Lewis Hamilton expects to be fighting Charles Leclerc for more victories in future after the Ferrari driver’s first F1 win at the Belgian Grand Prix.
Leclerc started from pole position for the third time this season and duly converted at Spa-Francorchamps, withstanding late pressure from Hamilton to give Ferrari its first win of the season. With the 21-year-old becoming Ferrari’s youngest grand prix winner, Hamilton says Leclerc’s performances this season suggest he will be a major player in the sport for a long time to come.
“I think his results speak for him,” Hamilton said. “It is not easy for any driver to jump into a top team like Ferrari against a four-time world champion and God-knows-how-much experience and then to continuously out-perform, out-qualify and out-drive a four-time world champion.
“That is not easy to do, so it speaks for itself, and he has been quite unlucky in a few races so far this year and he could have easily been picking up his third win today. So he has a lot more greatness to come, and I am looking forward to seeing his growth and racing alongside him. It was fun racing him today, trying to chase up, but he was just a bit too quick.”
Hamilton had the pace to overhaul Sebastian Vettel before closing in on Leclerc, and he believes Mercedes could have given him a better chance of taking victory if he had made his pit stop before the race leader.
“I executed it the best I could,” he said. “Strategy maybe could have been slightly better, after Seb stopped, I was trying to keep up with him but he was very strong on the soft tire. We just stayed out too long I think, because by the time he came in on the next lap, the gap was twice as big.
“Catching that up, and also I got stuck behind Seb… Ultimately, he did a superb job. Even if we had different strategies, it would have been hard to beat him today.”