On the back of his maiden Formula 1 victory last weekend at the Belgian Grand Prix, the 21-year-old went one better to win on Ferrari’s home soil in front of tens of thousands of dedicated Tifosi, who errupted into celebration as he crossed the finish line as they last witnessed a Ferrari win via Fernando Alonso in 2010.
It wasn’t an easy race at all, as the Monegasque racer had to contend with a chasing Lewis Hamilton for almost the entire race. The Mercedes driver was quicker, but the straight-line speed advantage Ferrari enjoy was enough to repeatedly hold off Hamilton down the start/finish straight.
Hamilton would come close on several occasions, his best on Lap 24 when the Briton closed up on the rear of the SF19 to draw alongside at the second chicane, only to be forced wide and onto the grass by Leclerc, which piqued the interest of the stewards who showed Leclerc the black and white flag – essentially a yellow card warning.
Hamilton would have another go on Lap 37, but Leclerc cut across Turn 1 and then defended heavily as he rejoined, but the stewards chose, questionably, not to investigate the matter. Hamilton’s challenge then fell away when he made his own mistake at Turn 1, taking to the run-off, which allowed team-mate Valtteri Bottas to take up second and mount his own attack.
However it wasn’t to be for Bottas who could never quite get close enough and when he did, outbraked himself and went too deep at Turn 1, ending his challenge with just three laps remaining. He eventually finished just 0.835s off the lead.
Hamilton would complete the podium in third, opting to make a late stop for fresh tyres to set the fastest lap of the race and take the additional championship point that comes with it.
That damaged Vettel’s front-wing, forcing him to pit before a 10-second stop/go penalty was handed down. Stroll also took a drive-through penalty as he too rejoined unsafely whilst recovering from his clash with the German.
It was a great day for Renault as they finished fourth and fifth, with Daniel Ricciardo leading Hulkenberg to score a strong haul of points to catch McLaren in the championship standings, on a day when the British team scored just one point with Lando Norris in tenth. Carlos Sainz retired with a loose wheel.
Alexander Albon finished sixth ahead of Sergio Perez, Max Verstappen – who recovered brilliantly from 19th place and a broken front-wing on the opening lap – and Antonio Giovinazzi in ninth, with Norris tenth.
|6||Alexander Albon||Red Bull||59.315|
|7||Sergio Perez||Racing Point||73.802|
|8||Max Verstappen||Red Bull||74.492|
|9||Antonio Giovinazzi||Alfa Romeo||1 Lap|
|10||Lando Norris||McLaren||1 Lap|
|11||Pierre Gasly||Toro Rosso||1 Lap|
|12||Lance Stroll||Racing Point||1 Lap|
|13||Sebastian Vettel||Ferrari||1 Lap|
|14||George Russell||Williams||1 Lap|
|15||Kimi Raikkonen||Alfa Romeo||1 Lap|
|16||Romain Grosjean||Haas||1 Lap|
|17||Robert Kubica||Williams||2 Laps|
|19||Daniil Kvyat||Toro Rosso||DNF|