Hamilton: 'Leclerc has a lot more greatness to come'

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Lewis Hamilton believes new Grand Prix winner Charles Leclerc is heading towards a stellar career in F1, with the Mercedes driver all too happy to watch his rival grow.

After coming close to a maiden win in Bahrain earlier this season and running at the front in several races, Leclerc finally broke his duck on Sunday, delivering to Ferrari its first win of the season after a flawless drive in the Belgian Grand Prix.

The 21-year-old - who also became the first Monegasque to win a round of the world championship - launched his race from pole and never put a foot wrong despite the intense pressure exerted by Hamilton in the closing stages of the 44-lap race.

Hamilton has been impressed with his rival's performance since he graduated to F1 in 2018 with Alfa Romeo. Sunday's milestone achievement only strengthened the reigning world champion's belief that Leclerc is destined for greatness.

"I think his results speak for him," said Hamilton, who took a slight dig at arch-rival Sebastian Vettel while praising Spa's victor.

"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's efforts to overhaul Leclerc came up short, but the reigning world champion suggested it could have perhaps been a different story had he pitted before Leclerc and also avoided a Vettel roadblock.

"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 tyre.

"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."

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