Leclerc triumphs to end Ferrari drought at home

Monza, Italy: Charles Leclerc survived immense pressure from Lewis Hamilton to give Ferrari a first win at the Italian Grand Prix since Fernando Alonso won in 2010. The victory at Monza was a back-to-back triumph for 21-year-old Leclerc who won his maiden Grand Prix last Sunday in Belgium, Ferrari’s first Grand Prix win in 11 months. Leclerc led from pole but was hunted by Hamilton until the Mercedes driver braked late on lap 42 of the 53 laps and had to go through the chicane, losing second place to team-mate Valtteri Bottas.
After both Hamilton and Leclerc pitted just before the half-way stage, the two had fought an intense battle when emerging fourth and fifth.
In the end it was Bottas applying the pressure to Leclerc. The Finn moved to under a second behind Leclerc but locked his brakes with three laps to go and could not get close enough again to attack.
World champion Hamilton had to make do with third, with a bonus point for fastest lap, and leads the standings by 63 points over Bottas, while Leclerc moves third ahead of team-mate Sebastian Vettel who experienced a torrid time and finished 13th.
The first of a thrilling duel between Leclerc and Hamilton came after their pit stops. After both went past Nico Hulkenberg’s Renault, Hamilton attacked and felt he was squeezed off the track by the Ferrari driver in wheel-to-wheel racing.
Leclerc was shown a black and white flag — translating to a warning — for the incident. He then further escaped a penalty when he locked his brakes and cut the chicane on turn two on lap 36 before defending another Hamilton overtaking attempt.
“Some dangerous driving going on,” Hamilton said over team radio, but Leclerc’s manoeuvre was merely “noted” by race control without an investigation.
There were roars from home fan when Hamilton’s mistake eased the pressure on Leclerc, who was able to bring the victory home, taking the chequered flag 0.835 seconds ahead of Bottas.
It was a disastrous race for Leclerc’s team-mate Vettel before home fans after the German span and then struck Lance Stroll’s Racing Point in rejoining the track.
Vettel spoiled his race on turn nine of lap six, damaging his front wing as he came into contact with Stroll’s car.
Pierre Gasly in a Toro Rosso was then forced to go into the gravel to avoid Stroll as he rejoined the track.
Vettel needed a new nose and was then slapped with a 10-second stop-and-go penalty for returning to the track in an unsafe manner.
He ended up being lapped by his team-mate and Hamilton on lap 33. Stroll meanwhile received a drive-through penalty.
Verstappen started last and suffered nose damage in traffic,requiring an early pit stop, before the Red Bull driver finished eighth.
Kimi Raikkonen, who began from the pit lane because of changes made to his Alfa Romeo, received a 10-second stop-and-go penalty for starting on incorrect tyres.
Daniel Ricciardo and Huelkenberg were fourth and fifth for Renault, followed by Red Bull’s Alexander Albon, Racing Point’s Sergio Perez, Verstappen, Antonio Giovinazzi in an Alfa Romeo and Lando Norris in a Mclaren. — dpa