Lewis Hamilton predicts more F1 success for Charles Leclerc
F1's newest race winner impresses the sport's most regular one after Spa battle; Leclerc set to be favourite for Italian GP at Monza this weekend - race live on Sunday at 2.10pm on Sky Sports F1
By James Galloway at Spa Francorchamps
Last Updated: 02/09/19 2:21pm
Lewis Hamilton praised Charles Leclerc's current performance and predicted there was "more greatness to come" from Formula 1's newest race winner.
After several near-misses in his debut season for Ferrari, Leclerc claimed an impressive maiden F1 win - and Ferrari's first since last October - in Sunday's Belgian GP, withstanding a late charge from Hamilton to do so.
- Leclerc beats Hamilton for Belgian GP win
- Hamilton: Ferrari were just too fast
- Get Sky Sports F1 for 2019
Hamilton has spoken warmly about Leclerc, 21, on several occasions this year and said after the race: "He ultimately did a superb job.
"Even if we had different strategies it would have been hard to have beaten him. He deserved to win."
On a weekend Ferrari had dominated up to the race, Leclerc had outshone Sebastian Vettel to prove the quicker of the Scuderia's two drivers.
Leclerc won pole by a large 0.7-second margin over his team-mate and then comfortably beat him in the race, with Vettel eventually finishing behind both Mercedes in fourth after suffering with tyre degradation and pitting twice. The German had to let his team-mate past after inheriting the lead courtesy of any early pit stop.
While he remains 12 points behind the former world champion in the standings, Leclerc took the lead in their qualifying head-to-head for the first time at Spa and has now outqualified the German for six consecutive events.
Given the fierce internal competition, Hamilton has been impressed by what he has seen from one of F1's rising stars.
"I think his results speak for themselves really," said Hamilton, after Leclerc took to the podium for the fifth time in the last seven events.
"It's not easy for any driver to jump into a top team, let alone Ferrari, against a four-time world champion, in the sport more than double… God knows how much more experience, and then to continuous from race one, out-perform, out-qualify and out-drive a four-time world champion is not easy to do. So I think that speaks for itself.
"He's been really unlucky in quite a few races this year. Could easily have been the third win today. So, there's a lot more greatness to come from him and I'm looking forward to seeing his growth and racing alongside him."
The world champion added: "It was fun today, trying to chase him. He was just a little bit too quick."
First win will open the floodgates: Sky F1's Damon Hill on Leclerc
Speaking on Sky Sports F1's post-race show at Spa, the 1996 world champion praised the way Leclerc had conducted himself in emotional circumstances after the loss of his long-time friend Anthoine Hubert in Saturday's F2 race.
Hill also predicted more wins for Leclerc would quickly follow, with Ferrari also favourites for this weekend's race at high-speed Monza.
"He will remember his first win for sure and I've been immensely impressed by the professionalism of all the drivers this weekend and particularly Charles Leclerc who withstood the pressure of Lewis Hamilton closing in on him in the final stages," said Hill.
"I think this is going to open the floodgates as he's already established himself as faster then Sebastian Vettel."