After winning in F1 for the first time, Charles Leclerc paid tribute to his childhood friend Anthoine Hubert, who died on Saturday.
Charles Leclerc dedicated his maiden Formula One victory to the late Anthoine Hubert after triumphing in the Belgian Grand Prix.
Ferrari driver Leclerc held off a late charge from reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton to win at Spa, but the race weekend was overshadowed by the death of 22-year-old Frenchman Hubert following a crash in Saturday’s F2 event.
Leclerc, 21, raced against Hubert as the pair came up through the ranks as juniors and was understandably emotional in the wake of his success.
Speaking immediately after his win, the Monegasque driver said: “Yeah, on the one hand I’ve got a dream since being a child that has been realised and on the other hand it has been a very difficult weekend since yesterday [Saturday].
“We have lost a friend, first of all. It is very difficult in these situations and I would like to dedicate my first win to him.
“We have grown up together – my first ever race, actually, was with Anthoine when we were younger. It’s just a shame what happened yesterday.
“I can’t enjoy it fully, my first victory, but it will definitely be a memory I will keep forever.”
An emotional Charles Leclerc on the podium after his first career F1 win
— Formula 1 (@F1) September 1, 2019
However, Leclerc – who gave up first place in the closing stages of this season’s races in Bahrain and Austria – had to hold his nerve in the closing laps as the Mercedes of Hamilton closed in.
“It’s been a very difficult race,” he said. “We were struggling quite a bit with the tyres towards the end. At the end of the race it was definitely not easy – he [Hamilton] was catching very quickly.”