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Ferrari finally have something to smile about

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“For Leclerc this was truly a bittersweet moment but for Ferrari there was relief at finally claiming a win”

SPA DAY: Ferraris Charles Leclerc celebrates winning the Belgian Formula One Grand Prix with team principle Mattia Binotto and the mechanics. Picture: Reuters/Francois Lenior

Ferrari go into next weekend’s home Italian Grand Prix with a weight off their shoulders after the scuderia’s first win of the Formula One season in Belgium.

Charles Leclerc’s victory was the first for the team since former driver Kimi Raikkonen’s at the US Grand Prix in October 2018 and repeated the success at the Spa-Francorchamps circuit of a year ago by Sebastian Vettel.

Leclerc’s maiden grand prix win came a day after the death of Formula 2 driver Anthoine Hubert in a crash on the Spa circuit which cast a pall over Sunday’s F1 race.

Leclerc (21) from Monaco and French driver Hubert (22) knew each other well having raced together in karting. “We were four kids dreaming of F1 and we have grown up together,” Leclerc said of Hubert, Toro Rosso driver Pierre Gasly and Mercedes reserve Esteban Ocon. “To lose him was a very big shock for me and everyone in motorsport and a very sad day,” he added.

“For Leclerc this was truly a bittersweet moment but for Ferrari there was relief at finally claiming a win,” Britain’s Guardian newspaper wrote. “Despite the sadness and genuine sense of loss across the paddock, Leclerc had maintained his professional composure admirably to deliver for the team.”

Spain’s Mundo Deportivo wrote: “In the difficult moments, the big ones take a step forward.

“On days that start cloudy like this Sunday in Spa, the cold in the body of everyone because of the tragedy of the death of Anthoine Hubert on Saturday in Formula 2, it is the time when the true stars must shine even brighter. And this Sunday, Charles Leclerc did it.”

Italy’s La Repubblica said: “Everyone will remember this day: the Monegasque, the best of the Belgian weekend, who has dominated from second free practice to pole position, putting Ferrari on the top step of the podium for the first time in the 2019 World Cup It was anything but easy, because of each person’s emotional state.”

Leclerc remains fifth in the standings now just 12 behind teammate Sebastian Vettel, who finished fourth. Lewis Hamilton closed Leclerc down in finishing second, a good result for the Mercedes driver, who admitted to having a “wobbly weekend”. He now has a 65-point lead in the standings over teammate Valtteri Bottas.

“Against all odds, we progressed forwards and it was ultimately a really, really strong race,” Hamilton said.

dpa