Charles Leclerc says it will take “two or three weeks” for him fully process the achievement of claiming his first Formula 1 victory following the Belgian Grand Prix. 

The Spa race weekend was overshadowed by the tragic death of Anthoine Hubert, who succumbed to injuries sustained in a serious accident that took place during a supporting Formula 2 race on Saturday.

Leclerc fended off a late attack from Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton to convert pole position into his maiden grand prix victory and first win of the 2019 season for Ferrari, which he dedicated to his close friend Hubert.

“It’s very difficult to enjoy this first win with the situation we have had yesterday, but overall it is just a dream come true,” Leclerc said after the race.

“Since I was a child I’ve been looking up to Formula 1, dreaming to be first a Formula 1 driver, which happened last year, and then driving for Ferrari this year and then the first win.

“It’s a good day but on the other hand, as I said, losing Anthoine yesterday brings me back to 2005, my first ever French championship.

“There was him, Esteban, Pierre, myself and we were four kids that were dreaming of Formula 1.

“We’ve grown up together in karting for many, many years and to lose him yesterday was a big shock for me but obviously for everyone of motorsport.

“It was a very sad day and, as I said, very difficult to enjoy it fully today, but hopefully in two or three weeks I will realise what happened today.”

Leclerc, who has had to come to terms with the death of his godfather Jules Bianchi and father Herve in recent years, revealed the thought process which helped him climb back into his car and race less than 24 hours after witnessing such an incident.

“Obviously there were quite a bit of emotions before the race and then once I got in the car, as I did for my father two years ago, you need to put all the emotions to one side and focus on the job, which is exactly what I did,” he explained.

“Then you realise at the end of the race and all the emotions come back once you cross the finish line. I was very happy to win and remember him the way he deserved to be and, yeah, happy to do it on this day.

“I guess for everyone but for me it was definitely the first situation like that where we lose someone on track – a track that you need to race the day after,” he added.

“So it’s obviously quite challenge to then close the visor and go through this exact same corner at the exact same speed you do the day before - but that’s what you need to do at the end.”

Despite the events of the weekend, Leclerc praised the ever-continuing search to improve safety standards in the sport.

“I think everyone is working extremely hard to try and improve the security of the sport which I think should always be the priority but then it will always remain a dangerous sport,” he said.

"Once you are going at these speeds it is dangerous. And then here, Eau Rouge is quite dangerous because obviously the wall is quite close, so there will always be some corners which are challenging and that are more dangerous than others.

“But overall I think the FIA has done an incredible job in the last twenty years to improve safety in our cars.”

 

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