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Charles Leclerc's Belgian GP win: 'Success comes with a darker side'
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By Andrew Benson
Chief F1 author
Charles Leclerc demonstrated on the way for his Formula 1 victory that was long overdue - the strength of nature and toughness that's an essential portion of the make-up of a grand prix driver - on Sunday.
Even the 21-year-old took a win - in the Grand Prix under pressure from Lewis Hamilton - that should have come months before against the backdrop of the passing and hurried against for a lot of his life.
After Leclerc took part in his first race, among his rivals was Anthoine Hubert, who was killed in an accident of dreadful violence.
Leclerc stated - of himself, Toro Rosso driver Pierre Gasly along with Mercedes reserve Esteban Ocon -"we have been four kids dreaming of F1 and we've grown up together. To lose him was a very major shock for me and everybody else in motorsport and an extremely sad day".
Inevitably, it took the shine off what should've been among the happiest days of the life of Leclerc span. To say the least.
"it's very difficult to enjoy this very first win with the scenario that we had yesterday. Overall it means just a dream come true. I have been looking a Formula 1 driver, that happened last year to F1, dreaming of being first up today, and driving for Ferrari this year and the first win.
"This is a good day but on the other hand losing Anthoine yesterday brings me back to 2005, my very first French (karting) championship proved to be . It is very tricky to enjoy it fully today but in a couple of weeks I shall realise what happened now."
Dealing with these kinds of occasions is part of the job description to get a driver, as explained in my article about Saturday. But that doesn't mean it is simple or insignificant.
It is not the very first time he has suffered a loss of someone close to him in his career. He was the godson of the former F1 driver Jules Bianchi, who suffered fatal head injuries in an accident in the Japanese Grand Prix five decades ago, as is well reported.
Leclerc has clarified many times the way the departure of Bianchi - who, at just eight years older than himwas more like a big brother, and who had been instrumental in directing him through his formative years at the game - just forced him more determined to be successful.
Nevertheless, it is 1 thing to say this, and quite another to go out and perform this, and risk your own life in precisely exactly the activity that murdered someone close.
On Sunday, following the race, Valtteri, Hamilton and Leclerc Bottas offered some insight.
"For everybody, I suppose, but for me personally it was the first situation like this where we lose somebody on a track where you will need to rush the day afterwards," Leclerc said. "It is obviously quite challenging to shut the visor and proceed through this specific same corner at exactly the exact same rate you did earlier, but this is what you have to do ultimately."
Hamilton said:"You compartmentalise it, then move forwards, get into and do the work. From a racer's and an athlete's point of view, you switch to a zone, and it's quite easy to switch into that zone"
"When you go to the zone," Bottas added. "There are not any distractions."
Their replies were subdued and brief, and sent uncomfortably, understandably in the conditions. It pays to not have to discuss it too much when the wounds are so raw, the emotions conflicted and perceptible.
On Saturday,'' Hamilton had submitted an message on networking, it can be secure, and underlining their profession's potential risks. Following the race, his group supervisor Toto Wolff explained the background into the world winner's choice.
"it's extremely difficult to relate to what is happening in an automobile if you have never driven a race car at such speeds," Wolff said.
"Whether it is in junior formulae, all of the way to F1, in GT cars, or even prototypes, it's still a' gladiators' game. It is about courage, skill, risk-taking. But by means of a camera lens you will never realise exactly what it seems like.
"We were fortunate enough for many years not to have these sorts of injuries and possibly forgotten how hazardous the sport is. And that is what Lewis wanted to say. I can totally relate to this.
"Should you drive towards Eau Rouge using 260-270km/h, that looks like a 90-degree corner and you also just take it level, it's beyond understanding that these guys do what they do and it can end fatally, like it did yesterday."
Leclerc would not have picked such situation for his first win, and he could have achieved with a simpler race, for that was a victory hard won, against the competition there is.
Ferrari had dominated their prodigious straight-line speed making up to their comparative weakness in comparison to Mercedes from the corners of the centre sector of Spa, qualifying.
However, their higher tyre use was possible to make things hard in the race, and, as expected, an assault was mounted by Hamilton on the automobiles that came away.
Since Leclerc constructed a tiny head over Sebastian Vettel at the first ten laps, Hamilton turned up the pressure.
Into pitting Vettel than they might have desired, and from this moment his race was given Ferrari's tyre management hamilton's proximity forced Ferrari.
It gave Vettel the on-track guide when Hamilton and Leclerc pitted a couple of laps later, and also briefly Leclerc wondered whether - - a win would slip through his fingers, following preceding releases in Azerbaijan, Bahrain and Austria.
But it soon became evident that Vettel was in no fit state to maintain him off. Ferrari ordered him to allow his go, Since Leclerc closed in a lap back.
Still Vettel was able to have a hands at the triumph of his team-mate. He was able to hold off Hamilton for four laps, providing Leclerc a chance to construct a small advantage on the Mercedes, making it became apparent he desired.
Had Vettel not held Hamilton back for as long as he had Mercedes matched Hamilton on precisely the exact identical lap like Leclerc, or did, the entire world champion might have won the racegiven up was ended by him on Leclerc's tail. But the Monegasque did simply enough.
"If you'd have given me a moment and next in Spa," Mercedes team manager Wolff stated,"I would have taken it prior to the race because we know our package compared to the Ferraris with the straight-line speed is poor.
"Having said that, if we had really optimised our racewhich you may simply do post-race by being super-intelligent and stating what could have been, perhaps we might have pitted one or even 2 laps earlier. Perhaps the pit stop might have been a little bit faster and we would have been in his gearbox for the past two laps.
"However there are many ifs which I am happy with second and third."
Traditionally, there is a first triumph that themselves are actually announced by an F1 driver as a rival in F1. For Leclerc it's different. That came long past.
It's been clear that this was a guy who was anticipated to develop into a significant portion of F1 over the next decade. His debut year for Sauber last season was exceptional, and his skill is still raw in some specific factors, and though a few mistakes have been left by him, his moment at the strain of Ferrari has been no less so.
Many suspected he would provide Vettel a serious run for his money this year and so it's proved.
Leclerc has out-qualified that the champion for the past six races in a row. On the season up to now he is faster than Vettel more than a lap on common by 0.13secs. He has three pole positions into Vettel's one, and he has become the first Ferrari driver to win a race.
Ironically, Vettel should have won Canada, but because of his error and controversial punishment, but had his season gone differently this could happen to be the third or even fourth victory of Leclerc.
He is establishing himself as Ferrari's lead driver, a situation that's very embarrassing for Vettel, awarded his statistical success and standing in the game. And Vettel faces a very significant job sustaining his standing.
Since the year has progressed, the admiration between Hamilton and Leclerc has become apparent. Leclerc admires Hamilton for his ability and his achievement. And Hamilton, who has treated the younger guy hasn't bothered to conceal his respect for potential and Leclerc's talent.
"His results speak for themselves, really," Hamilton said. "It's not simple for any driver to jump right into a leading group, let alone Ferrari, against a four-time world champion, God knows how much more expertise. Then to always from race one out-qualify and out-drive that a four-time world winner is not simple to do.
"He has been really unlucky in a number of races this year. Could have become the biggest win now. So, there's a good deal more greatness to come from him and I'm excited about racing along with him and seeing his growth. It was fun today, trying to chase him. He was just a little bit too fast."
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