Charles Leclerc won an emotionally-charged Belgian Grand Prix on a dark and tragic weekend for Formula 1.
The race was played out less than 24 hours after young French driver Anthoine Hubert was killed in a devastating 160mph Formula Two crash at Spa.
For much of the closing stages it looked as though Leclerc would cruise to victory, but Lewis Hamilton put together a scintillating final few laps to close the gap to less than two seconds.
However, the Ferrari driver showed calmness beyond his years to hold off the Brit’s challenge and earn a much deserved maiden Grand Prix win.
It was no doubt a difficult pill to swallow for the 21-year-old and his F1 rivals after the shocking news that Hubert had lost his life on the same Spa circuit.
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Hubert, 22, raced for British team Arden in the championship which acts as a feeder series to Formula 1.
He lost control of his car on the exit of the notorious uphill Eau Rouge corner before slamming into the far-side barrier.
The Frenchman flew off the tyre wall and slid helplessly across the circuit, before colliding with American Juan-Manuel Correa.
The force of the impact tore Hubert’s car in two and ripped off the front of Correa’s chassis, at which point the American was launched into the air before landing upside down on the track.
Emergency crews rushed to the scene, but one hour 28 minutes after the second-lap accident, Hubert was pronounced dead at the on-track medical centre.
Leclerc, who was close friends with Hubert, was clearly emotional after the victory and conveyed how difficult the weekend has been to his Ferrari colleagues via team radio.
“My first victory in F1,” said Leclerc.
“This one is for Anthoine.
“It feels good but difficult to enjoy on a weekend like this.”
Leclerc later dedicated his victory to his friend Hubert and was almost in tears when speaking with Sky Sports after the race.
“On one hand, I’ve got a dream since I was a child that has been realised but on the other hand, its been a very difficult weekend since yesterday,” Leclerc said.
“We lost a friend first of all – I would like to dedicate my first win to him. In my first race, we drove together, it’s a shame what happened yesterday, I can’t enjoy my victory fully.”News Now - Sport News