Lewis Hamilton commiserated with Charles Leclerc over the “devastating” late blow which denied the Ferrari youngster a maiden Formula 1 victory at the Bahrain GP.
Hamilton secured what he admitted was a “lucky” win as chronic engine issues cruelly struck Leclerc’s race-leading Ferrari in the closing laps, leaving it five seconds off its previous pace and dropping him to third.
Race report: Hamilton wins as luck deserts Leclerc
How the epic Bahrain GP unfolded
? @LewisHamilton: “I had to go and see @Charles_Leclerc because he did such a great job. I’m sure it was a devastating result for him because he’d done the job to win. He’s got lots more wins coming in the future.’ #DrivenByEachOther ? pic.twitter.com/Fl0FGqwI7B
“That was extremely unfortunate for Charles, he drove such a great race,” said an understanding Hamilton over the radio on his in-lap as he inherited an unlikely first win of 2019.
As he passed the ailing Ferrari, Hamilton lifted his hand in the cockpit as if to apologise for the tough circumstances.
Once out of his car in parc ferme at the end of the race, Hamilton went straight over to console the 21-year-old youngster before praising Leclerc’s stellar weekend-long performance.
“I had to go and see Charles because he did such a great job,” said Hamilton. “I’m sure it was a devastating result for him because he’d done the job to win.
“We were lucky. This guy has a lot of race wins coming in the future.”
Speaking to Sky Sports F1, Hamilton added: “Congratulations to Charles. He deserved the victory. He did the job all the weekend.
“I expected him to be great and do a great job. But who would have known he would be so quick so early on.”
Dignified Leclerc ‘will come back stronger’
Leclerc had appeared certain to take a stunning maiden F1 win in just his second race for Ferrari, and 23rd grand prix overall, after overcoming a bad start when he dropped to third to build a lead over Hamilton of 10 seconds.
But problems with the MGU-H element of his Ferrari engine meant the race leader suddenly lost what Red Bull estimated to be 40kph worth of performance as he slipped behind Hamilton and then Valtteri Bottas.
Leclerc, despite the obvious and understandable disappointment, cut a classy and dignified figure in the immediate aftermath of what turned into the cruellest of evenings.
“It happens. It’s part of motorsport,” said the Ferrari driver, whose third place still represented his first appearance on the podium as a late Safety Car meant he didn’t drop behind Red Bull’s Max Verstappen.
“Unfortunately today it wasn’t our day. But the team has done an amazing job to recover from Australia.
“Of course I’m extremely disappointed, it happens in a season, and we made the best out of it.
“A very hard one to take but thanks to the team for an amazing car all weekend, I’m sure we will come back stronger.”
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