been waiting for this moment since I started karting, so since I was three and a half years old. It's been a long time. But considering the circumstances, it is a difficult weekend overall."
While his team just lost out on the victory, Mercedes boss Toto Wolff said: "In a way it's good that Charles won the race."
Given the emotional circumstances, Sky F1's Damon Hill said of Leclerc: "I was immensely impressed with his response after the race."