Vastavam web: Charles Leclerc triggered frenzied Ferrari celebrations on Sunday after holding off a race-long Mercedes challenge to take the Italian Formula One team’s first home grand prix victory since 2010. Valtteri Bottas was second for Mercedes with five-times world champion Lewis Hamilton a distant third after tyre wear took its toll in a thrilling battle with the 21-year-old Monegasque.
“What a race! I have never been so tired,” gasped Leclerc as a sea of fans, starved of success at Monza since Fernando Alonso won in the red overalls, swept onto the pit straight to party below the overhanging podium with flags and flares.
“Winning here is just a dream,” continued the winner, switching to fluent Italian to address a crowd cheering a fitting triumph on the 90th anniversary of both Monza and Formula One’s most glamorous team. Hamilton’s lead over closest rival Bottas was cut to 63 points from 65, with the Briton limiting the damage by making a late pitstop for fresh tyres to set the fastest lap and gain an extra point.
“He did a great job, congratulations to Ferrari,” said Hamilton, who took the fight to Leclerc from the start but dropped behind Bottas 10 laps from the end when he cut the first chicane. “A lot of pressure from both Valtteri and I. I did the best I could. Obviously following so closely for such a long time, the tyres eventually just went off the cliff.