Ferrari Formula 1 driver Charles Leclerc says achieving his maiden victory at the Belgian Grand Prix was a big relief that has provided him with a confidence boost.

Leclerc converted his third pole position into his and Ferrari’s first win of the 2019 season at Spa, having fended off a late attack from world championship leader Lewis Hamilton.

The race weekend was overshadowed by the tragic death of Formula 2 driver Anthoine Hubert during a support race on Saturday, with Leclerc dedicating his victory to his close friend.

“Obviously it was a very tough weekend for different reasons with what happened on Saturday, but also we knew that with the performance we had in the race, it was going to be difficult because Mercedes was very, very strong with their race pace,” Leclerc said.

“It was a tough weekend but in the end we managed to put everything together. I think there was great teamwork between myself and Seb that did the job keeping Lewis behind for those few laps which has been very helpful for me at the end of the race.

“Looking back I am very happy that this first win is done. It is always very difficult to do this first step but once you do it, it takes quite a bit [of weight] out of your shoulders and I’m very proud.

“Not much time to think about it because we are here only four days later in Italy and we need to focus fully on the job we need to do here.”

The Monegasque said he had little time to celebrate the feat in the immediate aftermath of the race in Belgium, given the tight turnaround heading into this weekend’s Italian Grand Prix at Monza.

“I haven’t done much to celebrate, hopefully I’ll be able to celebrate after this one,” he explained.

“There was not much time to celebrate anything. It feels good, it’s something that until you get it, it feels very far away but once you have it, it feels very good and it gives you a bit of a confidence boost too.

“It’s great but now it’s done I can focus on the future and hopefully many more will come.”



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