Leclerc led the two Mercedes’ all day.
Leclerc led the two Mercedes’ all day.

Vettel’s ‘nightmare’ sparks Italian chaos

Ferrari's Charles Leclerc ended a nine-year drought at the Italian Grand Prix with a masterful drive but the victory has further exposed his teammate Sebastian Vettel.

A week after winning his first Grand Prix in emotional scenes in Belgium following the death of F2 driver Anthoine Hubert, Leclerc claimed back-to-back victories in Monza.

The day saw polar opposite performances from the pair with Leclerc holding off Mercedes duo Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas, while Vettel caused carnage for the rest of the grid.

While it appeared as though Ferrari were undergoing a change with Leclerc becoming the number one driver, his latest performance has heaped more speculation on a potential power shift between Ferrari's drivers.

Leclerc had Hamilton breathing down his neck until the championship leader's tyres wore out, at which time Bottas took over.

But the youngster held them off with brilliant driving, although Hamilton felt Leclerc was going over the line when they were duelling.

On lap 23, Hamilton was forced wide and he wasn't liking what he was seeing with Leclerc's defence.

"He didn't leave me a whole car's length there, he pushed me off," Hamilton said on team radio.

Later, he added: "There's some dangerous driving going on."

Leclerc dodged penalties on both occasions, much to Hamilton's chagrin.

 

But it was the result the Italian fans were hoping for with Ferrari flags and banners throughout the stadium.

Leclerc was floored by the result. "If you have to win one Grand Prix with Ferrari, it's the Italian Grand Prix," he said. "From the beginning of the week, it has been absolutely crazy. I came here with my first win and to win straight away the second one here, in front of the fans that have welcomed me extremely well after the first victory, is just unbelievable."

What a win from Leclerc.
What a win from Leclerc.

Sky Sports' Martin Brundle felt like it was a real moment in the history of the team. "I'm really pleased I witnessed that drive first hand," Brundle said. "It was an extraordinary drive. Under intense pressure, he kept it all together with both Mercedes' coming at him."

Even Hamilton had to hand it to Leclerc.

But the six-time champion was also clearly frustrated by the result, accusing the stewards of a double standard.

"It really doesn't matter what I think," he said. "I don't really have anything to say about it. We've been over and over this multiple times, it's pointless me bringing it up. I avoided the collision and then I focused on getting close again.

"It seems the new generation get away with a lot more in that space of how they manoeuvre their car compared to the more experience drivers. Now I know, I look forward to the next one."

Fans were impressed with what they saw from Leclerc.

 

 

VETTEL 'CAME BACK LIKE AN IDIOT'

But the victory showed just how bad Vettel's day was.

In a chaotic event that saw three retirements and several minor crashes, Vettel had a major brain snap.

Six laps in, after moving into fourth, he lost grip and spun off the track.

While several cars passed, the four-time world champion pulled a rookie move, driving out and clipping Racing Point's Lance Stroll.

Stroll was furious with the move from Vettel. "He just came back on the circuit like an idiot," Stroll yelled on team radio.

Vettel was handed a 10-second stop-and-go penalty for returning to the track dangerously, which basically ended his day.

"Vettel's day has gone from bad, to worse, to horrible," David Croft said in Sky Sports commentary.

Sebastian Vettel congratulates Charles Leclerc.
Sebastian Vettel congratulates Charles Leclerc.

Vettel finished 13th and a lap behind Leclerc. "Obviously I'm not happy with my day today," Vettel said. "I thought we had a good start and then nowhere to go, I lost my position, got it back, reconnected to the cars ahead, lost the rear and couldn't catch it. It was as simple as that. Not happy and after that, the race was obviously gone."

Vettel said he didn't see Stroll coming around the corner. But the 32-year-old was widely slammed for his performance.

 

 

 

Leclerc is now 13 points ahead of Vettel in the championship, just three points behind Red Bull's Max Verstappen in third.

Even worse for Vettel, he has gone 371 days now without a win in Formula One.

Sky Sports analyst and 2016 F1 World Champion Nico Rosberg said it was hard to understand what was going on with Vettel.

"He's a four-time world champion, he's one of the best guys out there and to make a mistake like that on your own just in a corner like that, it's so strange," he said. "Then worse afterwards coming back on the track like that, it's so strange.

"This moment must be so dark. His teammate just became an absolute Ferrari legend and probably just took the number one status on the team for him and he must be rock bottom.

"Vettel has a lot of self confidence and F1 it's so short lived so it takes just one really powerful race and you're back so we shouldn't write him off because he can come back very quick."

 

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News Corp Australia


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