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F1: Charles Leclerc goes back-to-back with Italian GP victory

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One week after claiming his first Formula One victory, Charles Leclerc is a winner once again.

The 21-year-old Ferrari driver led all but eight laps in Sunday’s Italian Grand Prix at Monza, claiming the first victory for the legendary constructor in their home country since Fernando Alonso’s victory in 2010.

However, Leclerc didn’t simply run away with the victory. Instead, he spent the majority of the race holding off the Mercedes duo of Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas, both of whom challenged Leclerc for the lead of the race.

Leclerc kept Hamilton at bay early on in the race, but first came under pressure from the defending World Champion following the first set of pit stops.

After pitting a lap later than Hamilton, Leclerc changed to the hard tire compound before reentering the track just in front of the Briton

With Hamilton on the faster medium tire compound, he attempted to make a pass on Leclerc after both cleared Nico Hulkenburg.

Under Pressure from Hamilton entering the Turn 1 chicane, Leclerc defended his position but then moved across the track to the right, making contact with Hamilton and forcing him into the run-off area.

Leclerc was given a black-and-white flag warning for the move, which Hamilton described as “dangerous””, but still retained his position.

He would then lock up upon entering Turn 1 shortly after, cutting the second part of the chicane, which allowed Hamilton to challenge once again.

But with his softer tire compound quickly wearing off, Hamilton was unable to put up a proper fight.

Hamilton continued to remain just behind Leclerc for the next several laps, before locking up his front left tire when entering the chicane on Lap 42, forcing him on to the escape road and surrendering second place to teammate Bottas.

With Bottas now in second, he attempted to pick up the pace and put pressure on Leclerc, coming as close as a half second behind the leader.

However with too few laps remaining, the Finn could not make a pass for the lead and the Mercedes duo would have to settle for the second and third positions on the podium, as Leclerc took the checkered flag to claim his second victory in seven days.

“What a race!” Leclerc said following the second victory of his F1 career. “I’m very happy with this!”

The race was also a great one for the Renault duo of Daniel Riccardo and Hulkenburg, as the teammates finished in the fourth and fifth positions, respectfully.

Red Bull’s Alex Albon finished the race in sixth, while Max Verstappen, Antonio Giovinazzi and Lando Norris rounded out the Top 10.

The race was a disappointing one for Sebastian Vettel, who finished 13th after being handed a 10-second stop/go penalty for rejoining the track in an unsafe manner.

Vettel spun in the chicane on Lap 6, and pulled out in front of traffic, hitting Lance Stoll.

Full race results are below. The next race of the 2019 Formula One World Championship is the Singapore Grand Prix on September 22.

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Helio Castroneves ‘hustling’ for IndyCar, IMSA rides; talking with four to five teams

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As his season gathers steam, Helio Castroneves said his prospects for finding new rides for 2021 in IMSA and IndyCar also are gaining momentum.

The three-time Indianapolis 500 winner said Monday he is optimistic about landing in either or perhaps a combination of both series when Team Penske and Acura end their DPi partnership after this season.

“A lot of people I spoke with, four to five teams, are interested,” Castroneves said. “Whether it’s doing Indy 500 only, whether it’s pushing to do full time or do the sports cars as well. It’s been a very nice conversation.

LOOKING AHEADTeam Penske drivers seeking new rides for 2021

“I have a lot of respect for all the teams that have been talking, and I feel the same feedback. We just have to wait for their (sponsor) connections, and I’m also looking for some connections on my side as well, so hopefully we’ll be able to put this together and get something very soon.”

Given two decades of success with Penske in IndyCar and IMSA, Castroneves’ resume hardly needs burnishing. But the Brazilian has combined with co-driver Ricky Taylor in the No. 7 Acura DPi to win the past two overall victories at Road America and Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta.

But Castroneves, who doesn’t have a manager, said he has been working the phones hard rather than wait for the strong results to bring in the calls.

“At this point, I feel like I’m the one who needs to be talking to them because people need to know I want to continue racing and understand my desire,” Castroneves, 45, said. “There is opportunity, no question, in both (IndyCar and IMSA), which I’m really happy about it. However, because of the COVID-19, a lot of things sometimes have to be a little delayed. But I’m excited. Whatever the opportunity and whatever destiny guides me, whether IndyCar or sports cars, trust me I’ll be as happy as it could be and doing my 100 percent like I always did.

“It’s like politics, you need to be out there, good news or bad news. People have to make notice of your presence. I’m hustling. I want to continue to keep it going. Hopefully, we’ll have good news very soon.”

The news has been all good lately on track for Castroneves and Taylor, who hope to continue their run Sunday at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

The No. 6 duo has surged to sixth in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship standings, 10 points out of the lead with four races remaining. After thinking there was “no hope” to be competitive after opening the season with three consecutive poor finishes, Taylor now sees an opportunity for a happy ending.

“With the program going away, Helio has won all the big races and given so much back to the team and left such a mark, he’s really part of Penske history,” Taylor said. “For me, it’s been an opportunity of a lifetime to be a part of it. I’d like to leave my little mark as well. Helio has won everything except for a championship.

“Obviously, we’ve won races already together, but we can win a championship now. I think if both of us can do that together and both win our first championship for ‘The Captain,’ that would be an absolute dream come true, and we can tie a bow on it and be happy.”