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.