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.
No laps have been turned in the NTT IndyCar Series this season, yet rookie Oliver Askew incessantly is analyzing fresh lap data with his Arrow McLaren SP team.
For the past two weeks, Askew has turned hundreds of laps in iRacing at Watkins Glen International and Barber Motorsports Park, and his support team meticulously has scoured the data in real time.
Race engineer Blair Perschbacher, assistant engineer Mike Reggio and strategist Billy Vincent are connected via all the software and timing systems that are on Askew’s real-world No. 7 Dallara-Chevrolet. After every run, numbers instantly are crunched, and Askew debriefs with his crew on improving the handling of his car in search of every fraction of a second as he would in real life.
Last Saturday, Askew started and finished fifth at Watkins Glen International, where he practiced with the advisement of his team for more than 15 hours in the SimMetric Driver Performance Labs simulator. Despite a relative sim racing newbie, Askew, 23, finished only two spots behind Will Power, who has more than 1,500 starts and 150 victories on iRacing road courses.
“We’re taking this very seriously,” he said. “You can tell by the results at Watkins Glen. You know which drivers have built their sims properly. How much they’ve been practicing. Those are the guys who finish up front.
“I’m still trying to represent everyone. It’s cool we have the same paint scheme. We’re just trying to represent Arrow and our partners the best as possible. We know they’re all watching, and it seems the viewership is going up.”
The Jupiter, Florida, native has found an edge through his friendship with SimMetric Driver Performance Labs, which is based in nearby West Palm Beach, Florida. Askew and SimMetric CEO Greg De Giorgis met last year through mutual friends. Last year, Askew had done a few simulator sessions before winning the 2019 Indy Lights championship (and graduating to the ride with Arrow McLaren SP).
With an official simulator partnership in the Road to Indy program, SimMetric’s CXC Motion Pro II simulator travels in a trailer to racing events around the country, providing drivers with extra preparation time for the real world.
The full-motion simulator includes a motion system developed by drivers and engineers, hyrdaulic brakes and force-feedback steering system. Though at the high end for simulators available to the general public, it retails for much less than the seven-figure simulators used by auto manufacturers with race programs.
“While time in a driving simulator will never fully replace real seat time, sim seat time can go a very long way in supplementing the seat time a driver gets,” De Giorgis told NBCSports.com in an email. “With three added benefits you don’t get in the real car: Significantly lower cost per hour, no risk of bodily harm or damage to the car, and of course, no limitations on time.”
There are some limitations for how much Askew can practice, though. A schedule was set up last week so the team, Askew and De Giorgis (who helps run the simulator and maintain communications with the team) could work together while also maintaining self-isolation with their families.
The trailer with the simulator is parked indoors at the Riviera Beach, Florida, shop of Extreme Velocity Motorsports, which also has an unofficial affiliation with SimMetric.
“We’re practicing social distancing and making sure the trailer and everything is clean,” Askew said. “We’re taking that very seriously. It’s still a job for me, so I need to get what I can out of it.”
He’s gotten a lot from it despite a lack of experience. The team can compare simulation data from iRacing to real-world historical data from past races and test sessions.
Reggio handles fuel data, and Simpson monitors strategy and timing. While setups are fixed for the iRacing IndyCar Challenge, Perschbacher is able to work with brake bias. “He’s just trying to bend the rules as much as we can,” Askew said. “We’ve done a lot with brake bias. That’s pretty much all we can change.”
Fans also can watch Askew practicing via a YouTube channel provided by De Giorgis, who has chatted with viewers about the car’s laps in real time during the streams that are available by clicking here.
It’s all relatively new to Askew, who doesn’t even have a sim rig at his Indianapolis home. His previous sim experience mainly came on the Chevrolet simulator in Huntersville, North Carolina.
“Honesty, for me personally, I’m a little late to the party,” Askew said. “I don’t think a lot of people realize that. I’m young and they assumed I’ve been doing this. I’ve never even had my own iRacing account before. Guys like (McLaren driver) Lando Norris, (Watkins Glen winner) Sage (Karam), all these guys have been streaming live on Twitch and have been running iRacing for multiple years now.
“ It’s a great way to get fans engaged in the race weekend and get eSports get bigger and bigger every year. Very interesting moving forward. It’s cool that IndyCar has dipped their feet into these waters now. Even once the season starts, I wouldn’t be surprised if we do more of these races.”
If so, he and his team have learned to keep an eye on Power, a real-world ace on road courses. During some practice races Thursday, Askew thought he’d done well by qualifying third, but Power then put a half-second on the field by winning the pole position.
“Will is unbelievably quick and does the same things in real life as well,” said Askew, who did turn the fastest lap in the practice race. “He just pulls it out somehow. That’s where the engineers and our staff in Indy come into play because they’re able to watch his on-board in real time and replay his on board to figure out what he’s doing to get the most of out of his car in the video game.
“It gets the creative juices flowing again. It’s still very different from real life, but I think we’re going to be able to start the season a little more fresh than we would have without this.”