THE vast crowd went wild, the vino flowed and the red flags were everywhere as Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc gave the prancing horse team its first win at Monza since 2010.
The Italian F1 Grand Prix was all Ferrari — well, one of them — from the start of the 53 laps of the hallowed superfast circuit, leading the Mercedes pair of Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton all the way.
It was a great day too for Daniel Ricciardo and teammate Nico Hulkenberg, who took their Renaults to their best placings this season, filling fourth and fifth places.
Sixth was Red Bull’s new find, Alexander Albon, followed by Sergio Perez in the Racing Point, with Max Verstappen (Red Bull) eighth after starting from the back of the grid.
The final two championship points places went to Antonio Giovinazzi (Alfa Romeo) and Lando Norris in the McLaren.
It was a nightmare race for Sebastien Vettel, who was overtaken by Hulkenberg on the first lap, then spun, tangled with the Racing Point of Lance Stroll, and earned himself a 10-second penalty for an unsafe come-back on to the circuit, and never quite recovered.
He finished a distant 13th – and did not enjoy much of the cheering from the partisan Ferrari fans.
Leclerc remained impressively calm under constant pressure from Mercedes until Hamilton made a mistake trying to overtake and slid off the circuit.
That put Bottas into second place, and, on fresher tyres, the Finn took over the pursuit.
He too, tried to muscle past, but just fell short, finishing a scant 8/10ths of a second behind.
The effort, contested over 307km clearly wore the 21-year-old Monegasque down.
“What a race,” he said from the podium.
“I’ve never been so tired.”
Then, speaking in Italian, he gave profuse thanks to his supporters, who responded with great vocal enthusiasm.
Monza, after all, should be synonymous with Ferrari, which has won there more than any other team in Monza’s long history.
The track is quite close to Ferrari’s home at Modena.
Bottas said he was “gutted” that he couldn’t overtake.
“We had a good strategy, and some opportunities opened up at the end.
“We tried everything with our engine modes, but yeah, we move on.”
Hamilton, however, paid tribute to Leclerc.
“He did a great job, congratulations to Ferrari and Charles,” he said.
“There was a lot of pressure form Valtteri and I, but my tyres just went off a cliff.
“But they were much quicker in the straight lines and it was not our day.”
There was much jubilation in the Renault camp too.
The double top five effort meant the team took 22 points from Italy, the best return from a Grand Prix weekend since Fernando Alonso’s victory in the 2008 Japanese Grand Prix.
Team principal Cyril Abiteboul might have had a bit of a smirk on his face at the end of it, since it was the first time his two Renaults finished ahead of both Red Bulls.
Daniel Ricciardo was delighted.
“We deserved that today,” he said.
“It matches my best ever result at Monza and to do it with Renault is great.
“I saw the battles happening at the front and I thought there could be a big opportunity to score strong points. I’m really happy for myself and also for the team.
“To get the team’s best result since returning to Formula 1 in fourth and fifth at a power circuit really complements Renault and their hard work. The result is long overdue this year and I’m very satisfied now.”
Nico Hülkenberg agreed.
“I’m very pleased,” the German said.
“It feels nice to have a finish like this and hopefully it will bring some momentum for the remaining seven races.
“The team deserve it as it’s been a tough year for us with some difficult results and moments.
“It’s a nice reward for everyone involved for the hard work.
“I had some pressure at the end but I managed to fend that off.
“ It was largely quiet and controlled and a very good team result with Daniel just ahead.”
Cyril Abiteboul said the result also showed the clear progress made on the power unit side that had been so openly criticised in the past.
“Our drivers have shown what they can do with a competitive car,” he said.
“This result is good for the team as we also know there are very challenging circuits to come this season where we will be less competitive. But let’s take this for now.”
Haas had yet another disappointing outing, with Kevin Magnussen retiring late after running 8th and Romain Grosjean ending up 16th.
Other non-finishers were Daniil Kvyat, in the Toro Rosso and Carlos Sainz had to retire after his McLaren was released from a pitstop with loose front wheels.
McLaren was also fined for the unsafe release.
Next race is on Sunday, September 22, on Singapore’s Marina Bay street circuit.
|6||23||RED BULL RACING HONDA||53||+59.315s||8|
|7||11||RACING POINT BWT MERCEDES||53||+73.802s||6|
|8||33||RED BULL RACING HONDA||53||+74.492s||4|
|9||99||ALFA ROMEO RACING FERRARI||52||+1 lap||2|
|10||4||MCLAREN RENAULT||52||+1 lap||1|
|11||10||SCUDERIA TORO ROSSO HONDA||52||+1 lap||0|
|12||18||RACING POINT BWT MERCEDES||52||+1 lap||0|
|14||63||WILLIAMS MERCEDES||52||+1 lap||0|
|15||7||ALFA ROMEO RACING FERRARI||52||+1 lap||0|
|16||8||HAAS FERRARI||52||+1 lap||0|
|17||88||WILLIAMS MERCEDES||51||+2 laps||0|
|NC||26||SCUDERIA TORO ROSSO HONDA||29||DNF||0|
Note – Hamilton scored an additional point for setting the fastest lap of the race.
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