Charles Leclerc survived an onslaught from Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas to win a thrilling Italian Grand Prix.
Hamilton hustled Leclerc during a remarkable spell of wheel-to-wheel action – but the Ferrari man excelled to keep the world champion at bay and register his second win in as many weeks and the Italian marque’s first on home soil since 2010.
Here’s our key talking points from Monza:
What a drive from the young man.
The last time Ferrari secured victory at Monza, Leclerc was taking part in the Junior Monaco Kart Cup as a 12-year-old in Monte Carlo.
The young Monegasque has impressed as each round has passed this championship, and backed up his triumph in Spa last weekend without a superb victory in Italy.
He showed his maturity when soaking up pressure from Hamilton for large parts of the race and was smart on the positioning of his car when trying to defend. To have the Briton on your tail for Ferrari’s home race is hugely pressuring and Leclerc delivered with aplomb.
The 21-year-old was right on the edge with his searing driving, although he did make some errors at times, but ultimately embraced the pressure of both Mercedes drivers attempting to narrow the gap at every opportunity.
It’s a win Ferrari badly needed. And with two triumphs now in the space of seven days, it will be a serious confidence-booster for the Maranello side as they aim to make a fight of this championship after the opening half was dominated by Mercedes.
It looks like there’s a changing of the guard at Ferrari as this young stallion is slowing transforming into a future world champion in the making.
MIXED DAY FOR HAMILTON
The 34-year-old delivered an impressive race performance to hustle Leclerc to the flag last weekend, and for spells of Sunday’s race, looked like he was primed to overtake Leclerc and clinch a ninth win of the season.
He attempted a number of moves down the straight, but didn’t have sufficient power to mount a successful attack on Leclerc.
His tyres ran out of power late on, and was forced into the run-off area on lap 43, falling off the road and allowing Bottas to take second.
Knowing his opportunity to push for victory was gone, Hamilton stopped for a set of fresh tyres, and claimed a bonus point for the fastest lap of the race in the closing stages.
Although he would have come into the weekend bidding for his fifth win in Italy, Hamilton will be firing for Singapore in two weeks time, around a track where he’s sealed victory on four occasions.
The significant thing about Bottas is that he’ll make podiums without doing anything spectacular.
He always drives consistently, but is prone to an error when the pressure is on.
Running in third, he made ground on Leclerc late on after Hamilton ran off the track and fell down to third. The Finn pushed hard and closed to within half a second to Leclerc, but locked up twice and lost valuable time.
He struggled with the mediums and went on to notch second, finishing eight-tenths behind the Ferrari star.
Still, it caps off a fine weekend for the 30-year-old as he tries to keep the pressure on Hamilton in the drivers’ championship. As it stands, he trails by 63 points.
VETTEL PAST HIS BEST
Vettel was desperate to strike back following his rather drab fourth place in Belgium last week.
Starting fourth on the grid after a poor Q3 run on Saturday, he struggled on the opening laps and spun with no contact around him on lap six.
The German received a 30 second penalty for re-entering the track in a different position. He limped into the pits with a damaged front wing and re-entered in 19th.
His error left Leclerc alone at the front with no team-mate help as Hamilton and Bottas had the chance to gang up strategically on the Monaco man.
Leclerc didn’t wilt under the pressure, but it was another error for Vettel, who went on to finish a disappointing 13th.
It’s becoming all to familiar for the four-time world champion, who appears to be a fading force as each round passes in this championship. His last win was 12 months ago in Spa.
TEAM OF THE DAY?
It has be Renault.
Daniel Ricciardo and Niko Hulkenberg notched the best performance of the season for the French side, finishing fourth and fifth respectively.
Renault were clear of the midfield all weekend and their efforts were warmly greeted by the Monza crowd.
As well as being the team’s best joint-finish all season, it was also season-best displays for Ricciardo and Hulkenberg.
Their 22 points puts Renault fifth in the constructors’ championship on 65 points – just 18 points behind McLaren.
Know more about Sport360 Application