Hamilton: Leclerc has outperformed and out-driven Vettel at Ferrari

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Lewis Hamilton has praised Charles Leclerc for the impact he's made in his first year at Ferrari.

The Monegasque scored his first Formula 1 win on Sunday in Belgium, also giving the Italian team their first success since Austin last year.

But while it is Vettel who remains 12 points ahead of Leclerc in the championship to this point, the Mercedes driver thinks that doesn't tell the full picture.

"I think his results speak for themselves really," Hamilton said.

"It's not easy for any driver to jump into a top team, let alone Ferrari, against a four-time world champion, in the sport [with] more than double… God knows how much more experience.

"And then to continuously, from race one outperform, out-qualify and out-drive a four-time world champion is not easy to do. So I think that speaks for itself.

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"He's been really unlucky in quite a few races this year. Could easily have been the third win today.

"So, there's a lot more greatness to come from him and I'm looking forward to seeing his growth and racing alongside him. It was fun trying to chase him. He was just a little bit too quick."

Perhaps proving Hamilton's point, Vettel was left playing a support role to Leclerc at Spa, moving over after a team order and briefly holding Lewis at bay.

“Poor Vettel, I mean, he was like [Rubens] Barrichello in that race, I mean just you know waving past your teammate and helping him out," 2016 champion Nico Rosberg said in a YouTube vlog.

“Let’s see how that plays out for Vettel but he won’t be very happy with this for sure.

"As I said in my [post-qualifying] video, Vettel was just struggling with the Ferrari at the moment, especially with the rear end because it’s very nervous," Rosberg adds.

"You just need the confidence on the rear end and he’s just not getting it from the car.”

The closing laps of the race saw Hamilton quickly catching Leclerc as the Ferrari struggled with its tyres.

Charles might have been forgiven then for having memories of Austria where he dominated only for Max Verstappen to pass him with three laps to go.

“I wasn’t more nervous,” he said. “I’ve started to get used to being in that situation where I’m first and I’m chased by someone that is quicker.

“Obviously I knew it was Lewis and I knew I could not afford to do any mistakes because he will take the opportunity.

“But yeah, apart from the last lap, he was never really close enough to try something and, as I said, I was just trying to focus on my own job and finish the race.”