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.
Sebastian Vettel was far from happy with Ferrari’s tactics as team-mate Charles Leclerc took pole for the Italian Grand Prix in Monza on Saturday.
Leclerc secured a second straight pole position in qualifying to boost Ferrari hopes of winning their home race for the first time since 2010.
Leclerc, who claimed his first F1 victory last week at the Belgian GP, topped the timesheets by 0.039 of a second over championship leader Lewis Hamilton.
Hamilton’s Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas was another eight thousandths of a second down in third place, with four-time world champion Vettel in fourth.
Qualifying ended in near-farcical fashion as the front-runners ran out of time in Q3 as they waited for a slipstream, with ‘tow’ playing a crucial role at the high-speed Monza track.
Vettel said: “I thought we had spoken about it but… yeah… I definitely listened to what we intended to do. I think it was clear what will (i.e. would) happen in the last bit of qualifying.
“I think we were foreseeing exactly what happened, but we weren’t doing what we were supposed to do, and that’s why it was a mess and we didn’t get, you know… I didn’t get around in the end.”
Lewis Hamilton fears it will take an accident for Formula One to change the qualifying format which brought a farcical and “dangerous” conclusion to Saturday’s battle for pole position.
The sport’s safety record is in the spotlight here at Monza following the death of young Formula Two driver Anthoine Hubert at the Belgian Grand Prix last weekend.
It emerged on Saturday that Juan Manuel Correa, the American who broke both his legs and suffered spinal cord damage in the 160mph tragedy, has been placed in an induced coma at a London hospital.
A terrifying crash then overshadowed Saturday’s Formula Three race when Alex Peroni, a 19-year-old Australian, somersaulted through the air three times before landing upside down on the catch fencing.
Incredibly, the teenager walked away unaided from the spectacular accident, but after displaying signs of concussion, tests later revealed he had fractured his vertebra and will remain in a Monza hospital for observation. He has also been ruled out of Sunday’s F3 race.
Charles Leclerc might have delighted the scores of Ferrari fans by securing his second pole in as many weeks, edging out Hamilton by just 0.039 seconds, with Valtteri Bottas third and Sebastian Vettel fourth.
But the final moments of qualifying verged on the preposterous as the 10 drivers jostled for position and failed to complete a lap. As they left the pits, the field bunched up, first going too slowly and then speeding up, darting from one side of the circuit to the other in an attempt to gain a slipstream at the fastest track in Formula One.
The farcical few miles were investigated by the FIA. The drivers had been warned about their conduct in Friday night’s briefing with race director Michael Masi.
“It doesn’t look good for Formula One,” said Hamilton. “I am sure it is going to continue to be an issue, particularly where you need a tow and positioning is key. But it will be until someone crashes that they will change it.
“Everyone was slowing right down, and blocking so you couldn’t get through. It was a dangerous and risky business. I nearly crashed a couple of times just staying out of the way of the guys ahead and the people trying to get past me.”
Hamilton’s Mercedes boss, Toto Wolff added: “That was not even worthy of a junior formula. Everybody looks like idiots.”
The chaos ensured Leclerc’s opening lap went unchallenged as the sport’s rising star secured his fourth career pole six days after registering his maiden win.
Leclerc, 22 next month, left Vettel in his shadow at Spa-Francorchamps last weekend and here, he finished 0.150 sec clear of the German.
Vettel is in danger of becoming yesterday’s man. The German may have been hired as the man to end Ferrari’s 12-year championship drought, but Leclerc has emerged as the man carrying the hopes of a nation.
Tellingly, it is his face and not that of the four-time world champion’s, which looks out from a huge Ferrari fan club flag opposite the team’s garage.
“It feels amazing,” said Leclerc. “I am happy with the pole but it is a shame there was a big mess at the end.”
Hamilton will go in search of a record-breaking sixth win at the Cathedral of Speed, and the Mercedes star, 65 points clear in the championship, is well placed to take the fight to his young rival.
“I have to be grateful that I am on the front row,” added Hamilton. “We will get to have a fight with the Ferraris.”
Provided by Press Association Sports