Leclerc Delivers For Ferrari At Monza

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Charles Leclerc (16) held off both Mercedes drivers to win the Italian Grand Prix. (Steve Etherington Photo)
Charles Leclerc (16) held off both Mercedes drivers to win the Italian Grand Prix. (Steve Etherington Photo)

MONZA, Italy – Charles Leclerc thrilled Italian fans by holding off the Mercedes duo of Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton to win the Italian Grand Prix Sunday at Autodromo Nazionale Monza.

The victory for Leclerc was the first for Ferrari at the brand’s home track since Fernando Alonso won at Monza in 2010.

One week after his first Formula One victory in Belgium, the 21-year-old Leclerc scored his second win after holding off Hamilton and, later, Bottas in the run to the checkered flag.

Hamilton hounded Leclerc for multiple laps after pit stops, with Hamilton’s medium tires giving him an advantage over the hard tires on Leclerc’s Ferrari. Slowly but surely Hamilton’s tires fell off, allowing Leclerc to maintain his advantage at the front.

Leclerc made one mistake, overshooting the first turn chicane on lap 36, but he successfully blocked a pass attempt by Hamilton and held the lead. Six laps later it was Hamilton who overshot the chicane, allowing a fast closing Bottas to take over second.

Bottas had pitted later than Hamilton for medium tires and had been closing on the lead duo for multiple laps before Hamilton’s error moved Bottas into second and in clear site of Leclerc.

Try as he might, Bottas couldn’t get close enough to Leclerc to mount a significant challenge. Leclerc was able to hold serve, getting to the finish line .835 seconds ahead of Bottas.

“It’s the Italian Grand Prix, obviously from the beginning of the week it has been crazy,” said Leclerc, who moved into third in the Formula One standings ahead of his teammate Sebastian Vettel. “I came here with my first win and yeah, to win straight away the second one in front of all the fans who have welcomed me extremely well after the first victory, it’s just unbelievable.

Leclerc said he felt like the Mercedes cars were faster than his Ferrari throughout the day, but he had enough fight in his car to hold them both off.

“It was extremely difficult. They were very quick, they were quicker than us I think today,” Leclerc said. “More than that, they had two cars to fight us. One car went long, Valtteri went a bit longer (before his pit stop), Lewis pitted more or less at the same time as me. It was very difficult for us after that, but we managed the race very well and I’m very happy to take the win home.”

Hamilton settled for third after pitting late in the race for fresh tires, which allowed him to set the fastest lap of the race to gain an extra championship point. Daniel Ricciardo finished an impressive fourth for Renault, his first top-five finish since joining the French manufacturer.

Nico Hulkenberg gave Renault two cars in the top-five in fifth, followed by Red Bull’s Alexander Albon, Racing Point’s Sergio Perez, Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, Alfa Romeo’s Antonio Giovinazzi and McLaren’s Lando Norris.

Ferrari’s Vettel struggled all day, resulting in a 13th-place finish.