Ferrari fortuitous at Spa but Mercedes admit the right man won

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Ferrari can feel fortunate to have won the Belgian Grand Prix, team boss Mattia Binotto claims.

The Scuderia had dominated through practice and qualifying thanks to their straight-line speed but in the race, faced a much tougher challenge to keep Mercedes at bay.

As it was, Charles Leclerc would cross the line by 0.9s from Lewis Hamilton on what was one of the most emotional days in Formula 1 for some time, following the death of F2 driver Anthoine Hubert on Saturday.

“It’s a mixed feeling but no doubt we should be happy for Charles and his first victory,” Binotto told Sky Sports at Spa-Francorchamps.

“He did very well today, pushing from the first lap until the end. He drove very well the entire weekend, and I think it was important for him to win today for Anthoine.

“He was very committed and willing to do that. He’s had opportunities so far this season and he’s missed them, so to win here in Spa it’s probably not the best time for our first victory, but it’s an important one.”

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As it was, however, Ferrari hard to protect Leclerc from Hamilton as Mercedes proved much kinder to the tyres, that meant Sebastian Vettel became the sacrificial lamb.

“Hamilton was very fast in the final lap so we knew he could attack and it was important we kept the distance to him, we were lucky that the race was only 44 laps," Binotto stated.

“We had to use Sebastian to protect the position against the Mercedes because Hamilton was ready to pit and I think Sebastian has played very well as a teammate for Charles today. I’m sure there will be opportunities for him in the future.

“Team points come first, and today we showed that as well. We know that Monza is long straights and speed will be required and that’s certainly our competitive advantage.

“[Today] it’s the first win for Charles and I’m pretty sure it’s not the last one."

As for Mercedes boss Toto Wolff, he was able to put a philosophical spin on a tricky weekend for the team.

"What we can say is that it was good damage limitation for us on Sunday, finishing second and third with a package which is not perfect for Spa," he said in a Facebook post.

"On the other side also, maybe we had the right winner today, Charles deserved to win this Grand Prix, the Ferrari package was really good and also his relationship with Anthoine, so maybe the right winner and everything happens for a reason."