Italian GP: Charles Leclerc beats Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton to end Ferrari's Monza wait
Ferrari's new hero ends the Scuderia's nine-year home drought by keeping Hamilton and Bottas ay bay; But Vettel endures nightmare after spin; Renault secure best result since their full F1 return
By James Galloway
Last Updated: 08/09/19 7:41pm
Charles Leclerc withstood an intense challenge from first Lewis Hamilton and then Valtteri Bottas to win a breathless Italian GP for Ferrari.
Sending the Tifosi wild at the sight of the home team's first Monza win since 2010, Leclerc kept Hamilton at bay for most of the race - despite a wheel-to-wheel scrap and then an error at the first chicane - before the world champion made a mistake of his own and Bottas took over Mercedes' challenge.
But Leclerc did not buckle when faced with the other Mercedes over the closing laps, following up from his maiden win at Spa last week with a stunning second on his Monza debut with Ferrari.
"I'm really pleased I witnessed that drive first hand," said Sky F1's Martin Brundle. "It was an extraordinary drive. Under intense pressure, he kept it all together with both Mercedes' coming at him."
A jubilant Leclerc said: "If you have to win one grand prix for Ferrari, it's the Italian GP."
Hamilton fell to third but did claim an extra bonus point for the fastest lap after a late pit stop. Bottas marginally closes his team-mate's big title lead to 63 points, with seven races to go.
But it was a day to firmly forget for the other Ferrari driver - Sebastian Vettel.
The German finished outside the points in 13th after spinning out of fourth early on and then collecting a 10s stop-and-go penalty for forcing Lance Stroll off the track as he rejoined the circuit.
That allowed Renault to further capitalise on their strongest weekend of the season with Daniel Ricciardo taking fourth and Nico Hulkenberg fifth. The four-five result is Renault's best result since their full return to F1 in 2016.
Red Bull's Max Verstappen was eighth from the back of the field after engine penalties - with his recovery drive made even more impressive given he had to stop for repairs at the end of the first lap for first-chicane contact. Sergio Perez too drove strongly from the rear of the field, from 18th to seventh for Racing Point.
Italian GP Result: Top 10
1. Charles Leclerc, Ferrari
2. Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes
3. Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes
4. Daniel Ricciardo, Renault
5. Nico Hulkenberg, Renault
6. Alexander Albon, Red Bull
7. Sergio Perez, Racing Point
8. Max Verstappen, Red Bull
9. Antonio Giovinazzi, Alfa Romeo
10. Lando Norris, McLaren
Leclerc puts himself into Ferrari legend
The 12th driver to win for the home team at Monza - and the first since Fernando Alonso nine years ago - Leclerc has put himself into the pantheon in red at the very first attempt.
And few victories would have been achieved at the end of such sustained race-long pressure.
Leclerc converted his pole into the lead over Hamilton and enjoyed a small cushion through the first stint, before Mercedes pitted Hamilton first in an attempt at an undercut.
Ferrari responded immediately, with Leclerc pitting and keeping the lead, but the 21-year-old, on harder tyres compared to Hamilton, swiftly came under sustained attack as the lead Mercedes cranked up the pressure.
On lap 23, Hamilton attacked Leclerc on the run to the second chicane and went the outside of the Ferrari in a bid to overtake, but the 21-year-old came across and the Mercedes went straight on through the escape road before rejoining the track,
Race Control showed Leclerc a black-and-white flag, which effectively acts as a warning telling drivers not to drive like that again. Hamilton said over the radio that the Ferrari had not given him sufficient room.
Speaking to Sky F1 afterwards, Hamilton said: "It doesn't really matter what I think. I don't really have anything to say about it. We've gone over and over this multiple times and it's pointless me bringing it up. I avoided the collision and then just kept focusing on trying to get close again."
But he did add: "It seems like the new generation get away with a lot more in that space of how they manoeuvre their car compared to, I would say, the more experienced drivers. But it's good knowledge - now I know - and, yeah, look forward to the next one."
Several laps later, Leclerc locked up into the first chicane and cut the corner to rejoin the track still in the lead, with stewards not intervening.
Ironicially, it was Hamilton who ended up making the more costly error at the same point of the circuit several laps later, running straight on through the bollards and allowing Bottas through to second.
The Finn then spent the final 12 laps chasing Leclerc, but did not get as close to making a move as Hamilton, who ended up pitting with four laps to go to take on fresh tyres to secure the fastest-lap bonus point.